Compare Bible Translations
The King James Version of the Bible, printed in 1611, was one of the first English translations of the scriptures ever accomplished. This text took four years to translate, starting in 1607. However, the English King James Bible is not the very first translation of the scriptures printed. The English version is considered the "Authorized Version", and utilizes the English in use during the 1600's. This English scripture is often referred to as "the King's English" which uses "thee" and "thou" for the modern word "you", and for present-tense words, adds "eth" at the end of adjectives and verbs. Today Christians often use the King James Version of the Bible as the anchor text when the objective is to compare Bible translations. Interestingly, the word "Bible" is never used in the original ancient texts, but rather the word "Bible" is referred to as "the Holy Scriptures", "the Word", and "the Law and the Prophets", among other references.
To compare Bible translations with a modern view, think about looking at the very first translation of the original holy texts, which was completed about 285 B.C., and was translated from Hebrew into Greek. Later on, about 400 A.D., the "Vulgate" came into existence, and was a translation of both the Old Testament and New Testament into Latin. Not until over 800 years later did the Roman Catholic Church divide the scriptures into verses and chapters. The reason many Protestant churches use only the King James, is that it was the first English "Authorized Version", and great care was taken in the translation. There are many other translations of the scriptures which have appeared in modern times that are just as good, and actually help the reader extract deeper meaning, without having to wade through the meaning of the more difficult to read King James scriptures.
Most advantageous is to retrieve varying texts of the scriptures in order to compare Bible translations. Doing so can prepare Christians for questions that may arise when speaking to non-Christians about the veracity of the various translations available. Understanding many versions will greatly aid scripture students, providing several sources from which to draw scriptural comparisons. One of the first modern works completed was undertaken in 1966 by a group of Biblical scholars, and was underwritten by the New York Bible Society. Scholars from five countries contributed their efforts and included several denominations, some of which were Baptists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, Evangelical Free and Assemblies of God. Including so many denominations ensures that one denomination in particular does not dominate the translation. This first twentieth-century translation is called "The New International Version" of the Word. When translating this version, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts were used. The translators were careful to keep intact the meaning that the original authors intended to convey to the reader, and ensured that sentence structure and grammar were also true to form.
The Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Revised Standard Version can also be used to compare translations. This is the first translation accepted by both Protestants and Catholics in the English speaking world. There are books called "The Apocrypha" which are appended to the end of this work, and which are not considered to be the authentic God-inspired scriptures, or "canon". The Apocrypha is valuable in aiding readers to understand the inspired books in scripture. Those who read the Word should keep in mind the following two verses: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV).
A decidedly free, rather than literal translation came about beginning in the late 1940's. The New English Bible-New Testament was translated directly from the Greek New Testament by a joint committee of delegates from the Church of Scotland, Church of England, Baptist, Methodist and what is called the Congregationalist churches. The desire was to create a new translation, keeping as much as possible to the original meaning of the Greek, while also utilizing other early Christian writings and early translations of the Greek from other languages. Another desired end-result was to follow as closely as possible, the original meaning or intent of what the author meant to say, rather than a word-for-word translation. This is why the text is considered to be a free translation. These translators considered that the King James Version of the Bible was flawed, because the scribes who wrote the pages over and over again were subject to many possibilities of error. Therefore, if this translation is used, the student should take care to remember that when the time comes to compare Bible translations, the New English Bible-New Testament will not follow the more literal translations as closely.
There is a very interesting modern translation called the "New Testament in Modern Speech" published in 1978, which was first introduced at Winona Lake with timid acceptance, but accepted it was. The community to which this work was introduced was considered a staunch King James Version group of user, and so acceptance by this group of Christians was considered an acid-test of usability. The modern language in this version was refreshing, and provided an insightful view of the scriptures which previously had not been available. Just as the King James Version of the Bible somewhat reflects the culture of that time, so the New Testament in Modern Times reflects the culture of today, inculcating the benefits of the language currently used among most modern English speaking people. It has the benefit of using word pictures to more deeply describe what was literally translated into English before now.
The few versions we have used here to compare Bible translations are but a drop in the bucket. There are many interesting and scholarly versions available for serious study, and so the student can confidently choose any and find the one that suits according to taste and need.