What is the most correct way to interpret the Bible/ The most correct version of the Bible?

It has been changed so many times how can I know if anything in there is reliable?

23 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    Dear Remiyu, Greetings from Apollos, as always you ask some of the most intriguing questions. The questions that you are asking are beyond my field of expertise so I am going to let some else who more qualifed than I answer these questions;

    Biblical hermeneutics is the science of interperting the Bible:

    The purpose of this page is to present a comprehensive and coherent methodology for Biblical interpretation. Many skeptics have complained that the Bible can't tell us anything of any real value because every person interprets it differently.

    While this is surely an overstatement - there is a great deal contained in the Bible that many Bible-believing Christians do in fact agree on - the reason why there are so many different interpretations is because interpreters don't follow any sensible or consistent method.

    This naturally leads to inaccurate, inconsistent, illogical and naive interpretations.

    With so many different interpretations available, how is anyone supposed to know which is the correct one? By examining the nature of the Bible, the events it records and how it was written, it is possible to come up with a method of interpretation that is sensible and understandable.

    The Bible is an historical book - it records people and events in history. Therefore, if we want to correctly interpret it we must understand its historical background and context. The Bible is also written in human language (Koine or Hellenistic Greek, Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic). Therefore, if we want to correctly interpret it we must understand the language (ie. word meanings and grammar) in which it is written.

    Why is interpretation necessary?

    Often you hear people say: “Just read the Bible and do what it says!” The problem with this attitude is that different people, even though they read the same Bible, come to very different conclusions about what it actually says!

    Many people also tend to think of the Bible as “God’s little instruction book for life.” While this statement has a kernel of truth – the Bible certainly does contain much teaching on how to live – it is far more than just an instruction manual. It is the written record of God revealing in history who He is, what He is like, who we are, what we are like, and what He expects of us. This is the overall message of the Bible in a nutshell, and it should always be kept in our minds as we read the Bible.

    The Bible was originally written to people who lived in a different place, in a very different culture, at a different time and period of history, and who spoke different languages. It also contains several different types of literature (called genres).

    Because the Bible is God’s word in history revealed to people in history, it means that each passage has an historical context – an particular author, audience, purpose and occasion. On the other hand, since the Bible is also the word of God, its contents are also eternally relevant.

    Therefore, the goal of interpretation is not to come up with the most unique interpretation (unique interpretations are usually wrong), but to discover the original intended meaning of a passage – the way the original audience understood it. The task of discovering the original intended meaning is called exegesis.

    The key to doing good exegesis is reading the text very carefully, paying close attention to the details it describes, and asking the text the right questions. This is critical to finding the correct interpretation. Bad interpretation results directly from bad exegesis.

    Basic Tools

    One of the easiest and most effective ways of identifying ambiguities and differences of opinion in interpretation is to read different translations – preferably as many as possible. There are three basic types of translations: literal (word-for-word translation), dynamic (thought-for-thought), and paraphrase (rephrasing of an existing translation). Here is a list (not exhaustive) of useful translations:



    Are there many versions of the Bible? Or many translations? f you cannot read Hebrew or Greek in which the original manuscripts were written, you'll need a translation from those texts. In order to live for Christ, you'll need a translation so you can read what He said, and what's been written about Him.

    The English language has changed dramatically over the years. In fact it has changed so much only with great difficulty could you read any of the Bibles translated a mere 600 years ago! Because the English language is a living language - constantly changing - there is a continual need to translate frequently from the original text, as old words loose their sense of meaning, and new words come into being.

    As new manuscripts are discovered more understanding and accuracy is given to the texts we presently have. Since the King James Version has been translated, there have been 3 very important discoveries.

    Since 1611 we have found more evidence that lends to a more accurate translations, these are:

    1. The Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph), discovered in 1844 in the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai peninsula by Tischendorf. This was written in the 4th century and contained most of the New Testament.

    2. The New Testament papyri in 1895, discovered in Egypt, though fragmented, have proved to be valuable.

    3. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 near the Dead Sea, provided nearly all of the Book of Isaiah, and many portions of the Old Testament. These are hundreds of years older than previously known texts, and confirmed much of the Old Testament we already have. These are also duplicated BEFORE the birth of Jesus Christ.

    Translation techniques, and Biblical Scholarship have tremendously improved in the 100 years. We can have a more precise and accurate translation now - than our forefathers ever dreamed of! Other languages we previously knew little about, now we can understand and see the greater meaning of certain difficult words and phrases.

    Today we need an easy-to-read translation - for those of us that are not linguistic scholars and stumble over those 27 letter words. Think about it...since the MESSAGE contained in the Bible is so important, then we MUST be able to give it to the poorest reader in a text they can read! This is not re-interpreting the text, it's giving an accurate rendering from the Hebrew & Greek in a language they can simply read and benefit from. For this reason alone, we need the BEST possible translation we can get...consequently, it must be readable.

