Why do we need translations?

[This is part of the series: 5 Keys to Choosing The Right Bible for You.]

Why do we need translations?

To  decide what Bible is right for you, we have to first ask the question: Why do we translate anyway? Everybody speaks English anyway right?

If you live in any major city in the USA, you know this isn’t true anymore.  Any given day, I can go to my children’s school and hear two to three different languages spoken.  Even in those languages, you have different dialects being spoken.  Mexican Spanish bears different words than Guatemalan Spanish.

The same applies for what we know about the Scriptures.  First, Jesus did not speak English. He spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and possibly Greek.   Second, the disciples did not speak English.  They probably spoke and wrote much the same as Jesus.  Third, Greek was the common trade language of the day.  Many people would have needed Greek to trade with Gentile (non-Jewish) people.  So, we have a culture that was so very different from ours today.

And yet, the similarities show up in so many ways.  People went to school in their little town.  They learned languages that would allow them to communicate.  They heard things that would shape their thinking from people they knew and trusted.   Not so different.

The disciples wrote down the important things down to pass on to those who would follow Jesus.  Jesus told the disciples people would believe based on their testimony.  The Holy Spirit guided and directed this whole process to make sure God’s words were preserved for us today.  The entire New Testament was written in Greek.  The Bible took shape and experienced finalization during the 300s to 400s (all that story for another series).

These documents created by the original authors carry the name, “autographs.”  The author wrote the autograph in his own hand or transmitted his thoughts to a secretary and then signed it.  This concept bears importance because I believe these autographs to inerrant (they are without error).  God designed and transmitted through the authors these documents so that we would have His word.  Inspiration is the name of this process.

Men would copy these autographs into manuscripts.  None of the original autographs remain.  (Good thing too.  We would build a shrine around them and worship them instead of God).  The manuscripts might suffer a textual issue in relationship to the copies.  For instance, a transposed letter here or there.  However, I believe that God preserved his infallible word in these manuscripts so that we would have His word to us.  The scribes would copy these manuscripts in Greek, Hebrew or the Aramaic.   A problem occurred at this point.  Who studied ancient Greek in their spare time of farming?

Throughout history, men would venture to translate as well as copy the Bible.   Jerome translated the Latin version, commonly known as the Vulgate.  Tradition states that Jerome moved to Bethlehem around 385 AD and performed some of the translation where Jesus was born.  John Wycliffe translated an English version during the late 1300s.  Wycliffe’s translation served the common man.  He translated into vernacular (common) English.

Translations allow us to access all the riches God gave to us in Scripture.   Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic do not top the list of topics in high school.  So since ancient language skills lack so much, we cannot discount the importance of a good and faithful translation.

[This is part of the series: 5 Keys to Choosing The Right Bible for You.]

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *