One God! Many Bibles! Which Version Is The Version?
‘Older Believers Tend To Trust The Good Old ‘King James Version, But Younger People Are Not Comfortable With Its Archaic English Language, With All Its ‘Thou’ And ‘Thee’
The very idea that Christians may have to gain entrance to Gloryland by flashing a prerequisite Bible version, amid other particulars, is disturbing. While, hopefully, that would not be the case, adherents of the religion are, nevertheless, in contention over which of so many versions deserve preeminence. Should faithful of one religion have dozens of English language translations? Might a certain version be enjoying secret nod from heaven’s gatekeepers? And could some translators be churning out Bibles for pecuniary gains? CHRIS IREKAMBA finds out what some preachers think.
‘It’s Better To Stick With King James Version’
(Pastor Jerry Asemota, Church Secretary, Deeper Life Bible Church, Lagos)
I WOULDN’T know why a particular church would choose to have another Bible. From what we learnt from those that edited the translation to the English Bible, like King James, it has its origin in the original script. One would think that is a more authentic version, even though it was written in old English with ‘thou’ and ‘thee’, because that was the language of that time. And if the Bible says we should not add or subtract from God’s word, I think it is better for us to restrict ourselves to the original version of the Bible (King James); that is the interpretation from the original to the English.
The point is that the Bible should not be different; the content should not be different. Even though you want to write it in modern English, you shouldn’t take it from the original meaning intended by the Spirit of God. But there are versions you find today, which some people are using. They give the impression that they want to simplify it, but in the process end up adding things that should not be there.
For example, if the Bible says that originally God made man and woman and he does not like divorce, there are interpretations today that allow divorce, a thing that is not in the mind of God. Jesus Christ Himself said that in the beginning it was not so; He made them male and female. Also, there are versions that don’t agree that hell is real, and that its punishment is eternal. They give an impression of annihilation, that when somebody drops in hell, he goes off from there, and that is the end. But that is not so. Jesus Christ spoke of, ‘where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.’
Then, there are some Pentecostals. The Bible they use, the interpretations they have, make it look like Christianity is a very simple way of life, as if anybody can choose to live as he wants. This is not true. God is the author of the Bible. He has instructions He has given us to follow. He has His Holy Spirit, which should direct the believer.
If a man doesn’t have enough grace to obey the word of God, he should ask for grace. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, we pray to God and ask for God’s grace to be able to follow the instructions of the Bible. Jesus Christ said, ‘if you are to follow me, you must take up your cross and follow me, and hate your father and mother.’ Those who are not able to hate father, mother, and even their life, cannot be His disciples.
There are people who think that is a hard saying, so they try to modify some of these things to suit their purpose. That will not help anybody because at the end of the day, it is not the person who created the version of the Bible that will be the judge. The judge is going to be the Son of God. Also, those people who are creating a version for women, saying, ‘God should be seen as a woman’, I think that is an abomination.
The word of God is inspired. But don’t forget that at the end of the book of Revelation, God placed a curse on anybody who will take away from His word or add to it. It is like the original owner of a car made it Mercedes Benz. If you remove the fuel pump of a Mercedes Benz and put in that of a Peugeot, even if you can still drive it around, that is not the original intention of the manufacturer.
God has His own plan and He has given us His word, and we are to follow it. But if anybody, for convenience sake, and for personal gain, tries to modify it to suit some hearers, at the end of time, he will face the consequence. That does not mean that the word of God is not inspired.
I don’t see the difficulty in understanding the King James Version, except the fact that people think it is not written in modern English. But the meaning still remains. If you want to preach in modern English, do so. The preacher preaches as the Spirit of God leads him. The interpretation is what he has read and if he reads the King James Version, he is in a position to interpret what he has read. He is not going to speak in the language of the 16th century to the hearers. It is the Spirit of God that interprets the Bible, except they don’t have the Spirit of God to do the interpretation for them.
‘Newer Versions Reflect
Language Dynamism, Target Wider Readership’
(Pastor Johnson Odesola, member, Governing Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God/Special Assistant to the General Overseer, Admin./Personnel
I THINK the idea is to bring the Bible closer to men. You know that the culture of the youths, now, is different. There are some languages or words that youths will speak only to one another. English has moved on because of so many factors.
