Interpretation Centered Study Bibles
These types of study Bibles are primarily designed to help you understand the meaning of the text in each book of the Bible. In other words, they want to help you get to the heart of the authors original intent.
Usually, these Bibles have loads of study notes underneath the text, plus maps, diagrams, cross-references, and dozens of other helpful tools.
Sometimes the study notes are written by a number of biblical scholars, such as with the ESV Study Bible, and other times theyre written primarily by a single individual, like the MacArthur Study Bible .
Personally, I believe the best study Bible will have study notes written by a variety of scholars. This allows you to get a variety of perspectives on a variety of texts. If all the notes are written by a single person, youre only getting their interpretation of all the passages. This can get especially dicey if youre getting into more difficult texts, like in the Book of Revelation.
However, this is just my personal recommendation and I certainly wont judge you if youre a fan of the MacArthur Study Bible or Sproul Study Bible.
Is Esv A Good Translation Of The Bible
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible, first published on 30 September 1952, The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the ESV is a light revision of the RSV and that, because of the textual basis and translational errors carried over from the RSV, it is not a trustworthy translation of the Bible.
Accurate Translation Into English
The first major translation to English came in the 1380s when John Wycliffe translated St. Jeromes Latin Vulgate word for word into Middle English.
Well get to the differences between word for word translation and thought for thought later, but the biggest is pretty straightforward. This word for word translation was not easy for the commonwealth to comprehend even though it was in their native language.
Its also interesting to know that at this time the only people who had immediate access to the Bible were the clergy in the church. Lets think through this for a minute. Everyday people did not have access to Gods word. They relied on the institution to teach them. Needless to say, Wycliffe was not popular with the Catholic Church for providing Bibles to the common people. After a natural death, Wycliffes remains were dug up, burned, and thrown away as a heretics were. In 1408 official law was passed forbidding English Bible translations. Insert major eye roll.
Unfortunately for suppressors, the moveable type printing press was invented by Gutenberg in 1450.
Isnt that one of those funny moments where God is obvious?! 1408 NO English translations. Its the law!! 1450 revolutionary invention that makes it possible to print books rather than hand write. I friggin LOVE it when He does that!!! And He still does it today!! Ok
BAM! Now Gods word is in English and accessible to everyone to read and study on their own. So why are there so many?!
Recommended Reading: Are Babies Born Sinners
Best Study Bible: Interpretive Or Application
First, let me say that both interpretive and application study Bibles are wonderful resources, and calling one type the best study Bible probably isnt the most helpful way to think about the subject.
However, if push comes to shove, Ill always recommend an interpretive study Bible.
Because I believe that the Holy Spirit is primarily responsible for helping us apply Gods word to our lives. He is the one who makes convicts us of sin and righteousness. He is the one who reveals Christ to us. He is the one who comforts us in our afflictions and encourages when were downtrodden.
Additionally, I dont want someone else doing the hard work of wrestling through how to apply various verses. I want to prayerfully grapple with the text, seeking Gods help to pull out the various meanings and applications.
Bottom line: When it comes to choosing the best study Bible, I would recommend one that focuses on interpretation rather than application.
Alexandrian Text Vs Textus Receptus
The reason for such differences is a variation between Greek text types. Briefly, the two major New Testament text types are the Byzantine text typefrom which the Textus Receptus and, in turn, the KJV and NKJV were derivedand the Alexandrian or Egyptian text typewhich forms the basis for most of the modern translations.
Thousands of ancient manuscripts of the Byzantine text type exist, and they closely match each other. This is the traditional text of the Greek-speaking churches. At the time the King James Bible was translated, the Byzantine text was represented by the Textus Receptus .
More recently scholars have compiled a Majority Text based on the consensus of the majority of Greek manuscripts. The Majority Text is similar to the Textus Receptus, but it corrects those readings which have little or no support in the Greek manuscript tradition .
The New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus, but notes differences with the Majority Text in the margin.
The Alexandrian text type consists mainly of two manuscripts, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. These became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when they were discovered, mainly because they were older.
However, some scholars have grounds for doubting the faithfulness of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they often disagree with one another, and Sinaiticus exhibits excessive omission .
This is another reason why we recommend the New King James Version as a primary translation.
Also Check: What Does The Bible Say About Cremation
How The King James Bible Came To Be
When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603, he was well aware that he was entering a sticky situation.
For one thing, his immediate predecessor on the throne, Queen Elizabeth I, had ordered the execution of his mother, , who had represented a Catholic threat to Elizabeths Protestant reign. And even though Elizabeth had established the supremacy of the Anglican Church , its bishops now had to contend with rebellious Protestant groups like the Puritans and Calvinists, who questioned their absolute power.
