Summary: We have lots of bible translations to choose from. That’s good and bad. It is good that the Bible is available. But so many translations creates lots of confusion. Let’s try to make sense out of this.

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Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Why So Many Bible Translations?

Scripture Reading: Neh 8:1-11


1. The Problem

So many choices: At least twenty-five different English translations of the entire Bible and approximately forty of the New Testament.

So many advantages

So much confusion

My history with the translations . . . grew up on KJV/ASV/RSV/TEV

Read Bible through in at least dozen translations??

Proposition: Since we are using the NLT in 2007 Reaching Challenge, I think this is a good time to explain some of the differences in this translation and others that we may use. Tonight I will:

Why translations are needed

Why the differences

How to choose a good translation

Most importantly—why read the Bible

I. Why Bible Translations Are Needed?

a. Different language: Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek

i. People book

ii. Koine Greek

iii. Battle for translations John Wycliffe and William Tyndale

iv. Wrong headedness of Latin/ sound sacred

b. Language changes—ours, not the Bibles

1. KJV—1611; examples of

a. 25He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Matt. 17:25 (KJV)

b. 14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt 19:14

c. 1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 1 Pt 3:1

d. 13And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: Acts 28:13

e. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. Lk 15:16

f. 18By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Job 41:18

g. Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah Ps 83:8

h. 2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Ps 42:1

c. Understand Biblical language and culture better

1. For instance, the King James Version translates 1 Samuel 17.22 like this: "And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army."

The translators had difficulty with one of the Hebrew words in the manuscripts they used, and translated "his carriage" and "keeper of the carriage" based on the context of the narrative. As translators learned more about the Hebrew language and its vocabulary they understood that the verse did not talk about David’s ’carriage,’ but about the ’carried things’ or ’baggage’ that he had with him for the soldiers in the army. And so the translators of the Revised Standard Version (published in 1952) were able to translate the same verse more accurately:

"And David left the things in the charge of the keeper of the baggage, and ran to the ranks" (

2. Ephesians 1:13-14: earnest/seal—pledge

3. Phil 4:15—no church communicated with me

4. Lk 16:22-23--Abraham’s bosom (close; in the place of honor)

5. Mk 7:22--Evil eye, not witchcraft but envy

6. 2 Cor 6:12—straitened in your own bowels/restricted in affections

d. Better understanding of text through archaeology

i. Mk 16

ii. John 8

iii. John 5:3-4—stirring water

e. Cultural standards/gender issues

William Tyndale published the 1st English NT in 1526. He rendered huioi (often rendered “sons”) in Matt 5:9 as “children,” a gender neutral rendering.

In the OT, the seventeenth century KJV rendered ben (or its plural) “son” or “sons” 2,822 times, and as “child” or “children” 1,533 times, or right at 35 percent.

26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen. 1:26 through Gen. 1:27 (KJV)

12How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Matt. 12:12 (KJV)

5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Tim. 2:5 (KJV)

II. Why Are There Differences in Translations?


Target Audience---GNB, 2nd language

Philosophy/Approach—3 basic approaches

1. Paraphrase vs translation (Living Bible, Kenneth Taylor, 1971)

2. Functional and

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