Choose your sword wisely


I have used three different Bible translations for my ‘daily’ reading (well, ‘reading most days’!) over the years. However, in retrospect I’m not sure that it is such a wise idea to change translations – I started off reading the NIV, then after about five years changed to the NKJV because it was more literal and reading that version gave some passages much more force than the NIV which appeared to have ‘softened’ the impact. About four years ago I changed again and now read the ESV. This change was partly because this translation comes highly recommended and also because I like the flow of the language – contemporary English with good grammatical structure, not ‘dumbed down’, and a literal translation rather than a paraphrase.

Each of these translations has been used by God to nurture my faith in Jesus. I’m glad to be reading the ESV, but the problem with having changed translations is that I still ‘think in NIV’. When I know there is a passage in the Bible about something I almost invariably remember the NIV version of the text rather than the ESV or NKJV, which makes searching for it online tricky because generally I search for the ESV text because that’s what I currently use.

The great irony of having accurate online search tools for the Bible is that I often can’t find what I’m after there – I have to pull out my old NIV exhaustive concordance from the bookshelf and flip pages until I find the passage I remembered, then look it up in my ESV. Maybe it is a sign of old age that I can find Bible information quicker in a paper book than electronically!

The point of all this? Don’t switch translations without having a VERY good reason to do so, it is good to be able to ‘think Bible’ in the same translation as you read every day (or most days). In the end the important thing is to be reading the Bible rather than analyzing it academically.

Another good reason to stick with one bible is the tendency to remember not only the words but also the position of those words on the page. It sounds silly, but this is does make it much easier to find the verse that convicted you last week. One obvious disadvantage of eReaders I suppose!


Image of open Bible: iStockphoto