Biblical Translations Examined

Biblical Translations Examined
Indubitably, one of the most widely know Bible translations is the King James Version and one of the most known Bibles is the Gutenberg Bible. While the names are known, do people understand the history and progression of Bible translation?

In the 1450's, Gutenberg used a moveable press to typeset the first printed Bible. He used manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate, a fourth century translation by a monk named Jerome. Prior to this, only the wealthy were able to afford handwritten manuscripts that often took a translater a year to produce. The first English language Bible, also a handwritten manuscript, was not produced until the 1380's when John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor and proponent of reforming the Catholic Church, translated the Latin Vulgate into English with the help of his followers. Over the course of the next 180 years, several English translations were produced: Tyndale's Bible, the Cloverdale Bible, Matthew's Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and the Bishop's Bible.

With so much infighting over the accuracy of Bible versions, King James I authorized a group of scholars to undertake a project to produce an accurate English translation. Beginning in 1604, forty seven scholars began an undertaking that would take more than six years. Using the Massorec texts and Textus Receptus, they produced the Bible which took on King James I's name. The project was completed in 1611 making this, 2011, the 400th birthday of the King James Bible.

While the King James Bible remains one of the most widely known and popular translations, new translations have continued to be produced. At least twelve other Bibles, some rather close and some revisionary, have been produced since 1611. (While researching information for this article, I ran across an online article which gave a timeline of Bible translations. For those who are interested, it is

Some explanations for the needed revisions have been that the meanings of words change over the centuries. Translations have been produced which attempt to convey the same meaning but which use modern vernacular. While this can be true, it is also false in some translations. The Bible is clear to say that you should not add to or detract from the Word of God. In an effort to streamline, or perhaps truly meaning to change meanings, some translations have left out passages of scripture and made subtle changes to tenses. Others have used the wrong usage for a, after all, is just love in English; yet, in Hebrew, there are eleven words for love and each cannot be translated to mean love in English to retain the same meaning. Additionally, Christian-based cults have produced their own versions of the Bible in an effort to change meanings to convey what they want their followers to believe. One passage I turn to is John 1:1. The verse must say, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God.". You will be able to recognize a cultish translation if it states, "In the beginning was the Word and the word was a God."

So, what makes for a good Bible? Join me as I continue a short series and examine four Bibles in two upcoming articles. In the meantime, drop by the forum and share your thoughts. Do you have a favorite translation? What do you look for when choosing your Bible?

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