How To Read A Bible Outside Your Comfort Zone

We started this bit on studying the Bible using different tools to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. In this post I want to shed some light on reading in different versions.

Reading in your known version should take under five minutes, possibly even a minute. Your mind is putting the sentences together quicker than your eyes see them.

What you want to do while studying is read the entire book again, but this time we’ll jump outside of the comfort zone of our translation’s methodological sphere. Confused? Let me explain.

Each version has a methodology to how they translate the original language.

Some translations try to convey the words and structure of the original language in the receptor (that is, the translated to) language. Those translations are trying to employ a methodology called formal equivalence.

Other translations try to convey what the original language is trying to get across the original readers. The words are doing something and these methodologies want to translate what those words are doing into the receptor language. The translations are using functional equivalence.

The thing is, all versions are essentially on a line that approaches the original language. The only way you can have a one-to-one form and function correspondence is if you have the original language. (Read a great book by Gordon Fee on this subject or a great article about different versions by Wallace.)

So what I’m really saying is that one should read outside of the sphere of what we’re used to so that we can really read the text. My personal preference picks from three points on the line, bolding what I think are absolutely the best options: [NASBESV]-[NIVHCSBNET]-[NLTMSG]. The MSG is by far the least preferable on this list since it doesn’t have group scholarship behind it, but it’s still good just for letting us see what the text says.

  • Online: On Bible Gateway, pick a different version on the pull down and read. This is available on almost every online site so don’t feel restricted to Bible Gateway.
  • Freeish: Pick a different available version from the tabs.
  • Not-Free: You should have a library or catalog within the program that should let you pick a different version. Some might already have five versions pre-picked on different tabs in the background.

Crossposted at Digital Sojourner.

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