Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Bible Paul Uses

Many years ago I held a part-time job at a Christian bookstore. Back then I would wear t-shirts with phrases best left to bible tracts people would hand out on busy streets. I had one that had a picture of Jesus on the cross with the words "If I'm okay, and you're okay, explain this" on the front. On the back it said "The righteousness that He requires is the righteousness His righteousness requires Him to require". Yeah. I know. But that was me back then.

Back to the bookstore. A common item looked for in this type of store, besides Precious Moments figurines, is the bible. One day a lady came in shopping for a bible and I took her over to where they were located. There was practically an entire wall of them, with many, many translations you could choose from. So I asked her what translation she was looking for and she replied, "The original. The King James Version (KJV), of course." So I reached over and grabbed the only copy of the 1611 KJV we had in the store, opened it randomly, and handed it to her:

"For God so loued ├że world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life." (John 3:16)

She took one look at that and said, "Maybe not THAT original." I said, "Oh, you want and updated translation," and handed her a modern KJV bible.

(And as a side note, the KJV has received updates periodically over the years. Unless it is the 1611 version, it is NOT the original KJV.)

I tell that story to make a point (outside of the fact that I like to "poke things" with a stick): Unless you can read, and comprehend, the original TEXT of the bible, EVERY bible you pick up will be an interpretation of the text. And, since all translations are the work of people, bias is included. That is why I keep switching the translation I'm reading.

My pastor makes the joke that he reads the KJV because that's the bible Paul used (the apostle Paul - who is credited with writing the majority of the New Testament epistles). A lot of people say the KJV is the only authorized translation and should be the only one used. Maybe because it says it's "the authorized translation" as part of the title page. But authorized by whom? It was authorized by King James. I don't think there was a burning bush moment here.

One thing I've noticed, after all the years of listening to sermons, is that the KJV is not the best translation to use. Here is an example:

"Suffer the little children to come unto me." vs. "Permit the little children to come to me." Every time I hear a minister read that verse he follows it with the "Permit" version. If the KJV was so perfect, why do we need the minister to re-interpret it into modern-day language? Once the minister starts to dissect a verse, he/she IS giving you a "new" translation. A translation based on his/her interpretation of the scripture - just by putting it into a language the listener would understand.

I use the above example because it is so blatantly obvious. When we hear the word "suffer" we don't think "allow or permit". So to have the word updated to use a term that is more in line with our language should be welcomed. Do we have the same issue with a bible translated into Spanish, or German, or Swahili? Of course not.

So, not only do Christians argue about what the bible says, and how it applies to the world around us, they argue about what version of bible they should use to beat one over the head with.

Me? I prefer to use a soft-bound edition - less damaging than a hard-bound.

© Emittravel 2014

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