THE TRUSTWORTHY WORD

SUMMER QUARTER COUPLES/FAMILY CLASS - 2011

THE FIFTH QUESTION
Do the differences between Bible translations prove we can’t be sure how a passage should be worded?
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God...” (1Thessalonians 2:13 ESV). The Bible was written in three languages. The “Hebrew Bible,” or Old Testament, was written primarily in Hebrew with Aramaic portions. These are Semitic languages that are very different from English. The New Testament was written in Koine (“common”) Greek. New Testament Greek, though an IndoEuropean language, is also very different from English. No two languages translate perfectly word for word into each other, but every language is simply a way to communicate meaning. The point of translating a language into another is to convey that meaning as literally as possible. There are three types of Bible translations. Type (1) is Literal or Essentially Literal. The aim is to translate word for word as closely as possible. Its strengths: close relationship to original language structures. Weaknesses: can be difficult to read. Examples are the NKJ, NAS, and ESV.* Type (2) is Dynamic Equivalent or “Thought for Thought.” This type isn’t as tied to the wording, but seeks to convey the thought of the original into the new language. Strengths: easy to read and understand. Its weaknesses: allows possibility of more interpretive elements to slip in. Examples are the NIV, HCS, and NLT. Type (3) is Free Translation and Paraphrase. The former seeks to convey the meaning of the original with little or no relationship at all to the original wording; the latter isn’t really translation, but interpretation. Strengths: offers useful insights. Weaknesses: can be inaccurate at best, misleading at worst. Examples include The Living Bible, and The Message. In most cases, despite differences, translations attempt to render the meaning of the original faithfully. Reading several alongside one another reveals they use different wordings to say the same things. There are certain exceptions in translations (if they deserve to be so called) that blatantly seek to support sectarian doctrines. Notable in this category is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
*Only modern English translations offered as examples in this document.

ARE YOU SURE?
Are you sure the differences
between translations do not prove we can’t be sure what the Bible really says and means? Note the differences below with John 3:16:
 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in
him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJ).  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life” (GNT).

WE AFFIRM THE EXISTENCE OF NUMEROUS BIBLE TRANSLATIONS AND

TRANSLATION METHODS
DOES NOT PROVE WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE ALIKE

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