Is The Bible Sufficient?

There is no shortage of Bibles for sale in our country.  Go to any bookstore, Christian or not, or online and you will find numerous selections to choose from.  Some of these choices are helpful, since pocket size Bibles and a larger study-size Bible are used for different purposes.  However, I am increasingly concerned that the smorgasbord of choices we have may be hindering us from the actual Bible itself.

Contemporary English Bibles come in a variety of translations.  While some might quibble the amount of different translations, I believe anyone who understands the difficulty and impossibility of offering a translation that conveys the meaning and intent of the original language and yet is free from criticism understands the need for a plurality of Bible translations.  The point is that if we have nothing else but a Bible translation (no additional commentary), we still are reading through a certain amount of lenses that all have their particular biases.  So why do we add more biases?

Allow me to explain.  Let’s look at some of the different choices of Bibles we can purchase.  There is the TNIV Strive: The Bible for Men, NIV Adventure Bible Updated; NCV Livin’ Out Your Faith Bible; NIV Celebrate Recovery Bible; Holman Christian Standard Bible Apologetics Study Bible; NCV Maximized Living Bible; NKJV Life Principles Daily Bible; The NKJV American Patriot’s Bible; NLT Abundant Life Bible New Testament; The Evidence Bible: Irrefutable Evidence for the Thinking Mind Comfortable King James; The NRSV Wesley Study Bible; NKJV New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.  This is just a sampling.  What each of these Bibles has in common is that in addition to the Bible itself, there are articles and/or additional commentary dealing with the particular slant suggested in the title.

To complicate matters, I read an article online today about a group from Charleston, West Virginia who is translating a Bible with the purpose “…to create a Bible suitable for contemporary conservative sensibilities…”[1]  Apparently, it is no longer appropriate to allow the Bible to criticize and change our thinking.  Instead we will create a translation in such a way so it is in closer harmony with our particular mind-set, be it cultural, political, religious, etc…

I am concerned that our consumer approach to the Bible is getting in the way of hearing the Bible for what it is.  That instead of hearing what God wishes to communicate to us, our little additions are subtly forcing the Bible to communicate more and more what we want it to communicate.  This only leads to idolatry, where we place our image of God and our expectations of God and his will upon God rather than see God for who he is and hear him as he speaks, conforming to his will.  What are your thoughts?


[1] http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20091203/US.REL.Conservative.Bible/.  Click on the link to read the full article.

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5 responses to “Is The Bible Sufficient?

  1. you’ve obviously never seen paul’s index of books authored: thirteen letters to different congregations, which he later made available in greek, hebrew, and aramaic; chicken soup for the corinthian soul, chicken soup for the ephesian soul, chicken soup for the galatian soul (that whole neverending line); spiritual warfare for dummies, the Lord’s supper for dummies, expository preaching for dummies (etc); the gospel for roman centurions, the gospel for widows and orphans, the gospel for old, crippled guys…

    hey, if finding a niche in order to sell some books is good enough for the paul-meister, it’s good enough for me…

    http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Bible-Stock-Car-Racing/dp/0310948630/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

    http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Winners-New-Testament-Version/dp/0834003384/ref=cm_lmf_tit_22
    yes, that is a “soul winner’s bible” in king james version.

  2. Amazing…I am waiting for the Bible that has a picture of some famous born-again celebrity endorsing the Bible.

  3. I read that article too. We’ll see if that project gets completed.

  4. For everyone’s interest the following link is an article about the Conservative Bible Project which includes the guideline the project is using in their translation. Here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/05/conservative-bible-projec_n_310037.html

    Guideline #4 is a prime example of what I call trying to force God to say what we want him to say rather than accepting what God actually says. The irony of this maneuver is that it is actually a liberal (in the purest sense of the word) move by a group calling itself conservative. Any attempt to makes God’s revelation more fitting towards our human biases (which is not the same as making a translation accesible in languge and mannerisms to contemporary readers), it is a liberal move that asserts oursevles over God. Amazing.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  5. Hi Rex,
    This is not unexpected. This is the primary reason why I strongly suggest that new students of the Bible study from full text only translations. During my first couple of years as a new Christian, I deliberately limited myself to 2 translations, a Bible dictionary, an exhaustive concordance and a book on Bible geography. Then I graduated myself up to another translation, a couple of books on Bible customs and a couple of expositories. Carefully selected commentaries and other reference books didn’t become a part of my regimen until later.

    Of course niche and themed study Bibles were rare 25 years ago but they do have their place. However, custominzed commentary and notes that bulk up the Bible to twice its original length can take away from the study and analytical skills that meditation and researching the Word yourself produces. As you alluded to: passive learning and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) biases.

    Thanks for letting me share.

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