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Which Bible Should I Read?

Letter From the Pastor

Romans 15:4 (CEB) Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures.

Which Bible Should I Read?

Summary: There are several things to consider when choosing a Bible version.

I am often asked which version of the Bible is the best one to read. There are dozens of choices. If you visit you will have free access to many Bible versions. There is, however, a lot that goes into considering what version of the Bible to read.

When contemplating your Bible choice, it is helpful to know what goes into creating a Bible version. The scriptures were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The best versions are translations from the original. Not all bibles are translations from the original. Some versions begin with the Vulgate which is an early translation into Latin, and other versions are derived from other English translations. The latter are labeled as “paraphrase.”

In addition to considering the method of translation there is the method of interpretation to consider. Every time we read anything we interpret the words from the page into our own context. This is true for scripture as well. When a Bible version writer is writing a new version, they also interpret the original into their own language style, their language usage and cultural context. Some versions choose to render the translation to a more literal “word for word” meaning like the New American Standard Bible. Other versions take sentences or ideas and interpret them into modern contexts, like the New International Version. Then others lean very heavily on modern context and try to capture the gist of the writing into current everyday/contemporary language like the Message Bible.

Interpretation is also complicated. When deciding how to translate ancient words into modern English the translator uses several research techniques to come to the best translation. They first look at how the original biblical writer used the word. Second, interpreters look at other biblical books to see how the Bible has used that word. Third, interpreters look at other writings from the era when the book was written to see how words were defined. The third technique has led to more recent changes in how biblical interpreters translate certain words. Computers and databases have vastly improved translators’ abilities to find ancient uses of words. Computers have changed the game in scripture translation. Translators have a bigger pool of information to draw upon.

Considering all of this, when one is studying scripture, I think it is best that one reads several versions to contrast them. This is the best way to receive a fuller understanding of the scripture. So, if you are doing serious study, I recommend that you have the three versions. The New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition, [NRSV(UE)], The Jewish Study Bible (a version written by Jewish scholars), and the Message (an easy-to-read modern culture version written by Eugene Peterson.) However, if you are reading it for devotions, I recommend the Common English Version. It is a good translation with fresh wording and is easy to read. Whichever translation you choose to read I hope you enjoy reading the Holy Bible. It offers a way to know and grow in relationship with God.

May you be free to be you,

Pastor Anny+

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