Friday, June 24, 2011

About the Bible and Bible Study - Part 2

This is a continuation from a previous post
About the Bible and Bible Study - PART 1

PART 2 – About Bible Study

One of the best things that we can do when beginning to read the Bible is to get a hold of one of the best and most accurate translations possible.  I do not believe there exists an infallible translation, but I do believe there are those which are much better than others.

Back in 1995, my dearest friend, gave my husband and me a New International Version Study Bible (NIV).  That particular Bible will always have very special meaning in my life.  It was the Bible that I read more than any other Bible I had ever held before it.  I devoured it—studying with it, writing in it, and highlighting in it all over the place.  A few short years later, I decided to move on to using a New American Standard Bible (NAS).  I had heard and read that it was a translation more true to the original languages.  By that time, I longed to be a more serious studier of the Scriptures and wanted as close to the original as possible.  For years, the NAS was my most preferred translation, and I didn’t think I could get my hands on a better Bible.  But I was always keeping an eye out, just in case. 

In 2005 I was made aware that there are some other translations which are even more accurate to the original words penned in ancient times.  I was made aware of the Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, the Young’s Living Translation, and the Concordant Literal Translation.  Initially, I investigated using the Rotherham’s and the Young’s translations.  I liked them well enough, but after researching more about the Concordant version, that one became my preferred literal translation of choice.  Being as literal as it is, it does not make for “easy” or “light” reading.  If you are looking for easier reading, I would say this is not the translation for that.  If you are looking to know, with most accuracy, what God was really saying when He inspired men to write His words, this is the translation I highly recommend.  You can find out more about the Concordant translation from the Concordant Publishing website, and read some of its text.  You can read the entire New Testament of the Concordant translation on the God’s Truth for Today website, or view the entire Old and New Testaments using the Scripture 4 All Hebrew and Greek Interlinear Bible software.  The Scripture 4 All software is an excellent Bible study tool.  You can use it to simply read the text or to look up the text in its original languages. 

Another online tool I like to use for getting the original language is Blue Letter Bible.  It’s an excellent resource for seeing the original words which have been translated into English.  I steer clear of reading the Blue Letter Bible commentaries because they are just that—commentaries.  Commentaries are man’s interpretations of what they think the text means and there are points with which I highly disagree with BLB because of instances where what they interpret contradicts the meaning of the original language right before their eyes.

If you are interested in searching Bible text in many different Bible translations, you can check out Bible Gateway.  It is another handy online tool where you can look up by passage reference, key words, or topic.  Bible Gateway offers a great multitude of Bible translations to choose from.  However, most unfortunately, it does not offer the Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible or the Concordant Literal Translation. 

There are times when just reading the words of the Bible is all we need for God to encourage us and speak the truth about Himself and His ways.  There are other times when we can gain so much more understanding and encouragement by studying in greater depth.  During those moments, take small sections of Scripture, read it over and over again and note the context of the text and to whom it is written.  There are words which are written specifically to a particular people for a particular time and reason, and there are words which carry timeless application.  Ponder the words you are reading, ask God to show you what He meant when they were originally written and what they mean for today.  Use the helpful tools I’ve mentioned to search the meaning of the words and to discover their original usage.  Take lots of notes and seek God all throughout.  He will make Himself clear in His perfect way and timing.  As you do this, you will not merely be filled with head or book knowledge, you will be filled with experiential knowledge and truth of the living God.  It is life changing and faith growing.

My point with these two recent posts about Bible study is to encourage people to seek God for themselves.  Do not allow yourself to be lulled to complacency to merely accept as truth whatever is taught at a church or at a Bible study, or by the latest popular book, speaker, or author.  God wants to reveal the truth of Himself to anyone who is willing to seek Him and listen.  My hope is that some of the tools I’ve mentioned will be a help in your search for the truth of God and of Christ.  It is a great journey of amazing discovery!

Wishing you the best on your journey.

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