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Friday, September 16, 2011

Does Word Order Matter?

NT Resources, a blog I accessed through the Biblegateway site, shared a quote that spoke about the dangers of changing any element that relates to religion or culture.  The quote is a warning about improving or clarifying items we have come to understand in a specific way, and the danger that improving it will cause a revolution.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible.  Now we view it as the old standard for all Bible reading.  Many people assume it is written in Old English.  I will hasten to assure you that it is not even written in Middle English, but in what modern English.  Of course some things are dated and the original would look very strange to us, but that's still modern English.

I said all that to say this:  change is strange and foreign.  We have been reading new translations of the Bible for at least sixty years, and I think there are still people who believe the KJV had it right.(I think the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was published in 1946 and the Old Testament was published in 1952.)  I do believe you can be as well taught from the KJV as from the NIV or the RSV, or any of the others, and they are numerous.  The truly intelligent way to study the Bible is to compare the versions.  Reconcile the differences, and you may come to understand the Bible better.

One of the most difficult and meaningful experiences I ever had was translating passages from the Latin to English.  I had to use a dictionary on almost every word.  I had to understand the rules for translation and the cases of the nouns and the tenses of the verbs.  And I had to do all that with 618 verses of the Old and New Testaments.  Understand another thing--the Vulgate was translated around 400 c.e. from the Hebrew and Greek.  Changing the word order or the translation does not negate the Bible's message or God's truth.  Let it inform you, and let God make it real in your experience.