Should we trust the Bible?

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2... Should we trust the Bible?

Table of contents:

(I haven't answered all the following questions yet.)

1...Religious people are judgy.

Does the Bible tell people to be judgy?
Or do judgy people misinterpret the Bible to justify their insensitivity?

Does the Bible say homosexuality is immoral?
Does the Bible say divorce and remarriage are immoral?
Does the Bible say women shouldn't teach or preach?

Religious people are hypocrites.
Why do religious people get into so much trouble?

How to discuss controversial subjects

2...How do you know who to believe?

Should we trust this webpage?
Evaluating information sources
Is Wikipedia reliable?
Do liberal and conservative Bible scholars believe the same thing?

Is it appropriate to ask questions about a sacred text?
Should we instead just believe what it says in faith?

Is it circular reasoning when the Bible prophesies something and then later says it was fulfilled?
What do book scientists (textual critics) say about the Bible?

3...Are our English bibles the same as the Greek and Hebrew originals?
Or have they been corrupted over time?

Inspiration
Transmission
Textual variants

4...Is the Bible fiction or nonfiction?

Does the Bible contradict itself?
Did the supernatural miracles in the Bible really happen?
When the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, why don't the quotes match verbatim?

5...Why are there so many different English bible translations?

Do they all say the same thing?
What is the best translation?
What translation do you recommend?

Is the King James Version the best?
Is there stuff missing from modern translations when compared to the King James Version?

Why does the Bible need updated?
Isn't the Bible already perfect?

6...What does the Bible say?

The Bible is about Jesus.
God, Sin, Jesus, You

Is the Bible a moral book?
Or does it support genocide and slavery?

Seemingly immoral acts of God in the Bible

7...The Bible is boring.

The Bible is an old-fashioned book that's hard to understand.
What reading level is the Bible?
I struggle with making time to read the Bible.

8...Should we do what the Bible says?

I don't want to become a Christian, because then I'll have to stop sinning.
Do you trust God?
Do you trust Jesus?
Do I have to believe all that the Bible says?

Legend:

This font... Quotes from the ESV bible
This font... Quotes from the internet
Underlined text... My emphasis added

This font...

My comments

1...Religious people are judgy.

It's hard to reason someone out of a belief they didn't reason themselves into.

(from https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/163u2w /atheists_have_no_moral_compass_without_the_bible/ )

There is only one truth. Conflicting statements canít both be true.

When someone says that truth is relative, what he normally means is that there is no absolute truth. Some things may appear true to you but not true to me. If you believe it, it is true for you. If I donít believe it, it is not true for me. When people say things like "thatís fine if God exists for you, but He doesnít exist for me," they are expressing the popular belief that truth is relative.

The whole concept of "relative truth" sounds tolerant and open-minded. However, upon closer analysis, it is not open-minded at all. In essence, to say that "God exists for you but not for me" is to say that the other personís concept of God is wrong. It passes judgment. But no one really believes that all truth is relative. No sane person says, "Gravity works for you, but not for me," and proceeds to jump off tall buildings believing no harm will follow.

The statement "truth is relative" is, in fact, a self-refuting statement. In saying, "Truth is relative," one states a purported truth. But, if all truth is relative, then that statement itself is relative as well--which means we canít trust it to be true all the time.

Certainly, there are some statements that are relative. For example, "the Ford Mustang is the coolest car ever made" is a relative statement. A car enthusiast may think this to be true, but there is no absolute standard by which to measure "coolness." It is simply oneís belief or opinion. However, the statement "there is a red Ford Mustang parked outside in the driveway, and it belongs to me" is not relative. It is either true or false, based on objective reality. If the Mustang in the driveway is blue (not red), the statement is false. If the red Mustang in the driveway belongs to someone else, the statement is false--it does not match reality.

Generally speaking, opinions are relative. Many people relegate any question of God or religion to the realm of opinion. "You prefer Jesus--thatís fine if it works for you." What Christians say (and the Bible teaches) is that truth is not relative, regardless of the subject matter. There is an objective spiritual reality, just as there is an objective physical reality. God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6); Jesus likened His teachings to a solid, immovable rock (Matthew 7:24). Jesus is the only way of salvation, and this is absolutely true for every person at all times (John 14:6). Just like people need to breathe in order to live, people need to be born again through faith in Christ to experience spiritual life (John 3:3).

