Saturday, October 8, 2011

Choosing your sword

Choosing the Right Bible is important for your Christian growth

Hebrews 4:12 refers to the Bible, God's word, as being sharper than any two-edged sword. 
Today I want to begin a short blog series for the Christian who is desiring a guide for choosing a Bible.  Years ago I had worked for a Bible Bookstore and was amazed at the wide variety of study Bible's and Bible translations that were available.  Now as a Pastor, I am asked on occasion which is the best Bible version, and how can you determine which one is best for you.  Choosing a Bible is a major part of growing in the Christian faith, since Christian growth and stability cannot be done without the scriptures. (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17)

3 general types of Bibles
     We can note the way in which Bibles are translated from the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) and how readable they are in the English.  Three general categories are helpful in classifying Bible Translations and Versions:

a. Literal Translations (word for word faithful to the Original Languages, good for Bible Study)
      This first grouping views faithfulness to the style and wording of the Original text as a priority.  Preachers, Bible Teachers and those who study the Bible regularly prize these versions for helping them get as close to the original Hebrew and Greek as much as possible.  The top four translations in this category tend to be the King James Version (KJV); the New King James Version (NKJV); the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV). 

b. Readable Translations (Good for regular Bible reading, devotions)
      This second type of Bible translation aims more at being readable than corresponding to every word to the original Hebrew or Greek.  Thus if I were using this approach to Bible translation, I may take a sentence in the original that is say, 10 words along, and summarize it into 6 or 7 words to emphasize the overall meaning.  For everyday Bible reading or devotional reading, Bibles such as the New International Version (NIV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) are the best examples of this category. 

c. Paraphrases (Good for getting a summary or commentary on a verse)
      This last category refers to those versions which function more like a commentary than a translation.  If the literal versions focus on the author's wording, and the second category aims more at the reader, then this final group emphasizes the interpretation given by the actual translator.  Bibles such as The Living Bible (TLB), Today's English Version (TEV) and the New Living Translation (NLT) are the best examples of those Bibles that are more on the paraphrase side.  Reading these alongside the first two categories can be sometimes helpful in gaining a clearer understanding of the text. 

The Best Version is the One that Will help you grow in Christ
       Ideally having a literal translation, a readable translation and a paraphrase is the best way to ensure you have all the bases covered in your growing in the scriptures.  Each type will get you to study the Bible, read the Bible and have a clearer understanding.  Sometimes reading a familiar passage like Psalm 23 or John 3 in each version helps in the choosing process.  Another rule of thumb to follow when choosing a translation is to find out what version your church uses in their services.  That helps in your overall Christian growth with the body of Christ.   Then finally, if you desire to memorize Bible verses, using one of the more literal versions is the best approach, since the emphasis is on the translation corresponding to the original wording. 

With those categories defined, we can begin to look closer at determining how to choose a Bible.  Tomorrow we will look at various features found in today's Bibles as a means in helping you choose your sword. 

No comments:

Post a Comment