At the beginning of the year, I pick a new translation, and I read it that year from Genesis to Revelation. So far I have thoroughly read through the KJV, NKJV, NIV and the NASB versions of the Bible.
This year 2017 I decided to go with the Complete Jewish Bible for a few reasons.
First, our foundation as believers is Jewish, our master Jesus was a Jewish carpenter. The authors of this translation are Messianic Jews, which means that they believe that Jesus is the long awaited messiah.
Secondly, the culture of the bible was different than ours so to better understand the culture I figured I would read it from their cultural perspective. Though the Bible is definitely for us today, it was written in the cultural context of time long forgotten, so this will help me in understanding the small intricacies and sometimes the bigger ones that I struggle with as I read the Bible.
Those are the reasons I chose the Complete Jewish Bible.
So what are my reasons for choosing a different translation every year? The two main reasons would be familiarity and understanding.
I don’t know about you, but the more time I spend with a text, the more, I get familiar. Getting too familiar can cause me to miss the subtleties of the Bible. I catch myself saying I’ve read this already and I start to anticipate what is coming next. By doing this the Bible can lose it’s effectiveness because instead of reading the bible so that it can challenge, refresh and or change me I’ll start reading the bible out of obligation.
Reading from a new translation helps me fight the feeling of familiarity and refreshes the Bible stories that I know, usually shining a new light on them.
Bible translators come from many different walks of life, and though we would like to think that it doesn’t happen, everyone has a bias, and it comes through even in Biblical translations. The people that translate the Bible are human.
Reading from another translation helps me to understand the Bible in a new way because I am not just reading from one translation or one point of view but I am taking in the richness of diversity of thought. Though I may not necessarily agree with them on all things it can help open my eyes to something I did not see before.
Now, though I read from different translations I have one translation that I use that I preach from, memorize and use to meditate on. I think everyone should have a version of the Bible they are memorizing.
It is our job as Christians to rightly divide the WORD of truth (found in 2 Timothy 2:15) and I believe one of the ways to do that is through reading different translations of the Bible. We know that the Bible was not written in English but translated to English, there are many words that were translated that have more than one meaning.
The classic example would be love. In the New Testament love has four different words to express different facets of love. The four Greek words are Phileō, Agapė/Agapō, Storegė, and Eros.
- Phileō – means to love, approve of, to like.
- Agapė/Agapō – mean brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence or love feasts.
- Storgė – means natural or instinctual affection, as of a parent for a child.
- Eros – means desire, sexual love
As you can see from this one example it is important to “rightly divide” and different translations help us in our pursuit of becomings wholly devoted Christ followers.