    The New International Version (NIV) is a translation made by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It was conceived in 1965 when, after several years of study by committees from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals, a trans-denominational and international group of scholars met at Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed on the need for a new translation in contemporary English. Their conclusion was endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966. Responsibility for the version was delegated to a self-governing body of fifteen Biblical scholars, the Committee on Bible Translation, and in 1967, the New York Bible Society (now International Bible Society) generously undertook the financial sponsorship of the project.

    The translation of each book was assigned to a team of scholars, and the work was thoroughly reviewed and revised at various stages by three separate committees. The Committee submitted the developing version to stylistic consultants who made invaluable suggestions. Samples of the translation were tested for clarity and ease of reading by various groups of people. In short, perhaps no other translation has been made by a more thorough process of review and revision.

    The Committee held to certain goals for the NIV: that it be an Accurate, Beautiful, Clear, and Dignified translation suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use. The translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form. They agreed that faithful communication of the meaning of the original writers demands frequent modifications in sentence structure (resulting in a "thought-for-thought" translation) and constant regard for the contextual meanings of words.

    In 1973 the New Testament was published. The Committee carefully reviewed suggestions for revisions and adopted a number of them, which they incorporated into the first printing of the entire Bible in 1978. Additional changes were made in 1983.

    NASB - New American Standard Bible

    While preserving the literal accuracy of the 1901 ASV, the NASB has sought to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English. Special attention has been given to the rendering of verb tenses to give the English reader a rendering as close as possible to the sense of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. In 1995, the text of the NASB was updated for greater understanding and smoother reading. The New American Standard Bible present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1995 printing.

    The New American Standard Bible Update – 1995 Easier to read:

    Passages with Old English "thee's" and "thou's" etc. have been updated to modern English.

    Words and Phrases that could be misunderstood due to changes in their meaning during the past 20 years have been updated to current English.

    Verses with difficult word order or vocabulary have been retranslated into smoother English.

    Sentences beginning with "And" have often been retranslated for better English, in recognition of differences in style between the ancient languages and modern English. The original Greek and Hebrew did not have punctuation as is found in English, and in many cases modern English punctuation serves as a substitute for "And" in the original. In some other cases, "and" is translated by a different word such as "then" or "but" as called for by the context, when the word in the original language allows such translation.

    More accurate than ever:

    Recent research on the oldest and best Greek manuscripts of the New Testament has been reviewed, and some passages have been updated for even greater fidelity to the original manuscripts. Parallel passages have been compared and reviewed.

    Verbs that have a wide range of meaning have been retranslated in some passages to better account for their use in the context.

    And still the NASB:

    The NASB update is not a change-for-the-sake-of-change translation. The original NASB stands the test of time, and change has been kept to a minimum in recognition of the standard that has been set by the New American Standard Bible.

    The NASB update continues the NASB's tradition of literal translation of the original Greek and Hebrew without compromise. Changes in the text have been kept within the strict parameters set forth by the Lockman Foundation's Fourfold Aim.

    The translators and consultants who have contributed to the NASB update are conservative Bible scholars who have doctorates in Biblical languages, theology, or other advanced degrees. They represent a variety of denominational backgrounds.

    Continuing a tradition:

    The original NASB has earned the reputation of being the most accurate English Bible translation. The NASB update carries on the NASB tradition of being a true Bible translation, revealing what the original manuscripts actually say--not merely what the translator believes they mean.

    The Amplified Bible ( Remiyu, this is my favorite translation Apollos )

    The Amplified Bible was the first Bible project of The Lockman Foundation. It attempts to take both word meaning and context into account in order to accurately translate the original text from one language into another. The Amplified Bible does this through the use of explanatory alternate readings and amplifications to assist the reader in understanding what Scripture really says. Multiple English word equivalents to each key Hebrew and Greek word clarify and amplify meanings that may otherwise have been concealed by the traditional translation method. The Amplified Bible present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing.

    The New Living Translation ( NLT)

    The goal of any Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible to the modern reader. The New Living Translation is based on the most recent scholarship in the theory of translation. The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The end result is a translation that is easy to read and understand and that accurately communicates the meaning of the original text.

    CEV - Contemporary English Version

    Uncompromising simplicity marked the American Bible Society's translation of the Contemporary English Version Bible that was first published in 1995. The text is easily read by grade schoolers, second language readers, and those who prefer the more contemporized form. The CEV is not a paraphrase. It is an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts.

    KJV - King James Version - Public Domain

    In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years. The King James Version present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing. The KJV is public domain in the United States.

