Saturday, June 21, 2008

What's in a Verse or a Version?

In the last 13 years of being a Christian I have known nothing but NIV, New International Version. At that time it was the "thing" and it was the best-selling version. It is still the best-selling version. I guess after 13 years, I've come to love the NIV especially for ease of memorizing with the beautiful language. It seems to have the most elegant way with words to memorize onto my heart. In recent times, I've come to more clearly understand the different versions of God's Word. We do need to be cautious in what versions we read and for what purposes.

I recently received my life verse in an email devotional and it was quoted in The Message version. It struck my attention. Though The Message is personally my least favorite because it is God's Word in story form and it is not the best version to study and meditate because of it's very liberal paraphrasing. Yes, it is good for the unbeliever and maybe the new believer to just start being familiar with God's Word. However, it is not a literal translation of God's originally inspired Word.

A very good friend of mine is a Christian bookstore owner. She has shared with me the technical differences of the versions along with my own research from my close friend, I found it pertinent to share this for anyone who may be wondering the differences or may be searching for a new Bible. I believe it to be very important that we carefully choose our Bible as clearly some are not intended for deep study and understanding of God's Word. Some version are merely shortened and changed by man rather than God's directly-inspired Word.

Kings James Version (KJV) - is the most literal preservation of God's Word in English
New Kings James Version (NKJV) - literal modern translation
New American Standard Bible (NASB) - literal translation word by word with more modern/updated language
English Standard Version (ESV) - literal translation word by word (newest translation but very similar to NASB)
New International Version (NIV) - paraphrased translation "thought for thought" (or paragraph by paragraph)
New Living Translations (NLT) - paraphrased translation (intended to convey the meaning of the original but not literal)
The Message (MSG) - paraphrased in story form (recaptures original Word in today's "slang" language) this is NOT intended as a study Bible but a "reading" Bible.

So, with all that said, I just wanted to share with you an example of the differences between versions. This probably is NOT the best choice of verses to dissect. With my research I have seen very VAST differences in the versions and there are many words removed from the paraphrased versions such as MSG, NLT, and even some in my beloved NIV. The prompting of this posting has become two-fold: to share some understanding of some of the Bible versions and to explore this beautiful verse of trust. In addition to sharing the difference in some versions available, I wanted to share this life verse of mine from the version of the Bible I least like, The Message. Though the MSG is much too slang for me and removes the beauty of God's original Word, I found this interesting. his verse in MSG shows some depth that drew my attention on which to ponder. I also found myself smiling or rather smirking at couple of these lines because in the slang it portrays exactly what humans have come to do in today's age: figuring out everything on our own and assuming we know it all.

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!" Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG

Since NIV is my long known version, I'll share a quick dissection of NIV verses MSG because the slang of the MSG caused me to turn up my eyes in realization.

From the bottom of your heart VS with all your heart:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart. We usually see the bottom of our heart as the part hardest to find...the part from which we only place the dearest of things. To trust from the bottom of our heart means to reach all the way down, touching every part of our heart, to the very bottom and release our trust from there. Wow. With all of your heart also shows the depth at which we trust. We trust with ALL of our heart, every piece, and therefore we hold nothing back from the Lord.

Don't try to figure out everything on your own VS lean not on your own understanding:
I kind of smiled at the MSG version of this. Isn't that exactly what we do? We try to figure everything out on our own. "Why this? Why that? What if this? Well, this could be that?" Again it is a more slang way to say we shouldn't lean on our own understanding. To me the MSG takes it a step further that not only should we not lean on our own understanding but we also should not take it to the next level of trying to figure it out. I do like how the MSG emphasizes that we should not stop at just not leaning on our understanding but we should NOT try to figure everything out. That spoke volumes to me and shows our humanness. I smirked because I saw my Lord saying this to His very inquisitive child and I mean inquisitive. (Mostly in an innocent, curious way.)

Listen for God's voice VS acknowledge Him in all things:
Again a slight difference in interpretation. I believe we can acknowledge God in all things, which we most definitely should. We should acknowledge Him in all His creation. We should acknowledge Him in all aspects of our lives, the good and bad. We should acknowledge His direction in our lives. However, listening for God's voice to me is much different. It is a great thing to do though seems far from an exact interpretation. But this opened the meaning of this verse for me. We can acknowledge God in all aspects of our lives but are we really listening for His voice in life situations? Are we being still and quiet enough to hear His voice? To acknowledge God in all this is great and a command of God but to intently listen for His voice and to heed His direction, that's something more. It's an obligation for us to listen for God's voice and oh what an honor it is to hear it and follow through with obeying. Again, wow.

