This is a continuation of my previous post: click here
Modern-day Bible Translations
With so many different versions, formats, and copies of the Bible it can be confusing and challenging to decipher what the "best" translation might be. This also means that at times one Bible can use phrasing that can mean opposing things compared to the phrasing of another Bible's translation. How is a reader to navigate this? Here are a few tips:
Research the Publisher. Some Bibles are printed by church denominations, individuals, or committees. The language used in your Bible will reflect the views and goals of the entity which published it. I recommend looking for Bibles that were created by a committee of individuals from a variety of Christian backgrounds. Often committees do the best job of maintaining a focus on the original Hebrew and Greek texts and holding a translation to a high standard.
Consider the purpose of the translation. Not all Bible translations were written with the same intentions. For example, we often see Bibles on the shelves geared towards Men, Women, or kids. A Bible such as The Message is most focused on creating a relatable dialogue for its reader. A Catholic Bible is printed with the standards of its church denomination in mind. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is considered to be the most accurate in regard to the Hebrew and Greek roots of scripture.
Focus on themes, not semantics. Often I hear debates about what Bible version is "best" or "right" or even "corrupted". Personally I think to scrutinize over Bible translations shifts our focus off of what really matters and what God intended. We must believe that God has preserved the message of his word throughout generations. Would God allow the true meaning of his words to be hidden from humanity- available only to a select few who take on the burden of digging through hundreds of translations or mastering Greek and Hebrew? That does not fit what I know of God. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us discern what Bible to read. God desires us all to know our purpose and his plan for us. When we read scripture for ourselves we can catch on to the themes, notes, and intentions of what we are reading. There was no punctuation in the original text, so instead of worrying about synonyms, sentences, and paragaphs, we must seek after the underlying point of what the writing is saying. Like the first "Bible" (The Ten Commandments) stated, everything we read should fall into one category or another: love God or love others. If something you read doesn't fit loving God or loving others... it probably isn't the right message.
How is the Bible credible?
This is a question I will likely hear repeated thousands of times throughout my blogging and writing career. How do we know the Bible isn't just fantasy writing or a mythological phenomenon much like Homer's Illiad? Do I really believe in a literal 6-day creation? What about the Jonah story? That has been disproven by science! People can't survive digestion!
Before I address anything, I will say this: believing in the Bible is a faith issue.
No matter how many examples, theories, facts, numbers, etc. I give you if you have decided that the Bible is a fallacy than for you it always will be. This is not only true for the Bible but also for other things in life. At some point, when we are trying to make up our minds about anything we have to make a choice. We are often more understanding of this in regards to other decisions, yet for some reason when it comes to our spiritual life we are afraid to commit. We want more evidence, more proof, more something. Perhaps I will write on that in another post- but my point is, I cannot "make" you believe that the Bible is credible. I will also point out that just because you or I don't necessarily believe the Bible is credible doesn't mean it isn't.
There are many articles written by great theologians giving fantastic arguments for Biblical credibility. You are welcome to google them, and I will link a few at the end of this article. That being said, I decided that instead of simply regurgitating what has been said before, I will share why I personally believe the Bible is credible.
The Bible is the most sold book in the world by a huge lead over its competitors. It has sold 3.9 billion copies in the past 50 years alone. The second most sold book in the world has sold 820 million copies- a significantly smaller number. People are not merely buying Bibles as skeptics or for decorations on their bookshelves, people are buying Bibles because something inside of them is wondering,"What does this say? Does this really have the answers I am looking for?"
The themes of the Bible are present in history from the start of our records up until today. Hundreds of historical figures scattered across our timeline, who have been proven to exist, not only acknowledged but also believed in a God, salvation, and the message of scripture. It was not until the French Revolution that we began to see such massive questioning of God's existence emerge among populations. Even today, although atheistic communities and belief systems have grown and developed, 84% of the world has faith in a higher power, and 29% identify as Christian- the largest group of people among all religious and spiritual affiliations. I do not believe this is just a coincidence or a sign of blatant ignorance in the world. I believe this is because there really is a God, and the concept of God is derived from the Bible. Even though we have many religious writings explaining various gods, they are not even among the top book sales. Ironically, when it comes to works of fiction we see the Davinci Code leading the charts- a book about how the Bible was supposedly written!
When people are in trouble, they talk to God and they quote scripture. I realize there are many psychology professors with their PhD's and plaques and best-selling books that will explain this away, but many of their theories when truly explored are fluff. People call on God in their darkest moments because deep down they've always felt he might be real and he might be there. When people are dying of cancer they ask people to pray for them even if they have never before prayed. Is this simply because they are desperate to try anything that might work? Yes. But that itself is meaningful. I've never heard of people calling on anyone or anything more than God in their times of trouble. There is no other thing that exists in the world that is more compelling or more curious than God. Mermaids, Big Foot, even evolution itself doesn't cut it. We don't spend hours of our lives wondering if a mermaid is out there somewhere. We wonder if God is.
The Bible tells us why. There is no other book or theory about the world that is as all-encompassing as scripture. The Bible tells us why people do the things they do and how humanity got to the place that it is today. Other books and theories scratch the surface but they just don't quite make it. The Bible has an answer for everything and it is not just an answer made out of thin air- it is a logical answer. The themes we see in the Bible are also recognized in our government, in our social issues, and in the things that just naturally make our blood boil. Evolutionists will argue this is merely our "instincts to survive" but this does not take into account the history we see of God always being on the minds of people since as far back as we can trace.
Further readings on Bible credibility: