Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finding new Bibles when you annually read through the Bible, in a different translation can be tough

IT's that time of year again, where I narrow down the English translation of the Bible I'll read through for the upcoming year.  I like to read through a different translation each year, though I have read a couple of them through more than once, because I really liked them.  For at least 10 years, maybe 12, I've dedicated the time to be a daily Bible reader, and from the get-go I've sought out different translations each year.

How do I select a new translation?  
Remember how your elementary school librarian told you, never pick a book by its cover?  Bibles usually don't have catchy covers, so that's not a big help...  So, in no particular order, here are several of the criteria I use when selecting the next Bible to read:

1. I like Bibles that have a varied translation committee.  Even though I really enjoyed Eugene Peterson's solo translation, "The Message" that's an outlier for me.  Well, there's one more solo effort I really like, and that's J B Philip's New Testament.  So, when I say "varied," what I'm referencing are the Bibles that have different scholars/ministers from different denominations represented.  In other words, I like to read the translation that has an ecumenical influence.  If 20 or 25 people from very different backgrounds can agree to an interpretative perspective, there's a good chance their debate has led the way to a nonpartisan truth.

2. I'm attracted to Bibles that have generated a lot of buzz.  For whatever reason, maybe Scot McKnight has blogged about it, a Bible prof mentioned it back in college, or the translation was recently mentioned in Leadership Journal, somehow I've heard about this new translation, it was plugged by someone I respect and now I'm interested in it.  Of course I'll look it up on Amazon and read through a few pages of it 1st.  Actually, this particular criteria is how I've chosen the translation I'll read through in 2012, The Common English Bible.

3. I like to read through translations that I hope to use in ministry.  If it's a translation that is being advertised as a good study Bible, or an easy to read version, or has some other nuance, I want to read it first before I endorse it or recommend it.

4. I look for translations that have a novel approach.  I like Bibles that help me see God's Word differently than I saw it before, Bibles that can catch my attention and make me wonder why I never "saw it" like that before...?  I appreciate translations that help me see God's Word in fresh ways, and help me see His Word in a way that enable me to gain a deeper ownership of my faith because I see His truth for myself.

Reading different translations isn't for everyone, I know.  But, I hope you'll read through your Bible completely, at least once in your lifetime, and perhaps try to read through your Bible more than once.  If we are trusting our eternity to the truths in the Bible, it only makes sense we read it for ourselves.

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