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!
I. WHAT ABOUT THE VERSIONS?
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
(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
(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
(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
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
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
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.)
II. THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGES
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!)
III. NEXT WEEK: "THE BIBLE ITS OWN INTERPRETER.