Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Resources for Reading the Bible In 2011--Different Translations

Before getting into recommending the various translations for 2011, my thoughts drifted back to 1990 or 1991 during my TBC days in Houston. Every year the campus would have a progressive dinner for all of the married couples. The staff and faculty of the school would host the couples in their homes and we would spend 30-45 minutes before moving on to the next course of the meal. When we got to the Griffin’s home, we all walked in and Brother Griffin greeted us. The girls gravitated to the kitchen with Sister Griffin and all the guys went in the den with Brother Griffin. He took his seat and one of the fellows asked, “Brother Griffin, what are you reading now?” His reply was met with a few loud guffaws and a few open mouths of surprise. He told us that he was reading through Nave’s Topical Bible and had almost finished with the “H’s.” We could hardly believe that he was serious but he was as serious as the proverbial heart attack.

Brother Griffin’s normal plan of reading the Bible in a year was comprised of reading entirely through the KJV in the first three months. He would follow this with a varying translation such as the NIV, NKJV, NASB, or Nave’s Topical Bible. When he finished the second translation, he would then pick up a set of commentaries and read through that set of commentaries for the remainder of the year. He was very high on R. D. Lang’s commentary as he had read it numerous times. I do realize that his job so to speak of teaching at a Bible college caused him to have to spend time with the Bible and all matters surrounding it but there was sufficient motivation for me to attempt to follow his pattern. When I discovered some of the older translations of the Bible, I found a gold mine of sermon fodder and Bible study material that hopefully enhanced my preaching. I will share some of those a bit later in this post.

What follows are some suggestions of various translations of the Bible:

ESV
—The English Standard Version is probably the hottest (and newest) translation that is being touted on the market today. If you have the means to purchase the ESV Study Bible, you will have a wealth of material to glean from.

NASB—The New American Standard Bible is a translation that I have come to enjoy over the last five years or so. While my primary will probably always be the KJV, I do find that the NASB has the ability to open up some passages in a greater way.

NIV—The New International Version is another translation that is quite modern in some of its renderings. This is a version that I have not spent a lot of time with in the last 10 years or so. Occasionally I will look up verses to see what the comparison with the KJV is but it hasn’t been a primary focus for me.

Moffatt’s—This translation by James Moffatt is a fire-starter if you are a preacher. It is absolutely loaded with inspiration. I read it when I have found the well to be a little dry with my creative thoughts on what to preach. Furthermore, if you are savvy enough to run down all of the old sermon collections by Halford Luccock and read his sermons along with Moffatt’s you are in for some seriously good material. (All you preachers reading this owe me a Barnes and Noble Gift card for putting you on to this source!!! It is one of my secret fishing holes that never fails to add something to my study efforts. Furthermore, if you have an e-reader you can look for Luccock’s books in epub formats and download them all for free because the copyright has expired.)

Weymouth—This is another translation that I happened to stumble across. I found a 1902 leather edition in a used bookstore several months ago. It was in awful condition but I took some leather cleaner to it and it cleaned up remarkably well. You should read Ephesians 4:20-32 and you will see what kind of wallop it packs. I used it one Sunday night several months ago. I am continually awed at the power of the Word in my own life and the life of a church that honors the Word.

J. B. Phillips—This is a translation that was written in the 1940’s. It was written by a pastor who was preaching through the epistles in an expository fashion. He took the original Greek text and re-wrote it according to the word studies that he did in preparation to preach. I also found out that Elisabeth Elliott in her early years had a leather copy (which is unavailable now) that she had underlined with a pencil and written in the margins of it before it was lost in her luggage during air travel.

The Message—This is a paraphrase written by Eugene Peterson and is a very potent expression of the Scriptures. I have enjoyed reading Peterson’s books over the years and I think he did a very good job with his paraphrase. Just as a word of caution, with any paraphrase (Living Bible, New Living Translation, etc.) the focus has to be for devotional inspiration and not for doctrinal instruction. A paraphrase of the Bible is never a good benchmark for doctrine. A paraphrase is only good to stoke the fire of your imagination.

The Chronological Bible—This is a good Bible that arranges Scripture in a chronological fashion which is sometimes helpful for us. I have not spent a lot of time with this particular Bible although I have benefited from it with individual studies.

Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible—This is handy little tool to have if you can find it. I have a copy of it that was published by Family Christian Stores 10+ years ago. I have never noticed a copy again at any bookstore that I have gone into. If you have the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit which is Spurgeon’s massive 63 volume collection of sermons, you have probably noticed that there are some passages of Scripture that CHS annotated. The Spurgeon Devotional Bible is the collection of those found in the MTP.

The Word (The Bible in 26 Translations)—This is another very good tool to have in your library. It is filled with 26 different translations and it will help you with some great devotional thoughts.

There are various other Bibles that are not necessarily different translations as much as they are a collection of material that the author has written. For instance, the Max Lucado Grace for the Moment Daily Bible and the Charles Stanley Life Principles Bible are a couple of good ones. Charles Swindoll also has an Insights Bible with a lot of his notes in the margins. I have found that these Bibles and their devotional additions are helpful to me when the gas tank is empty.

Read your Bible through in 2011. . .

Thanks for reading. . . PH

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