    NKJV - New King James Version

    Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for seven years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet one that would retain the purity and stylistic beauty of the original King James. With unyielding faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, the translators apply the most recent research in archaeology, linguistics, and textual studies.

    ESV - English Standard Version

    The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.

    To this end each word and phrase in the ESV has been carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity and to avoid under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text. The words and phrases themselves grow out of the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV, with the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for our work. Archaic language has been brought to current usage and significant corrections have been made in the translation of key texts. But throughout, our goal has been to retain the depth of meaning and enduring language that have made their indelible mark on the English-speaking world and have defined the life and doctrine of the church over the last four centuries. source - Good News Publishers - Crossway Books and Bibles

    ASV - American Standard Version - Public Domain

    The American Standard Version (ASV) of the Holy Bible was first published in 1901. It has earned the reputation of being the Rock of Biblical Honesty.

    Although the English used in the ASV is somewhat archaic, it isn't nearly as hard to understand as some passages of the King James Version of nearly 3 centuries earlier. This translation of the Holy Bible is in the public domain, since its copyright has expired. Source - Rainbow Missions, Inc

    • Jerusalem Bible (JB). Published by the Dominican Biblical School of Jerusalem in 1966, it is the first complete Catholic Bible to be translated from the original languages, and is the English counterpart to the French translation entitled La Bible de Jerusalem. It also includes the Apocrypha and Deuterocanonical books, and many study helps. The JB was revised and republished in 1986 as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB).

    •The New American Bible (NAB). Published in 1970, this was the first American Catholic Bible to be translated from the original languages. It tends to be more conservative and more faithful to the original text than the JB.

    •Good News Bible (GNB). Also known as Today’s English Version (TEV). It was published by the American Bible Society in 1966 and produced by Robert Bratcher, a research associate of the Translations Department of the American Bible Society. It uses modern simple English which, for the most part, accurately reflects the meaning of the originals.

    •Living Bible (LB). A paraphrase of the ASV in modern speech produced by Kenneth Taylor. The intention was that anyone, even a child, could understand the message of the original writers. It tends to be a little too interpretive.

    •New Living Translation (NLT). A complete revision of the Living Bible. A team of highly respected scholars checked each verse against the originals languages to ensure its accuracy. However, it has been criticized for its unevenness and inconsistent renderings.

    •The Message (TM). A colourful paraphrase which is highly interpretive – almost to the point of being a devotional commentary. In some passages the phrasing is brilliant, and in others, terrible.

    •New English Translation (NET). Published by the Biblical Studies Press, this is the most recent English translation (1998), and even then only the New Testament is currently available. It is in modern English, is faithful to the originals and reflects the best of evangelical scholarship. It also includes masses of lucid text and study notes.

    Bible Dictionaries are also a must. The New Bible Dictionary or Illustrated Bible Dictionary is probably the best value. The very best (but also the most expensive) is the six volume Anchor Bible Dictionary, which is almost an encyclopedia. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) is also an outstanding work.

    Commentary sets are also necessary in order to check your interpretation and gain help on difficult passages. Commentaries vary greatly in quality depending on the series it belongs to and the particular author.

    The most useful and accessible sets for the layman are the Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC), the NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), the Bible Speaks Today (BST), and the Tyndale Commentary (TOTC and TNTC). The more advanced interpreter may also wish to consult the New International Commentary (NICOT and NICNT), New International Greek Testament Commentary and International Critical Commentary. For help on evaluating and selecting commentaries see Fee & Stuart,pp.246-254.

    Remiyu, I realize that this is a very lenghty answer but I do hope it answers your questions

    Sources: Biblhttp://hermeneutics.kulikovskyonline.net/hermeneut...


  • 1 decade ago

    If you're asking which translation is the most reliable, that's really a matter of opinion. All versions of the Bible are based on ecclectic Greek texts compiled from a variety of older Greek manuscripts. The Hebrew texts are a little less subjective. The New American Standard and Revised Standard versions hold closely to the texts they were translated from, and the King James Version less so (it is also based on the Textus Receptus, an older ecclectic text composed by Erasmus, a noted agnostic, from newer minority texts than more current translations of the Bible.) . These three versions use the method of formal equivelency (a close literal translation from their respective texts). Versions like the NIV, which is one of the most popular, use dynamic equivalency -- meaning, the translators focused on getting accross the message and not the literal words (this method leaves more room for the translators' personal interpretations in the text. Paraphrases, like the New Living Translation, are entirely based on the personal interpretations of the people who composed them. If you'd like the most accurate interpretations of your Bible, invest in a concordance, which will help you translate the Greek and Hebrew words when you have questions. You can also buy parallel Bibles at most Christian bookstores.

