Friday, June 17, 2005

Before we review . . .

I hope to put forth some reviews of modern versions of the Bible. I want to do this because I am often asked "Which Bible is the best one?" There is no single answer for that because you have to determine how you want to use your Bible: devotionally, study, teaching, preaching, etc.

Another question that comes up more than you think is this one: "Why do we need so many new Bibles?" That's a good question and I've wondered that myself once or twice. One thing is for sure - we don't need ALL of them. But several are very good and very helpful to us.

The primary reason we need new Bibles is because of the change in our language. Perhaps you don't think that English has changed that much? What do you think of this verse?
"For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life."
Naturally, you recognize it but do you know in which Bible it is found. Would you believe the 1611 King James Version? But you probably are thinking, "That doesn't look like my KJV." It doesn't for the simple reason that you don't have a 1611 KJV - you have a 1769 King James. The KJV underwent numerous revisions through the years until it basically looks like what you have now. Isn't it amazing how much language changed from 1611 to 1769 - just 158 years later?

But even the King James was a drastic change from earlier English Bibles. Look at these examples of that famous verse:

  • Geneva (1557): "For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
  • Great Bible (1539): "For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
  • Tyndale (1534): "For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe."
  • Wycliff (1380): "for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,"
Before this Wycliff version, the language gets fairly hard to read. For example, consider this Anglo-Saxon manuscript of 995 AD and its rendering of John 3:16:
"God lufode middan-eard swa, dat he seade his an-cennedan sunu, dat nan ne forweorde de on hine gely ac habbe dat ece lif."
So, as the language continues to change, we need Bible versions to change along with it. God intended the Bible to be read, studied, memorized and applied to our lives. I do not think He intended us to worship it!

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