Help Reading the Bible – Part 2 (Translations and Resources)



Submitted by Andy McIlvain. 

God wrote a book-The Bible. As Christians we should strive to live and breathe the Bible.
The Bible is inspired (God-Breathed), meaning God divinely influenced the human authors of the Scriptures to write the very Word of God. In the context of the Scriptures “inspiration” simply means “God-breathed,” making the Bible unique among all other books. The human authors, though inspired by God, had different writing styles with their own personalities, worldviews, and cultural influences. Yet, because the words of Scripture were received from an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect God, the Bible in its original form is inerrant and authoritative.

The Bible contains 611,000 (varies by translation) words that are divided into 66 books. It is a book of books divided between the Old Testament (39) and the New Testament (27). The Catholic Bible includes the Apocrypha (7 books not part of he accepted Canon). There are at least 10 rejected books that are still in print.
The Bible wasn’t originally written in English, but Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament and Koine Greek for the New Testament.

The Bibles we read today are translations of the original text into English. Beginning back in the 7th century, there were many English translations leading up to the King James Bible, which by the 18th century had become the only, unchallenged Authorized Version. Currently there are over 900 English translations available.

Translations are either literal translation that are word-for-word (matching the original language in word, phrase and concept) or thought-for-thought (translating words, phrases, and concepts into their dynamic English equivalent). A paraphrase Bible takes the meaning of a verse or passage of Scripture and attempts to express the meaning in “plain language” – essentially the words of the author of the paraphrase.

The Bible Society offers an excellent webpage to help in selection of a translation and what is currently considered the better English translations.

Many still consider the King James to be the best English translation. Many people also use several translations: the NSAB, NRSV, ESV and the NIV, for example. The paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, The Message, is also an excellent resource. Types of Bibles include traditional (text only), Study (notes, maps, cross-references), Reference (cyclopedic index, concordance), One-Year (divided into 365 readings), Chronological (one continuous story/narration), Children’s (simple stories, maps, drawings), Parallel Bible (2-8 translations side-by-side), Place-in-Life (for stages of life, women, men, recovering addicts etc.), Pastors (protocols, outlines), Specialty Bibles (there are many, leadership, Greek-Hebrew, Serendipity etc.).

Also, many Bibles and Bible study software are available online such on places such as Youversion and Biblearc. is a new excellent source of graphic depictions of all the books of the Bible and related topics.

If you are able, pick up a good Bible dictionary, exhaustive Concordance, Thesaurus, Book of Bible Maps, a journal to write in, and pens and markers.

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