“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” – Hebrews 4:12.
There are times when what you are trying to say is lost in translation. It happens often in translation from one language to another or in printed media. For example, an ad for a Bangkok dry cleaner when translated to English read, “Drop your trousers here for best results.” Another example was printed in a local newspaper. The story revolved around a major explosion at a chemical plant. The reporter interviewed a person who lived close to the plant. Something was lost in translation when the quote in the article said, “I was awakened by a loud blast in my pajamas.”
Nothing should ever be lost in translation when it comes to the Bible. If you had been looking to purchase a Bible fifty years ago, your choices would have been between the King James Version (KJV) and maybe one other. Today, you are faced with shelves and shelves of different Bible versions. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options. Which one should you acquire? What factors should be taken into consideration before making your decision?
God’s Word does not change, but languages does change, thus the need for updated and revised translations of the Bible. The overriding goal of the modern translations is to help convey to readers in contemporary English what the original text meant. Each translation has limits. The church uses the NLT, but the ESV and NIV are excellent versions as well.
The next question you hear is should you stick with one version or several. A rule of thumb is to use multiple translations for the purpose of increased understanding — for instance, use them as commentaries — and use one main translation for the purpose of memorization. It is hard to memorize scripture when bouncing around amongst several versions. It becomes very confusing.
Remember two things: First, we must keep in mind that the Bible must be prayed over, studied, and committed to the heart in order for it to function in the manner that God intended. The truth of Scripture is given to us for living. We may own every version of the Scriptures that is available and not profit by any of them. Regardless of what translation you use, what matters is the changes in thinking that result from what we read.
- What translation do you use? Why?
- What can we do this week to improve how we read and study the Bible?