Posts Tagged ‘paraphrase’

The article below by Lea Sylvester points out some of the real issues with newer Bible translations.  Especially those that are more paraphrased than translated.  The Message Bible is in the cross-hairs of Lea’s article and I can not disagree with his points.  There are a lot of misleading changes.

I am not in the King James only camp and tend to read multiple translations when I study scripture.  Translations I use are the King James Version, the New King James Version, English Standard Version Bible, New American Standard Bible, and New International Version Bible(1984).  Most of my reading has been done lately with the ESV and NASB as I find them to be the most literal translation but I do enjoy the NKJV (also in the literal camp) for reading and have not really settled on a single favorite format yet.

If you have questions about the different translations and what the differences are check out the book:

How to Choose a Translation for All its Worth: A guide to understanding and using bible versions by Gordon D Fee (ISBN-13 978-0310278764).

It is not really prescriptive of telling you which one to use but more telling you what the strengths of each are and where their weaknesses are.

The Message is definitely not on my list for a lot of the same reasons Lea Sylvester states below.  The Bible should be the Literal Truth, the word of God.  If you want commentary or paraphrasing, that is what study bibles (with notes) or various commentaries are for.

Keeping them separate is important so you can clearly understand what God says (God’s words) and what man says about God’s word.

Also it is important to understand the culture and context in which the books of the Bible were written.  A lot of the idioms and sayings get lost or glossed over if we convert everything to our current days language.


By Lea Sylvester

Having studied God’s Word for 30 years now, I have learned that the only “tool” one really needs in order to understand the Bible is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, discernment (from the Holy Spirit) and studying passages in context. A concordance is a handy research tool, too. Each study brings new things to light.  We should seek God with all of our heart and one way to know Him better is by studying His Word.  The Bible “interprets itself” and if one seeks to understand it, God reveals incredible messages contained within His Word. Even so, many professing Christians say that they can’t understand The Bible.

Because of this and other “reasons” various translations of the Bible have come and gone over the last 30 years. Several “translations” have not only made it “easier” for a person to understand passages, but have changed the entire meaning of passages. Therefore, they do not understand the “meaning of passages” better; they aren’t even getting the meaning of them at all because they have been removed or changed.

The creation of false Bible translations is the most obvious way in which the Word of God has come under attack recently. For instance, “The Message Bible” (published by NavPress of Colorado Springs, CO; publishing arm of The Navigators) is sold as a translation, it is a paraphrase that is meant to be reader-friendly, but it distorts the meaning of Scripture. Some noted Bible scholars have noted the losses to the Word of God in “The Message Bible” and have referred to them as “paraphrased lies.”


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