A very helpful overview of Bible translations

This presentation is one of the most helpful explorations of the complexities surrounding Bible translation. It focuses especially on comparing various modern translations, and shows arriving at a ‘word for word’ translation is not only virtually impossible, it’s also not necessary.

Do yourself a favour and take the time to watch this video:

 

Some helpful thoughts on Bible translations

Bible on a Wooden Table

In the church, there are a number of topics that seem to generate varying levels of controversy. Whether it’s the type of music you sing/play, how often you celebrate the Lord’s Supper or your view on creation/evolution, there’s no shortage of topics which garner a range of (often emotional) reactions.

One such topic is what Bible version should be used in the church. When it comes to different kinds of Bibles, options – often expressed as acronyms – abound. Do you like the NASB, NJB, ESV, RSV, NIV, NIrV, GNT, ASV, CSB, CEV, NEB, KJV, NLT, NRSV, NKJV, TLB, NCV, AMP, or “the Message” Bible? There are many options, and the English-speaking world is truly blessed to have so much to choose from.

Many Christians who read their Bible regularly (admittedly, a minority of Christians today) feel a strong attachment to the wording and tone of a particular translation. This means any discussion of what Bible translation is best to use in the church will be caught up in a web of opinions, feelings and experiences. One of the key sticking points is whether you should use a more “literal” (word-for-word) translation or a more free-flowing translation that offers “thought-for-thought” translation. Or should you use something in between these two options?

One impediment to having a clear-thinking, robust discussion about this topic is the fact that almost nobody who holds an opinion about Bible translations actually knows much about the nature and process of translation. The videos below offer some useful information about Bible translation/s. I hope you can spend a little time looking at them.

Here’s a short presentation by Mark Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, in the U.S.:

Bill Mounce, an expert in Biblical Greek, addresses the word “literal” that comes up all the time in these discussions:

Our church uses the NIV translation, which is carefully translated from the original languages, often seeking to convey the intended meaning of the Greek and Hebrew – particularly where a phrase might be unclear to our modern ears. In our post-Christian Australian context (where Biblical illiteracy is a pandemic), the simplicity and clarity of the NIV is very helpful. In this next video, Bill Mounce addresses the reason why the NIV has been updated over the years:

If you have a little bit more time, watch this video where the NIV’s Committee on Bible Translation answers numerous questions:

Whatever you think about Bible translation our hope is that you read, study, memorise, and believe the translation of your preference! The world and the church need a growing number of Christians who know their Bibles!

Blessings

 

 

 

 

Predestination?

The Christian doctrine of predestination is one of the deepest and most controversial in the church. The idea that God ‘predestines’ things to happen seems to many to be unjust, illogical, or just plain weird. This is especially true when we start talking about God ‘predestining’ people to receive grace. Why would God predestine some to be saved, and not others? How could that be fair? And what about free will? If God is truly loving and just, surely he simply offers us grace, and kindly lets us make up our own minds.

These are deep issues over which many godly Christians have puzzled and disagreed.

Here is a debate between two people who hold somewhat opposing views on this subject. Both men are very learned and deeply committed to the Scripture. They both love Christ, and desire to glorify God. But they differ.

The debate below is instructive, not only on the issue of predestination, but on how to disagree agreeably (something that Christians struggle with sometimes).

Yes, the video is long, and yes, it’s pretty heavy. But that only reflects the nature of the topic. I suggest you grab a coffee and sit back to listen and learn. It will be worth your time.

How to Read the Bible

Lots of people say they believe the Bible. The Mormons do. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do. The Roman Catholics do. The Presbyterians do. But the funny thing is, they all see to come to different conclusions about what the Bible is actually teaching.

So how do we work out what the Bible actually says?

Here’s a great video that gives some tips on how to read the Bible properly.

Quote of the week – the uniqueness of ancient Hebraic monotheism

Christianity is not a new religion, nor a made-up religion. It is the fulfillment
and continuation of the religion of the ancient Hebrews. It is a uniquely historical religion, built upon God’s self-revelation to real people in the real world.

Drawn quotes and a frameThe Old Testament showcases how amazingly unique ancient Israelite religion was: in the midst of  polytheistic and superstitious cultures around it, the ancient Hebrews claimed that there was only one God. They asserted that there was one supreme being who created and upholds all reality. Furthermore, they said this God was separate from his creation – he was not part of it. Neither did he need any help to create the universe. And perhaps most amazingly, he didn’t have an “image”. There were no statues or carvings or amulets to be made. This one true God insiste
d on it. He is to be worshiped, yes. But as the supreme spiritual being his essence cannot be captured or portrayed adequately through the skills of moral craftsmen.

The emergence of this Hebraic monotheism is completely unexpected and unique. Here’s what one scholar said about this:

“There is absolutely no parallel in the ancient Near East for a people resisting the current universal religious thought patterns, challenging the prevailing world views and producing a national religion and literature that in its fundamentals goes against the stream of the entire existing tradition of which historically, culturally and geographically it is a constituent part. The phenomenon defies all attempts at rational explanation, for a linear, evolutionary development of monotheism from polytheism is not otherwise attested.”

[quote is from Nahum M. Sarna, “Paganism and Biblical Judaism,” Great Confrontations in Jewish History: The J. M. Goodstein Lecture Series on Judaica, 1975, edited by Stanley M. Wagner and Allen D. Breck (Denver: University of Denver, Department of History, 1977/5737), reprinted in Studies in Biblical Interpretation (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2000/5760), 17.]