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Why Are There Different Versions Of The Bible

How Many Versions Of The Bible Are There

Why are there so many different versions of the Bible?

December 9, 2020 | Tanya Media

Translated to over 690 languages and selling over 100 million copies each year, the Bible is a collection of holy writing of the Christian religion consisting of New and Old Testaments, and the accurate account of Gods work in the world and his objection for all his creation.

The Bible was written more than sixteen centuries ago, and more than forty writers took part in its creation. Ten writers participated in the New Testament and thirty in the Old Testament.

Today, the Protestant English Bible comprises 66 books, with the old testament consisting of 39 books while the New Testament contains 27 books. The Catholic Bible has a total of 73 books: 43 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

Now that we understand what the Bible is let us see how many versions of the Bible are there.

Which Bible Is Right For Me

Different versions of the Bible are good for different people. If you are looking for a Bible that is easy to read, we have another page that will help.

If you want to try out different Bible translations, On that page you can look up Bible passages in the search bar. You can try lots of different Bible versions. You can also make the letters bigger if you need to. This will help you with understanding Bible translations.

Once you have decided what version of the Bible you like best, you can read it online, on an app or in a book. You can get many different Bibles in each version. Some Bibles have extra information to help you understand what you are reading. Some have maps and pictures that show you what the world was like when it was first written. In some Bibles the things Jesus said are written in red. Some people have a few different Bibles. Why not ask a Christian friend to show you theirs?

So are all Bibles the same? No. But they all try to keep the same meaning as those first Bibles that were written in Hebrew and Greek. The people who wrote the Bible followed God. They wanted to help others get to know God. And God is still the same today as he was then! So the Bible that is right for you will be one that helps you get to know him. It will be one that you can read and understand well.

Who We Are

First: New Discoveries In Biblical Manuscripts

In recent centuries, better manuscripts have been discoveredentire New Testaments six hundred years older than those available to the King James translators, as well as fragments that are nine hundred years older. Old Testament manuscript discoveries have been no less spectacular. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Old Testament manuscripts found in 1947 in caves near the Dead Sea, are dated from 100 BC to AD 70, a thousand years older than those available to the King James translators.

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Why Are There Different Versions Of The Bible

Why are there so many different versions of Bible?

Brother Bob: Odessa, thank you very much for your question. The Church Of Christ uses not any one particular Bible, for example our own translation and say, Well just use this version. We will use any and many different translations and its important to know theyre translations because the original writings that God inspired His chosen writers were written in Hebrew, the Old Testament is in Hebrew and the New Testament primarily in Greek with some sprinkles of Aramaic. And those translators over the years, there have been many who have translated from those original languages. And as long as the translator did not deviate from what was originally written in Hebrew, what was originally written in Greek and the manuscripts that we have from those original Hebrew and Greek writings, well then, that is truly Bible.

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What Is A Translation

Christians actually agree with the statement that we trust the Bible insofar as it is translated correctly! In other words, if a person were to convert a Greek New Testament into English and mistranslate it, Christians should reject that translation!

Our goal is to understand what the original authors of the Bible wrote!

Now the Bible is divided into two major sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew , and the New Testament in Greek.

We have thousands upon thousands of ancient manuscripts in the original languages that can help us know, with confidence, what God inspired the Biblical authors to write.

When a group of believers thinks it necessary to create a new trustworthy Bible translation, a team of trained scholars carefully considers how to faithfully convert the original Greek and Hebrew texts into the new language.

The goal of these translation committees is to best preserve the original meaning of the text for the new audience.

But if thats the case, why are there so many English translations? Isnt the King James Version good enough for English readers?

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If Scholars Faithfully Use Reliable Manuscripts When Translating Scripture Why Do We Have Different Bible Translations

There are a variety of factors that have influenced the creation of a Bible translation. Two such reasons are changes in the English language and the use of different New Testament manuscripts .

While these two factors are important, we will focus on perhaps the most vital thing to understand about different Bible versions: by their very nature translations are NEVER word for word. Even Bible versions which are often referred to as word-for-word translations technically are not. No two languages are exactly parallel, so translators are by necessity also interpreters.

