Bible and Church

The language of the Bible

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The language of the Bible. Paul spoke Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Possibly other languages too, but these three we can be certain of. When he traveled around on his missionary journeys, he invariably came to visit people who did not speak one of those three languages. In these cases, one of two things happened – either God enabled the people to understand him (aka speaking in tongues – and by the way, this is the true meaning of tongues, not spouting gibberish as you roll around on the floor) or He provided an interpreter.

Now, I’m going to make a point, so we’ll use the interpreter example. The goal of the interpreter is not to teach people a new language so that they can communicate with the intended speaker flawlessly. Instead, the interpreter takes the message of one person, and rephrases it into the language that is understood by the people who need to hear it.

Now, few people read the Bible in it’s original language; most people choose to read a translated version. This process involves scholars who are competent, or more likely, experts in both the original language and the language of the people they are translating it for.

I’ve not told you anything controversial or unexpected so far; this all should make perfect sense. What doesn’t make perfect sense to me is why some people insist that the original King James version of the Bible is superior to modern translations. The fact is, the English language has shifted since the 1600’s and many of the words used in that version are not understood by people today. Do you know the meaning of the words, “reprobate” and “concupiscence?” What is the difference between “thee” and “though?”

If a Bible translation is not understood by the people reading it, then it’s not a suitable translation.

Now, I will not say that the KJV is with out value. I like the fact that the KJV and NKJV both use a form of English that is both compact and rich with detail. For example, if you and the people you are communicating with know the meaning of the word “reprobate” then when you use it in a sentence you convey a detailed and concise meaning in only one word. I additionally like the fact that it’s 300 year head start on other translations yields a rich repository of study materials available to accompany it.

However, these benefits show that the KJV is suitable (however there are other suitable Bibles available as well) as a study aid for scholars, however is not well suited as the primary Bible in your typical English speaking household.

Just my $0.02 worth (although inflation has driven up to $0.055 recently).

Web guy, big thinker, loves to talk, teach and write. I make technology easier to use @ John Deere ISG.

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