Why are there so many translations to the Bible? Maybe you’ve looked online, maybe you’ve gone a Christian bookstore or any bookstore and thought which translation do I pick up. In fact maybe you’ve thought there’s so many translations, can we even have any confidence of what the original said.
Well, the reason there’s different translations is this – one of the main reasons is because the language changes over time so words take on different meaning as society changes. To take an obvious example, just a generation ago the word “gay” meant something very different. It simply meant “to be happy” than what the word gay means today. So somebody was translating certain things from a generation ago, they might word it differently than they do today. Language is constantly evolving and changing and so different translations are meant to update and clarify how that language changes.
The other reason there’re different translations is because the Bible is or was originally written in three languages. It was in Hebrew, a little bit Aramaic, and Greek and to translate that sometimes there are certain nuances in Greek and Hebrew that aren’t perfectly caught in English. So there’re different translation principles that committees use to translate to English or to another language. So for example some translations are word-for-word. They’ll take the word in Greek take the word in Hebrew and they’ll translate exactly that word.
Now that has clarity of words but sometimes it can read a little wooden. Other translations will take thought for thought so they won’t use the identical words but they’ll try to communicate the thoughts. So it reads more smoothly but the question is are they really capturing the thought. So when you see translations don’t think that this means we can’t know what the original said. Just realize that language changes and committees are operating under different principles to try to bring the nuances of a different language into the present.
And that’s why for me when I’m studying the Bible and it passes, sometimes I like to use different translations not that that takes away from the truth but to make sure I’m appreciating all the different factors that are coming into actually understanding God’s Word.