This past weekend at NCC, we talked about HOW to read the Bible. It was fast, furious, and nerdy, so I thought I would post a few of the resources that were mentioned for people that wanted to go deeper.
We talked about 1) Picking the right translation, 2) Making a plan, and 3) Joining a community. Let’s take a deeper look at translations.
Purchasing a Bible can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. First, we discover that the Bible shelves of our bookstores are not filled with uniform looking options. There are thin Bibles, fat Bibles, devotional Bibles, journaling Bibles, study Bibles, Bibles in tin cases, Bibles in leather, and Bibles in pink quilted covers. There are Bibles for men, women, children, students, fishermen, teachers, and firefighters. Added to the mix are tiny letters on the spine- NKJV, ESV, CEV, NLT, NIV, TNIV, TNIVr…and on and on. What Bible is the right one?
Let me deal with those The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. That means that the Bibles we read today have gone through a process of translation. There are two primary ways to translate Scripture. One is word-for-word. That means that the translators try to translate each individual original word into its closest modern English equivalent. This method of translation preserves a level of accuracy in the text. The other is thought-for-thought. That means the translators take entire thoughts, phrases, ideas, figures of speech, metaphors, etc., and translate them into the closest modern English equivalent. This method preserves a level or readability and understanding in the text.
The chart below shows where many modern translations and on the spectrum of word-for-word and thought-for-though translation and therefore where they land in terms of accuracy and readability. If you are looking for a good combination of accuracy and readability, check out the NIV.