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Languages of the Bible
Obviously, the Bible was not originally written in English, Italian or any modern language. The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with small parts being written in Aramaic. However, while Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Thus, all modern Bibles are translations of the original languages.
Methods of Translation
Most translations are available in several different types of Bible. Here are just a few of the many different kinds of Bibles.
Get more than one Bible. For your main reading and study, use a dynamic equivalent translation (strikes a balance between literal and paraphrase). Get one that draws upon newly-discovered sources (after 1966). The most widely used Bible today in the U.S. is the New International Version (NIV), which is a good choice. Select a type with good explanations, either a Study Bible or a Student Bible. Then augment it with two or thee others such as a freer translation such as the New Living Translation (NLT) or "The Promise" (CEV) and a word-for-word translation such as the English Standard Version (ESV).
Original Manuscript to Modern English Bible
Comparison of Major Bible Translations
Examples of Different Translations
Below, I've reprinted three sections of scripture as they appear in several different versions of the Bible. Note that the literal word-for-word King James translation is often difficult to understand today. On the other hand you may feel that some of the modern thought-for-thought translations like The Message are almost too free and stray a long way from the original text. You may also realize after reading these translations that sometimes you need the help of footnotes, a study Bible, or a commentary to really understand a passage.
And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, "Surely a bloody husband art thou to me." So he let him go: then she said, "A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision." (KJV)
At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. So the Lord left him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to the circumcision.) (NIV)
As Moses and his family were traveling along and stopped for the night, Jehovah appeared to Moses and threatened to kill him. Then Zipporah, his wife, took a flint knife and cut off the foreskin of her young son's penis, and threw it against Moses' feet, remarking disgustedly, "What a blood-smeared husband you've turned out to be!" Then God let him alone. (LB)
One night while Moses was in camp, The Lord was about to kill him. But Zipporah circumcised her son with a flint knife. She touched his legs with the skin she had cut off and said, "My dear son, this blood will protect you." So the Lord did not harm Moses. Then Zipporah said, "Yes, my dear, you are safe because of this circumcision." (CEV)
Explanation (from a Study Bible): God was about to kill Moses because Moses had not circumcised his son as required by Jewish law. As he had spent most of his life in Pharaoh's palace and had married Zipporah, a Midianite, they were probably not familiar with God's laws. But Moses could not serve as a deliverer of God's people if he did not obey God's laws. Under Old Testament law, failing to circumcise your son was to remove yourself and your family from God's blessings. Zipporah was probably the one who influenced Moses not to circumcise their son, so she was required to do it to save both her husband and son; thus her pointed comment to Moses.
Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.
Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethern, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not have been justified by the law of Moses. (KJV)
So it is stated elsewhere, "You will not let your Holy One see decay."
For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him, everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. (NIV)
And in another psalm it says, "God will never let the body of his Holy One decay."
When David was alive, he obeyed God. Then, after he died, he was buried in the family grave, and his body decayed. But God raised Jesus from the dead, and his body did not decay.
My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The Law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins. But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free. (CEV)
So also the psalmist's prayer: "You'll never let your Holy One see death's rot and decay."
David, of course, having completed the work God set out for him, has been in the grave, dust and ashes, a long time now. But the One God raised up—no dust and ashes for him! I want you to know, my very dear friends, this it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised. He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God. (The Message)
Proverbs 14:23, 16:26, and 18:17
In all labor there is profit. But the talk of lips tendeth only penury.
He that laboreth laboreth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him. (KJV)
In all labor there is profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
A worker's appetite works for him,
for his hunger urges him on.
The first to plead his case seems just until another comes and examines him. (NASB)
All hard work brings a profit,
But mere talk leads only to poverty.
The laborer's appetite works for him,
His hunger drives him on.
The first to present his case seems right,
Till another comes forward and questions him. (NIV)
Work brings profit; talk brings poverty!
Hunger is good—if it makes you work to satisfy it!
Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight! (LB)
Hard work is worthwhile,
But empty talk will make you poor.
The hungrier you are, the harder you work.
You may think you have won your case in court,
Until your opponent speaks. (CEV)
Hard work always pays off,
Mere talk puts no bread on the table.
Appetite is an incentive to work;
Hunger makes you work all the harder.
The first speech in a court case is always convincing
—until the cross-examination starts.
E-mail me, Dave Ahl, at: DaveAhlNJ@aol.com.
Thanks, and a tip of the hat!