For the new king, the Geneva Bible posed a political problem, since it contained certain annotations questioning not only the bishops power, but his own. So in 1604, when a Puritan scholar proposed the creation of a new translation of the Bible at a meeting at a religious conference at Hampton Court, James surprised him by agreeing.
Over the next seven years, 47 scholars and theologians worked to translate the different books of the Bible: the Old Testament from Hebrew, the New Testament from Greek and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. Much of the resulting translation drew on the work of the Protestant reformer William Tyndale, who had produced the first New Testament translation from Greek into English in 1525, but was executed for heresy less than a decade later.
Bringing It All Together: Best Study Bible Recommendations
Now lets bring it all together. Given all the information above, what study Bible should you choose?
There are certainly going to be elements of preference involved in making your choice. Maybe your church uses one particular translation. Maybe you grew up reading and memorizing the NASB. Maybe you just like the way a particular translation feels.
Additionally, you may be a fan of Sproul or MacArthur or another expositor and want a Bible with study notes written by them.
The point is that youve got a lot of options.
When choosing, I would recommend using this formula :
Preferred Essentially Literal Translation + Interpretation Focused Study Bible + Contributions From Numerous Scholars = The Best Study Bible
I realize that this is an oversimplification, but I believe it gets to the heart of the matter.
What are some Bibles that fit this equation? Here are few:
Also Check: Is Cremation A Sin According To The Bible
Accurate Bible Translations Compared
Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.
Bible scholars have to study the original languages for a long period of time in order to develop a high proficiency in the original language.
And these same scholars must be top experts in the target language as well.
Anybody who has learned a foreign language knows there are certain idioms in each language.
These idioms do not always translate accurately from a source language to the target language, so translators must be very careful to make sure the meaning is accurately transmitted.
And the translators do a very good job of it. We can tell, because after hundreds of years of Bible translating, all the major translations are in agreement about the major meanings they are conveying in English.
They differ very slightly in the exact expression of the meanings and the translators take great care to make sure the core meanings are conserved.
This makes the translations very useful in side-by-side comparisons.
What Is A Variant
A variant is any difference between manuscripts. Lets illustrate! Say you have three manuscripts and discover that one word is misspelled in all three manuscripts. That will be counted as three variants. But if you only found two misspellings, you will only have two variants and so on. So a single misspelling, such as a missing accent mark, across 500 manuscripts would be counted as 500 variants. Spelling errors and missing words account for the vast majority of the 400,000 variants.
Before we go further, we need to know how the various manuscripts are used to determine how the Bible should read. Linguistic scholars start by selecting a group of the high quality manuscripts to determine how the Bible should read. Criteria are used to determine which manuscripts are more trustworthy. For example, older manuscripts are considered to be more reliable since they should be less subject to additions. Later manuscripts tend to have multiple additions and copying errors. Linguistic scholars apply these rules to a set of manuscripts to select a set of manuscripts which are used to compile or construct an accurate Greek text of the Bible. This complied text is called an apparatus. The linguistic scholars then identify every spelling error, every letter and word that is omitted, every vowel that is wrong and even grammatical errors.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Chronological Order Of The Bible
New King James Version
The New King James Version Bible Translation project started in 1975 by 130 Biblical scholars and was completed in 1982 by Thomas Nelson to update the vocabulary and grammar of the original King James Version while preserving the classic style and literary beauty of the original 1611 version.
The New King James Version was originally known as the Revised Authorised Version.
Updating the English of the King James Version of the Bible had significant changes in words, spelling, vocabulary, and, most importantly, grammar.
One of the most outstanding features of the NKJV was switching early modern second-person pronouns, such as thou and thine. This and other features make NKJV one of the most accurate Bible translations.
Paraphrase Translations Of The Bible
A paraphrase translation of the Bible seeks to make the Bible more understandable to the reader.
It may elaborate more on the context in a way designed to help the reader understand the passage better.
To paraphrase means a restatement of a text or passagegiving the meaning in another form, as for clearness rewording.
A paraphrase often uses a lot more words in an effort to more fully describe the meaning of the words coming from the original language.
This helps readers to easily perceive additional shades of meaning they might otherwise struggle to see in a standard translation.
A good comparison can be made by comparing a well-knownpassage like John 1:1 in the King James Version and the Phillips version:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, andthe Word was God. KJV
Atthe beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, waswith God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning. Phillips
A paraphrase translation like the Phillips translation uses more words and its easy to see that it is still very accurate and does not add or subtract from the original.
It just helps make it more understandable.
