Bible Study Tip #2 Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

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There are many English translations one can choose from. There are so many that Craig Blomberg remarked a few years ago in his book “Can We Still Believe the Bible” that publishers need to stop making new English translations until we have put more translations in other languages. I appreciate that position a great deal.

The simple answer to the question is this – the best translation is the one you will read. That thought isn’t original with me. Many have made this point in the past. If a translation is done in such a way that you avoid reading it (hard or archaic words) you might try another one.

The main thing you want in a Bible translation is for it to be done by a committee of competent scholars rather than by an individual (The Message) or by a particular religious group (New Jerusalem Bible). Most major modern English translations fit this criteria.

My go to translation for daily reading is the NIV. My translation for study is the NRSV. The translation I use to compare against those two is the NASB. More on that later!

What is your favorite translation and why?

2 Responses

  1. Matt, I really wish it were that simple. Sometimes a literal translation, though accurate from one point of view, apparently leads to confusion from another – if the reader goes into it with pre-conceived notions. Consider Genesis 2: 7. God tells Adam with regard to avoiding eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of right and wrong, that in whatever “day” he eats of it, “to death he will die”. Now, we could take that as a literal 24 hour day and Adam would have been a goner before another chapter of Genesis had passed; however, we know from Genesis 5: 5 that Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930 years before he kicked the bucket. We also know that God cannot lie. The answer that was believed by the Jews of Classical times [e.g. the Book of Jubilees, Jubilees 4: 29-30] was one based on Moses’s (the God-directed human author of Genesis) statement in Psalm 90: 4, that a thousand years in God’s sight are like yesterday gone by, or a watch in the night. God does not experience the passage of time as we do, confirmed in the New Testament by Simon Peter [2 Peter 3: 8] who tells us to be mindful of this fact. Looking at Genesis 1, this makes sense, for God is telling off His days from v 5, and v v 14-19 shows that there is no created ‘mechanism’ for time measurement within the Creation until His 4th day. The main conclusions that we can come to from this is that 930 years of Adam’s days passed within a day experienced by the Almighty, and we need to be very careful if we say that we know just how long any day experienced by God is. The word ‘day’ understood literally, can have two entirely different meanings depending on from whom the word proceeds.

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