Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Which translation for memorization?

Growing up, I memorized everything from the King James Version of the Bible. However, when I quoted to people unfamiliar with that type of speaking, I would change the archaic language to what they would understand. From their perspective, it was better to understand what was being said than to include words like thee, thou, believeth, etc. As I grew older, I found modern translations refreshing as they were understandable to me and easy to share with others. But I still remember my childhood memory verses in the King James Version.

A few weeks ago, I started memorizing some Scripture with my children. But what version would we use? Our pastor preaches from the New American Standard but I still had my old New King James Version from college. Which one should we use? Being that the NKJV was so familiar to me, I started with that. But my oldest son (almost 15) asked if we could use something more understandable. That was a shock to me. Was the NKJV so difficult to understand? Apparently so. It would seem that my own upbringing was blinding me to the fact. So, we have chosen to use the New American Standard Bible and he is able to understand it better.

Here is an example of the difference in wording:

2 Peter 1:1 (NKJV) Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:1 (NASB) Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The difference is not that big for someone who grew up learning from the King James Version. But to the younger generation, "a faith of the same kind as ours" makes more sense than "like precious faith." Peter's point was to show the common bond that all Christians have through the faith each has received from God. That is a great message to get across to everyone who reads the Bible not just those accustomed to the wording of the past.

That takes me to my main point. The time has come to put aside life-long loyalty to ANY particular translation of the Bible. Note that I am not speaking of a lack of discretion when comparing good and bad translations. My point is that any good translation is limited by the language of its generation. What seemed clear to those who read the KJV (1611/1769) is not clear to people today. And what seems clear in the NKJV (1970 based on KJV wording) or the NASB (1995) may not do the job in 2013.

Each generation must ensure that the Bible is translated accurately and clearly for its own generation. Since "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ," it is our duty to make sure all people understand the Scriptures in their own language TODAY!

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