THE ESSENCE OF
A look at different bible versions
MYRTLE MACDONALD, B.SC, U OF ALBERTA, M.SCA., MACGILL UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR—VOICE FILE PHOTO
Jesus was Emmanuel (God living among us) to show what kinds of miracles and caring God really does. He taught that rules and regulations are not enough to improve behavior. In other words the Law is dead.
Long before Christ, Abraham was taught to live and travel in the Spirit but he often failed, but he discovered God again as his Friend. He also received the promise that through his descendants all the nations of the world would be blessed. It is in long epic journeys and exiles that his descendants learned to follow.
Through Moses they received his brother Aaron as
the priestly class and the 10 commandments, which they obeyed at times but
usually rejected, through the centuries. After Abraham willingly was ready to
offer his precious son Isaac, a ram was provided by God in the boy’s place.
Passover began as the sacred way to offer blood sacrifices to forgive sins
annually and at thanksgivings and special feast days.
Sadly, gradually priestly worship became a ritual, so the Messiah (perfect priest) was promised and waited for, for millennia. The minor and major prophets received teachings from God and taught the people with some success. My favorite is the book of Isaiah, which often greatly helps me. All Bible OT and NT scripture is of value.
Alexander the Great from Macedonia, Northern Greece united the world from around the Mediterranean to Persia and India. Jews no longer understood the Hebrew language. About 250 BC in Alexandria (Egypt) Jewish scholars collected, evaluated and translated the ancient scriptures into Greek. There were 70 scholars, LXX in Roman numerals, so the scriptures became known as the Septuagint. Next, during the expanding Roman Empire there was worldwide peace and unity and everyone spoke the ordinary Greek language, Aramaic.
The time was right for the birth of Jesus (meaning Saviour = Christ in Greek). He was also named Emmanuel (God with us) meaning a human who lived a perfect life. He taught (in Aramaic ) the meaning of all parts of the Old Testament scriptures. The hypocrite religious leaders, called Pharisees had added many hundreds of complications to the ten commandments, which were a heavy burden to the people. Jesus said he fulfilled the law and reworded it simply.
Matt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus was hated by the religious leaders and
the Sadducees (legal rulers who cooperated with the Romans), was tortured and
crucified, becoming the sin offering for anyone who accepts Him. After being
dead for 2 nights and 3 days He rose to life and ministered to many, before
ascending to heaven.
Next the Holy Spirit was given to thousands of Passover worshippers who had come to Jerusalem from far away, such as Spain, Africa, central Europe, Persia and India. By returning to heaven, Jesus personally had become omnipresent to anyone who accepts Him. While He lived on earth he was limited in time and space as a human.
What joy to have Him with us moment by moment for wisdom, guidance and rest! Anyone can an turn in repentance and trust to Him, receive a change of values, and stop “kicking against the pricks” as Pharisee Saul did. He stopped persecuting Christians, studied scripture, served the people he formerly combatted, and his name was changed to Paul.
He evangelized people of all nations, trained
deacons, deaconesses and bishops and authored much of the New Testament. He
suffered ship wrecks, floggings and imprisonments, but sang in prison. Galatians
and 2 Timothy are two of my favorites, but all contain thrilling treasures.
It is good to have a scholarly sound Bible with good footnotes and to notice the context and maps carefully.
If you are a totally exclusive Roman Catholic I recommend Saint Joseph New American Bible. It has good footnotes which I have read a lot and trust. Some years ago I bought new copies at Mother Theresa’s store and given them to my late son Timothy’s partner and parents in SK.
After her father retired as town handy man he had
become an alcoholic, but he actually stopped drinking and doubled his interest
in growing vegetables. There is a hymn that goes: Faith is the victory (repeat 3
times), that overcomes the world.
However I mostly use a version that has more footnotes, New International Version Study Bible printed by Zondervan. Mine acquired in 2008 is falling apart. The cost was $80 back then. I need to order a new one on line somehow. Before it, I had Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible, NIV version. It is good to have a concordance at the end, or separate. If you don’t know where to find a subject but can remembers a few words, by looking for them in a concordance you can find the exact spot and other related ones.
I stay away from the King James Version which was authorized by King James I, translated by ancient manuscripts by some 50 scholars of many denominations and published in 1605, beautifully done, but the English is rather old and meanings have evolved.
I have had the thrill of reading the Bible in other languages that I learned to love, along with people in India, Pakistan and Thailand. I discovered that in English there are many places where the word “he” should really be “he and she”, “person” or “human”. I check with my Oriya Bible when I am not sure because it is accurate in this regard. However in another Indian language “she” is also “it”. Translating between languages cannot be word for word. Sometimes a phrase is needed. The order of verbs, subjects, adjectives and adverbs is very different also.