King James And Beyond
In 1604 King James I authorized the translation of a new Bible. A group of 47 scholars worked for six years, using the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of their day. After much painstaking work and strict attention to accuracy, the King James Version was published in 1611. This version went through several revisions in later years, primarily to update the English language used in it.
Today, we have many more, and much older, Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from which we can translate the Scriptures. But there is very little difference between the existing manuscripts, and those differences do not affect a single doctrinal issue or rule of faith!
There are many excellent translations that can be used; personal preference is the only deciding factor in what a person can choose. Four of the most accurate and reliable translations of the Bible are:
- The King James versions (KJV, 1611); poetic language, reliable translations, but some old English vocabulary which may be obsolete or have changed meaning.
- The New King James Version (NKJV, 1982); updates some of the older vocabulary of KJV, but still retains much of the majestic language style.
- New American Standard Bible (NASB, 1971); based on oldest manuscripts available, accuracy is excellent, readability good.
- New International Version (NIV, 1978); accuracy of this version is good, with a fresh contemporary style and language.
Translation or Interpretation?
There are important differences between a translation version of the Bible and a paraphrase version of the Bible.
Primarily, a translation version seeks to literally translate from the original Greek and Hebrew languages in which the Bible was written into another language the reader can understand. A paraphrase version frequently attempts to explain or make commentary on the passages of Scripture. A paraphrase is more an interpretation of Scripture than a literal translation.
As long as the Bible student keeps this important difference in mind, a paraphrase version can be used as an additional tool of study. Some good paraphrase versions are the Phillips Bible, the Living Bible and the Amplified Bible.
Study, Study, Study!
It is also extremely important to note that several non-Christian cults promote their own “versions” of the Bible. Some of these almost seem like the genuine holy Scriptures, but are twisted by misinterpretation or even outright untruths. Cults use these to support their peculiar doctrines, which are intended to deceive and trap the ignorant and undiscerning.
This is not a new problem. Cults existed even in the days of the original apostles. Many of the New Testament books were written to disprove the false doctrines of these groups.
The best safeguard for yourself and the flock you lead, is to know the genuine Scriptures thoroughly! The only way to do this is to study, study, study with a heart that is open to the Holy Spirit’s illumination.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WORD OF GOD AGREE
This ministry of the Holy Spirit is an awesome and powerful thing. It is wonderful to see even today how the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are always in perfect agreement.