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-truth-relative.html )

John Riches, professor of divinity and biblical criticism at the University of Glasgow, provides the following view of the diverse historical influences of the Bible:

It has inspired some of the great monuments of human thought, literature, and art; it has equally fuelled some of the worst excesses of human savagery, self-interest, and narrow-mindedness. It has inspired men and women to acts of great service and courage, to fight for liberation and human development; and it has provided the ideological fuel for societies which have enslaved their fellow human beings and reduced them to abject poverty. ... It has, perhaps above all, provided a source of religious and moral norms which have enabled communities to hold together, to care for, and to protect one another; yet precisely this strong sense of belonging has in turn fuelled ethnic, racial, and international tension and conflict.

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible#Views )

Does the Bible tell people to be judgy?
Or do judgy people misinterpret the Bible to justify their insensitivity?

Does the Bible say homosexuality is immoral?

(I didn't answer this question yet.)

Does the Bible say divorce and remarriage are immoral?

(I didn't answer this question yet.)

Does the Bible say women shouldn't teach or preach?

(I didn't answer this question yet.)

Religious people are hypocrites.
Why do religious people get into so much trouble?

How to discuss controversial subjects:

What is the other person's point?

i.e., listen instead of formulating conterpoints.

Questions:

Questions are better than opinions.
Questions will get people's attention quicker than sermons.
Questions are more important than answers.
Questions represent what we don't know.
Answer the other person's questions, not your own.
Tackle the hard or interesting questions instead of the easy ones.

Know what you know.

Don't offer opinions on stuff you don't understand. My specialty is the Bible. I don't really know anything about other religions.
Are your views based on logic or faith?

Don't be scared to dig deeper and dialog with people.

If you're looking for the truth, and I'm looking for the truth, we should get closer to the truth talking to each other.

There's plenty of facts to go around.

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."

(Oliver Cromwell)

Information is good.
More information is better.
Information that challenges your worldview is best.

Don't argue.

Are you looking for the truth?
Or are you trying to win an argument?

Are you emotional about the issue?
When people tell me I'm wrong, I only get upset if I'm wrong.
If I've done nothing wrong, why would I get upset?

Emotions are diagnostic.
They reveal what is important to you.
Are you worried that your viewpoint may be wrong?
...And that you may need to admit that you were wrong all these years?

The message is more important than the messenger.
Correcting the error is better than attacking the source.

It's not about who's right and wrong...
It's about what's right and wrong.

People are more important than ideas.
Actions are more important than beliefs.

Correct the misinformation, not the person.
Ignore personal attacks.
Don't attack personally.

2... How do you know who to believe?

Should we trust this webpage?

Google, not academic research:

This page required a lot of googling, because Iím not a textual critic or whatever theyíre called. I did not have the patience or interest to read all the technical stuff or complete a comprehensive search, in part because I trust the Bible and no longer really question it. So here is what I cherry-picked...

Works for me, Your mileage may vary:

I donít trust the Bible primarily because of the reasons on this page, but because of my personal experience over time. Iím trying to follow Jesus. Trusting a person doesnít happen overnight. It happens as you spend time with them. Iíve read the Bible a couple times and think itís amazing, relevant, helpful, deep, poetic and beautiful.

I heard a Christian teacher say, "It works", speaking about observing Christian families and principles in action over the years. Itís easy for a Christian to say that. The Bible means something different to Christians and non-Christians.

Ask, and It Will Be Given

7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

(Matthew 7:7-11)

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him"--

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:18 - 2:16)


Evaluating information sources:

Evaluating sources (emphasis on COVID)

Is Wikipedia reliable?

Do liberal and conservative Bible scholars believe the same thing?

Traditional Protestants understood the Bible to be uniquely authoritative (sola scriptura); all doctrine, teaching and the church itself derive authority from it.

