Which Bible is Best?
I can remember watching a chat show on TV some time ago where the use of the Bible was being discussed. One of those taking part was very anti-Christian and had a lot of negative things to say. When the subject of seeking guidance from the Bible was mentioned her remark was along the lines of "Well there are so many versions of the Bible to choose from that readers just don't know which one to take note of" The discussion moved on with the subtle untruth of her remark left unchallenged.
What I mean by this subtle untruth is that any viewer of the program, who perhaps knew no better, could well believe her. What was needed at the time was for somebody to agree with her that "Yes there are many versions of the Bible but they all say, not different things, but the same thing in a different way" and therefore there is no need for any confusion to take place.
But why seek guidance from the Bible in the first place?, what's so special about a book!. Well Reader, consider this for a start, the Bible has been and still is the best selling book in the World. Every year more copies of it are sold than any other book. There are over one million copies sold every year in the United Kingdom alone. The reason for this is that it's not just a book written by men but it is the inspired words of God himself who chose some very special men to write down His wisdom and all those important things that he wants everyone to know. Thus, the Bible can be looked upon as a God provided ‘Guide Book to Life’.
But, returning to the subject of 'Which Bible', it's important to realise that the original, and the later copies, where all copied out by hand and not written in English. Some people have a concern here that a ‘Chinese whispers' effect may, over the years, have lost or altered some of the original wording. This is not so because there are over five thousand original Greek hand written copies of the New Testament still available that have each been examined and compared with all the others. They were found to be all the same except for occasional individual errors that stand out as being 'errors' because they are the one that is different from all the other copies.
So, the question ‘Which Bible’ is the best one to read and use?' Most versions stick as close to a 'word for word' translation as they can. The King James version was translated in this way and was written in the style of language that people spoke at the time of Shakespeare. It is therefore full of the words 'thou' and 'thee'. Some other Bibles are a Paraphrased version, in other words a ‘thought for thought’ interpretation based on what the translator believes the original author was trying to say but now rewritten using the language in use at that time.
To sum up, there are many versions of the Bible to choose from and 'Which Bible' is the best to read and use is, at the end of the day, the one that the reader finds themselves most comfortable with. Personally, I prefer the Paraphrased 'Living Bible', it's the one mostly used whenever I quote a passage on this Web site. The main reason for this choice is that I discovered that the Greek language, used at the time when the New Testament was written, had two levels. The higher level was the one used in written legal documents while a lower level was used in everyday conversation and also for the occasional short note that may have been passed onto say the babysitter or local shopkeeper. It was this lower level, not the legal one, that was used to write the New Testament. To me this equates to the use of the everyday language of the time. So, not being keen on using Shakespearian English, I like the 'thought for thought' words printed in the 'Living Bible'
As an example of this clarity Reader, try comparing the following passage with any other Bible you can get hold of, but don't be upset with the word 'Criminals' that is used towards the end. Remember this - whether we are inside prison or not we are all, in God's eyes, criminals who are serving time in this world until Jesus comes into our lives and sets us free. If you can't get hold of a Bible to do comparisons then just relax and read the Good News that the passage contains. It's from Paul's letter to the Romans Chapter 3 verses 21 to 28.
"But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way ..... Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to end all God’s anger against us. He used Christ’s blood and our faith as the means of saving us from his wrath. In this way he was being entirely fair, even though he did not punish those who sinned in former times. For he was looking forward to the time when Christ would come and take away those sins. And now in these days also he can receive sinners in this same way because Jesus took away their sins. But isn’t this unfair for God to let criminals go free, and say that they are innocent? No, for he does it on the basis of their trust in Jesus who took away their sins. Then what can we boast about doing to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do."
Now Reader, if what I've just quoted is not Good News to everyone then I don't know what is. It says that God has done his part and put the ball back in our court and forgiveness for all the wrong things we've done in the past is there for the asking. Jesus has paid the price, he took upon himself the punishment we each deserve, and now God is waiting for us to open our hearts and allow him to love us from the inside out. Becoming a Christian is not about being good enough but is about admitting our faults, asking for forgiveness and then asking for the help available from God's Holy Spirit to become a better person day by day.
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