He's the one who'll keep you on track VS He will make your paths straight:
He is THE ONE who will keep us on track. Wow. Again, you can see the translation is not literal but it does point directly to God. It shows emphasis that He will not only make our paths straight but He will keep us on track, more importantly HIS track. Of course, God can make any of our crooked paths straight but the idea that He will keep us on His track is wonderful because isn't that where we all want to be? Not only to have a straight path but to also be on the right track...His track.

Don't assume you know it all VS do not be wise in your own eyes:
Verse 7 is not one written on my heart; however, I found it "funny" for lack of better word. I can see God looking down at us when we are trying to "do" things on our own and Him saying "don't assume you know it all"--that is don't assume we know how to fix everything, how to work out our plans, how to "help" God, how to resolve our situations. Yes, the MSG version makes it more exact in understanding it in our language but NIV has more elegance. God speaks so much about wisdom and being wise. He gave us a WHOLE book on wisdom. It's called Proverbs.

Run to God VS fear the Lord:
I believe there is vast difference in running to God and fearing God. This verse could be one to show reason for caution in using MSG or NLT for in-depth study and true understanding of what God directly inspired. Yes, we most definitely need to run to the Lord in all aspects of our lives, everything! But, fear Him is also something we must do. To fear the Lord is much different than to run to the Lord. [Webster's defines fear as: to have a reverential (high honor/respect) awe of.]

Here are six versions. Examine for yourself.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart NASB
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, NKJV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; NLT
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; MSG

and lean not on your own understanding; NIV
And do not lean on your own understanding. NASB
And lean not on your own understanding; NKJV
and do not lean on your own understanding. ESV
do not depend on your own understanding. NLT
don't try to figure out everything on your own. MSG

in all your ways acknowledge him, NIV
In all your ways acknowledge Him, NASB
In all your ways acknowledge Him, NKJV
In all your ways acknowledge him, ESV
Seek his will in all you do, NLT
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; MSG

and he will make your paths straight. NIV
And He will make your paths straight. NASB
And He shall direct your paths. NKJV
and he will make straight your paths. ESV
and he will show you which path to take. NLT
he's the one who will keep you on track. MSG

Do not be wise in your own eyes; NIV
Do not be wise in your own eyes; NASB
Do not be wise in your own eyes; NKJV
Be not wise in your own eyes; ESV
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. NLT
Don't assume that you know it all. MSG

fear the LORD and shun evil. NIV
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. NASB
Fear the LORD and depart from evil. NKJV
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. ESV
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. NLT
Run to God! Run from evil! MSG

So, I end this two-fold also.

First, do you trust in the Lord from the bottom of your heart? Do you adventure to the most vulnerable and protected part of your heart and trust the Lord with that? Do you pull your trust for our Father from the bottom of your heart? Do you trust God with ALL of your heart, all of your being? Do you acknowledge Him in ALL your ways? Do you listen intently for His voice? Sometimes that means shutting our own voice to hear His. Do you assume you know it all? (HA! That still makes me laugh...just doesn't seem like verbage that is in His Word.)

Second, do you want a Bible that has been shortened by men or the complete one that is inspired by God? Have you considered the difference in the versions available? Have you examined your purpose in reading God's Word? Is it for deep understanding, study, and meditation or is it for pleasurable and simple reading? Consider your reason for reading to determine the version you should read. There is nothing wrong with having more than one version to use for the different purposes. I have two versions: NIV and NASB and may be purchasing the new ESV Study Bible upon release in October.

Regardless of the version, be well versed in God's Word.

Writing His Verses on My Heart,


much2ponder said...

That is a lot of information to consider. I have been feeling a lot lately like I want to understand what the words in Greek mean vs those in English. I believe I would look at scripture with new eyes and find new meaning, if I could decipher with the original language and meaning of words. This is something I have pondered quiet a bit recently and was considering taking a class or doing a study on this very subject. Not so much differing versions of the Bible, but the Bible based in it's original meaning. Thanks for the time you spent on this post. There is a lot to think about here.

Amy said...

You did a lot of work on this post, Paula. Great job!
That is a very interesting topic too.
The program that my boys use for homeschool only uses the KJV. It's their belief that it is the only one that is God's Word. (That is only their opinion, not mine.)
The KJV has some beautifully written passages, but sometimes it is very difficult for my kids to understand the "meaning." The NIV seems to be much easier for them to "learn" about what God says, versus just "memorizing" eloquent verses.
I like how you broke down the verse and showed it in each translation. Well done, my friend!
God Bless,

Joyfulsister said...

