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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why are Bibles Different?

If you have been around the Christian community very long you will know that there are many different versions of the Bible available.  You may have had the experience, as I have, of being in a group or worship service with someone reading a passage of Scripture.  As you are reading along with them, you get lost because their version is so much different from yours.  That experience is exacerbated if they are reading a paraphrase.
Why are Bibles Different?
What is up with that?  They all start from the same place don’t they?  Maybe.

The reality is that there are at least three types of Bibles available at your local Christian book store.  Some of those types have subtypes.  Generally, the types are versions, translations, and paraphrases.

The starting place for versions is the original Hebrew and Greek text.  At the top level there is a committee of scholars that translate the text into the target language.  There are different philosophies of translation, the two predominant are literal and dynamic equivalent.

Those that working under a literal philosophy will work hard at closely following what the original says.  The challenge is that it is unintelligible to move word for word from one language to the next.  The grammars and syntax of the languages never match so in many cases the word order will have to be altered or more than one word will have to be used to translate a particular word.  The KJV, RSV, NASB, and ESV are examples of literal translations.

Those that work under dynamic equivalence strive to capture the thought behind the text.  Rather than attempt to capture the literal meaning, which does make a version in some cases harder to read, the committee attempts to faithfully capture the thought of the text.  It normally makes the work easier to read.

The starting point for versions can be different.  I will share that tomorrow.

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