Originally posted by Duality
Hi all, I'm in no way religious but I was considering reading through the Bible, mainly for an understanding of the underlying religious ideals
within and for other reasons too.
The thing is, I don't understand all the 'editions'. There seems to be an endless stream of 'newly realised' Bibles which totally boggles my mind
as the Bible was supposed to of been written already.
I generally just want one that hasn't been manipulated for any reason, I don't want new things inserted or anything like that.
Any suggestions? Are some more accurate than others and is it down to translation quality as I've speculated?
Okay, well, this is kind of a toughie. As an intro, I myself am not a Christian, though I am spiritual, and a fan of the Bible. I think it's a great
read, and have lost count of the number of times I've read it all the way through. So I'm not going to try and sell you some religion, instead I'm
going to focus on the book itself.
The "standard" Bibles used in the most number of places are typically either the King James edition (which has the best "thee and thou" language,
but many inaccurate translations of the original texts), the NIV (New International Version), which is less flowery in language, but contains a LOT of
really helpful contextual sidebars, maps, etc, and the Living Bible, which is the least romantically worded and most commonly edited, but has the
advantage of being easily understood by almost anyone in the wording, but loses a lot in the translation.
The problems you are likely to run into when choosing a version are:
* accuracy versus accessability (ie. "Bitumen" vs. "Tar" makes a HUGE difference if you're trying to do any historical research on the Tower of
Babylon, but your average layperson has no idea what Bitumen is, so some versions replace it with tar, which is only anecdotally correct, but then
removes the reader from any future reference to the fact that Bitumen was VERY rare, expensive stuff, and combined with burned brick (a very important
distinction), and the multi-story construction, this meant that the Tower of Babylon was an amazing feat of human technology, engineering, and
prosperity at the time. But you only get this if you actually recognize the -real- words used, as opposed to the losely translated "accessable"
* romanticism versus readability (ie. The Psalms). If you read the King James Psalms, you are reading elegant poetry. It reads like something out of
Tolkien... Thee's and Thou's and the imagery conjured up is something fantastic and magical. It becomes a compelling piece of classic literature.
However, you could also very well be misunderstanding what you've just read because much of the language is so obscure and outmoded in its use.
Whereas in something like The New American Standard bible, you're looking at a decent translation of the literal words, but it loses all the poetry
and form of the KJV, and therefore becomes little more than a college textbook.
What I therefore recommend, is figure out what you want from a Bible before reading it. I myself keep several versions, because what I want from the
Bible when I read it varies from one time to the next, or I might want to see different interpretations of the same passage. The four I primarily use
are the KJV, the NIV, the LB, and the NAS, all mentioned in this post. I've got a couple of others, but they're kids Bibles and I don't really use
those for reference.
If you can only afford one bible (a good one will run you $30+), then figure out exactly what you want out of it, then go to a Christian bookstore,
like Joshua Books or something, and ask to speak to their manager (not the high-school cashier behind the counter), and then let him know you want a
bible that meets your specifications.