So Which Bible?
Perhaps because we spend so much time pointing out errors in Bible translations, we often get asked, "So which Bible should I read. Is there any Bible without errors?"
The answer to the second question is no. There are no Bibles which do not contain errors. But don't let that scare you. You see, if our Father would have provided a perfectly written English translation for you, you probably would spend even less time in prayer and communion and study than you do now. The "letter," perfect or imperfect, will always produce death. It is the Spirit that brings life even from the Bible.
Preachers who spend most of their time telling people, "It is written," usually come from the same spirit that once said, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." Hear the answer of the True Word of God: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
Satan in the next verse then proceeded to quote Scriptures to Jesus to make Jesus do the Written Word. Jesus responded, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God."
Satan can quote Scriptures, but the Scriptures apart from our Father's Spirit and timing produced death. Jesus told Satan that man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, not from a book, even if it is a Bible.
The True Word of God is a "Him," not a book. The Bible or Scriptures are a witness, pointer to the Living Word which brings life, not death.
I am reminded of a story told by a pastor from Romania. When the Russians took over his country, he and his congregations secretly gave Bibles to the Russian soldiers. They ran out of Bibles and this pastor began to give out just one page per soldier. The pastor thought, "What am I doing? What good is one page of the Bible?"
One day he decided to ask one the the Russian soldiers he had given one page to, "Ivan, I gave you a page of the Bible. Have you learned anything." The soldier replied, "Well, pastor, the page you gave me had on the top of the pages the word 'Jeremiah.' I never heard of this Jeremiah. The page talked about places I have never been to and people I have never heard of. I did not understand any of this. But one sentence I did understand. In one place was written, 'and God spoke to Jeremiah.' I thought about all the places and people I did not know anything about. I thought that these people could not have been very important. If they were, I would have read about them in our history books in school back in Russia. This Jeremiah I have never read about in our history books. He must have been an unimportant person like myself. I thought, if God would speak to such an unimportant person such as this Jeremiah, would he speak to an unimportant person like me? And from that day on, He has been speaking to me and He fills my heart with unspeakable joy!"
This is what five words in any translation of the original languages of the Bible can do when the Holy Spirit draws a person. From then on, although this soldier did not have a Bible, he had a relationship with the Living Word.
The devil can quote Scriptures and so can his ministers and they can quote them in perfect King James English and still be from the pits.
We have almost a hundred different Bibles here in our office. Every one of them can do what the page from Jeremiah did for that Russian soldier. It is after the birth that Bible translations cause problems. It is when different preachers use the Scriptures to conform a new believer into their sect, denomination, or division that clean translating is important.
Most Bibles today are produced by businessmen. Bibles today are printed with profit in mind and sold with profit in mind. Don't let that bother you too much. When the church had the responsibility of giving out the Scriptures, she put them into a dead language, forbid the people to read the Scriptures because only a priest could interpret them and basically denied the Written Word to the people.
Although merchants are still in partnership to churches and their pet doctrines which are often false, the Written Word is much more abundant since merchants have had it, than when the church had a monopoly on it. Businessmen must cover their expenses and hopefully make a profit to invest in future growth. Unfortunately, the Bibles are more expensive distributed this way, but I would rather have a Bible at a slightly higher price than none at all.
I think in the future our Father will open up new ways for cleaner, better translations to go forth at no cost to unbelievers.
So, which Bibles should I buy? There have been published to date over 350 English New Testaments. Most of them you have never heard of before. We will spend much time in future issues of "Dew" talking about translating. For now, let me leave a few pointers.
- Remember the story of the Russian soldier and Jeremiah. Do not put any Bible translation above your personal communication with the Living Word. I think this is one of the greatest problems in Christianity. The leaders are to blame for this. They have substitutee the Written Word and made themselves mediators between the people and the Creator.
- There is no such thing as an "inerrant translation." Forget trying to find one, it doesn't exist and perhaps it never will. It really isn't that important. Remember, if you had a perfect translation, it could not change your heart nor make you a better Christian. It's the fire that brings changes, not letters.
