WHY ARE THERE SO MANY VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE AND WHICH IS BEST FOR ME?
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
HOW TO CHOOSE
WHERE DID THE BIBLE COME FROM?
The Christian Bible has a rich and complex history spanning centuries in its writing using the pens of dozens of writers over that span of time. The part referred to as the Old Testament is the Hebrew Bible: the TaNaKh or the Torah (also called the Pentatuch) which consists of the five books of Moses, the Neviim (the Prophets), and the Ketuvim (the writings of poetry and wisdom along with the narrative stories. )
The New Testament begins with the birth of Christ, is written by those closest to Jesus and tells the stories of Christ's ministry, the early church, the teachings and advice for Christlike living, and the telling of the future for the believer and unbeliever alike.
The question of how the Bible came to be in its present form with its 66 books along with all of the chapter and verse divisions is a complex and very interesting narrative in itself. For our immediate purposes we will simply say that a lot of prayerful and scholarly work went into the cannonization of the Christian Bible.
The Bible is both the best selling book of all time and the most attacked book of all time, and we at Cornerstone Baptist Church believe all of the really important stuff of life is contained within its pages. We believe it is the complete and perfect message to us from God. We need to look no farther to find fulfillment in this life and joy, unimaginable, in eternity to come. Simply put, we believe that to know God's word is to know God.
WHY SO MANY TRANSLATIONS
In order for people around the world to understand the message of the Bible, they first had to be able to read it in a language they understood. Scholars began translating the scriptures into those languages. As time passes, languages evolve, dialects emerge, words change meaning, new words come and old words go. As scholars have attempted to reach the whole world, they have, by necessity, had to translate into the languages and dialects of the whole world, Since these languages and dialects are ever changing, the translators have had to update the translations to meet the newer language requirements, and so the cycle continues. There are also issues between groups of manuscripts that can cause some very heated debates. Basically, there are two primary sets of early manuscripts, (Bizantine and Alexandrian) and so the translators also have to choose which manuscripts they will start from (some use both, starting with one primary text, and writing in italics the portions that come from other). All of that to say that manuscript variations and language variety and evolution explains the high number of translations in existence. Add to that the financial reasons to produce another version and one can easily see how there can be close to 700 different English translations (or partial translations) and paraphrases).
CHOOSING MY TRANSLATION
1. Authorized King James Version (KJV)
Very Reliable word for word translation written in the language style of England in the 1600's. Poetic and beautiful and therefore great for memorization though many have difficulty with the language and mechanics. Bizantine Manuscripts
2. New King James Version (NKJV)
Very reliable word for word translation taken from the KJV. The changes in word meaning that have occurred since 1611AD are accounted for and the mechanics have been updated to more modern norms. This is the primary version used in the pulpit at Cornerstone because many in this community have grown up with the KJV and this is simply an easier to understand version of that. Bizantine text.
3. New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Accepted by most Biblical scholars as the most accurate word for word translation. It uses mechanics and syntax similar to the KJV. Where the KJV uses the Bizantine manuscripts, the NASB uses the Alexandrian. Revised versions include the Bizentine additions in italics or parenthesis.
4. New International Version (NIV)
Very accurate thought for thought translation and very popular in many churches. Easy to read in modern English form. Lacks some of the feel and poetry of other versions but very trustworthy. Alexandrian Manuscripts
5. English Standard Version (ESV)
Very accurate. More of a word for word translation with a strong nod to the representation of the thought. Modern English structure, moderate reading level. Recommended by many churches. Alexandrian Manuscripts
6. New Living Translation (NLT)
Very accurate thought for thought translation written in a contemporary English style. Very plain spoken and easy to read while not losing any reliability. Alexandrian Manuscripts
7. Amplified Bible (AMP)
Extremely accurate word for word translation. Only version to take into account the fact that the original languages often assigned multiple meanings to an individual word. Early readers would have understood this and therefore gotten a fuller meaning from a passage. The Amplified Bible translates with predominately accepted definitions as do other translations, but it then includes the other possible translations of key words in parenthesis to give the reader a fuller understanding. Though this may not be the best Bible for memorization, it does provide more insight into the fullness of meaning in the text and is therefore a great resource to have beside your version of choice to help with your understanding.