Bible Translations: All You Need to Know and a Little bit More

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Before you can buy a bible you must first learn a little about translations.

Honestly speaking:

It has become a hot mess.

There are hundreds of bible versions and translations out there. Don't believe me? Then check out this exhaustive list ( then run right back, before you get too swamped).

Instead of helping, we instead begin to feel our head swirl, wondering where to begin.

Don't worry, this post will not list these translations, but assist you in understanding:

  • what bible translations mean
  • why it's such a big deal
  • the three main ways the bible is translated

Afterward, we will look at the most accurate bible translations, then find the best bible translation for you. Sounds good, right?

Good! Let's begin.

What Does "Translation" Mean?

What does ‘translation’ actually mean?

According to its definition:

It is taking text in one language and converting it to the closest understanding or meaning of the words, in another language.

Why is Bible Translations Such A Big Deal?

In the case of biblical translations, the original language of the bible - which was for the most part Hebrew ( Old Testament) , Greek ( New Testament), and in some areas Aramaic - was taken and translated into English, to make it readable to the masses!

Yes, there was once a time when only a few chosen ones were given the opportunity to read the bible and everyone else left to their mercy!

But thanks be to Jesus Christ, who provided a way out. We have now a grand opportunity to have a bible in our home. Or ten if we want to.

Ain’t that great?

The problem with translations is that many times, the context or message captured in the original tongue can become diluted, misinterpreted, or lost all together through translation.

Why you ask? Because

  • There isn’t a matching word in the next language
  • There are different figures of speech ( interpreted differently among cultures)
  • There’s only one word to capture a complete thought, or wide variety of meanings

A perfect example of this is the word love.

It is found many times in the old and new testament. However there are four types of love in the Greek language, with a different word and understanding to match.

But when translating each word, the most accurate bible translation that was found is ‘love’.

With an English translation of the bible having only the word ‘love’, how would we know which love the verse is speaking about?

Worst yet, we would have no clue that something was wrong.

When I was a new Christian, I read every passage thinking that all love ( in the bible )  was referring to the same thing.

My was I wrong!

As we would say in the Caribbean, ‘when you don’t know, you don’t know’. And that’s the problem. Even though the Word of God is sweet already, at times taking the Word of God, ‘as is’ in the English language can truly limit the magnitude of understanding that God wants to reveal to us!

So it is hard to be a translator.

When translating text, the translator has to takes into consideration:

  1. Language
  2. Source of Material
  3. Culture
  4. Whether it should literal or paraphrased

3 Main Ways The Bible is Translated

There are two main ways the scriptures is translated. Either Word-For-Word or Thought-For-Thought.

  1. Word For Word: ( literal or most accurate bible translation ) : translators try to translate words into the ‘closest possible counterparts’ of the passage
  2. Thought For Thought: translators seek to ‘express the meaning’ of the original passage

Recently, in an attempt to make the bible even easier to understand, or perhaps to help God ‘get to the point quickly’ ( noticed the hint of sarcasm?); individuals have begun publishing bibles with paraphrased scripture.  

Paraphrase: reworded to show the understanding of the passage in the translators opinion. 

Danger, danger ahead! 

Remember, at the beginning I asked, how far was too far? Well I think we’ve found the answer. 

Paraphrased bibles can be wonderful help when reading the bible or teaching the bible to kids. But, although their heart may be in the right place, there is a very big danger in using paraphrased bibles for adult bible studies, because the focus is not on accuracy but readability and summarization. 

For me, I want the most accurate bible translation and not an alternative!

Now that we've learnt about bible translations in the introductory lesson: Let's move on the

Be safe

Finish with the lesson?

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