Hi Paula.. My study version and personal bible I carry around is the NIV. But I also have The message, KJV, and I love my bible commentary along wth my bibles. I always pray and asked the Lord to guide and help me, and to give me understanding as well as discerment.When I first became a christian in 1986 I found it so hard to keep reading scriptures that I just could not comprehend. I had a bible that had New KJV, NIV, and the message all in one and it really helped me to see a breakdown of the scriptures and my love for reading the word became an everyday love of the word in my life, You did a lot of work on this post, bless your heart my sister.

Jenn at Casa de Castro said...

Wow, Paula! What a great post. I totally agree that the version of God's Word we study and memorize is important. I prefer the NASB personally. I got started with that about 16 or 18 years ago when my mom began teaching Precept Upon Precept Bible studies. Kay Arthur has long maintained that the NASB is the most accurate of the more modern translations. The KJV still stands as the most literal, but for some (most), it is difficult to study inductively because of the formality of the language. Because the Precept studies use the NASB and the Inductive Study Bible developed by Precept Ministries is NASB, that's what I use. I also love that has a free online NASB study Bible WITH the Strong's concordance numbers in it. Studying the orignial languages of the Bible (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) with Strong's adds so much richness to the Word for me and helps me to understand it more fully. That's one of the reasons I like the Precept studies. One is taught how to do those word studies in the original languages. I like "digging my own gold" instead of always being "spoonfed."

Thanks for a well written, thoughtful post. Whatever version we have, we should be about the business of committing God's Word to memory, writing it on our hearts, and living it out in our daily lives.


Tonja said...

Thanks for the visit. And we did manage to wear all but 4 pairs of the shoes! If I find the doors...they will be shipped, I'm looking for an old chandelier also.
Hey, I can always rent a U-Haul and drive it home!

I enjoyed this post very much. I teach in a Christian Preschool, and I feel like it is so important for the kids to understand the words they are saying or singing about. So, I reference several sources to find just what works for them. Personally, I love the NIV, but I do like to just read the Message for pleasure. I do think it gets God's word down to an easy to read, easy to understand book. And, some of the passages just flow with such ease if you read them aloud. But, to study, and truly grasp the essence of the verse,you must use one of the other translations. I love the fact that if you ask God, He will reveal the meaning of the verses. I think this is why non Christians say the Bible is too hard to read, they do not have the Author helping them understand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this helpful information. Personally, I will check to see whether a bible omits the word "virgin" and if so, I don't bother with it. I read the Amplified, NASB and the Jewish Bible.

Yolanda said...

When my husband and I want to grasp more of the the greek/hebrew meanings, we go to the Amplified or to the Complete Jewish bible. This is what we both use, personally, in our Sunday school. The rest in our class have the KJV. But in our day to day readings, every day at home, we generally use NIV.


annette said...

In school we were allowed to use to the KJV or the Latin Bible. Today my fav is the NIV or Amplified. Thanks for the info.


littlerad said...

While working at Lifeway we have had Bible training, so I understand and know a lot about the versions, and I feel that it is important to have more than one version, I own 6 different ones, so that I can go back and forth, I seem to land on my NASB to be the one that I use the most...
Thank you for teaching us about a few of the versions that are out there...
You are in my prayers...

Sharon said...

Paula, Heyyyy this is great, and yes I can relate to this because my hubby is always saying to me, we have to watch what we read, because of people adding to the Bible and taking it out on context. I am like the one lady here I have been seeking the greek words and there meanings.
Really awesome post, Love the different translations, you worked hard on this.. Great job

Sharon said...

Paula, Heyyyy this is great, and yes I can relate to this because my hubby is always saying to me, we have to watch what we read, because of people adding to the Bible and taking it out on context. I am like the one lady here I have been seeking the greek words and there meanings.
Really awesome post, Love the different translations, you worked hard on this.. Great job

valerie said...

When I was around 14 yrs. old my sister and her husband gave me a Living Bible for Christmas. I loved it because I could understand it so much better than the King James. I still have that Bible and have all manner of verses highlighted and underlined.
As I grew older I used mainly KJV (large print...LOL) but it gave me room for lots of notes and names & dates beside verses of those I pray for. I did a post once about my very special Bible that is falling apart. :(
I use the NIV when doing most of my Bible studies. It's just easier to understand. I also love the Amplified.
I'm not that crazy about the Message version.
Thanks for the interesting post.

godlover said...

Thanks, Paula, you put a lot of hard work into creating this post. Just referencing from Bible to Bible must have given you a headache. LOL.

