Which One Do I Choose?
When we go into a bookstore that sells Bibles, the choice is disconcerting. The Holy Bible comes in many forms. Versions of the Bible written by scholars who have studied the ancient languages and done their best to translate the early documents into English. These scholars have tried not to be biased in their interpretations of the ancient words. The most familiar of these translations are the King James Version and the New International version. Even with these “accurate” translations we always must remember that they have been created by human beings with all our foibles.
Along with these, are a multitude of “paraphrases”. These Bibles are also written by scholars who are trying to make the Bible more accessible to the modern-day reader. Of these the most familiar are “The Living Bible”, “The Good News Bible” and “The Message”. The bias of the writers of these Bibles is much more clearly seen.
Just to add confusion there are also many editions of each version produced for specific purposes. Examples of this are, the NIV student Bible, the NIV Inclusive Bible, the NIV Teen Bible. These Bibles contain notes giving the context of the Bible stories, the variety of possible meanings of some passages and more.
How do we choose with this smorgasbord laid out before us?
My solution is to own more than one version. I find it stimulating to compare a translation and a paraphrase of the same scripture passage, especially when I’m having difficulty understanding it. My favorite version is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase titled, “The Message”. I keep “The Message” with my daily journal. I love the fact that I can read and understand it easily. This morning as I was reading Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, Peterson helped me to clearly understand that Paul was teaching inclusivity when it comes to relationships. As I summarize Paul’s words, he says, “Give up criticizing the beliefs of others. They may consider Saturday, Sunday, or no day sacred. It’s not our job to judge. Our job is to live our own beliefs. Jesus calls us to love others, not judge them outsiders. Our job is to spread God’s love to everyone, not just the few that believe like us. Our job is to value all people. Our job is to be the best Christian and the best person we can be.
If we could all follow those simple instructions, world peace just might have a chance.
Read Romans Chapter 14. Go to www.biblegateway.com and read that chapter at least in “The Message, and the New International Version. Leave a comment to tell me what you have learned.