...from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Christianity

Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, is a movement that interprets Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority. Liberal Christians view their theology as an alternative to both atheistic rationalism and theologies based on traditional interpretations of external authority (such as the Bible or sacred tradition).

...from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Christianity

Is it appropriate to ask questions about a sacred text?
Should we instead just believe what it says in faith?

Well, if you have a question, and you don't ask it, it's not going to go away. I think questions are more important than answers. Questions represent what we don't know. If God is who he says he is, we're not going to fully understand him.

Don't be afraid to dig deeper. You're not going to prove God wrong. He can handle it. But you might find that you are wrong.

Citing extrabibical evidence like logic and textual criticism doesn't mean you don't have faith. Nonbelievers who dismiss the Bible may consider extrabiblical evidence. God's way works, and that is reflected in the real world. It's not blind faith.

Is faith opposed to science?

Is it circular reasoning when the Bible prophesies something and then later says it was fulfilled?

Yes, logically, this is circular reasoning. When the Bible makes claims about itself, I believe those claims, because I believe its author is perfect. But nonbelievers may not believe the Bible is true just because it says it is.

What do book scientists (textual critics) say about the Bible?

3...Are our English bibles the same as the Greek and Hebrew originals?
Or have they been corrupted over time?

Inspiration:

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(2 Peter 1:16-21)

Transmission:

The Greek & Hebrew originals no longer exist...
...All we have are handwritten copies of portions of the Bible called manuscripts.
Currently there are over 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts, and more manuscripts are discovered each year.
When comparing all these available manuscripts, they have mostly tiny differences or errors called textual variants.
Less than 1% of the 300,000 to 400,000 textual variants affect the meaning of the overall Bible significantly.
Textual criticism is the science of comparing the copies, specifically their differences, in order to figure out what the originals said.
Or it is the process of identifying errors in the copies and correcting them in the standardized text.
Textual critics create standardized texts that are translated into English by Bible translators.

Textual variants:

Earliest extant manuscripts

Distribution of Greek manuscripts by century

"If you put ten people in a room and asked them all to copy the first five chapters of Johnís gospel, you would end up with ten different copies of John. In other words, no two handwritten copies would be absolutely identical to each other. Someone would skip a word that everyone else has. One person would misspell that one word they can never get right. Someone would probably skip a line, or even a verse, especially if there were similar words at the beginning or end of the verse before and the verse after. So you would end up with many variants. But would you not have ten copies of the same book? Yes, and by comparing all ten copies you could easily reproduce the text of the original, because when one person makes a mistake, the other nine are not likely to do so at the very same spot."

...from The King James Only Controversy, 2nd edition, 2009, p. 277

A quantitative study on the stability of the New Testament compared early manuscripts to later manuscripts, up to the Middle Ages with the Byzantine manuscripts, indicated that the text had more than 90% stability over this time period.[138] It has been estimated that only 0.1% to 0.2% of the New Testament variants impact the meaning of the texts in any significant fashion.

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels )

What is usually meant is that the New Testament has far more manuscript evidence from a far earlier period than other classical works. There are just under 6000 NT manuscripts, with copies of most of the NT dating from just 100 years or so after its writing. Classical sources almost always have fewer than 20 copies each and usually date from 700-1400 years after the composition of the work. In this regard, the classics are not as well attested. While this doesn't guarantee truthfulness, it means that it is much easier to reconstruct the New Testament text. Regarding genre, the Gospels are usually taken today to be examples of Roman biographies.

...from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript

One might well see tremendous divine wisdom in the way God worked over the years. By having the text of the New Testament in particular explode across the known world, ending up in the far-flung corners of the Roman Empire in relatively short order, God protected that text from the one thing we, centuries and millennia later, could never detect: wholesale change of doctrine or theology by one particular man or group who had full control over the text at any one point in its history.

You see, because the New Testament books were written at various times and were quickly copied and distributed as soon as they were written, there was never a time when anyone or any group could gather up all the manuscripts and make extensive changes in the text itself, like cutting out Christís deity or inserting some foreign doctrine or concept. Neither could someone gather up the texts and try to make them all say the same thing by harmonizing them. If someone had indeed done this, we could never be certain what the apostles had written, and what the truth actually is.

