Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All scripture references
are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973,
1978, 1984 International Bible Society,  unless otherwise
noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of
Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found
within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a
blackboard or some other visual aid. This lesson can be
found at: <url:>

Introduction: This week we continue our two week look at how
we got our current Bibles. Before we start into our lesson,
however, let me correct something I said last time. Patrick
said he had heard something about "70 scholars," and wanted
to know what that was. I answered that he was probably
thinking of the Septuagint, which is the earliest Greek (not
Latin as I stated) version of the Old Testament. Let's get
into our continued study!


               A.   How many of you speak more than one language?

                         1.   Those who do, have you ever been asked to
               translate from one language into another?

                         2.   Have you found that a word or phrase that you
               are asked to translate in one language is not
               easily literally converted into the other

                         3.   Let's play a little game for those of us who
               know only one language (with variations).

                                   a.   A young person looks at your new Corvette
                    and says "That's bad, dude." What is the
                    first thing that you would consider if you
                    were to try to translate that into another

                                   b.   You are out on a date and a friend
                    announces "You have a hot date, man." How
                    would you translate that into another

                                   c.   You walk past one of your friends and ask
                    how he is doing.  He responds, "I'm
                    chillin'." How would you translate that?

                                   d.   Turn with me to Revelation 22:18-19, a
                    text that we looked at last week. Read.

                                             (1)  Now imagine that I have asked you to
                         translate the above comments and Rev.
                         22:18-19 applies to your translation.
                         Are you worried?  What are you
                         worried about?

                                             (2)  If you are not worried, why would you
                         translate "bad" as anything other
                         than "evil," "hot" as anything other
                         than "high temperature," and
                         "chillin'" as anything other than
                         "cooling temperature?"

                                                       (a)  Anything else is "adding" is it

                                                       (b)  Welcome to the world of
                              translation! Translators are
                              faced with (at least) two

                                                                 i)   Translate the original words
                                   as closely as possible
                                   (literal translation); or,

                                                                 ii)  Translate the original words
                                   so that the reader
                                   understands what was
                                   originally meant (free

                                                       (c)  Which type of translation
                              satisfies the warning of
                              Revelation 22?

                                                                 i)   Why?

                                                       (d)  Which type of translation do you
                              think is best?

               B.   How many of you have seen an English
          transliteration of the Greek text of the New
          Testament or the Hebrew of the Old Testament?
          Looking at one is very instructive, so consider on
          the screen this transliteration of the Hebrew in
          Job 20:3.  This is from the Interlinear Bible. The
          Hebrew is in brackets followed by the English

          "[‘eshmaa'] heard. have I [klimaatiy] reproach my
     [Muwcar] of check the [mibiynaatiy] understanding my of
     [Wruwach] Spirit the and [ya'aneeniy] answer. to me

               C.   How would you translate that? Would you be in favor
          of a literal translation like this?

                         1.   Do you have any idea what this text means when
               literally translated?

               D.   Let's look at how the King James translates Job
          20:3: "I have heard the check of my reproach, and
          the spirit of my understanding causeth me to

                         1.   Now do you have any idea what this means?

               E.   Let's look at how the American Standard Version
          translates Job 20:3: "I have heard the reproof
          which putteth me to shame; And the spirit of my
          understanding answereth me."(ASV)

                         1.   Is that better? Are you still uncertain what
               is meant?

               F.   Let's look at how the Revised Standard Version
          translates Job 20:3: "I hear censure which insults
          me, and out of my understanding a spirit answers

                         1.   How many of you now understand what this

               G.   Let's look at how the New International Version
          translates this same text: "I hear a rebuke that
          dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to

                         1.   Now how many of you do not understand this?

               H.   Finally, let's look at how the Living Bible
          paraphrases this: "You have tried to make me feel
          ashamed of myself for calling you a sinner, but my
          spirit won't let me stop."(TLB)

                         1.   Do you understand this?

               I.   We have gone in this illustration from a literal
          translation(transliteration), on to more literal
          translations then on to more free translations and
          finally to a paraphrase.

                         1.    Which do you prefer?

                         2.   Now tell me again how John's warning applies
               to these translations/paraphrase?

                         3.   If you just literally translated the Hebrew,
               would you be subtracting from the word?  Does
               the paraphrase add to the word?

               J.   A secretary that works with me is a member of a
          Baptist church that takes the position that only
          the King James Version of the Bible should be used.
          How important an issue should this be to our

                         1.   What is the importance to soul-winning?

                         2.   What is the importance in understanding the
               will of God?

                                   a.   Should knowledge of God's will be
                    dependant upon a person's level of

                         3.   What is the importance in encouraging Bible
               study among the members of our church?

               K.   Do you think it is helpful to study a text in more
          than one modern translation?  Would this create
          confusion or limit confusion?

                         1.   Tell me why you take this position?

                         2.   Imagine that you did not know a certain
               language. You had the option of having one,
               two or four people translate a paragraph for
               you. Which would you choose? (I would choose
               four because after I listened to the four I
               would have a much more accurate understanding
               of what was written than if I had only one
               person translate.  The more, the better.)

                         3.   You all know that I am standing up here
               teaching from my computer, we are viewing the
               slides on the screen from another computer, so
               you might guess that I also study the Bible
               from a computer. You would be right!  Let me
               recommend that you buy a Bible program for
               your computer.  Not only will it allow you to
               easily compare various versions of the Bible,
               you can look at the Greek and Hebrew to get a
               better idea of what was originally intended
               even if you do not know those languages. (Not
               many ministers know the Greek well (much less
               Hebrew). My license plates are the Greek word
               for "lawyer." Several pastors (who at one time
               studied Greek in college or seminary) have
               looked at those plates and only Dr. Glass has
               been able to translate it without help.)


               A.   Read Mark 5:41 and 15:34. Why is this written this
          way? Is Jesus speaking in a "foreign" language?
          Wasn't everything He said spoken in a foreign (to
          us) language? (This is Aramaic. It shows that Jesus
          spoke in Aramaic. Hebrew had become a "dead"
          language by that time.)

               B.   If Jesus spoke Aramaic, why should we think that
          the New Testament was written in Greek?

                         1.   Read Acts 21:37. Let me give you the
               background. Paul has just arrived in
               Jerusalem. The believers are concerned that
               the Jewish Christians believe that Paul is not
               following the law. It turns out that more than
               just the converts are concerned. A riot breaks
               out and the mob tries to kill Paul because of
               his alleged disrespect for the law and the
               temple. The Roman guard saves Paul from the
               crowd. Then comes the verse we read.

                                   a.   Why would the commander ask Paul if he
                    spoke Greek? (It appears that Paul spoke
                    first to the commander in Greek and this
                    was the natural response.)

                         2.   Read Acts 21:38 through 22:2. Why would the
               mob become silent when Paul spoke to them in
               Aramaic? (This was apparently their language.)

                         3.   What languages do we find that Paul can speak?
               (These texts make it pretty clear that Paul
               speaks in both Greek and Aramaic.)

                         4.   Smith and Spivey, in their book, "Anatomy of
               the New Testament" (MacMillan 4th ed.)pp. 30-
               33, explain that as a result of Alexander the
               Great the Mediterranean world had a common
               language: Greek.  People spoke different
               languages, but Greek was the "common
               denominator."  I imagine that this is much
               like English today in the Western world.
               People speak different languages in different
               countries, but the "universal" language in the
               Western world is English.

                         5.   What is the language of the Old Testament?
               (Our lesson indicates that most of the Old
               Testament was written in "ancient Hebrew" and
               that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
               gives us the ability to see what the Bible of
               Christ's time  looked like!)