Bible Translations: Which One is Right for You?

Most of my friends know that I have a large presence on social media. I recently was scrolling through my time-line on Twitter and came across a Retweet of someone who was proclaiming that the King James Version (KJV) was the only “authorized” version of God! This person was comparing the verse Isaiah 14:12, which reads in the King James Version, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” He then compares this Scripture to the English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), International Standard Version (ISV), and the New International Version (NIV).

I could not find out how he concluded that the King James Version was the only “true authorized” translation that God has approved in the Christian faith? I know that many immature Christian’s may believe that the KJV was written in the Biblical Era, but that just isn’t true. English was not a known language in the day of Christ and of the Apostles. The spoken language at the time was Hebrew and Greek. Hebrew and Greek Texts were translated to Old English between 1604 and 1611. The textual basis was six Greek Texts for the New Testament and Hebrew for the Old Testament. It was also based on the Bishop’s Bible, the Tyndale Bible, and the Geneva Bible.

The King James Version you read today was revised by Benjamin Blayney of Oxford in 1769. The Old English used then is not used in today’s language because the English language has evolved into something quite different.

According to the Bible Translation Continuum as indicated by the picture above, there are three other translations that are closest to the literal meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew Texts. They are the Interlinear, New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version. The King James Version is considered fourth from the translations closest to the original texts meaning word for word. I will focus on the NASB and the ESV. The NASB is based on Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The ESV is based on same texts as the NASB and takes a literal translation philosophy. Both translations are a Word for Word translation into the English Language.

In our opinion, the King James is a beautifully written translation, but the New American Standard Bible is a better translation based on Word for Word. The English Standard Version is more accurate than the New International Version (NIV), but not as ridged as the NASB.

Now, let’s discuss 14:12. As I previously wrote, the KJV mentions Lucifer’s name in this translation. The ESV calls him “O Day Star, son of Dawn.” NASB reads, “O star of the morning, son of the dawn.” These are very different names and the other translations do not mention the name of Lucifer. Remember that the KJV is based on Greek and Hebrew texts as well as the Bishop’s Bible, the Tyndale Bible, and the Geneva Bible. Please note that Christianity was a faith prior to 1611. For the previous 1611 years, there were other Biblical works and the King James Version was written for the Church of England.

When reading Scripture, it is always best not to take a verse out of context of what the author was trying to communicate in a passage. In Isaiah 14, the chapter opens with the restoration of Jacob and then leads into Israel’s taunts of Babylon. Babylon, which was an oppressive power was broken by God and has fallen. Fallen from heaven as indicated in the ESV, “represents in an exaggerated way the fall of Babylon, with all its imperial ambitions, into destruction. O Day Star, son of Dawn refers to the planet Venus, rising in the morning and climbing to the top of the sky, only to be over taken by the sun. In the ancient world, observations of this astronomical cycle gave rise to several myths. Babylon seems to have thought of itself as fulfilling such a heavenly destiny and becoming an eternal and universal empire. But with the appearance of God in verse 22, Babylon’s light will be extinguished. Traditionally, this passage has been seen as a picture of Satan’s fall from grace.”[1] Therefore, one version interprets as Lucifer and the others as Venus based on ancient mythology. But regardless of which, the verse included is part of Israel’s taunt against Babylon, which was a fallen empire which God destroyed.

As we reflect on what the person on Twitter was saying as well as his “Followers,” to completely state that all other translations are “garbage” is blasphemy in our opinion. To say these things under the guise of Christianity pushes the lost away from the Gospel. It causes division within the Church.

When I first became a Christian, I was given a Living Bible. As I grew in my faith, I switched to the New International Version. As I deepened in my faith, I use the English Standard Version as my study Bible. Regardless of which translation you use, God can minster to you through His Holy Spirit. The things that we say to others that are of a negative nature can destroy opportunities for people to grow in Christ. Please don’t be the one who comes across with making statements that the KJV is the only “Truth!” Please don’t tell people to throw their other translations in the garbage! This is wrong and you should not be leading people away from reading God’s Word!

References:


[1] Reformation Study Bible (Reformation Trust: Orlando, FL, 2015) 1146.

Copyright © January 13, 2020. Marketplace Evangelism Today, a publication of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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