Monday, February 19, 2018

Which version of the Bible should I use?

Several years ago I got into the habit of reading a different translation of the Bible as I have gone through my personal Bible reading. I started out with what I was most familiar and really what I grew up on which was the New King James Version (NKJV). Then I went to what I now deem my favorite translation, the New International Version (NIV). In recent years, I've read through the New American Standard Bible (NASB), as well as the New Living Translation (NLT). Just last week I finished reading through the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The latest translation I've began to read through is the English Standard Version (ESV). Don’t misunderstand what I just shared with you. This isn’t about getting attention for having read through the Bible a few times or the number of translations I’ve read. This is about getting into a subject that is very personal to followers of Christ. The subject is translations of the Bible. Is there only one correct one to use? Which is best? Is it wrong to only use one translation?

There are some followers of Christ out there that will tell you that if you do not use a particular translation of the Bible then you aren’t using “the” Bible. I actually heard this from a fellow pastor once. The translation that is usually most adamantly defended as being “the one and only Bible” is the King James Version (KJV). Now before anyone gets upset with me, my first Bible was a KJV and I still have it on the shelf in my office, along with two other copies. But the problem is with the narrow view that the KJV is the only version that should be used, not the version itself. Many times those that argue so strongly for the KJV forget to mention that the Biblical texts were originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, not in 17th Century English. So technically, "the" Bible was written in languages most Christians can't even read today. Again don’t hear me bashing the KJV or any other specific translation. Do hear me say this; it’s not right to put down believers who do not prefer your preferred translation.The reason why is simple. All translations of the Bible use the same sources, the original manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, & Aramaic. If they all use the same sources, then you can't discount one with out discounting them all!

In more than 12 years of ministry I’ve used KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, and NLT from the pulpit. If you can’t tell by now I am a big proponent of using varied translations to help us get a better picture of what God is revealing to us through the text. A former chairman of Deacons once reminded me that different translations bring a different perspective. He was right. If you enjoy the language of the KJV and don’t want to use another translation, I understand. If you prefer a translation in modern English like the NIV, NLT, or others (such as the CEV or ESV), then by all means use them. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try a different translation and see how God will speak to you in a new way. If you do try a different translation, don’t give up on it quickly or easily. Variety is said to be the spice of life, but the important thing is to be in the Word regardless of what translation you use!

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