Popular NIV Bible Open for Revisions:
The headline above appeared in the Express [Washington Post] early in September, 2009. This eye catching feature projects the notion that the text of a translation of the Bible would be open to such shifts as changes in gender. Is God a He or a She? That is the first question that comes to mind!
In the next sentence we see “The New International Version, … will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, was announced Tuesday.” The article goes on to explain that revisions and the intent to modernize the text comes with controversy.
Consider this, the original language of the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible, is in Hebrew with a few passages in Aramaic. The New Testament, also written by Jewish writers, was recorded in Greek. These two Jewish texts in their original languages have very specific meanings. Over time various efforts to edit and interpret the original texts have lead to problems for the readers of the resulting translations.
Take for example the efforts of Russell and Rutherford, in the late 1800s, neither of whom were scholars in either of the original biblical languages, who thought to reword sections of what today is known as the World Translation of the Bible. Persons reading that translation have been guided away from core truth embodied in the original texts. And in decades to follow, other translations have shifted words and thus shifting meanings. Is that good? NOT if the original meaning and information are changed!
So … good intentions to bring more readers to the Bible or to project a certain emphasis in the text can be fraught with serious problems. Might this also change the original intent and meaning … yes that has happened.
We recommend anyone serious about reading their translation of the Bible to also obtain an interlinear version. Look at one of these books and you will find the original Hebrew or Greek words with as close to literal translation in English [or other language] as can possibly provided. Reading the interlinear wording may be a bit choppy at first, but all of a sudden you will also be hit with how word for word the real and original essence of the text comes across.
Jehovah’s Witnesses read the World Translation and have been lead to learn doctrine stemming from the efforts of Russell and Rutherford. Sincere people have tried to read the Scriptures and learn from them, but by using this example we can draw attention to how one can go astray and the importance of getting the closest meaning from the original words.
Two things in closing. First, NO OTHER religious writing or even classical book is as well preserved as the entire original biblical text [Hebrew plus Greek texts]. We have numerous copies of each … such that this confers a high degree of confidence that the real and original text can be read today. Second, by looking at an interlinear you can begin to see how far a translation strays from the original text. It’s an eye opening and alarming exercise when you find details being dropped from the original sense of what you are to be getting from words that God wishes you to read!