Are We Using the “Right” Translation for Bible Study? — Genesis 21

Some of you have written and recommended the use of the King James Version of the Bible for the International Bible Lessons Commentary, and from the beginning I have included the KJV as one of the five commentaries I use and provide online for your use. There is no question that the King James Version of the Bible is the most popular version among English speaking people. By the grace of God, some web browsers will automatically translate all the Bible versions, commentaries, and other resources on the International Bible Lessons Commentary into different languages for readers almost everywhere.

Regarding English translations, for the last few years, I have used the New International Version for the IBLC Audio Commentary and the shorter International Bible Lesson and some of the activities; such as, the Crossword Puzzles, the True and False Tests, and the Word Search Puzzles. During our study of Genesis, I have discovered that the NIV has added some words of interpretation to their verses that are not exactly “wrong,” but not used in other translations. Discovering this has led me to reconsider using the NIV for the Audio Commentary and some other resources.

For example, compare these translations or interpretations - the added word is in bold type of Genesis 21:1 —

NIV - New International Version: Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.

KJV - King James Version: And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

ESV - English Standard Version: The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.

NASB - New American Standard Bible: Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.

NRSV - New Revised Standard Version: The LORD dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as he had promised.

There is not exactly anything “wrong” with the NIV interpretation, for God was gracious when the LORD visited Sarah, and that is a helpful interpretation, but that is more than a translation.

Consider and compare these translations or interpretations - the added word is in bold type of Genesis 6:9 —

NIV: This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

KJV: These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

ESV: These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

NASB:These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

NRSV: These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.

There is not exactly anything “wrong” with the NIV interpretation, for Noah walked faithfully with God, and that is a helpful interpretation, but that is more than a translation.

The above examples indicate that we can learn a lot from comparing different Bible versions (one reason I provide five different versions through the International Bible Lessons Commentary website) and some Bible translations (with their added interpretations) help us understand better the ways of God and some righteous people who walked with God in the Bible. Perhaps it would have been better if the added words were in italics as we find in some other versions of the Bible when the added words try to clarify the meaning of the Bible in translating from Hebrew or Greek into English.

Some Bible translations may be better than others for our daily Bible reading, because of their added Biblical interpretations. Other translations may be better for daily Bible study and weekly Bible study preparation and Sunday school teaching because of their being closer to the wording in the original Hebrew or Greek language, their cross references, their study notes at the bottom of almost every page.

What do you think? Tell us on the Forum. What is your favorite translation? Why do you like and use your favorite translation? What Study Bible do you use, if any. What is the "right" translation for you?

Receive our periodic International Bible Lesson Forum Newsletter by becoming a Registered Member of this IBL Forum. Then, login and make comments to share with others. I add most new members manually by hand (nothing automatic here); hopefully, every time I am near a computer I add new members, but sometimes it does take 2 or 3 days (sorry for any delays!).

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

CLICK HERE To Go to the International Bible Lesson Commentary and International Bible Lesson for additional Uniform Sunday School Lesson Series Resources.

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.
Sign In or Register to comment.