WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY BIBLE TRANSLATIONS?

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Roughsoul1991

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2016
8,022
3,958
113
#1
WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY BIBLE TRANSLATIONS?

Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?

[2:43]

Old Testament:

The Old Testament is less debated due to the extreme painstaking care of the Hebrew Scribes and the Hebrew people to protect their Holy Scriptures. Most, if not all, translate from Masoretic Text, The Septuagint, The Dead Sea Scrolls, and a few more.

New Testament:

The New Testament, on the other hand, is debated quite frequently due to the methods and opinions below.

Textual criticism / Critical Text:

Note: video promotes the NIV, but the newer NIV has strayed away from translation accuracy.

[6:25]

Majority Text:

“The Majority Text, also known as the Byzantine and Ecclesiastical Text, is a method of determining the original reading of a Scripture by discovering what reading occurs in a majority of the manuscripts. The Majority Text method within textual criticism could be called the “democratic” method. Essentially, each Greek manuscript has one vote, all the variants are voted on by all the manuscripts, and whichever variant has the most votes wins.” — https://www.gotquestions.org/majority-text.html

The Textus Receptus:

“The Textus Receptus (Latin for “Received Text”) is a Greek New Testament that provided the textual base for the KJV.”
https://www.gotquestions.org/Textus-Receptus.html

The Textus Receptus was created between 1516 and 1633. It was created by Erasmus, who gathered what manuscripts he had at his disposal, which came from the Byzantine family of manuscripts. The Byzantine family holds the largest number of manuscripts but by no means the oldest. The Textus Receptus used the majority text approach, using manuscripts dated roughly between the 5th and 12th centuries A.D. So basically, starting 400 years after Jesus's birth. The KJV used the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and the Byzantine family for the New Testament.

Alexandrian family Text:

Modern translations 1900s until current have included the Alexandrian family of manuscripts which includes Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest (both range within the 4th century A.D. or between 300 to 400 A.D.) and most complete manuscripts of the Bible, it also contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.
So the debate of which translation is better often falls on the opinions people hold on the manuscripts used and which translation method we are about to look at.

METHODS OF INTERPRETATION

Interlinear:

The interlinear is a word for word Greek/Hebrew to English using the most reliable sources.

Word for Word:
Word for word is a translation strategy that looks at each individual word in comparison to the original language, much like the interlinear but only showing the translators chosen English word like the KJV, ESV, or NASV.

Thought for Thought:

Thought for thought is a translation strategy that takes the understanding of the manuscript's words and translates the idea of the verse into modern English. For example, the NLT or CEV.

Paraphrase:

On the far end of the thought for thought spectrum will be the MSG or Message Bible, which paraphrases chapters.

eed9c061f278ad4617d6c72d2dc1de53.jpg

Examples of why translation matters:

“In March 2011, the publisher of the NIV, Zondervan, issued a new edition, the 2011 New International Version. This edition replaced the 1984 NIV, which will no longer be published. Like its predecessor, the TNIV, the 2011 NIV was translated using gender-neutral translation rules, resulting in the replacement of gender-specific words (e.g. man, woman, he, she, son, daughter) with gender-neutral words (e. g. person, they, child). In many cases these replacements are made even when the original language clearly intends a specific gender.” — https://www.gotquestions.org/New-International-Version-NIV.html

In Hebrews 11:6, we find faith and belief required by the believer. Using the Word for Word and interlinear methods, we see the importance.

Hebrews 11:6 ESV 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith and believe sound similar, but in Greek, they are the words pistis and pisteuo which carry similar but different meanings.
Pistis is considered God’s gift of faith.

Pisteuo is our response to God.
Why does this matter? Because some argue against the free will of humanity.


Conclusion:

These notes are the basics and gives the reader a foundation to dig deeper or be content in knowing that despite the debates and different approaches, we have many excellent and accurate translations. From the KJV to the NLT, the scriptures and thoughts are very similar, and only sometimes, in deep study, will you find where a word translation is better.

How to safely study the Word:
Always do a parallel scripture study. For example, in Bible Gateway under the verse, you will see Hebrews 11:6 in all English Translations. Click on that link and then look through your favorite translations to see if any significantly differ.

Screenshot_20220622-091210_DuckDuckGo.jpg

If they differ, then dig into the words themselves using an interlinear version.

Which translation do I prefer?:

I like the Word for Word and Critical text methods.
I believe the words used in scripture were chosen very carefully and inspirational to the truth. I believe a textual criticism or Critical text method is superior due to modern technology, newer archaeological discoveries, and its pursuit to use manuscripts closest to the originals.