So, I think we have so many translations of the Bible because of the dynamic nature of culture and the settlement of people. My children don’t read King James; they read Good News, NIV, and Living Bible. But I still teach them King James. I think writers want to bring the Bible closer to people, and also make the Bible simple. I think that is why we have different translations.
The Bible should not be different; the content should not be different. Even though you want to write it in modern English, you shouldn’t take it from the original meaning intended by the Spirit of God. But there are versions you find today, which some people are using. They give the impression that they want to simplify it, but in the process end up adding things that should not be there
How then do we ensure that these translations still retain the original word of God? That was the question I raised when I was doing my Ph.D. in Theology. The Bible Society and all the people who are involved in translations make sure that the content of the subject is not lost. And I have seen different examples, which they have done.
We must be able to separate the Bibles people have made comments on. Like in the Redeemed Christian Church, we have the Holiness and Purity Bible, and there is also one that the General Overseer uses. I know that in the days of apartheid, some people had an apartheid version to justify what they did.
I believe they are all trying to convey the same message. For instance, I have about 15 translations and I discover that when I don’t get it right in the Amplified Version, I turn to the NIV. When I don’t get it right, I go to the New King James Version, or I go to the Good News or The Message. I think the reason is in order to bring these versions closer to the hearts of the common person, so that nobody will have an excuse not to serve God or say that he doesn’t know the word of God. I think all the translations still contain the same message. I still believe that the Bible is inspired; it’s still very inspired.
‘Differences Explainable By History’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos)
THESE things came out of historical circumstances and even the entire history of the Bible itself is a part. If you talk about different versions of the Bible, that will probably be referring to different translations. And there are many translations of the Bible from one language to another, and so on. But the books of the Bible used by the Catholic Church are more in number than that used by the Protestants. And there is a historical reason for this. Let me also say that the Bible used by the Catholics has a number of books that is different from that used by the Protestants. The number of books in the New Testament is the same, both for Catholics and Protestants. But the number in the Old Testament is different because the Protestants, during the Reformation, decided to adopt the Hebrew Bible, whereas the Catholics use the Greek Bible of the Old Testament. The Hebrew Bible was used by the Jews who were in Palestine whereas the Greek Bible was used by Jews who were spread all over the world at the time.
The difference between the two is that there are some books in the Greek Bible that are not to be found in the Hebrew Bible used by the Protestants. That is where difference in Bibles comes from. But basically, the Bible is the same; only that we have what is called Deuterocanonical books that the Catholics accept. The Protestants do not accept these as books of the Bible. That is basically the difference.
My children don’t read King James; they read Good News, NIV, and Living Bible. But I still teach them King James. I think writers want to bring the Bible closer to people, and also make the Bible simple. I think that is why we have different translations
Of course, the Bible certainly is inspired. It is the word of God; it is not man’s word. It is the word of God because God inspired the writers of the books of the Bible, with the message He wants them to pass on to humanity. The writer has used the language that he is familiar with, the symbols that he is familiar with, and the kind of environmental circumstances that he is familiar with. But the main message of the Bible is fully inspired. The Bible is undoubtedly inspired, and that is why we are able to accept it and use it to prepare our lives as Christians. The King James Version was translated from the Hebrew Bible. The Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew Bible and in the language of the time when it was translated. The language of 16th century English is different from that of the 17th or 20th centuries.
There are some books in the Greek Bible that are not to be found in the Hebrew Bible used by the Protestants. That is where difference in Bibles comes from. But basically, the Bible is the same; only that we have what is called Deuterocanonical books that the Catholics accept.
That is why the language is different.
Indeed, there are other translations of the Bible that do present the same message, according to the language being used at any point in time. If you can read German, obviously, you are going to be reading the same message. But in the German language, probably there are several editions or versions of that same language. You will also see the same thing playing itself out in other languages as well.
The message of the New Testament is expressed in the same number of books, but that of the Old Testament is expressed in different number of books, as we have it, according to the Protestant Bible and the Catholic version of the Holy Bible. But the message of God is the same.
