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Bible Translations Do Not Differ, Or Matter, As Much As You Think

Debating one translation over another is largely a waste of time

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

There has been a long debate over which translation of the Bible is the best. There are those who believe King James’s translation reigns supreme, others say New International Version (NIV) offers the most accurate depiction of the text. Other people enjoy English Standard Version (ESV). But what about the Good News and Message translations?

This debate has split churches, led to huge blow out fights among clergy and has pitted one Christian against another for centuries. All of this is wholly unnecessary.

Not the original language

First, English Bibles are already far from the original language that the texts were written in. Arguing about a translation seems silly to me when the original texts are available to read in their original languages. If you don’t like translations, read the original. Most of the Old Testament is written in ancient Hebrew, which is different from modern Hebrew, while the New Testament is written in ancient Greek. These are not completely dead languages and it is possible to learn how to read them and even speak them if you so desire.

My point being, is if Bible inerrancy and accuracy are really that important to you that you will fight to the death about a translation you should probably just read the original text. If that seems to onerous for you, then you probably don’t care as much as you think about the sacred nature of individual words.

Little to no theological difference

The message portrayed in every translation of the Bible is the same. Reading the Good News Bible is not going to give you a completely different cosmology or salvation message than if you read the NIV. In fact, outside of a few poorly translated verses in the original King James Bible, there have been no serious offenses when it comes to theological differences between translations.

For example, every English translation is going to give you the same creation account, they are going to tell you about how Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, they are going to hold up Jesus as the Messianic savior of God’s people and they are going to end with Revelation where God wins in the end. From start to finish, all Bible translations tell the same story. Reading one is not going to jeopardize your foundation of faith and that is true for all translations.

A waste of time

Do not waste your precious time debating about varying translations of the Bible. The differences are so small and so pedantic that it is a futile effort. Generally, this is a debate that takes place between two Christians. What if each of those people used their energy for debate to convince a non-Christian to pick up the Bible to begin with rather than argue about who’s bible is better?

This is a destructive kind of debate that only serves to divide the church and pit believer against believer. It is outside of the realm of our mission to love, serve and make disciples. So next time someone asks you what translation you use, tell them if you must, and leave it at that. If someone rolls their eyes or tells you to use another one, politely smile and tell them such debates are not worth the glory of God.

Or ignore them.

The takeaway

  • If you want to read the text as originally intended, read them in their original languages
  • Bible translations do not change the overall theological message
  • Debating about different translations is a waste of time and effort that detracts from the Kingdom of God

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Arthur Piper

Arthur Piper

21 Followers

A Christian with a degree in philosophy and a passion for writing and helping others.