But such a thing did not, and could not, happen. By the time anyone did obtain great ecclesiastical power in the name of Christianity, texts like 66 and 75 already were long buried in the sands of Egypt, out of the reach of any attempted alteration. The fact that their text is nearly identical to even the most Byzantine manuscript of a millennium later is testimony to the overall purity of the New Testament text.

...from White, J. R. (2009). The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? (pp. 77Ė78). Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House.

Overview of textual criticism

4...Is the Bible fiction or nonfiction?

The crucifixion of Jesus is an example of an event that meets the criterion of embarrassment. This method of execution was considered the most shameful and degrading in the Roman world, and advocates of the criterion claim this method of execution is therefore the least likely to have been invented by the followers of Jesus.

...from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criterion_of_embarrassment

"Look, the Lamb of God!" (John 1:36). Of course, a person might ask for clarification, and be told, based on Old Testament passages, that Jesus isnít literally a wooly farm animal, but that Heís the fulfillment of the Law and the divinely chosen sacrifice to redeem the world. The figurative nature of Johnís statement doesnít make his statement untrue, simply metaphorical. Itís good to remember that the Bible is comprised of sixty-six separate books, and each of them often contains different types of literature and a mixture of literal and figurative language.

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-the-Bible-true.html )

Does the Bible contradict itself?

Assuming a Partial Report Is a False Report

Critics often jump to the conclusion that a partial report is false. However, this is not so. If it were, most of what has ever been said would be false, since seldom does time or space permit an absolutely complete report. For example, Peter's famous confession in the Gospels:

Matthew: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (16:16, NASB).

Mark: "You are the Christ" (8:29, NASB).

Luke: "The Christ of God" (9:20, NASB).

(from https://www.namb.net/apologetics/resource/are-there-any-errors-in-the-bible/ )

Q: "Are there lots of contradictions in the Bible?"

our A: While some claim that the Bible is full of contradictions, this simply isn't true. The number of apparent contradictions is actually remarkably small for a book of the Bible's size and scope. What apparent discrepancies do exist are more curiosity than calamity. They do not touch on any major event or article of faith.

Here is an example of a so-called contradiction. Pilate ordered that a sign be posted on the cross where Jesus hung. Three of the Gospels record what was written on that sign:

In Matthew: "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews."
In Mark: "The king of the Jews."
In John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews."

The wording is different, hence the apparent contradiction. The remarkable thing, though, is that all three writers describe the same event in such detail -- Jesus was crucified. On this they all agree. They even record that a sign was posted on the cross, and the meaning of the sign is the same in all three accounts!

What about the exact wording? In the original Greek of the Gospels, they didn't use a quotation symbol as we do today to indicate a direct quote. The Gospel writers were making an indirect quote, which would account for the subtle differences in the passages.

Here is another example of an apparent contradiction. Was Jesus two nights in the tomb or three nights in the tomb before His resurrection? Jesus said, prior to his crucifixion, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). Mark records another statement that Jesus made, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." (Mark 10:33,34)

Jesus was killed on Friday and the resurrection was discovered on Sunday. How can that be three days and nights in the tomb? It was a Jewish figure of speech in Jesus' time to count any part of a day or night as a full day and night. So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would be called three days and three nights in Jesus' culture. We speak in similar ways today -- if a person were to say, "I spent all day shopping," we understand that the person didn't mean 24 hours.

This is typical of apparent contradictions in the New Testament. Most are resolved by a closer examination of the text itself or through studying the historical background.

(from https://www.everystudent.com/forum/contradictions.html )

Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

The Bible was written in an oral culture much different from ours.

Gospel writers who differ on minor points such as times, number of angels at a tomb, exact locations, and so on, are signators to a semantic contract that Westerners haven't even read. Let's look at some related points that note this from a secular perspective.

