G. Grady Daniel, Jr. has been a deacon for 37 years and a Sunday school teacher for 40 years. He is a member of Westside Baptist Church, 3517 Jamaica Drive Augusta, GA 30909. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Owning a good Bible is a wise investment. Therefore careful consideration should be given to some important factors in selecting the Bible you intend to use.
If you are a serious student of God's Word you may want a reference Bible that has notes, chain references, a concordance, maps, etc. You may also want thumb indexing and a durable cover such as bonded leather or genuine leather so your Bible will give years of service.
If you don't know which Bible to buy be careful about asking the book store clerk for suggestions. The clerk can tell you which one is selling best (probably The New International Version) but modern English versions are not the most accurate.
Clerks may be influenced by advertising blitzes or Madison Avenue-type promotions designed to hype a certain version. For example, the first edition of The New Living Translation had a $2.5 million promotional budget and an endorsement on the back cover by Dr. Billy Graham.
Modern English Bibles are also based on less than five percent of available manuscripts that are reliable. They sometimes leave words out of the text, or add them, and sometimes leave out entire verses without making the reader aware of this. No one is to take away or add to God's Word (Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:6, and Rev. 22:18,19.) Revelation states: (". . . If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the book of life . . .")
Consider that the Authorized King James (AKJ) has 790,685 words, The New International Version (NIV) has 64,576 fewer words, The New King James Version (NKJV) 19,755 fewer words, and The Revised Standard Version (RSV) 30,534 fewer. Obviously these versions have left out many words which were not all articles or thee's, thou's, thine's, and ye's.
One tidbit of uncommon knowledge regarding the "archaic" thee's, thou's, thine, and ye's (Elizabethan English) is that the first three are second person singular and ye is second person plural. Modern translations are void of this distinction.
Although the KJV is criticized for its use of "archaic" words the NIV uses 61 archaic words, the New American Standard Version (NASV) 160, the NKJV 144, and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 140.
These same versions also use many of the same archaic words used by the AKJ. The truth is that some of today's most popular periodicals always use archaic words. Many of these publications are read daily.
Since the AKJ has been around nearly 400 years, these newer Bible versions have obviously left out words ignoring the clear Scriptural command of Rev. 22:18, 19.
The texts used in translating modern Bibles employed the higher critical method, sometimes referred to as dynamic equivalence. With this method the Bible is not treated like the Holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God but like any other ancient book being translated. An attempt is made to interpret the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew and express that meaning in English. Such are the texts of Kittel (Hebrew Text), or Nestle or Aland.
If the preface of a Bible you are considering reflects the use of any of the above texts the interpreters used dynamic equivalence. The same would be true of the text of the United Bible Society.
The AKJ translators treated their manuscripts as if they were handling Sacred Scripture, the very Words of God, and used a translating technique known as literal equivalence. Realizing it is the place of the Holy Spirit to interpret and give meaning, the AKJ translators tried to lift words from one language and place them in a different language without trying to interpret meaning.
Many modern translations base their Old Testament (OT) readings on the Septuagint - an alleged Greek translation from Hebrew. (The OT was written in Hebrew and the New Testament written in Greek.) Many Bible scholars feel there is no documentation the Septuagint, or LXX, actually exists.
The name Septuagint means "seventy", hence the Roman numeral LXX. Six representatives from each of the twelve tribes, that were scattered over the world at that time, were supposed to convene to translate from Hebrew into Greek. (We won't get into LXX vs. LXXII.)
Communication gurus would tell you this would not work well. The rule of thumb is "the more links in the communication loop, the greater the possibility of error." In other words, greater accuracy is possible going from Hebrew to English, rather than from Hebrew to Greek to English.
Those selling Bibles may say a certain translation may read somewhat differently but it still says the same things as the AKJ. The very fact a Bible is copyrighted shows that it does not say the same things as the AKJ.
The Derivative Copyright Law states in part: "To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a 'new work' or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a pre-existing work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes."
If a Bible is copyrighted it must be changed so that it does not read like the AKJ, and just dropping some "a's", "and's", "the's" or doing away with "thee's, thine's, thou's and ye's, would not be a sufficient change to warrant a copyright. Therefore, modern Bibles don't read the same as the AKJ.
If you intend to buy a new translation because it may make the Bible easier to understand, you may be disappointed. The Holy Spirit is the One who unlocks God's Word not some interpreter who feels, based upon his knowledge and intellect, he is giving the intended meaning of a passage of Scripture.
No matter which Bible one uses there is still no substitute for deep, diligent, prayerful study. In addition, the heart that is fully committed, gives Jesus Christ first place, and is empty of self will be able to discern more of what God is saying than the superficial Scripture surfer who is using the most popular version of the day.
Over the years this writer has written down some very important principles of Scripture interpretation. These rules did not come from any textbook but many were suggestions from men far more scholarly than this writer.
It is hoped the reader will find these guidelines clear and practical. They should prove to be useful tools for unlocking Scripture that may not have been very clearly understood before.
1. Learn how to read your Bible properly by correctly observing all punctuation marks. (This takes practice. You may have to do some reading to yourself aloud.)
2. Consider the HISTORICAL setting surrounding the verses.
3. Consider the CULTURAL/SOCIAL aspects involved in the verses. (What is the usual custom?)
4. Consider the CONTEXT of the verses being studied, particularly the context of the verses that come before and after.
5. Remember the Law of First Mention. If you can't decide how a word is used or with what it is associated, try to find where the word was first used in Scripture and in what context. It will then be used in the same context throughout the Bible.
An example would be how the word "leaven" is used. Leaven first used in the Bible was symbolic of evil. It is therefore used in the same context throughout Scripture.
6. In any passage where it is difficult to determine exactly what is meant or how a teaching should be applied, try to find at least one verse that is undeniably clear. Then all other verses must be interpreted in the light of the clear verse.
7. Many times when a verse is (or verses are) hard to understand Scripture will give an understandable illustration elsewhere.
8. Read all other PARALLEL PASSAGES that relate to the passage you are studying. One example would be an incident that occurs in the four gospels, such as the crucifixion of Christ, should be studied in each gospel where information is given.
9. Learn the quirks of the Bible you are using. As mentioned before, modern Bibles use a translating technique called dynamic equivalency (paraphrasing) while the Authorized King James uses one called literal equivalency, or true translation without attempt to interpret. The New King James Version paraphrases in over 2,000 places, the New American Standard in over 4,000 places, and the New International Version in over 6,600 places.
10 . SECOND PERSON SINGULAR (you, yours - one person) vs SECOND PERSON PLURAL (you or yours - a group of several persons or many people.) As far as is known by this writer, this differentiation is made only in the Authorized King James text. Where thee, thou, or thine is used it means second person singular (one person). When ye, you, or yours is used it means second person plural (more than one person such as a group). See Luke 22:31,32.
11. "The NEW is in the OLD concealed. The OLD is in the NEW revealed." The first statement refers to things that were used as examples such as Typology, e.g. Moses, a type of Christ; also Joshua, etc. The OLD is revealed in the NEW in the form of quotations from Old Testament books.
12. The Bible uses figures of speech. Some figures of speech and their examples are:
13. Every verse in the Bible has three applications: Historical, Doctrinal, and Inspirational.
This is not meant to be an all inclusive list but just a few principles of which this writer is aware. They should prove helpful to any conscientious student of the Bible.
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