For example, a literal word-for-word translation of the Greek in Matthew 1:18 would be something like:

Of the but Jesus Christ the birth thus was. Being betrothed the mother of him, Mary, to Joseph, before or to come together them she was found in belly having from Spirit Holy.

Meanwhile, the King James Version, which is considered a word-for-word translation, renders the same verse as:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

The above example illustrates why a strict adherence to each individual word would not produce a readable Bible in English. Translators must interpret to some degree, and how they go about this process falls into two philosophies: formal equivalence and/or dynamic equivalence.

Formal Equivalence Translation

Dynamic Equivalence Translation

Three Types Of Translations

Why Are There Different Versions Of The Bible?

1 The word-for-word versions most accurately follow the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The King James Version and its modern counterpart, the New King James Version, are both word-for-word translations. You can easily find them in most bookstores or on the Internet.

The accuracy of a version is obviously of utmost importance. Although the King James Version contains some mistakes, to establish sound doctrines, your first choice of versions should be a more literal edition such as the King James or the New King James Version.

2 What about the meaning-to-meaning versions? They can be valuable in putting the Scriptures into more understandable wording. Compare these two meaning-to-meaning versions of the same verse:

Hebrews 2:17-18

“Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted”…

Hebrews 2:17-18 :

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

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Why Are There So Many Different Versions Of The Bible

One of the reasons for so many different versions of the Bible is the number of manuscripts available. There are more than 5,800 New Testament Manuscripts in Greek, 10,000 Old Testament Manuscript in Hebrew, and more than 19,000 copies of Manuscript in Coptic, Latin Aramaic, and Syriac languages.

To translate the Bible, intellectuals divided these text/ manuscripts into two prominent families:

  • Alexandrian text-type- better known as Egyptian or neutral

The Alexandrian text-type focuses on the manuscripts date and its place of origin, while the Byzantine text-type focuses on all manuscripts and decides the final reading by what most of the document talks about.

  • Methods of Bible Translation

The Bible was initially written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. All current available Bibles were translated from these three original languages. The manuscripts were further classified depending on the translation philosophy to use: Literal, dynamic, and free translation.

Literal Translation tries to keep the exact phrases and words of the original text. It is very loyal to the original manuscript, but it can be hard to read and understand. It keeps a regular historical distance. Examples are the Young Literal Version, The Holy Bible in Modern English, the New American Standard Bible , and King James Version

  • Types of Bibles

Most versions are available in many different types of Bible. Here are a few of them.

  • Traditional. Text only. Very Minimal footnotes
  • Studying the Bible
  • Parallel Bible
  • New Revised Standard Version

    The New Revised Standard Version is a thorough revision of the original RSV by an ecumenical team of scholars. It is growing in popularity, particularly in churches, schools and academia. The translators made full use of contemporary biblical manuscripts, resulting in a clearer understanding of many obscure passages. It uses gender-inclusive language .

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    The Revised English Bible

    The Revised English Bible updates the New English Bible, retaining the latters elegant literary style, but removing its archaisms. The REB employs a modest amount of inclusive language and is good for public reading. Like the NEB before it, the REB is a British translation, sponsored by all the main Christian denominations.

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    Why Are There So Many English Versions Of The Bible

    With so many manuscripts and different translation philosophies, we have about 50 main versions of the English Bible today. If we count revisions, we are well into the hundreds of Bibles.

    Another reason there are many versions of the English Bible is that over time the English language has changed dramatically. Old English sounds and reads differently than modern English. Some readers might be confused while reading certain passages, and certain words have changed in meaning.

    For example: In the KJV you will find that in 1 Corinthians 13 instead of using the word love it uses charity. Charity today means something completely different then what it meant back in the 17th century. Today we use the word love, and when we speak of charity, we are referring to the act of being generous or to an organization.