Read Also: Mixing Races In The Bible
Which Bible Version Is The Most Accurate And Easy To Understand
There are a lot of translations and versions, so how do you know which one to choose? Who should you trust? There are so many opinions and options out there, so I want to explain the reasons why I recommend the NLT, ESV, and the CEV. Then you can make an informed decision that you feel confident about.
Its helpful to know the two major approaches in translating the Bible from the original text.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek with a little bit of Aramaic here and there.
The two main approaches to translating the Bible are word-for-word and thought-for-thought.
In simple terms: Word-for-word translations try to stick as closely as possible to each word of the original languages. The thought-for-thought translations lean more towards being clear and expressing the Bible in modern English. This doesnt mean that they are not accurate. Its just a different emphasis and approach in translation.
Bible Versions/Translations Fall Somewhere in this Spectrum
Translations like the ESV are more word-for-word. The NLT and CEV are more thought-for-thought. Paraphrases like the Message would be on the far right of that spectrum. Paraphrases take the meaning and express it with words that are not in the original text.
A lot more can be said about Bible versions and translations, but thats the essence of it.
The NLT and CEV are not nearly as far leaning as some other translations like the NIrV . For that reason, I dont recommend the NIrV here.
How Do You Shut Up A Jehovah Witness
Politely interrupt to take control of the conversation.
Recommended Reading: What Spiritual Gifts Are Listed In The Bible
The King James Version
The KJV quickly became a favorite and remained the “standard” Bible of English-speaking Protestants until around 1950 when the Revised Standard Version was published. The KJV has established a solid tradition in worship and is revered for its majestic style and language. Today, many conservative Protestants still prefer the KJV as the traditional authority on spiritual matters. Other Christians view modern translations as a better way to accurately convey the true meaning of the ancient scriptures in understandable, modern English.
What Is The Most Complete Bible
The New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars. In the United States, 55% of survey respondents who read the Bible reported using the King James Version in 2014, followed by 19% for the New International Version, with other versions used by fewer than 10%.
You May Like: How Many Times Does The Bible Say Fear Not
Whats Wrong With The Niv Translation
The problem with the NIV is that is not a great translation. It uses paraphrase a lot. Yes, Im aware that paraphrase is often necessary in order to communicate phrases in other languages. Sometimes a literal translation is lost on the readers.
Bringing The Bible Directly To The People
Printing had already been invented, and made copies relatively cheap compared to hand-done copies, says Carol Meyers, a professor of religious studies at Duke University. The translation into English, the language of the land, made it accessible to all those people who could read English, and who could afford a printed Bible.
Whereas before, the Bible had been the sole property of the Church, now more and more people could read it themselves. Not only that, but the language they read in the King James Bible was an English unlike anything they had read before. With its poetic cadences and vivid imagery, the KJV sounded to many like the voice of God himself.
Read Also: How Many Times Bible Says Fear Not
Why Are There So Many Bible Translations
To understand this question, we can compare it to Shakespeare. Shakespeares English is often called Old English, but in reality, it is early Modern English. In spite of this, it is often difficult for modern readers like us to understand. To get an idea, lets take a look at this couplet which appears in Act I of Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet:
The measure done, Ill watch her place of stand,And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
What is Romeo talking about here? What does this mean? Why is there a funny accent mark over blessed?
Now lets say you are teaching this to a ninth-grade class. In order to understand these words, you would probably have to write it differently. SparkNotes translates it as, When this dance is over, Ill see where she stands, and then Ill touch her hand with my rough and ugly one.
This is easier to understand, but most of the words are different, the meter is gone, and the rhyme of stand and hand are gone.
And this is just translating English to English.
Bible translators have the difficult task of translating ancient Hebrew and Greek into readable English. Along with that, they have to consider the audience. Is this Bible suited for a seminary professor? A teenager? Children? Families? Anyone and everyone?
Remember, the English language as Shakespeare knew it would not even exist for well over a thousand years after Paul penned his final letter.
New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures
|New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures|
|Over 238 million|
|Genesis 1:13In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and desolate, and there was darkness upon the surface of the watery deep, and God’s active force was moving about over the surface of the waters. And God said: “Let there be light.” Then there was light.|
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is a translation of the Bible published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The New Testament portion was released in 1950, as The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, with the complete Bible released in 1961 it is used and distributed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though it is not the first Bible to be published by the group, it is their first original translation of ancient Classical Hebrew, Koine Greek, and Old Aramaic biblical texts. As of March 2, 2020, the Watch Tower Society has published more than 220 million copies of the New World Translation in whole or in part in 200 languages. Though commentators have said a scholarly effort went into the translation, critics have described it as biased.
Don’t Miss: Praying Without Ceasing Meaning