Freedom from the Bible Police

It is well over a decade now since I decided to “read” the Bible. I went to the library and got an audio version of the Bible on CDROM. I listened to James Earl Jones read the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

I suppose some will say I did it the hard way, but listening to Jame Earl Jones was a pleasure. I suppose some will also say I am getting old enough that the language in the KJV is like my native tongue. Not quite.

What did listening to the Bible do for me? It convinced me the story it tells is true. It compelled me to study the Bible.

Nevertheless, I did not know what version of the Bible to buy; I did not even realize how many versions exist. Hence, I was not particularly happy with the first Bible I bought. Therefore, I recommend this article and the gentleman’s good advice.

Here is one additional suggestion. If you are reading this, then you have Internet access. Check out these websites.

Each of the above websites provides multiple translations of the Bible. We don’t have to go anywhere these days to find multiple translations. In fact, lots of people just download a copy of the Bible onto their favorite electronic device.

Note also that the notes and commentary within a Bible can be inserted independently of the translation, and the quality of the notes and commentary depends upon who provides those notes and commentary. So if you want a good study Bible, ask your pastor or someone you trust for a recommendation.

Running The Race

group-therapy-7-mixed-ages-races1I was reminded yesterday in a group counseling session how problematic selecting a Bible can be. A young woman was discussing her difficult experience in a small Southern Baptist church that imposed teaching from the King James Version (KJV) Bible as the one acceptable for the church’s congregants. Yes, in the Bible Belt of 2016 there are still pastors and elders that strictly require use of the KJV only, and are actually called “KJV Only” churches. While I love reading the King James English, I can certainly see how 400-year-old English can be a barrier to delivering the Gospel. We have many great translations that serve many legitimate purposes, and KJV Only hurts far more than it helps.

bibles_books_01 Which Bible To Buy?

Many different translations are available in your typical Bible bookstore, so I understand how there can be some confusion. My advice for believers shopping for a Bible is…

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31 thoughts on “Freedom from the Bible Police

  1. @scout

    It took 300+ years to come up with the present western Canon.

    Here is a conservative Christian website that dates the books of the Bible. =>

    Revelation was one of the last books. So just writing the New Testament took up first hundred years. During the second and third hundred, Christians suffered persecution. So the church fathers never got together until the reign of Constantine. Can you imagine how the authorities would have reacted?

    Finally, Constantine told the church fathers to get together, and he told them to resolve their disputes. Then the church fathers promptly publish 50 copies of the holy scriptures =>

    Nothing new here. You have seen that comment before. Unfortunately, I have never made a post of it. I suppose I ought to. I always have trouble finding it.


    1. The dates at that particular website seem pretty much in line with conventional wisdom for the New Testament books. Revelation is generally regarded as being among the latest written of the Canon, and the dating usually puts it around 100 AD.

      They seem to very liberally over-estimate the age of the early volumes of the OT, however. The historical events those books describe or allude to may have occurred as far back as the 13th century BCE, but I think mainstream scholarship would put the books themselves somewhere around the 8th Century BCE.

      I’m curious as to why you describe that site as “conservative”. I think of that term, particularly as it is used around here, as having political connotations. From the link, I’d say that they are fairly liberal, at least as far as their OT historiography is concerned. Perhaps they also get engaged in politics and I am just not aware of that aspect of their activities.


  2. I don'[t view it as a “problem”. I view it as in interesting historical issue related to one of the most ancient of writings in our possession, particularly an ancient writing that quite a large cross-section of the population has some familiarity with.

    It’s a quibble with your last comment, but I think there is plenty of information available indicating that the early Church authorities had a very difficult time deciding what to include and what to cast out in the Canonical texts of the New Testament. There are still disputes about this, as well as disputes (or different approaches) to passages such as the last bits of Mark 16. It took 300+ years to come up with the present western Canon. We know that there was considerable disagreement even in the fourth century about the weight to give to books like James, Jude and, particularly II Peter. Revelation presented some tricky problems also. Some of the disputes went to authenticity (II Peter), some went to how to group the books (does one intermingle accepted Paul-authored epistles (I Thessalonians, Galatians, Corinthians etc) with Paul-like documents written by others (e.g., the Pastorals)?

    None of this detracts from the value of the Bible, but knowing as much as we can enriches our appreciation of the Book.


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