I too love the NIV but I enjoy reading from different translations. I have taken classes in Greek and I feel the NIV is a very careful rendering of the Lord's Words. I believe they were faithful to the task they took on. I don't care for the Message because it is just too slang-y. The Living is my favorite paraphrase. I have over a dozen different translations of the New Testament and more than eight of the entire Bible. I am constantly spreading out my Bibles all over the table and reading them verse by verse very much the way you did. I have found a new appreciation of the old KJV. In some passages it comes closest to saying what the NT writer intended but it uses words that we aren't all that familiar with. Sometimes doing that with a thesaurus handy can give me a little more insight or I can just go to the Amplified Bible. But I stand by the NIV even over the NKJV because it just flat out makes more sense when I read it.

Thanks for all you work on this. I thought I had about all of the NT versions but I see I still have a couple to get. I must get to the Christian bookstore!

Calaveras County CA

SKY4KAT said...

Wow, Great post and great comments everyone.
I agree that using different versions at different times makes studying Gods word more comprehensible.
Bottom line I believe that when we still our heart and listen and pray before we read Gods word that He is faithful to show up and teach us through the Holy Spirit, no matter what version we are reading. The first believers didn't even have a Bible to read but depended on the word of mouth and the Holy Spirit.
Thanks Paula, I really appreciated your blog.

jamie in rose cottage said...

NIV has been my tried & true for a while, but now I have several different translations here at home. If I'm really diving into a verse, I like to read it in a couple of translations because sometimes seeing it words I'm not used to sheds new light on a verse I've read many times before. I also love because you can look up a verse in many different translations.

Lelia Chealey said...

Hello friend!
Thanks for your prayers & e-mails before & after the weekend. Wish you were there with us. God just filled the hotel, hearts, minds and dreams. He is just too much and I want more! :)
Love ya!

Kristen said...

I absolutely love this post. You did certainly put a lot of effort into this one, and I thank you! You are so correct - we have to watch what we read! I am an NIV girl, but do love the language of the King James. Our English language loses some of the beautiful language of the original text!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

~Psalm 119:105

Mary said...

You really have a lot of information on the different versions. Thanks! It was really interesting reading.
I have memorized a good bit of scripture. And all of this is done in the KJV. But for reading, I use the NIV or NKJV the most.

Something else I thought about was how blessed we are to have so many versions to choose from. There are parts of the world that only have a page or two of the Bible and they pass that page around to each other to read.


HIS Daughter said...

Hi Paula,

I stopped by to tell you not to worry about me being offended! Of course not! I think you are a joy!

I loved your post. I am TOO WELL versed on this subject. I live in an area that has many churches who think it is a heresy to use anything other than KJV.

I have met Eugene Peterson years before he wrote The Message. He was the minister at the church where my in laws belonged in Bel Air, Maryland.

He started out writing Galations in every day language when a Bible Study group he was leading were having problems with it.
He can read Greek and Hebrew and if I'm not mistaken that was one of his degrees. So he wrote down in common language what he read from the Greek.

I remember when he was leaving the church to go back to Montana to do some writing my father in law said, "I don't see why he can't just write in his basement if he needs to get away. He doesn't need to go all the way to Montana just to write something".

That makes me laugh knowing my father in law and his "personality" as well as that Gene Peterson eventually wrote The Message after much pressure from publishes while in Montana.

I'm no expert, but I know alot more than I thought I would after wondering if I would be burned at the stake for not using the KJV only!

Love and prayers and blessings!

GOD'S LADIE said...

Enjoyed the insightful information and teaching on the different versions and not to mention the scripture as well! What is your opinion on the amplified version fo the bible? I love my King James Version bible I received for Christmas in 1994 as a gift from my mom and always seem to use this more than the other versions. Though I love some passages in NIV as well. Thanks for the research on this and blessings us.
Blessings and Favor,

JnL4God said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JnL4God said...

Great post it is so nice to see how much you have and are growing. Life is good now isn't it. I can see you are really diving into the word and that is great. I see you have the LPM Blog link on here are you doing the Summer Bible Study? About your post I read NIV or NLT mostly but I do like to use different versions and then let God speak to me. It really helps sometimes to get the whole picture. Well drop me a comment, or an email sometime and let me know how you are doing.

Linda said...

I've been enjoying the Contemporary English Version lately.

Tommie said...

I too like the NIV, but I love to look and read other versions.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Katherine is 7. I will try to get pictures up in a few days.
God Bless,

Tracy said...

Wow! This was terrific and no doubt a lot of work to put together those comparisons. (I LOVE Biblegateway for this exact reason.) My daily reading is NIV, although I do also love the beauty of the KJV. Recently, I've been referring to New Living translation, too. (It is amazing how the content can be changed from version to verion.)

Thanks for your comments on my post. So glad to hear you love Streams. It's one of the most beautiful devotional books I've ever read.

Dorothy Bowen Klass said...

I really love the Amplified Bible. I've used it for years and memorized some from it. The One Year Bible is a favorite of mine for devotions.
I enjoy your blog!