    That all being said, ALL versions and translations of the Bible leave some room for human error. Even in the times of Old Testament prophecy there were problems: see Jeremiah 8:8, "How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made [it] into a lie." (That was NAS, by the way.) And if you follow the history of the biblical cannon, books have been removed to suit religious and political leaders over time, from Bible times to the Council of Nicea - hence all of the "lost " books and scrolls that are still surfacing.

    If you just want a good idea of what it boils down to, I suggest the Amplified Bible.

    Also - I'm not certain where "pastor" art went to seminary, but his school was obviously not as focused on informing people as condescending to them. That kind of ignorance in a christian is appalling, but it is worse in someone that claims to hold some spiritual authority.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The most correct way to interpret the Bible is with the best contemporary scholarship. Learn the history; learn what the authors really intended; forget what believers say, and read it with the eyes of a psychologist, a mythographer, a poet, and a historian.

    The best way to read it, of course, is in the original languages with the best critical texts. That failing, if your purpose is serious study, the Revised Standard is probably your best bet, preferably an interlinear version. Learn some Greek for the NT -- it's not difficult. Get a good study bible to start with -- a scholarly one like the Oxford Study Bible. For specific books, go to the Anchor Bible series for commentary.

  • 1 decade ago

    The best way to interpret the Bible is to learn Hebrew and Greek - the original languages the Bible was written in. If you can read both original Greek and Hebrew versions, then you can understand the true meaning to some passages. As an example, the Hebrew word for "day" used in Genesis (creation) can be equally translated to week, month, year, and age. It's like a word for time that could only be used by someone like God. Otherwise, read the same passage in several different versions and that should also help.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The most correct way to interpret the Bible, ask God to help you understand what you read, ask for his guidance in it. I prefer the King James Version, but the NIV Bible might help you understand what is written. I still believe that today's Bible is very reliable. It is God's word and I think He would see to it that his words stay preserved, not matter how many times it has been interpreted.

  • 4 years ago

    The English Translation of the bible that the majority intently displays the common Dead Sea Scrolls is the King James Version of The Holy Bible. Most of the opposite models are paraphrased from this, with a couple of exceptions... I suppose it's the NASB that used to be translated to modern-day English from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and is analogous with all the different paraphrasings. The Gideon Version, in my view, is rubbish on account that it slaughters verses adding John a million:a million through announcing "...the phrase used to be with God and the phrase used to be "A" God"... Every different bible says ..."the Word used to be with God and the Word WAS God." There is Only ONE GOD... The Gideon variation implies that there is extra, thereby denying the trinity, fitting rubbish in my view. So King James or NASB... If you discover the Thees Thys and Thous of the Victorian Diction within the KJV... Try the NASB.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Bible we have in our hands today is substantially the same as what it was when originally written. The key doctrines and precepts are mentioned over and over again in various places and in different ways both directly and indirectly. This assures that they have been accurately preserved down to this day. You can rely on the Bible.

    As for how to interpret it, interpret it according to the ordinary rules of written communication. Those portions of Scripture which are written as straight forward historical accounts should be taken that way. The poetic sections should be interpreted according to the rules of poetry. Some hyperbole is allowed but not falsehood. The prophetic sections may be either plainly or symbolically stated. If symbolically stated, sometimes the Scriptures later explain the symbolism.

  • 1 decade ago

    Ok, good question The Bible was coded by the Catholic Church. The Church, lead by The Holy host , determined which books were God´s word.

    She also received the power to interpret difficult and obscure passages.So, you´ll find many chapters of the Bible whose meaning has been explained by the Church. Get a good Catholic Bible, it should also explain to you that NOT every single chapter of the Bible has been interpreted by The Catholic Church, only those whose meaning had to be clearly explained.

  • 1 decade ago

    If you've read other versions, then may I suggest you try Young's Literal Translation? It helps to have a bit of foreknowledge, because in the literal translation sometimes the sentence structure makes it hard to understand.

    I also have a Strong's Concordance and a Hebrew / Aramaic / Greek translation by Strong's as well. When I want to know the meanings in the original writings, I go there. It also helps.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Learn enough Hebrew and Greek to use and dictionary and look things up for yourself.

    Words mean what they did generally at the time something was written... not what they mean today.

    Let the context of the word as found elsewhere in the bible or in other literature of the day define it's meaning.

    The KJV and NASV are the better of near literal translations of the Christian bible.

  • 1 decade ago

    Biblical interpretation should be left to the Magestirium of the Catholic Church. Anointed by the Holy Spirit and successors of the Holy Apostles themselves.

    If it were up to just anyone to interpret scriptures we'd just end up with more denominations.

    All Bibles are pretty good as far as authentic to the original manuscripts. Just be cautious of the "paraphrase" Bibles. i.e., New Living Translation, The Message, etc. A good word-for-word Bible is probably your best bet.

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