Muddying the Waters

The version of the Christian Bible one chooses is a legitimate option, but everyone should consider the difference between translations, versions, and paraphrases.

“Version” is the simple and generic term for all types. This includes the King James, New King James, New American Standard, New International, Darby, Young’s, Revised Standard, and so on.

Translations are of two types. First, there are those done by groups of scholars, with the intent of bringing the original languages to the contemporary reader. These are by far the most reliable because they have the consensus of scholarly expertise.

Second, there are translations done by a single scholar with the same intent. Examples of these are Darby’s, Young’s Literal, and Moffatt’s New Testament. These contain cutting-edge interpretations of the original languages, but they do not have the benefit of peer-evaluation.

Paraphrases are usually wordy attempts to bring the reader several shades of meaning. The reader is handicapped by these versions if a personal word study is not undertaken by the reader.

Paraphrases are not translations. Translations are, like the original languages, everyday expressions of concepts. Literal and amplified works give the reader the sense that all possible interpretations have been presented. Authoritative interpretation depends on much more than the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew words. Of equal importance are (1) the grammatical structure of the sentence (2) the kinds of action contained in the verbs, and (3) the context (placement in the text and placement in history).
How can the reader arrive at confidence in interpreting and applying the Sacred Texts?

First the reader can avoid simply following commentaries. Centuries of error have been perpetuated by Christians accepting the reflections of commentators.

Secondly, the reader must prayerfully approach the study of the Bible. This means having confidence in the One who inspired the texts in the first place, the Holy Spirit

Finally, the reader must use the tools that are available. These include Grammars and Lexicons of Biblical Hebrew and Greek. Study of the text itself is vital.

    Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2Ti 2:15