Our second characteristic of the Word of God is that it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. This important characteristic of the Word of God is conditional upon the reader allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth. The Spirit must not be hampered either by one's own bias or by someone else's.
Every Bible version contains bias from its translators; the degree depends on the methods used in translating. The freer the translation, the greater the possibility of bias, and the less reliable the version is for study purposes. A paraphrase, like the Living Bible, is not a good study Bible. A paraphrase is largely an interpretation of Scripture—which by definition must be influenced by the author's personal beliefs.
Dynamic translations like the NEB, TEV, and Phillips are also not recommended as study Bibles. 4 These Bibles are translated by giving what is assumed to be the meaning of what the Bible writers wrote. Although they are very readable, you cannot be certain that you are reading any more than the translator's own idea of the passage.
The best method of translation for a study Bible is formal translation. 5 The KJV, RSV and NASB are examples. 6 These translations try to convey the meaning of a passage, while at the same time preserving the words of the original. When there is a noun in the original, a formal translation will generally have a corresponding noun in the English, a verb will have a verb, et cetera. While this method may still leave the translation of a few passages obscure or ambiguous, the reader at least has before him a more literal translation of the words of the original. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, he will be able to discern the meaning for himself. The KJV and NASB give us further help by italicizing any words which the translators felt necessary to insert into a passage to make the meaning clear.
Versions translated formally are far less likely to have been influenced by the personal doctrinal bias of the translators and they more closely fit our second characteristic of the inspired Word.
When using various translations to teach doctrine, you will find that some doctrines are more easily taught from one version than another. But all doctrines common to the Christian faith can be found in every version. Generally, however, the KJV presents many doctrines more clearly than other versions. This is especially true of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. It should also be noted that it is much harder to prove the deity of Christ when using modern versions. A short time ago I attended a meeting held by a group of young people who seemed to be avid Bible students. I was amazed to find that they denied the deity of Christ and supported their positions by referring to textual renderings from various modern versions.
Between all the modern versions, you will find that nearly every verse proving the deity of Christ has been altered in one or the other versions. (See 1 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 3:9, and Romans 14:10,12 in the RSV, NEB, NASB, TEV, NIV, and IB; and Acts 20:28 and Romans 9:5 in the RSV, NEB, and TEV) It is apparent that there has been a fundamental change in translations since the KJV With that in mind, we now turn to a discussion of our last characteristic of the inspired Word of God.
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