Word for Word translations like the ESV, NASB, NKJV, and the NRSV are my favorites due to modern English and a modern update for textual criticism.
 

joecoten

Well-known member
May 25, 2022
839
293
63
#2
Sometimes I'll be reading a certain translation and one verse will seem to say something perfectly. Better than any other. Later, I'll be reading a different translation and the same thing will happen with another verse. For this reason, I enjoy using Bible Hub.
Then there are the times when I'll be reading a passage and it will almost seem as though someone is standing behind me, shining a light over my shoulder onto the text. If I found a translation where that happened all the time, then I would've found the perfect translation.
"However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come." - John 16:13 BSB
 

Roughsoul1991

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2016
8,022
3,958
113
#3
Sometimes I'll be reading a particular translation and one verse will seem to say something perfectly. Better than any other. Later, I'll be reading a different translation and the same thing will happen with another verse. For this reason, I enjoy using Bible Hub.
Then there are the times when I'll be reading a passage and it will almost seem as though someone is standing behind me, shining a light over my shoulder onto the text. If I found a translation where that happened all the time, then I would've found the perfect translation.
"However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come." - John 16:13 BSB
I absolutely agree, this happens to me all the time.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
42,682
17,631
113
#4
Thank you, RoughSoul :) I prefer using Biblehub over Biblegateway;
they give related verses alongside the one you may be looking into.


Example:



My top three versions are Berean Study Bible, KJV, and NIV. I participated in a critical analysis
of Scripture over five years, where those in the group each read from a different translation
so we could discuss the differences. I very much enjoyed and benefited from that :)
My version choice during that study was one of the Jerusalem Bibles :D
 
Nov 26, 2021
370
156
43
India
#5
I also like Bible Hub. I read the Douay Rheims, the King James Version and the NKJV (Gideon's uses this) most of the time. In case there is a significant difference in Bible Translations, these days anyone can easily get Strong's Concordance for Greek/Hebrew online. In some ways, the Internet is a blessing, if we use it well for God's Purposes that is. But yes, good translations are helpful. NKJV is good one imo.

God Bless.
 

joecoten

Well-known member
May 25, 2022
839
293
63
#6
It often seems that just when I think I have a favorite translation, I find something I really don't like about it; and it often seems just when I decide I don't like a translation, I find something that's stated better than anywhere else I'm aware of.
It seems to me that there are some things better left undecided. Though if I was on a desert island and I had to choose one translation, it would be the imperfect Berean Study Bible. I guess you just got to know where the potholes are! :)
 

joecoten

Well-known member
May 25, 2022
839
293
63
#7
I have a Strongest concordance that I've used a lot in the past. I guess I just don't use books as much as I used to. Kind of a shame, I think.
1656004686152.png
 
Mar 17, 2022
99
35
18
#8
The reason there are so many Translations, is because the people who put each of them out, make a lot of MONEY doing it.

The other reason, and its connected....is that the Devil wants a lot of Translations, so that confusion is created, as HE is the "author of Confusion".
 

Amanuensis

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2021
1,074
314
83
#9
WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY BIBLE TRANSLATIONS?

Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?

[2:43]

Old Testament:

The Old Testament is less debated due to the extreme painstaking care of the Hebrew Scribes and the Hebrew people to protect their Holy Scriptures. Most, if not all, translate from Masoretic Text, The Septuagint, The Dead Sea Scrolls, and a few more.

New Testament:

The New Testament, on the other hand, is debated quite frequently due to the methods and opinions below.

Textual criticism / Critical Text:

Note: video promotes the NIV, but the newer NIV has strayed away from translation accuracy.

[6:25]

Majority Text:

“The Majority Text, also known as the Byzantine and Ecclesiastical Text, is a method of determining the original reading of a Scripture by discovering what reading occurs in a majority of the manuscripts. The Majority Text method within textual criticism could be called the “democratic” method. Essentially, each Greek manuscript has one vote, all the variants are voted on by all the manuscripts, and whichever variant has the most votes wins.” — https://www.gotquestions.org/majority-text.html

The Textus Receptus:

“The Textus Receptus (Latin for “Received Text”) is a Greek New Testament that provided the textual base for the KJV.”
https://www.gotquestions.org/Textus-Receptus.html

The Textus Receptus was created between 1516 and 1633. It was created by Erasmus, who gathered what manuscripts he had at his disposal, which came from the Byzantine family of manuscripts. The Byzantine family holds the largest number of manuscripts but by no means the oldest. The Textus Receptus used the majority text approach, using manuscripts dated roughly between the 5th and 12th centuries A.D. So basically, starting 400 years after Jesus's birth. The KJV used the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and the Byzantine family for the New Testament.

