Our Amazing Bible!, by Brian Simmons, lead Translator of The Passion Translation.
It would be impossible to calculate how many lives have been changed forever by the power of the Bible, the living Word of God! My life was transformed forever because I believed the message contained in the Scriptures about Jesus, the Savior.
To hold the Bible dear to your heart is the sacred obsession of every true follower of Jesus. Yet to understand the Bible gives us light and truth to live by. Did you catch the word “understand”? People everywhere say the same thing—”I want to understand God’s Word, not just read it.”
Thankfully, as English speakers, we have a plethora of Bible translations, commentaries, study guides, devotionals, churches, and Bible teachers who all assist us. Our hearts crave to know God, not just know about Him, but to know Him as intimately as we possibly can in this life. This is what makes Bible translations so valuable, because each one will hopefully lead us into new discoveries of truth. I believe God is committed to giving us truth in a package we can understand and act upon, so I thank God for every translation God’s Word that we have.
We often hear the statement, “I just want a word-for-word translation that is literal and doesn’t insert a bias.” That’s a noble argument. But let me add, a word-for-word translation is next to impossible. It is simply impossible to translate one Hebrew word for one English word. Hebrew is built from triliteral consonant roots. Bible Hebrew had no vowels or punctuation. And koine Greek, although wonderfully articulate, cannot always be conveyed in a word-for-word translation. For example, a literal word-for-word translation of the Greek in Matthew 1:18 would be something like:
“Of the but Jesus Christ the birth thus was. Being betrothed the mother of him, Mary, to Joseph, before or to come together them she was found in belly having from Spirit Holy.”
Even the King James Version, which many believe is a very literal translation renders this verse:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
This comparison makes the KJV look like a paraphrase next to a strictly literal translation. To some degree, every Bible translator is forced to move words around in a sentence and convey with meaning the thought of the verse. It is so important that God’s Word is living in our hearts, ringing in our ears, and burning in our souls. Transferring God’s revelation from Hebrew and Greek into English is an art, not merely a linguistic science. Thus, we need all the accurate translations we can find. Is it really possible to have a highly accurate and highly readable Bible in English? Yes!
If a verse or passage in one translation seems to be confusing, it is good to do a side-by-side comparison with another version. It is difficult to say which translation is the best. “Best” is often in the eyes of the reader and is determined by a combination of differing factors to different people. However, “best” in my thinking is the translation that makes the Word of God clear, no matter how many words it takes to express it.
God’s Word does not change, but languages definitely change over time, thus the need for updated and revised translations of the Bible. For example, many contemporary Bible readers would be quite surprised to find unicorns mentioned three times in the King James Version. Here’s one of instances in Isaiah 34:7,
“And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”
One could describe The Passion Translation (TPT) as a humble attempt at bringing God’s eternal truth into a heart-level expression that causes truth and love to jump out of the text and lodge inside our hearts. A desire to remain accurate to the original text, and a desire to communicate God’s heart of passion for His people are the two driving forces behind TPT. So for those new to Bible reading, we hope The Passion Translation will excite and illuminate. For scholars and Bible students, we hope The Passion Translation will bring the joys of new discoveries from the text and prompt deeper consideration of what God has spoken to His people. Pick up a copy and see for yourself. We all have so much more to learn and discover about God in His holy Word!
Dr. Brian Simmons is the lead translator of The Passion Translation. The Passion Translation New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs is now available. For a free ebook download from The Passion Translation and a sampler of The New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs visit thepassiontranslation.com.