New Poll – What version of the Bible do you use. Vote at my blog sidebar.
I’ve been an avid fan of the New International Version just about as long as I can remember. I received a copy of the KJV when I was baptized as a child, but the youth minister was using NIV and reading along was very difficult because of the differences in the two translations. When I was in high school, I used money from my $3.25 per hour job to purchase a compact NIV that matched the one my youth minister carried (wonder if we realize we impact people like this). Today, it is still my favorite Bible to use in study. I’m comfortable with it. It’s clearly marked with notes and messages. I can find things in it without really knowing where things are. The words are familiar because my eyes have made the journey across their script many times.
The problem… it’s falling apart.
Many that I’ve spoken to have suggested using duct tape, which would have a certain coolness to it. In the Army we used to have camo duct tape, and that would have a certain resonance with me and the whole Sword of the Spirit/Armor of God thing. On the other hand, it might look a bit tacky as well.
I’ve tried a couple different approaches. I have a “ceremonial” Bible that I bought about 8 years ago when I thought I wanted a new Bible. It doesn’t have nearly the wear on it as my other Bible does, so I use it for weddings, sermons, etc. Unfortunately, I invariably find myself with the wrong Bible when I need one, so I’d like to get back to having one multi-purpose Bible.
An additional fact I’m considering in this is the people that I’ll be reading to. We attract a significant number of non-churched people to our congregation.
On top of that, the overall education level of our community tends to be very low. In fact, there’s kind of a disdain and suspicion about those who have attained levels of higher education. All these factors have got me thinking about not only changing Bibles, but perhaps changing translations
A few weeks ago I picked up an extra New Living Translation that was laying around the office and started reading it as my primary study Bible. It was very difficult at first, and still causes me issues as my mind wants to project the words of the NIV that I’m so familiar with as I read along. This is causing me to slow down significantly as I read, which has its advantages. I’m also experiencing read-along issues, as the NIV is the most popular translation used by teachers/preachers at our congregation.
Changing from the NIV for comprehension reasons may sound a little strange, especially for those of us with experience with the KJV. In college I was told that the NIV was written at an 8th grade reading level, which I initially found insulting. The NLT (then the New Living Bible) wasn’t given serious consideration as a valid translation. However, since I’ve started reading the NLT, I’ve noticed how awkward some of the phrases in the NIV are. It definitely doesn’t reflect current English usage, and for an area that may be low on the education scale it can be as difficult as the KJV was for some of us 20 years ago.
For example, here’s Romans 4:5 in the NIV and the NLT, first in the NIV:
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
And then the NLT:
But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.
The meanings are almost identical, but the NIV concepts of ‘justifies’, ‘wicked’, and ‘credited’ don’t seem to match our culture any longer. Additionally, the phrasing is awkward, with the main thrust of the verse coming at the end after a lengthy parenthetical phrase.
So what do you think? Which one makes more sense to you. Try to read them just as sentences for clarity and not as scripture, which I know is difficult to do.