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King James of Good News – do we have to choose?

by ervte

Bible Society Australia, which owns Eternity, recently received a question about the accuracy of several translations of the Bible from one of its supporters, Brian. Brian specifically asked about the Good News Bible compared to the King James Version (KJV), quoting from different parts of the scriptures.

As you may know, the Bible Society is actively involved in Bible translation work in Australia and internationally. The Bible Society, working with other Bible translators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander translators, is slowly reviving languages ​​that had fallen asleep and revising several Native Bibles that need a more contemporary presentation.King James of Good News - do we have to choose?

So when Brian asked his question, the obvious person to go to was one of the RIMS (Remote and Indigenous Ministry Support) team members, Sam Freney. Dr. Freney is one of our Bible translation consultants who loves his job, so he couldn’t help but give a comprehensive answer. It was so helpful we couldn’t help but share it with our Eternity readers. Here it is, a letter to Brian and you…

Dear Brian,

Thanks for some really good questions. I’m glad you’re paying close attention and asking good questions about the text – it’s an excellent practice.

Like all good questions, your questions have answers that aren’t quite simple. They do have answers, though, so I’ll try to pay attention to the specifics of the verses you’re talking about and the broader pattern of translations.

Could it be a frog or a cat?

I don’t know if you’ve ever learned another language. If so, I’m sure you’ve encountered times when translation from one language to other forces you to choose what you want to communicate.

Sam, the translator and author of this letter!

Here’s an example I remember hearing from Don Carson, a biblical scholar. The French expression “avoir un chat…” could be translated as “to have a cat in the throat”. But the French use this to talk about having a hoarse throat – our equivalent expression is “I’ve got a frog in my throat.” When translating this sentence, you have to decide whether to show the words used (in which case you should include ‘cat’ in your translation) or show the intended meaning (in which case you would say ‘frog’).

Different Bible translations end up sounding different because they generally serve slightly different purposes: some want to give you a better feel for the original words and sentence structure in the original languages ​​(Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), while others want you to get the meaning conveyed by the original above all. Generally, the Good News Bible is more in the second camp than the KJV.

The value of many English translations

Other intents of a translation come into the equation, such as the intended audience, general literacy level and reading ability, and other considerations. Ne is blessed with several English translations; we can read them all if we want to! Bibles often have some preface that outlines the goals the translators hope to achieve with their translation.

Neither style is necessarily better than the other; they serve different purposes. With that in mind, let’s look at some of your questions about the two texts before you, the Good News and the KJV.

The NIV version

Psalm 23 reads, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not” in the KJV, and “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need” in the Good News. Here you see this different translation philosophy expressed. For example, the KJV is an older style of English – after all, it was first translated in 1604! But it puts the verb at the very end of the sentence, which is a bit unusual in English (I won’t), possibly reflecting the Hebrew sentence structure where the verb is at the end. But it can’t do that perfectly because a word-for-word translation from Hebrew to English would be nonsensical. It’s only four words long, like “God shepherd-of-me, not I-will.”

Poetry or plain English? You decide

The Good News shares the same idea here. What does “I will not want” mean other than using other words? It means that God is the provider who takes care of those he cares for and provides us with everything so that we don’t need or lack anything. So it says in much clearer English, “I have everything I need.” Undoubtedly less poetic, but also a bit clearer for the average reader. If you compare the rest of this psalm between the NIV and the Good News, you will no doubt find other examples paralleling this one: the Good News generally adopts a clearer style that aims to convey the meaning as the most important about to bring. † The KJV has additional poetry, artistry, and original language style goals.

Neither is necessarily better than the other. But it does explain why they are different.

Your example from Isaiah 3:12 is a little more complicated. The second half of the verse follows the same pattern as Psalm 23 in that Good News has a meaning-oriented translation. “You don’t know which way to go” means the same as “destroy the ways of your paths,” but it’s a little more obvious if you don’t appreciate that poetic language.

Making choices in language translation

But I suspect your question is the first part of the verse. And this is where it is once again clear that we translate from one language to another. And sometimes the language is not as clear as we would like. There is no mathematical precision. Take, for example, the English word ‘rogue’. Is a ‘villain’ a sympathetic reckless villain or a vicious murderer? It can be either, depending on the context. Or ‘bow’: bending at the waist, a tool for shooting arrows, the front of a boat, or the shape you can tie with a ribbon? Usually, the context tells you, but not always. For example, “Aaron walked to the archery range and bowed.”

This happens to be one such example. The Hebrew words in the original text of this verse can be read in several different ways, which is why we end up with the differences between lenders and youth. This seems like quite a bit of ambiguity. Still, let’s look again at the two verses and apply the same principles as above. We arrive at the same general meaning, expressed only in a different language: God’s people are oppressed and trampled by unexpected groups of people so that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

The value of different translations

To recap, there are many different English translations of God’s word. That’s a real, heartfelt blessing to all of us – we don’t all need to learn Hebrew,

Which Bible is the best translation? Cathy Stanley-Erickson1 License

Aramaic and Greek to access God’s word. They are different, but that’s also good because we can read them all and get different benefits. The more you read different translations, the more you appreciate the translators’ choices.

The Good News and the King James Version are truly God’s words.

Each major English version has been translated by a team of people who together have more letters after their names than in most Bible verses. They are experts in their field and use the best original manuscripts available. No major English version is a translation of a translation, but they have been done from the original languages ​​by able and thoughtful Christian scholars.

So the short answer to your question, after a very long reply above, is this: don’t worry about not reading the true scriptures. The Good News and the King James Version are truly God’s words

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