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Bible Translations

The Old Testament (see Old Testament Fact File) was originally written mostly in Hebrew (see The Hebrew Alphabet); the New Testament (see New Testament Fact File) was written mostly in Greek (see The Greek Alphabet). This of course means that those of us who cannot read Hebrew and Greek must rely on the abilities of human translators to understand the Scriptures (see By The Book).

Bible The Bible has been translated into many languages. In fact, today nearly everyone in the world can read The Word of God in their native tongue (see Speaking In Tongues).

In the case of English-speaking people, there are many translations of the Holy Bible available, some centuries old, such as the traditional King James Version (KJV) of 1611, to the American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901, to the modern New International Version (NIV) of 1978 - as well as many others.

While nearly everyone has their favorite version, one of the most important habits of Bible study is to read and compare various translations in order to get a more complete grasp of what was originally written. In some areas, the older versions do a better job, while in other places the newer versions make things clearer with the language of today. A few random comparisons -

Genesis 36:15

KJV: "These were dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn son of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz"
ASV: "These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the first-born of Esau: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz"
NIV: "These were the chiefs among Esau's descendants: The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: Chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz"

Exodus 20:2-3

KJV: "I am The Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
ASV: "I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
NIV: "I am The Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me."

Deuteronomy 32:17

KJV: "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not."
ASV: "They sacrificed unto demons, which were no God, to gods that they knew not, to new gods that came up of late, which your fathers dreaded not."
NIV: "They sacrificed to demons, which are not God - gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear."

Numbers 2:30

KJV: "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred."
ASV: "And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred."
NIV: "His division numbers 53,400"

Ezekiel 40:1

KJV: "In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of The Lord was upon me, and brought me thither."
ASV: "In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day, the hand of Jehovah was upon me, and He brought me thither."
NIV: "In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city - on that very day the hand of The Lord was upon me and he took me there."

Matthew 7:13-14

KJV: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
ASV: "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it."
NIV: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Luke 3:8

KJV: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
ASV: "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
NIV: "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham."

Acts 2:33

KJV: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
ASV: "Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear."
NIV: "Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear."

Acts 12:4

KJV: "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." [Note: "Easter" is an incorrect translation of the original word which was for Passover]
ASV: "And when he had taken him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people."
NIV: "After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover."

Galatians 1:16

KJV: "To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:"
ASV: "to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood"
NIV: "to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man"

Revelation 1:20

KJV: "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
ASV: "the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches"
NIV: "The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Fact Finder: Are we to "prove all things"?
1 Thessalonians 5:21


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