Friday, 27 June 2008

In defense of the modern English Bibles

Since I have been posting a critique of a critique of the recent (last 30 years or so) Bible translations for the last few posts, and prompted by Mrs Edwards comment, I will now add that the differences between any English translation are very very small in comparison to the overwhelming volume of agreement between translations (with perhaps the one exception of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible, the NWT).
Every single Christian doctrine is supported by multiple verses in the new translations, as well as in the KJV. This is because while there may be small differences between versions, no doctrine has ever been based on a single verse, but based on many verses which together provide a whole, consistent picture. As Christians, whether we read from the KJV, the NIV, the NASB, the ESV or many of the other translations, we can be reassured that what we read is giving us an accurate picture of God's plan to give eternal salvation to His chosen people through the atoning death of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

As Mrs Edwards wrote so well in her comment to my previous post:

After I first studied all of this years ago, I decided that the KJV was decidedly inferior. But, in that response I was making the same error that I was reacting to, namely, deciding that only one translation is "true." We are so blessed by centuries of textual scholarship that now English translations are well footnoted to bring our attention to the various contradictions in texts or give the alternate word or phrase from other manuscripts for our consideration.

I currently use the ESV for my devotions, a text that "is based on the Masoretic text as found in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia..." However, the translation team factored in modern scholarship and textual discoveries, improving upon the KJV or RSV. And I have NIV on the shelf along with some other translations.

Translations will always be flawed to some degree and for some this admission feels threatening. I don't agree. I like how the preface to the ESV concludes: "We know that no Bible translation is perfect or final; but we also know that God uses imperfect and inadequate things to his honor and praise."

I have faith that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me through the Bible. While I don't need a textual analysis to bolster that faith, I am satisfied knowing that the English Bible's accuracy and faithfulness to the original manuscript has held up very well to scholarship. (By contrast, the keepers of the "sacred" text of another world religion prohibit outside scholarship, until methinks they protest too much.)

I couldn't have put it better myself.

1 comment:

Mrs. Edwards said...

Thanks for the compliment. It is fun to think with you!