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Bible translations

Why are there so many different translations of the Bible? The cynical answer is, Bible translations are money-makers. To be sure, every few years a few fragments of ancient manuscripts come to light. But not since the Dead Sea Scrolls in the late 1940’s (which included only Old Testament books) has a trove of Bible manuscripts appeared. Yet translations keep popping out.

Allow me a heretical claim. Almost every modern translation of the Bible is quite acceptable.
Bible translations result from the careful work of teams of academics. The translation process often includes intense debate among linguistic scholars on how best to translate into modern language an archaic text. I well remember an Old Testament professor, Hebrew scholar (PhD New York University) and member of the 1978 NIV translation team, passionately asserting that the phrase “Lord of hosts” is more accurately “Lord of armies”.

Translations that follow a verbal, word-for-word equivalence from the ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic are better for intensive study than translations that follow a dynamic, thought-for-thought equivalence. But for most people dynamic translations offer easier reading. Paraphrases of the Bible (
The Message, The Living Bible, etc.) are different; they’re the work of one person—often composed to provoke.

Yes, there are lousy translations.
The New World Translation produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses is one.

Audio Bibles are great. A gentleman named Paul uses the app when he’s in a taxi driven by foreigner. He asks the driver’s native language, inquiring about the dialect with which they grew up. Paul then pulls up on his cell audio of the Bible in that language and that dialect, and plays it for the driver. Hearing his native language, his own dialect—perhaps for the first time in years, invariably the driver lights up. Paul makes a friend. More importantly the taxi driver hears the Word of God. And as was prophesied by Isaiah …

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. …
“As the rain and snow come down from heaven
and do not return to it without watering the earth
making it bud and flourish, yielding seed for the sower and bread for the eater.
So is my Word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty
but will accomplish what I desire, achieving the purpose for which I sent it.” ~

Dan Nygaard