24th October 2015

Which Bible? 

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

It’s a subject that comes up from time to time. Once again I was asked about bibles. The first question when someone sees my growing collection of English Bibles is, “Have you read them all?” The answer is, in case you’re wondering, “No, but I have read many of them.”

The second question is more helpful: Which Bible translation do I recommend? Well, actually that’s a hard question to answer for anyone other than myself. Each of us is different, and our needs differ. You might get on better with a free-flowing paraphrase using more modern English, whereas some one else would prefer a more literal text.

Actually, I don’t think these are the important considerations. Almost any Bible is good enough in terms of conveying most of what was originally intended. Our translators understand the original Hebrew and Greek very well. They can wrest the nuances of meaning from the original language far better today than ever before. No, what matters to me is, is the translation in good English?

Our language is so colourful and comprehensive, so detailed and precise that it can convey much of that detail from the original—if the translator is skilled at English. So often when I’m reading another translation, I end up wondering, did the author mean this, or did he mean that? Since both meanings can be drawn from the imprecise English he has used.

Now, for many the every-day use of English is clear enough. But for me, you see, such considerations are very important. My English teacher used to cite: “Two old ladies went for a tramp in the woods. “Did they,” he would ask, “merely go for a walk? Or did they viciously attack a vagrant?”

Then again English English differs from American English. That might be important for you. We still try not to split our infinitives on this side of the pond when writing formally; American writers do so without a moment’s thought. That might annoy you; it does me.

So which Bible version do I recommend for the moment? Well, it used to be The Holman Standard Version, but of late I have been drawn to the new English Standard Version.

Heavenly Father, thank you for faithful men and women who have sought to render your Bible into English for us. In most cases, it has been done very well and is helpful and instructive. But still we need your help in turning words on the page into living practises as daily we follow your Son. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford


johnstettafordAbout the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School,
6th Form Common Room
Honey End Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone:  01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk