The Bible – I’m not going to argue the point about how to interpret these special ancient texts. For me the point is that, through a variety of literature written in different eras and situations, somehow God still manages to speak to us today. The Bible does contradict itself and has its unpleasant passages but to me that suggests that the Bible is true to life – God is not inconsistent, we are. For Christians the whole point of the Bible is to point us to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and it is uniquely important for that.

2011 sees the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised Version of the Bible (aka the King James’ Version). For more information about the celebrations try the Church of England webpage. Alternatively there is the King James Bible Trust you might like to take a look at. The Authorised Version is a major achievement and has had a profound influence on the spiritual, social and political life of this and other countries. Its language has infiltrated our everyday speech and it is right to celebrate it. However, there is also a cautionary note from the Ship of Fools, although the author does salute the KJV

However, in my prayer time and Bible study my experience is that more modern (and more accurate) translations are considerably more helpful. The language of the 21st century grows out of the 17th century but they are not the same – I don’t want to keep referring to an English dictionary as well as a Bible commentary if I am preparing for a sermon, for example.

While I have found it helpful to learn my way round the Bible and can even quote the odd verse or two, it is hazardous, to say the least, to quote verses out of context. Moreover, the different wording in other translations reminds us that a straight forward translation from one language (Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek in the Bible’s case) to another, such as English, is not always possible. However, they can at least make us think more deeply about the Bible’s precise meaning.   Sometimes it is better not to lean too heavily on one particular translation. Meanwhile, for the record, here are some of my favourite verses which come from more than one translation. NB some are chosen for their obvious theological content but others just because they make me smile! (The references are in the tags section of this post)

Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise. (AV)

You might as well curse your friend as wake him up early in the morning with a loud greeting. (GNB)

I will make it a possession of the hedgehog. (NRSV)

Attack them tomorrow as they come up the pass at Ziz. (GNB)

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer holding people’s misdeeds against them, and has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. (REB)

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. (AV)

[GNB = Good News Bible, NRSV = New Revised Standard Version, REB = Revised English Bible, AV = Authorised Version]