- There are many different types of Bibles, each serving different purposes. There are literal translations, amplified translations, paraphrased translations, interlinear Bibles, multiple translation Bibles, study Bibles, reference Bibles, chronological Bibles, word study Bibles, harmony New Testaments, translations from the Aramaic instead of Hebrew and Greek, etc. All of these different types of Bibles serve their purpose and have value. There is no such thing as "the" English translation to have. Your purpose is also important. For example, a literal translation will try to bring into English the exact literal words of the original languages, but it will not necessarily give you the true meaning. If I were to literally translate "it is raining cats and dogs" into Chinese, they would not receive the meaning (it is raining hard) unless I let them know in the footnotes that this was an "idiomatic" expression in English which shouldn't be taken literally. If I didn't footnote the meaning behind those words, the Chinese would think it was literally raining cats and dogs. Literal translations are terrible Bibles if one wants to just read the Bible for enjoyment and meditation. While they will do many things well, giving the "spirit" behind the words, they will not do well at all.
- Do not think a translation produced by a committee will produce a better translation. Most committees are formed around a "pet doctrine" or general movement such as "evangelical," or "fundamentalism," or "Catholic," or "spirit-filled," etc. Often they are formed around the doctrine of the Trinity, Arminianism, Calvinism, or a denomination. When the Creator wanted something done the the Bible, He usually did it through a person, not a committee. As a matter of fact, committees usually went against our Father, they rarely were in agreement with Him. There are advantages of committees, but don't think 100 scholars will produce a better translation. Most of the best- selling Bibles are produced by committees. They may perhaps be "best sellers" because the publisher put together a translating committee which had the "right" people on the committee who had powerful influence within their denomination regarding which translations should be read by their members. Most publishers look to produce a Bible which will generate the greatest sales. They will make financial agreements with various organizations which will bring that goal about. Remember, the dollar speaks, whether it is a secular or a Christian business.
- The older the translation, the worse it usually is. The English language is fluid and rapidly changes. A translation should be in current English. Also, we have a much better understanding of the times and languages of Biblical times as archaeologists discover more about those times.
- The Bible should not be confusing. Many of the leading "sellers," for example, have Scriptures that clearly teach the doctrine of eternal torment, the doctrine of annihilation, and the doctrine of the salvation of all mankind. Our Father is not author of confusion. Most leading Bible translations will not deal with this serious problem because it will destroy the theology of most denominations, and will force Christian leaders to admit they have taught error. Pride and money has to date prevented them from recommending Bibles that do not have this confusion in them. Confusion is good business. When a person doesn't understand something, they will usually go to someone who claims they do understand it. It has been to the advantage of false shepherds to keep the Written Word somewhat confusing, therefore requiring "experts" to help understand it. As the Bible enters the computer age, this kind of deception will be harder to get away with in the near future.
So which translation?
Obviously, for people such as yourselves, one translation is not going to satisfy your needs. If you are reading this publication, you probably have broken many traditions to get to this point. It is very important to understand that there is not a perfect, inerrant Bible. With that is mind, how much do you want to study to get to the meaning of the original languages? There is no end to how much time one can invest in this endeavor.
We will be reviewing many different kinds of Bibles in the issues to come. We will talk about how to use various texts books that aid in getting at the meaning of the original words. It is an enjoyable way to spend leisure time. To me, it definitely beats most of the entertainment available in the world or church.
For now, a good place to start is:
- Never forget the best source for truth is the Spirit of Truth!
- Although some new translations are getting "feminist" or "politically correct," the newer translations are better than the early translations. I would buy an NIV before I would buy a KJV.
- As a second Bible, buy a literal translation that has broken the "hell" tradition such as Rotherham's, or Young's. Literal translations produce awful English. Therefore, they are not enjoyable to read. But they are good for reference.
- As you go through the months, when you yard sale, etc. you can pick up many different translations for practically nothing. Often public libraries have book sales to get rid of donated books. I picked up a brand new leather-bound Bible for 25 cents that way. Seminaries often have book sales. In this way, I was able to pick up a 150 year old Greek and Hebrew Bible for $2 or $3.
- If you have a computer, by all means, look into Bible software. This will open many doors in the days ahead.
- If you have specific questions about certain Bibles, give us a call or drop us a note.