Alexandrian family Text:

Modern translations 1900s until current have included the Alexandrian family of manuscripts which includes Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest (both range within the 4th century A.D. or between 300 to 400 A.D.) and most complete manuscripts of the Bible, it also contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.
So the debate of which translation is better often falls on the opinions people hold on the manuscripts used and which translation method we are about to look at.

METHODS OF INTERPRETATION

Interlinear:

The interlinear is a word for word Greek/Hebrew to English using the most reliable sources.

Word for Word:
Word for word is a translation strategy that looks at each individual word in comparison to the original language, much like the interlinear but only showing the translators chosen English word like the KJV, ESV, or NASV.

Thought for Thought:

Thought for thought is a translation strategy that takes the understanding of the manuscript's words and translates the idea of the verse into modern English. For example, the NLT or CEV.

Paraphrase:

On the far end of the thought for thought spectrum will be the MSG or Message Bible, which paraphrases chapters.

View attachment 240938

Examples of why translation matters:

“In March 2011, the publisher of the NIV, Zondervan, issued a new edition, the 2011 New International Version. This edition replaced the 1984 NIV, which will no longer be published. Like its predecessor, the TNIV, the 2011 NIV was translated using gender-neutral translation rules, resulting in the replacement of gender-specific words (e.g. man, woman, he, she, son, daughter) with gender-neutral words (e. g. person, they, child). In many cases these replacements are made even when the original language clearly intends a specific gender.” — https://www.gotquestions.org/New-International-Version-NIV.html

In Hebrews 11:6, we find faith and belief required by the believer. Using the Word for Word and interlinear methods, we see the importance.

Hebrews 11:6 ESV 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith and believe sound similar, but in Greek, they are the words pistis and pisteuo which carry similar but different meanings.
Pistis is considered God’s gift of faith.

Pisteuo is our response to God.
Why does this matter? Because some argue against the free will of humanity.


Conclusion:

These notes are the basics and gives the reader a foundation to dig deeper or be content in knowing that despite the debates and different approaches, we have many excellent and accurate translations. From the KJV to the NLT, the scriptures and thoughts are very similar, and only sometimes, in deep study, will you find where a word translation is better.

How to safely study the Word:
Always do a parallel scripture study. For example, in Bible Gateway under the verse, you will see Hebrews 11:6 in all English Translations. Click on that link and then look through your favorite translations to see if any significantly differ.

View attachment 240937

If they differ, then dig into the words themselves using an interlinear version.

Which translation do I prefer?:

I like the Word for Word and Critical text methods.
I believe the words used in scripture were chosen very carefully and inspirational to the truth. I believe a textual criticism or Critical text method is superior due to modern technology, newer archaeological discoveries, and its pursuit to use manuscripts closest to the originals.

Word for Word translations like the ESV, NASB, NKJV, and the NRSV are my favorites due to modern English and a modern update for textual criticism.
I like your post brother. I think the comments are a little naïve, opinionated, and simplistic, and prone to change after more information is discovered from study over time. Textual Criticism results in a humility and abandonment of preconceived ideas.

However, I think it is a great post and helpful because the answer to which translation is best is always based on which verse is being discussed. Too many variables for one translation to be preferred over all others on all verses of the bible.

I am not sure I agree with the criticsim of the NIV concerning the gender neutral comments. From discussions I have read they were correct in the changes they made and it had nothing to do with political or cultural pressures. They were interested only in communicating what the Greek readers understood. I am all for that. The KJV did not do as good a job with when these gender neutral words should have been communicated. And people think they are changing them because of impure motives but that is the nature of translation work. Intellectual honesty must be willing to accept false accusations and remain honest to the text. I need to read more about these changes but I won't jump to a false accusation of the translators behind the NIV as so many are quick to do with no research on the issues.

I am preaching with the CSB from the pulpit recently. I think it does a good job of trying to be word for word, retaining the Greek meaning as it would have been understood by the Greek reader, and using a modern English style that is easy for communication when preaching.

How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions
https://www.amazon.com/How-Choose-T...t=&hvlocphy=9004991&hvtargid=pla-565351955000
 

Amanuensis

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2021
1,074
314
83
#10
The reason there are so many Translations, is because the people who put each of them out, make a lot of MONEY doing it.

The other reason, and its connected....is that the Devil wants a lot of Translations, so that confusion is created, as HE is the "author of Confusion".
I encourage you to read the first post by @Roughsoul1991 and try to understand it. It is very informative for those who are confused about why there are so many English translations.

