A Brief Look at Bible Translations

Bible Translations

During a recent online Bible study, one of our participants was frustrated with a discrepancy in Bible translations and asked a great question: Why aren’t all Bible translations “accurate?” She was confused why Habakkuk had a different date in her NIV translation than the one mentioned in her Bible study workbook using the HCBS version. We had a wonderful online discussion via Facebook and I decided to share it here as well.

First, the Bible is written by the Divine Author. It was originally written in languages that we would not understand today. For this reason it needs to be translated and has been translated into 150+ versions. One of the first translations was the King James Version in the 1500-1600 time range. Many years AFTER this was written, the Dead Sea Scrolls, containing ORIGINAL manuscripts of scripture were discovered in 1940-1950 time frame. Now the Bible translators have NEW and verified documents and they discovered the original Bibles were missing some of the scriptures originally written OR they had actually translated and added verses that were NOT in the original manuscripts.

Okay…so we now have 150+ Bible translations, some written before Dead Sea Scrolls and some written after. To see all the translations visit Bible Gateway

Second…we have legends and other historical documents that have been discovered through historical research. So when the Bible was originally translated, these legends were believed true and then later discovered the time frames might be wrong or the stories might be a legend and not a fact. One example is Simon the Magician (I just wrote a long research paper on him) and there were legends that he claimed to bury himself alive in the ground and waited three days to see if he resurrected. Seriously! This legend says he died, yet other legends said he died another way. It was not mentioned in the Book of Acts because 1) Luke kept to his original message and didn’t want the focus on Simon and 2) it was legend and not verified by any supporting documents.

Third… there is difficulty in Bible translators verifying dates. I highly recommend Acts (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Darrell Brock, or one of his other commentaries because the author actually will tell you ALL THE DIFFERENT DATES. So he says “document xxx says 600-400BC” and then “document yyy says 650-550bBC” and he presents all the different verified data, then he explains why Bible scholars have concluded a specific date. It’s actually fascinating to read…I highly recommend reading ONE of his books.

Lastly, in our workbook Read the Bible For Life, on page 81 George Guthrie puts Habakkuk on the timeline with “610?” and his question mark indicates there is some confusion on the exact date for this prophet. I have the John MacArthur Bible Commentary and he lists Habakkuk as 620-605BC. I have the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary and he lists Habakkuk as four different dates. He writes “Some suggest the time of Jehoikim (609-597BC), others maintain Josiah’s time (621 BC), and still others in the time of Manasseh (686-643BC).” I’m going to stop there…because while I don’t know the exact date of this prophet what I do know is that there is confusion with Bible scholars over his exact date.

Why the importance of dates? It’s valuable to the historical context: who was the king or leader at the time, what was the moral and social environment at the time. Especially with the Greek gods…A date range is often more preferred than an exact date where there are no historical documents to date the time.

KJV and NKJV, NASB, ESV are word-for-word transaltions. NIV, HCSB, NET, NLT are thought-for-thought translations. AMP and Message are paraphrased Bibles, Message is translated by one author rather than a team of scholars. The word-for-word is closer to the original source language. The thought-for-thought is easier for understanding and therefore recommended for new Bible study students. For this reason, there will be variances in Bible translations. Choose the translation that you understand and use the Life Application Study Bible if you are new to Bible study, as you will find help applying what you learn.

Related Video

The Power of God’s Names Online Bible Study Begins Aug 25, 2014

power of gods names online bible study
Join us for a new online Bible study The Power of God’s Names by Tony Evans. This fall Bible study begins August 25, 2014 right here at the Womens Bible Cafe. If you have not participated in online studies with us, the formula is really simple. Once a week we update this website with a summary of the lessons and a set of small group discussion questions. Your involvement is once a week for one hour of fellowship and discussion- you will not get daily emails, nor do you need to check your Facebook page once a day. Our goal is to keep it as simple as possible because your time is valuable. Read the study guide at home, there are five daily lessons similar to a devotional, and then join us for small group discussion one hour a week. You select your own day and time, small groups are not assigned and all groups are open attendance. Join us online via our Facebook chatroom, create your own home group, or gather with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee each week. You can even do this as an independent study and post your answers to the questions right here on our website. Again, the goal is to keep Bible study simple and not complicate it.


power of Gods names tony evansThe Power of God’s Names – Member Book includes small-group experiences for six sessions, individual study and learning activities five days a week, Scriptures that reveal the meanings of God’s names, and optional DVD viewer guides. To fully grasp the significance and power of knowing God’s names, you first need to understand the context of names within biblical cultures. In Old Testament times a name was more than simply nomenclature. It was, rather, a replica and revelation of the individual or thing itself.

The study examines 11 names of God. The words translated as name show up over one thousand times in Scripture and routinely carry with them power, responsibility, purpose, and authority. A name not only expresses the essence and significance of what is being named but also—when duly authorized—accesses the capacity intrinsic within it. Because of God’s depth of character, He has a variety of names to reflect His different capacities of relating to humanity. For example, God is called Elohim when referenced as the all-powerful Creator. When you need provision, get to know the name Jehovah Jireh, which means God, the Provider. God has a name for any and every situation you can find yourself in. Get to know the names of God because it is in knowing His character and His capacity that you will rest and discover both peace and power in His covenant care.


Required: The Power of God’s Names Member Book order from Amazon- click here

Note: Lifeway.com has a digital book (not recommended unless you live international and cannot get the printed copy.

IMPORTANT: We are using the book with the WHITE cover. There are three versions of this book and the one you need has the white cover. It is not available for Kindle. The book we use is called a “member book” or sometimes a “study guide” and it has five daily lessons each week. The other two books are called ‘trade books” and do not have Bible study assignments.

  • Optional/not required for our online Bible study: Praying Through the Names of God  by Tony Evans- click here
  • Optional/not required for our online Bible study: The Power of God’s Names Video Sessions, download from Lifeway for individual use- click here



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