    Another example is in 2 Timothy 2:15. The modern NIV says, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved in the modern versions of The Bible. In the KJV, it says, Study to show thyself approved. Back then study didnt mean to learn new things but simply to do your best.

    Before the KJV, there was the Wycliffe Bible, completed in 1382, and the Tyndale Bible , published in 1526.

    Below are 12 of the common Protestant Bibles used today. Here is a list of more best-known translations along with a brief description of each.

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    Why Are There Different Bible Translations

    Many Christians seem confused by the availability of so many different translations of the Bible. Christians of the past did not face so many choices. They had to learn the language of the King James, and if they could do it, why can’t others? God has indeed marvelously blessed the King James translation over the centuries. But language changesit does not remain staticand new translations are needed.

    No version should be the “standard,” neither the King James nor any other translation. It’s more important to understand a verse than to know how it is worded in a certain version. Preachers, aware of the variety of translations used by their audiences, can use them together in sermons to expound Scripture. A Bible study group may wish everyone to have a common translation, but why not rotate which translation you use? You can get more out of the Bible when you read different translations of the same passage.

    We must never forget that the principal purpose of words is communication. Jesus Christ who is the incarnate Word of God looked and acted like a man of his time. In the same way, the written Word of God was inspired in the everyday languages of the people who first received it. In fact, with the discoveries of ancient documents, we now realize that New Testament Greek differs from the classical Greek because it was the common, somewhat simplified, dialect spread by the conquering Alexander the Great.

    There Are Several Different Factors Involved Including Updates To Past Translations Changes In The English Language Over The Years Adjustments To Translated English For Differing Dialects And Reading Comprehension Level Newer Manuscript Evidence And Advances In Knowledge Of The Original Language

    Why Are There So Many Different Versions Of The Bible?

    The Bible has been translated into over 450 languagesand the New Testament into over 1,600 languages. These numbers are increasing every year as organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators and the United Bible Societies produce new language versions. Obviously, translating the Bible into different languages is a good thing. It is estimated that about 98% of the worlds population speak a language in which at least part of the Bible has been translated. This is true of no other book in history.

    Roughly a hundred or so English translations of the whole Bible have been produced, most of them in the twentieth century. Many people wonder why there are so many translations of the Bible in the same language. Several factors are involved.

    1. Some half a dozen or so translations of the Bible into English were produced before the King James Version , including the translations by John Wycliffe and William Tyndale . Those versions were of tremendous importance in their day but were superseded by later translations, the most influential being the KJV , still widely popular after 400 years.

    2. At least ten of the works commonly listed as different translations of the Bible are actually nothing more than revisions of the KJV. Of these, only the New King James Version enjoys significant use.

    For Further Study

    Rhodes, Ron. The Complete Guide to Bible Translations. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009. Popular-level overview of English versions and advice on how to choose one.

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    Iii Deissmann And The Papyri

    In1895 a German pastor by the name of Adolf Deissmann published a rather innocent-sounding volume: Bible Studies. Yet, this single volume started a revolution in NT scholarship–a revolution in which the common man was the winner.

    In the 1800s Deissmann began reading ancient Greek MSS. But not the great classical authors. He was reading private letters, business transactions, receipts, marriage contracts. What were these documents? Merely scraps of papyrus found in 2,000-year-old Egyptian garbage dumps. In these seemingly insignificant papyri, Deissmann discovered a key to uncover the NT! For these papyri contained the common Greek language of the first century A.D. They were written in the vocabulary of the NT.

    What’s so revolutionary about that? you ask. It is revolutionary because up until 1895, biblical scholars had no real parallels to the language of the NT. They often viewed its Greek as invented by the Holy Spirit. They called it “Holy Ghost Greek.” Now it is true that the ideas–even the words–were inspired by the Holy Spirit. But it’s another thing to say that the language of the NT was unusual–that its grammar and vocabulary were, in a word, unique. If this were true, only the spiritual elite could even hope to understand the NT.

    Deismann’s discovery burst the bubble on this view: the Greek of the NT was written in the language of the common man.

    There are two implications of what Deissmann did for the Bible translations:


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