Boyd and Eddy in The Jesus Legend note that sociologists aware of this phenomenon have referred to it as "relevant precision" and indeed quote a secular sociology periodical as saying much the same thing I do: That to insist on a greater level of precision that was intended for a context would be "sanctionable, pedantic, or intrusive." [433]

Similarly, Jocelyn Small in Wax Tablets of the Mind (5-7) further confirms and elucidates these points, which have special application to alleged problems in wording across the Gospels. As she puts it, "Exact wording is rarely crucial in oral societies, but often of great importance in literate ones, though this aspect took centuries to develop." As a result, "it is not the words but the story or the gist that counts." Gospel writers would not be expected to get the verba (exact words) of Jesus, but the vox (voice).

Furthermore, the need for most people to memorize material (since 90% were illiterate) meant that artistic structuring was sometimes used to aid the memory (118). This might sacrifice the precision that we moderns so value, but that is our problwm, [sic] not theirs.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/gospelprecision.php )

Imagine all you'd have to remember if you couldn't read or write (and it cost money you didn't have to have someone do it for you -- and there aren't any charities to help you learn to read or anything like that). Furthermore, writing materials such as parchment and ink are very expensive and very hard to get. You have only a limited amount of space to write something, and if you have an area of concentration, you don't need distracting "by the way" elements running around in your account. You get to that point, and you don't waste expensive and limited resources talking about what in your context is a non-essential.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/demoniactale.php )

Did the supernatural miracles in the Bible really happen?

Christianity is a religion of the miraculous--from Godís creative acts of Genesis 1 to the wonderful events of Revelation 22. The Bible does not tell us how any of these happen, other than that God wills them to happen and they do. He may use (intensify) some existing natural law (as in Noahís Flood), or all participation of nature may be excluded (as in the Resurrection). Often the miraculous effect lies in the providential timing of natural events (as in Godís partition of the Red Sea by a strong wind that blew all night--Exodus 14:21).

Miracles rest on testimony, not on scientific analyses. While it is interesting to speculate on how God might have performed any particular Biblical miracle, including Joshuaís long day, ultimately those claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ (who authenticated the divine record of the Bible) must accept them, by faith.

(from http://creation.com/joshuas-long-day )

Modern scientists rely on the regularities of nature that are a product of God's wisdom and faithfulness. But for many, a distortion enters in, because they think that the regularities or "laws of nature" are ultimately impersonal. If they are impersonal, they are basically like a mechanism, for which there can be no exceptions. So before even reading the Bible or listening to the evidence, they think they "know" that there can be no exceptions and no miracles.

This antibiblical view of the world has consequences. Science can still succeed in many ways, because the distorted conception is close enough to the reality to enable advances. At the same time, it is bound to come into conflict with the Bible when it comes to reconstructions of the past.

...from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-bible-and-science/

History is speculation:

And in all of this, we must remember that origin-science of whatever flavour is inherently different from operation science (how the universe presently works--gravity, physics, chemistry, etc.) because we canít directly test or observe stories about the past.

(from http://creation.com/hanging-loose-what-should-we-defend )

Science deals with concrete things that can be touched, weighed, measured, and evaluated under laboratory conditions. Science deals with concrete, verifiable objects. History, on the other hand, does not deal with materials that can be touched, weighed, and measured. History is inferential i.e., it infers the past on the basis of partially known facts. True, the historian makes use of some concrete materials in his work, such as documents, diaries, newspapers, and contemporary accounts in his investigations, but from these he must infer the past. He cannot weigh or measure these materials as the scientist can weigh or measure his materials." [History: Meaning and Method, by Donald V. Gawronski, Scott Foresman:1969 (rev. ed), p. 4.]

(from http://christianthinktank.com/ordorise.html )

5...Why are there so many English bible translations?

Language changes over time. For example, The King James Version contains many obsolete words. There are also modern words in the King James Version that have archaic definitions.

Do they all say the same thing?

The first thing I do if I'm studying a Bible passage is read it in every translation I can find, because there are differences. But almost all modern translations except the NKJV and MEV are translated from the same Critical Text. Using multiple translations adds depth to Bible study.

