HOW CAN WE BEST CAPTURE THE REAL SCRIPTURAL MESSAGE?
“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were
written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain
the books that would be written.” John 21: 25 (NASB-U)
As I conduct Bible study sessions with a variety of Senior Citizen groups, I like to circulate to determine what translation of the Bible various members of the group are using. Invariably, I find that a vast number of participants still rely on the King James Version even though a variety of “easier” translations are currently available. I attempt to introduce several different translations into our sessions for two main reasons: Firstly, no matter how much we may cling to a specific translation, each of them has its limitations. The Bible was originally written using over 11,000 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the typical English translation uses only about 6,000 words. Consequently, often shades of meaning can be missed, so I feel it is helpful to use multiple translations in order to more likely ascertain the original meaning of the Scriptural selection. Secondly, often by using and relying on a single translation the original impact of familiar biblical verses is lost – not necessarily because of an inadequate translation, but simply because the words have become so familiar. We think we know what a verse or translation says because we have read or heard it so many times. Perhaps, the individual, who dropped out of one group because “real Scripture” wasn’t being utilized, can best exemplify this over adherence to a specific translation. He considered any selection that was not the King James Version as deviating from the Word of God!
One group recently examined the Scriptural selection, Matthew 6: 25-34; this selection seems to exemplify the usefulness of varying translations. This familiar passage which according to the King James Version reminds us not to worry about food or clothing etc.; whereas, other translations remind us not to be anxious about such things – quite a different meaning! Anxiousness implies a more extreme state -- almost a fixation—a type of situation wherein it would be difficult to focus on anything else! The main sin involved is not that we might be concerned about the ordinary things in life but often in our anxiety we shut out God and others in our plight. Perhaps, when we are anxious that is not the time to fret and stew but rather the time to “Let go and let God”!
The selection from Matthew is just one example wherein several different translations may aid us in capturing the message presented in His Word and this should be our main intention when engaging in Bible Study.