Walk into any bookstore seeking a Holy bible and you will find many choices. You may find shelf upon shelf of Bibles. There are many different “translations” in many different languages. Within many languages such as English you will find dozens of different translations. And with any particular translation you may find several different types of “study Bibles” containing notes and references with a particular emphasis. (My own “Bible of choice” is the New International Version (NIV), Archaeological Study Bible.)
The Holy Bible is both the most widely published (more than 1,000,000 Bibles are distributed worldwide each week) and most translated book in history. It has been translated in whole or part into over 2,300 languages and is available to over 90% of the world’s population in their native tongues. No other book even comes close to those figures.
To the person who has never been introduced to God’s Word and is ready to get into It, this can either be totally bewildering or as simple as picking up the first Bible that looks interesting. Or they may simply accept the gift of a Bible from someone else. (This week youth from my home church distributed 27 copies of the New Testament translated into Spanish in the Dominican Republic.)
For the well-established student of the Bible, many have a strong preference for a particular translation. This can be the source of tremendous debate and even argument among Christians. (I’ve managed to stir this pot a bit in some of my own blogs.)
In addition to the various translations of the Holy Bible there is also a wealth of supplemental resource material to understanding God’s Word. Among other things there are concordances, commentaries, at least a zillion supplemental books. Getting to know God and His Word can be (and should be) a very serious undertaking!
While I have stated my “bible of choice” above, this series will not be in defense or criticism of any particular Bible translation. I actually use several different translations and supplemental resources in my own Bible study. Instead, we will look at things such as the history of Bible translations, reasons for translating and the origins of some select translations, the problems of language, new scientific findings (particularly in archaeology) and new discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Why undertake this series?
Selection of a particular Bible translation has a tremendous impact on how we come to understand God. This is true whether we are new to His Word or if we’ve been studying it for our entire lives. No Bible translation is without its difficulties. These can range all the way from outright revision of the intent of God’s Word to simply not being able to understand the basic meaning of some words.
Bible translation has never been as easy as sitting down with a Hebrew or Greek to English dictionary and substituting word for word. The syntax of various languages is different. Such things as idioms, euphemisms and acrostics found in the original texts would make such a word for word translation meaningless to most readers. Languages are living and constantly changing, words change meaning through time. Choice of words in the translation often depends on the cultural or historical context of the original. Understanding of such things can be of tremendous assistance in studying God’s Word.
Back to the basic question: What Language Does God Speak?
The simple answer is yours!
God’s Word is both for all of us collectively and for each of us individually. He has given us the Holy Spirit to aid us in understanding.
Unlike any other book, the Holy Bible speaks to us. It gives us direction and understanding of our purpose.
And the Word of God, as recorded in the Holy Bible, understands us! What other book can do that?
As with the dimensions of time and space (both God’s creations), we are constrained by our use and understanding of language. Language falls far short of the mind of God. Let us work together to make the most of what we’ve got.
I strongly encourage the thoughts and questions of others to this series. Although I am just beginning my own research, I can already see the intricacies and complexities, many of which I had never seriously considered.
Alive in The Word
This blog is part of a series on Bible Translation. A listing of all blogs in the series (with links):
Thank you for visiting this blog. ChristianBlessings has a group of faithful Christian authors who present a wide spectrum of views and experiences. While here, please take a moment to review our latest offerings listed on the right side of this page or visit ChristianBlessings Home Page.
We would also love to hear from you. To respond to a blog, you need to be registered at WordPress.com. It’s FREE and EASY. If you want to register, visit here: WordPress.com registration.