Every Bible translation has the same message, but there are different translation philosophies.

Are literal translations better than paraphrases?

Compare multiple Bible translations verse by verse.

The Voice, the most paraphrasey translation ever, says homosexuality is wrong like every other Bible translation...

24Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh. 25In those days the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

---
C4 Genesis provides an image of the ideal marriage: One man. One woman. In a one-flesh relationship. For life. These four elements constitute the ideal, as Jesus reminds His followers (Matthew 19:4-5). Anything less, anything more, or anything other misses the ideal. In marriage two individuals, who once lived as "me," come together as "we" in one flesh and one life. No earthly bond can match the intimacy of this divinely sanctioned union.

...from The Voice Bible, eBook, 2012, p. 4

What is the best translation?
What translation do you recommend?

I've read pretty much every translation Genesis to Revelation, and I haven't found a bad one in the bunch.

Here's my most- to least-favorites:

NASB 2020 New American Standard Bible 2020
The footnotes are appropriately dumbed-down for me.

LEB Lexham English Bible
Lots of footnotes, but they're smarter than NASB 2020 and dumber than NET.

NET New English Translation
Contains lots of footnotes like this... "The referent of the (understood) third person subject of δώσει (dōsei) in 5:16 is difficult to determine. Once again the authorís meaning is obscure. Several possibilities have been suggested for the referent of the subject of this verb: (1) From a grammatical and syntactical standpoint, it would be easiest to understand the subject of δώσει in 5:16 as the person who makes the request, since this person is the subject of the preceding verb αἰτήσει (aitēsei) and the following verb ἐρωτήσῃ (erōtēsē). From a theological standpoint this is extremely difficult, however..."

ESV English Standard Version
The cool kids all read the ESV. So I don't like it as much as I used to.

CSB / HCSB Christian Standard Bible / Holman Christian Standard Bible
I ran out of translations and needed a new one.

NKJV New King James Version
I use this at church, cuz everybody reads from the KJV, and you can't even tell the difference sometimes. I was surprised how good it is. But it's based on the Textus Receptus like the KJV, which was translated from 25 manuscripts. Almost all modern translations are based on the Critical Text, which is translated from over 5,800 manuscripts for the New Testament. But it's all good.

NLT New Living Translation
Liked this one so much, I read Genesis 1-10 in one sitting. Pretty paraphrasey, but not as much as MSG or VOICE. Good for kids. The Living Bible is a paraphrase, while the NLT is a translation.

MSG Message
Very paraphrasey. Use as a commentary.

VOICE Voice
The most-paraphrasey translation ever. Use as a commentary.

NASB95 New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update
Don't read the same translation six times in a row. You'll get bored.

AMP Amplified
This is some serious semantic gymnastics. It's a thesaurus that reads like a book. Not to be confused with the Amplified Classic, which is a book that reads like a thesaurus.

NIV2011 New International Version
Seems dumbed down to me. And it's the most popular translation, so it can't be that good, right? The NIV2011 is pretty controversial due to gender-neutral language. Also, we'd never call a group of men and women "men" like the KJV does, so a cultural shift in understanding of gender does affect language. I'm planning on reading NIV1984 next.

MEV Modern English Version
I think this one had typos. The MEV is based on the Textus Receptus and MT, like the KJV and NKJV. Almost all other modern translations are based on the Critical Text. The Textus Receptus was translated from 25 manuscripts. The Critical Text New Testament is translated from about 5,800 Greek manuscripts.

KJV King James Version
So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. Not good for kids or unchurched people.

There isnít one best translation of the Bible Reading multiple translations brings richness and clarity to Bible interpretation.

Is the King James Version the best?

Thoughts on the KJV

Is there stuff missing from modern translations when compared to the King James Version?

Why does the Bible need updated?
Isn't the Bible already perfect?

Language changes over time, so translations need updated.

The original autographs were perfect.
And God's revelation is without error.
But we don't have the originals anymore.
Instead we rely on manuscripts, which are handwritten copies.

