While I have read and studied the Bible extensively, I am not a Bible scholar. I have not studied ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. I maintain, however, that this is a minor issue. The fact is, numerous true scholars have collaborated on the various Bible versions we have today, and in most cases, their translation efforts (with other supporting information, analyses, etc.) should be sufficient to understand the written words. In fact, there is a strong case to be made that IF Christianity is the true religion, surely the kind and just God would not require every one of the world’s billions of people to be scholars of those ancient languages, in order to understand his written Word. Christian theology tells us that:
- God inspired the original authors to faithfully inscribe his Word
- God, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, brings us enlightenment, so that we may understand his Word.
We have every reason to assume that the Bible translators made sincere efforts to properly understand the source texts, and that they prayed for enlightenment. Of course, not all translators had access to the same source materials. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, were not found until long after the King James Bible was first created. So what’s left to most folks (believers and nonbelievers) is to choose a respected translation for most of their readings, referring to other versions from time-to-time, to get different perspectives. For this reason, I normally use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Based on my limited research, the NRSV is commonly used by a majority of American Biblical Scholars.
Christians tend to be very passionate about which versions they like or don’t like, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that Evangelical Christians, in particular, often criticize the NRSV for having a liberal slant. But I take that complaint as being worth a grain of salt, since in my debates with Evangelicals, they consistently seem to view Jesus’ own words as being too liberal. They won’t come out and say that, but they will argue that Jesus’ teachings don’t apply to just about every situation we debate, as they take a consistently conservative stance.