Honza Pokorný

A personal blog

Bible translations and the Christian life

There are many English translations of the Bible. They were all made for different audiences. They employ different translation techniques. Each Christian celebrity endorses a different translation.

The truth of the matter is that a certain Bible translation can be elevated to such a degree that the common believer is made to believe that the translation contains actual words of God. You need to realize that a translation is just that: a translation. No matter how many scholars with the best schools you commission to create this new, true translation of the Scriptures, it is bound to be imperfect in some way. One language cannot accurately convey the same meaning as an another. Each language carries with it a certain culture, sense of humor and ways of expressing common idioms.

This is perhaps a little hard to understand if you only speak one language. If you have had to learn English and you moved to foreign country, this idea may be clearer to you.

So, where do you go from here? As you may know, the Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. As Christians, we focus most of our attention on the New Testament which is written in Greek.

I am going to suggest that if you are even remotely interested in serious study of the Word of God that you invest a few years of your life and learn New Testament Greek. Now you are thinking that I’m completely crazy. Bear with me for a moment.

The vocabulary of the New Testament is final. You don’t need to learn words like airplane, computer or email. If you learn only 300 Greek words, you will understand over 80% of the New Testament; double the amount and you will get up to 90%. I’m confident that after a year of casual study of Greek you can begin to read some of the simpler passages (like 1 John). After another year, you will read Paul’s writing without much hindrance.

After 3-4 years, you will be ready to abandon reading the New Testament in English altogether. Let that sink in.

There are plenty of good resource for learning New Testament Greek. Both online and in print.

One last thing: if you are in your twenties or event thirties and you expect to be alive for another 50-60 years, wouldn’t it be a good investment to spend a few years learning the language Paul, Luke, John and others spoke and wrote in?

This article was first published on October 1, 2011. As you can see, there are no comments. I invite you to email me with your comments, criticisms, and other suggestions. Even better, write your own article as a response. Blogging is awesome.