Touch Not, Taste Not, Read Not: Lost in Translation
Updated: Sep 8
I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten a good tongue lashing for reading the “wrong” Bible. I’ve been told over and over the KJV (King James Version) is the only reliable and accurate translation. Nothing else compares to it for accuracy of translation, they said. Since scholars have labored diligently to provide close translation of the original text, it was and remains the only untainted and unblemished translation of the Holy Writ.
Let me make a disclaimer. I am not a Bible translation scholar. My views rely solely only on my God-given common sense and ability to reason. So, feel free to dismiss me. I respect scholars. I really do, but scholars are people, right? People have flaws, right? Okay, I think you get my point. Were they prayerful scholars? Were they moved by the unction of the Holy Spirit? Of course, they were and of course, they did! (That’s the story and I’m sticking to it!) I’ve got one more question: If God, was able to direct them by God’s Spirit, then can’t God do that with others? After all, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8), and wasn’t he God?
I’ll just make three brief points. Firstly, I believe that God can speak, does speak and will reach whomever God chooses through any method or translation God chooses. If we believe the essence of God’s character remains unchanged, then we must believe that God is still revealing Godself to humanity by God’s spirit.
Secondly, if humanity has anything to do with it, can there be a perfect translation? I think not. Whenever humanity is involved, we can assume some things will be lost in translation. Once again, I have a great respect for scholarship, but scholarship is not inerrant. Whenever we put humanity in the mix, we make room for error and bias. To suggest that the King James Version is the only reliable version of the Bible is to be biased against those who may struggle with its language. Essentially, scholars have excluded most of Gen X, Xennials, the Millennials, and Gen Z.
Finally, as a universal body of believers, we MUST stop majoring in the things that are minor. Revelation of God does not come by might or strength (read here, scholarship). Scholarship does not lead people to salvation but revelation by the Spirit opens our hearts to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the grace of salvation. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I speak an eternal truth; Unless you are born of water and Spirit-wind, you will never enter God’s kingdom realm. For the natural realm can only give birth to things that are natural, but the spiritual realm gives birth to supernatural life! (John 3:5-6, TPT)
By the way, I’ll let you in on a little secret. After years of reading only the King James and New King James versions of the Bible, I have fallen in love with TPT (The Passion Translation). It is heartfelt. It is warm. It is like a personal love letter from God. No thees, thous, or -eths to contend with. I can’t explain it fully, but I feel loved beyond measure just reading it. I get a very real sense of God’s heart toward me. It is far more than a cerebral reading that I must then deconstruct to find the essence of God’s heart for me. It’s personal.
What more can I say but this: If God can speak through a jackass (Num. 22:27-31), surely God can speak through the NIV (New International Version), the AMP (Amplified Version), the TPT (Passion Translation) or any other version of the Good Book.
Loose me with all the arguments about scholarship and textual integrity – it’s been lost in translation!