English Bibles: More and More Translations, Less and Less Read

Inspired by this blogpost, I thought a bit about our relationship with the Bible. After I laid down and recovered from all that thinking, I came up with this:

1. The old joke aside (“I believe in the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, the Bible”) what Christians really want is to know their God better.

2. The best way to know someone is to spend time with them.

3. To spend time with God, one prays. (In humility, realizing more and more you are indeed a child talking to His Father, who is indulgent with your rambling, silly, self-absorbed talk.)

4. As even Bart Ehrman likes to point out, if God, whom you love and worship, wrote a book, wouldn’t you want to read it? Then why don’t we? (Ehrman’s students, with a sizable Christian membership, never include many who have read the Bible through.)

5. The Bible is God talking to you. Your Heavenly Father wrote you a manual of life, wisdom, and love. Absolutely you should want to read it. Even learn it by heart.

6. As all of us who lose earthly parents and mentors know, there are days when thinks, “What I wouldn’t give to get my father/elder/mentor’s take on this”. If that is so, how much more so the desire for God’s view on things?

7. With all the flavors of English Bible translations (formal, dynamic, paraphrase), and the massive rate of literacy compared to most of the population throughout most of history, one has no excuse not to read the Bible.

8. It has never been necessary to read the Bible in the original languages only. The apostles used an Old Testament translation from Hebrew into Greek called nowadays the Septuagint. The ancient were sure of the Septuagint translators fidelity to the original texts, and generally speaking, you can be sure of most Bible translations’ fidelity to the text, today.

9. The simple truth is most people are never going to master Greek and Hebrew well enough to actually read from the original languages.

10. Knowledge of the biblical languages will help you understand many things about the Bible, but it will also raise new questions as well. Knowledge is like that.

11. As a famous Christian was once told, “Take up and read.” As a famous Jewish sage (the guy who supposedly came to Rabbi Hillel and asked to be taught the meaning of the Law while standing on one foot) said of the Law, “Turn it around and around again; there is everything in it.  Pore over  it; grow old and gray with it. Don’t turn from it, for nothing is better than it.”


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