One of the most significant shifts that has taken place within the Judeo-Christian religions in the past half-century or so is the development of a multitude of new translations of the Scriptures.
One of the most significant shifts that has taken place within the Judeo-Christian religions in the past half-century or so is the development of a multitude of new translations of the Scriptures. While some of these translations are certainly to be preferred above others, it can nevertheless be quite a daunting task to learn about them and make a decision about which one is “best.”
Many average lay people are confused by the enormous number of choices — they have sampled here, and sampled there — and still can’t make up their minds. I’d like to give you some of my own personal thoughts on this subject.
First of all, if you are unsure and can’t make a final decision on what Bible translation might be best for you, feel free to talk over some of these concerns or questions that you might have with someone whom you can trust — a priest, rabbi, Pastor, study group leader, or knowledgeable friend. Sometimes you can gain at clearer perspective on things if you have an opportunity to verbally “spell out” where you are in your thinking.
Here’s another strategy: see if you can borrow some copies of various translations of the Bible from someone who already owns a copy. If you can borrow a copy, then you can try it out by reading it over for a few weeks — to get a feel for the style of that translation.
Related to this, you can also visit your local public library — many times they will have various Bible translations that you can check out (be advised that in some libraries translations of the Scriptures cannot be checked out, but must be read at the library — but even if that’s true, you can still sit and read from it for a few hours). The advantage of reading a copy in your public library, or borrowing a copy from a friend is that you will not have to spend money on a purchase — not just yet.
Another thing you can do would be to pay a visit to various garage sales and flea markets — anywhere that books might be sold cheap. See if they have any used to Bibles or new Testaments — sometimes you can pick them up for $.25! And while these copies are used, and may even be somewhat damaged or marked, they will still be good enough for you to “preview” that particular Bible translation, without having to make a major financial investment (purchase).
If you want to spend some money on a new Bible, another thing that you can do (if you want to spend more than just a couple of dollars) is purchase a “parallel” Bible — these volumes contain several translations which are displayed in parallel columns going down each page. Purchase a parallel Bible that has several translations that you are interested in. Spend some time reading this — perhaps a year or so — and compare in detail the various translations.
Another great alternative is to invest in some good Bible study software that runs on your home computer. There are several good products available, and while they vary somewhat in their capabilities, all of them allow you to read and study the Bible from multiple translations. The great news is that some of the software is free — just check around on the Internet and you’ll be able to locate that software quick enough. Install this Bible study software, learn to use it, and then read regularly from the various translations of the Bible that are provided. A great bonus is that no matter what your final choice in a Bible translation, any computer software that you have purchased will always be a useful investment.
One final note of warning: while you are still “making up your mind” about a basic Bible translation, don’t spend a lot of money on an expensive study edition, or one that has been bound in expensive leather, until you are sure that that Bible translation is right for you. Some of these inexpensive editions of the Bible can cost $50 — $100 or more. If you purchase one, and later decide that translation is not what you wanted, you will have wasted your money — a lot of it.
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