Considering how most of these best translations are freely available I don't see money as the motive. And knowing the reputation of many of the scholars involved I don't think they would be interested in being pawns of the devil.
I find it highly unlikely that the devil is interested in getting the scriptures translated from the original languages into the language of the readers who can read them. And that is what an English translation is.

Is the devil behind getting it translated into English but not behind getting it translated into Chinese?

The challenges involved in getting it translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and retaining the meaning that the Greek readers would have is no small task.

Improving previous efforts has resulted in excellent translations that do not contradict nor cause confusion. The only Confusion is in the minds of those who don't understand why their is a need for more than one English translation. And that confusion is resolved by learning about the issues involved in translating from one language to the next and retaining the meaning of the original authors.

Authorial intent in the objective. Are you being faithful to communicate what the author intended when they wrote in Greek when you translate it into English.

I really don't think that the Devil is wanting to help us do that do you?

I would have to see evidence of money being a motivation. For example, how does the committee of Greek Scholars involved in a translation work get paid? I am one of those Christians that cringes at accusations of corruption without proof. God hates that.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
42,682
17,631
113
#11
I have a Strongest concordance that I've used a lot in the past. I guess I just don't use books as much as I used to. Kind of a shame, I think.

2 Peter 3:17b plus Titus 1:10-11
:)
 

Roughsoul1991

Senior Member
Sep 17, 2016
8,022
3,958
113
#12
I encourage you to read the first post by @Roughsoul1991 and try to understand it. It is very informative for those who are confused about why there are so many English translations.

Considering how most of these best translations are freely available I don't see money as the motive. And knowing the reputation of many of the scholars involved I don't think they would be interested in being pawns of the devil.
I find it highly unlikely that the devil is interested in getting the scriptures translated from the original languages into the language of the readers who can read them. And that is what an English translation is.

Is the devil behind getting it translated into English but not behind getting it translated into Chinese?

The challenges involved in getting it translated from Greek and Hebrew into English and retaining the meaning that the Greek readers would have is no small task.

Improving previous efforts has resulted in excellent translations that do not contradict nor cause confusion. The only Confusion is in the minds of those who don't understand why their is a need for more than one English translation. And that confusion is resolved by learning about the issues involved in translating from one language to the next and retaining the meaning of the original authors.

Authorial intent in the objective. Are you being faithful to communicate what the author intended when they wrote in Greek when you translate it into English.

I really don't think that the Devil is wanting to help us do that do you?

I would have to see evidence of money being a motivation. For example, how does the committee of Greek Scholars involved in a translation work get paid? I am one of those Christians that cringes at accusations of corruption without proof. God hates that.
I actually see multiple translations as a good thing, as in like a checks and balances type of deal. Good works will be promoted by scholars and the people who know the Word, while other translations will be spoken against and left to gather dust. In this freedom, we have an environment that promotes truth and the search for truth versus having one state-authorized Bible that no one can criticize or produce a different translation.

The only danger involved is for the spoon-fed and the ignorant who do not use all the tools at hand to make sure what they are reading is accurate or most accurate.

If the majority of the generation lives in ignorance or apathy for the truth, they will easily fall for false doctrines like progressive Christianity, but the true Word of God will always make a way as it did in King Josiah's day.



2 Kings 22:8-13
English Standard Version


8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

Hilkiah, the high priest, brought forth God's book of the laws, and once it was read aloud, the king tore his clothes, now realizing just how far the past generations had fallen.
 

joecoten

Well-known member
May 25, 2022
839
293
63
#13
"O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!" - Habakkuk 3:2 Berean Study Bible
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
42,682
17,631
113
#14
"O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years;
make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!" - Habakkuk 3:2 Berean Study Bible

Habakkuk 1:3-4
That ^ is my only Habakkuk panel :)
 

RichMan

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2021
527
272
63
#18
What do you do when different translations give verses completely different meanings?
 

joecoten

Well-known member
May 25, 2022
839
293
63
#19
Since there are so many translations and more than one manuscript, I read many. I believe the Lord uses this to give me a better understanding, which led me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the word is not good, but rather great, news!
 

Amanuensis

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2021
1,074
314
83
#20
What do you do when different translations give verses completely different meanings?
Investigate the reasonings given by Greek Scholars who write about it. They explain which manuscripts are involved, if there are variants, why they trust one over the other, or if it is a matter of language syntax they explain that as well. Then based on all that information you can decide which one is probably the most accurate.

I know that you know that I am just taking this opportunity to post it for the thread.

One thing I notice, that is just human nature is that it seems to annoy people that there would be a need to do such investigating.

As if they don't believe that God would require that and so they default to one translation like the KJV based on the romanticism of antiquity and call it quits as far as educating themselves. This is not a very spiritual attitude in my opinion. But it is common.