Manuscripts are discovered every year, and the Critical Text is in the 28th edition, because they want to be as faithful to the originals as possible, and sometimes the scientific consensus changes. We know a little better today than the King James translators did, because we have 5,800 manuscripts compared to the KJV's 25.

6...What does the Bible say?

The Bible is painfully honest. It shows Jacob, the father of its "chosen people," to be a deceiver. It describes Moses, the lawgiver, as an insecure, reluctant leader, who, in his first attempt to come to the aid of his own people, killed a man and then ran for his life to the desert. It portrays David not only as Israelís most loved king, general, and spiritual leader, but as one who took another manís wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed. At one point, the Scriptures accuse the people of God, the nation of Israel, as being so bad they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good by comparison (Ezekiel 16:46-52). The Bible represents human nature as hostile to God. It predicts a future full of trouble. It teaches that the road to heaven is narrow and the way to hell is wide. Scripture was clearly not written for those who want simple answers or an easy, optimistic view of religion and human nature....

(from https://discoveryseries.org/courses /10-reasons-to-believe-in-the-bible/ )

The Bible is about Jesus.

God, Sin, Jesus, You

Is the Bible a moral book?
Or does it support genocide and slavery?

Genocide and stuff are addressed here
Slavery is addressed here

Seemingly immoral acts of God in the Bible:

(I didn't answer this question yet.)

7...The Bible is boring.

The Bible is an old-fashioned book that's hard to understand.

The King James Version is the hardest translation to understand.

What reading level is the Bible?

Translation -- Grade Level

KJV -- 12
RSV -- 12
NRSV -- 11
NASB -- 11
ESV -- 10
HCSB -- 7-8
NIV -- 7-8
CEB -- 7
CSB -- 7
NKJV -- 7
NLT -- 6
GW -- 5
Message -- 4-5
NCV -- 3
NIrV -- 3

...from https://www.christianbook.com/page/bibles/about-bibles/bible-translation-reading-levels

I struggle with making time to read the Bible.

(I didn't answer this question yet.)

8...Should we do what the Bible says?

....10 ITS POWER TO CHANGE LIVES.

Unbelievers often point to those who claim to believe in the Bible without being changed by it. But history is also marked by those who have been bettered by this book. The Ten Commandments have been a source of moral direction to countless numbers of people. The Psalms of David have offered comfort in times of trouble and loss. Jesusí Sermon on the Mount has given millions an antidote for stubborn pride and proud legalism. Paulís description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 has softened angry hearts. The changed lives of people like the apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Newton, Leo Tolstoy, and C. S. Lewis illustrate the difference the Bible can make. Even entire nations or tribes, like the Celts of Ireland, the wild Vikings of Norway, or the Auca Indians of Ecuador have been transformed by the Word of God and the unprecedented life and significance of Jesus Christ.

(from https://discoveryseries.org/courses /10-reasons-to-believe-in-the-bible/ )

I don't want to become a Christian, because then I'll have to stop sinning.

Do I have to stop sinning if I become a Christian?

Do you trust God?

If you trust him, you will welcome his involvement even when you don't like what's happening to you, because you believe God is good. You will feel privileged to be part of his plan even when you don't know the plan.

Or do you resent what's happening to you? Do you feel God is treating you unfairly?

Who is God?

Is he good or evil?

Does he care about us?

Is he fair?

Does he hold grudges and take revenge like us?

Are we his science experiment?

Does he like to watch us squirm?

I think God is good.

I trust God because of his track record. We read in the Bible that he created our universe, designed us, disciplined us, became one of us to save us (See Storytime!), and continually loves and forgives when we reject him.

My personal experience confirms what the Bible says about God's character. I'm trying to follow Jesus. Trusting a person doesn't happen overnight. It happens as you spend time with them.

I heard a Christian teacher say, "It works", speaking about observing Christian families and principles in action over the years. It's easy for a Christian to say that. The Bible means something different to Christians and non-Christians.

Do you trust Jesus?

"Follow me."

Do I have to believe all that the Bible says?

Do you trust God?
What gives God the right to tell me what to do?

10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

(James 2:10)

All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:10-17 ESV)


mark@chiptape.com