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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Larsen

Explore Different Translations (till you find the perfect one)



When I read the Bible in a year, I wanted to read the Chronological Bible. That way, I could not only read the entire Word of God front to back, but I could learn about the order of historical events.  


I went shopping and perused the options.  It was important to me to get a Large Print version -- might as well be kind to my eyes along the way. Without too much consideration I picked up the New Living Translation, and off I went.


Occasionally during my reading, I stumbled over something, and I wanted to check the verse or chapter against another translation.  The Bible I was reading most often before I picked up the Chronological one was the New International Version.  Between the NLT and the NIV I was usually able to solve my questions enough to move forward.


Now that I’ve completed my Bible in a Year Challenge, I’ve become somewhat of a Bible translation connoisseur. For this blog, I went through the various bookshelves in my house and pulled out all the Bibles that I have collected.  The picture above shows my result.  When I counted them up, my Bible collection consists of ten different translations!


A quick Google search satisfied my curiosity about how many different Bible translations exist for the English language and you’ll be amazed to find out the answer: nine hundred!   A website called BibleProject states: “Since Tyndale’s original English translation in 1526, translators and publishers have created approximately 900 different English Bibles, making it difficult to know which to choose.”


Wikipedia adds, “As of September 2023 all of the Bible has been translated in 736 languages, and the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1658 languages.”  I have to admit I’m astounded by this! I honestly didn’t know there were 1658 languages in existence!


So how do you pick one? My response: it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a translation that is the closest and most accurate based on the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, then your choice would be different than if your goal is simple understanding in today’s modern English. For the purposes of my own The Year I Read the Bible project, I was seeking understanding, so the New Living Translation and New International Version suited my needs perfectly.


When I was in the eighth grade, I was confirmed in the Presbyterian church I attended as a child. I was presented with my own Bible, a King James Version.  The print was small and the words spoken by Jesus were printed in red. It had an impressive black cover embossed with gold.  My pastor and my confirmation teacher autographed the Dedication page. I loved displaying it on my bookshelf.


But I rarely opened it up and read it.  Why? Because the King James Version was difficult to interpret for a pre-teen. It seemed like a foreign language to me.


When I entered high school and I became active in my church’s youth group, we used the Good News for Modern Man translation of the Bible.  It was a thick paperback with a decorative cover featuring the names of newspapers from all over the world.  The translation was much more understandable and, well, modern. It was a great starter Bible for me to really start to dig into the concepts as a young person. I can’t locate it in my collection, so I must’ve let it go sometime along the way, which I regret now, because it’s no longer in print.

Here are the translations I currently own:


·        New International Version (3 different Bibles)

·        New Living Translation

·        The Living Bible

·        Literal Standard Version

·        Blended Harmony of the Gospels

·        Today’s English Version

·        Common English Bible

·        The Message


During my journey through the Bible, I was working my way through the Old Testament when I came upon the Psalms. I breathed a sigh of relief because after the heaviness of the Jewish Torah detailing all the rules and laws (the first five books) and the books covering the history of the Israelites, from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon; next up were the poetic books: Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Solomon. I anticipated the advent of some light, happy reading, or as much as there could be in the Old Testament.


The problem was, I didn’t connect with the Psalms. I should have! I was a long-time reader and writer, a lover of words. I majored in English in college, and a professional writer for over twenty years, having written twenty-some novels!


But I’ve never been an appreciator of poetry.  It’s difficult for me to follow the rhythms and absorb myself in its meanings and nuances. But I wanted to complete the entire Bible, and I wanted to do my best to enjoy the beauty of the Psalms and Proverbs. So I turned to my other versions of the Bible.  Is there one in the stack that would speak to me?


Yes.  As it turned out, there was.


Let me quote to you a section of a psalm in the New Living Translation of my Chronological Bible (Psalm 8: 1 - 4 – A Psalm of David, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument):


O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Your glory is higher than the heavens.

You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength.

Silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place –

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?

 

Here is the same psalm in The Message:


God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;

toddlers shout the songs that drown our enemy talk and silence atheist babble.

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?

 

I really love the rich imagery in The Message! For me, it was my solution to finding a way to absorb and love the Psalms. You may not agree, and that's okay! What I’m saying is, there are so many ways to read the Bible. If you want to kick off your own Bible reading project, don’t get discouraged if you don’t connect to the first translation you pick up.  Try another!  And another if you need to!  The important thing is finding that one translation that makes you want to stick with it. 


What is your favorite translation?  What do you like about it? How many versions of the Bible do you own? Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for your Word. And we thank you that we have so many options for reading the important messages you have provided for us to feast on. Be with us when we sit down to read the Bible. Help us focus and concentrate and understand so that we know what you expect of us as we live our lives.  Amen.




 

 

 

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3 Comments


Guest
Mar 09

I read through the Chronological Bible in 2023 too. I have the New King James Version, which is my favorite. The New Living Translation and the Message have been meaningful at times in my life. I am currently re-reading the New Testament in the Chronological Bible, and then am planning to go back through the Psalms. I felt that reading the Psalms chronologically on the daily schedule went too quickly to appreciate and understand the depth of them so I may take two or three days for each section. Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey! I will say that reading in chronological order has enabled me to see things in a way that I hadn't before.

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Guest
Mar 02

Laurie, thank you for helping me understand the significance of consulting more than one version of the Bible!

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Laurie Larsen
Laurie Larsen
Mar 04
Replying to

You’re so welcome! Thanks for reading!

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