‘Some Later Versions Merely
Academic, Lack Spirituality’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive,
General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc/Senior Pastor, Church Of The Anointing, Warri, Delta State)
YOU referred to the original Bible in your question, which makes me want to define what you call ‘original Bible’. I am sure you are not referring to the Bible in the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in which it was written. The Bible is the most translated book in the world. As at November 2014 the full Bible has been translated into 531 languages, and 2,883 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.
It appears to me that you are referring to the many translations of the Bible in the English language, as compared to the earlier English versions. Attempts at an “authoritative” English Bible for the Church of England are the earliest translations in this respect. These include the Great Bible of 1538, the Bishops’ Bible of 1568, and the Authorised Version (the King James Version) of 1611. No one can give you an exact number for the English translations of the Bible, as at today.
Which translation or version can therefore be relied upon? Older believers tend to trust the good old ‘King James Version’. But younger people are not comfortable with its archaic English language, with all its ‘thou’ and ‘thee,’ etc. Those who are vast in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages and have taken time to compare the English translations with the Bible in these original languages insist that the King James is more accurately translated. A study of the translation process of earlier versions shows that their translators were prayerful and inspired. Sadly, many of the later versions are merely academic and lacking in spirituality, hence their products reflect their theology, a denial of fundamental Christian doctrines. Some church groups have also re-written their own Bible to suit their own doctrines, a sign of the end times in which we live.
My advice is to do comparative study of the versions. Any translation that is far off the centre is suspect. The King James Version (including the New King James Version) remains my favourite but the Living Bible, Amplified Bible and The Message inspire me greatly. They have a way of bringing the truth home in today’s language.
‘Every Bible Is God’s Word
(The Rt. Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Methodist Church Nigeria)
TODAY, there exist different versions of the Bible. For instance, we have King James Version, New King James Version, Standard Version, New Standard Version, America Standard Version, New America Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version, Good News Bible, Amplified Bible, New International Version, and New Living Translation. We have more than 50 versions of the Bible.
Why do we have different versions of the English Bible? Is it actually required? It should be seen from the perspective that the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, respectively. As a matter of fact, there were many attempts to translate the Bible from the original language to English by different groups from various backgrounds. The methodologies adopted for the translation differ as well. While some may choose to translate literally, others may not.
Furthermore, the rendering of the original meaning of the word may also account for different versions of the Bible. In other words, language is dynamic and English language is not an exception. It develops and changes as well. Linguists state that the English language has changed more in the past 400 years than the Greek language has in the past 2,000 years. It is, therefore, the struggle to make a meaningful rendering of the original word of the Bible that may account for the different versions of the English Bible.
Economic reason too may also account for the different versions. The Bible is sold in more than 100 countries of the world. And from research, it remains the best selling book. “The Bible remained the top seller in the world, with sales figures ranging (widely) from 2.5 billion to over 6 billion copies! To get to 6 billion copies, you need to include the Bibles that have been given away, as well as all translations.” In this sense, commercialisation is another motive for different versions of the English Bible.
Another question is, what happened to the original Bible? Is it outdated or hard to understand? The original Bible, as stated above, was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. To be able to make use of the original Bible, you must understand the language, which was used originally to write it, that is, Hebrew or Greek language, respectively.
However, it has been suggested, among others, that the early complete Bible in English is the King James. But the style of English expression is archaic. No one speaks such English any more, words like he ‘goeth,’ ‘saith,’ ‘cometh’, and so on. Modern man will not be comfortable reading the words of God in such archaic style of English.
Every Bible is the word of God, unless it does not bear the stamp of the canonised Bible, which has been accepted as the word of God. Nobody can write another Bible apart from the one that has been canonised. What can make the difference is the style of English, methodology and rendering.
It has been asked as well, if the writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the versions of the Bible. The fact stands that the Bible is the word of God. It has originally been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is written in the Bible: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible, therefore, is the inspired word of God.
The need for different versions has been established earlier on. But above all, whatever the reasons for the different versions of the Bible, as we have it today, I believe it is to make the word of God spread and reach everyone in the style that might be convenient for him or her. It is, therefore, wrong for any particular denomination to stick to one version of the Bible as being the original or the best, or condemn other denominations for using a different version.
No comments yet