Picking A Translation

Book Reviewed:  How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth

By: Gordon D. Lee; Mark L. Strauss

Purchase Links: Westminster  Or  Amazon

There are tons of bible translations on the market today.

Why?

Does commercialism drive the choice to produce a number of translations?

Is it personal preference? Is there a “Best” translation?

Which one do you need or want?

The options can be mystifying. If you have felt that way, or are feeling that way now, then today’s book review is highlighting a selection worth your time.

Cover of "How to Choose a Translation for...
Cover via Amazon

The Book, “How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth” addresses these questions and more. This book introduces the reader to the necessary terms for the subject of bible translation, explains why we have the various translations, the differences in the types and their purposes and best applications.

If you are new to the topic of Biblical interpretation or feel lost in a sea of options when picking a new Bible, this book is for you.

If you want to understand the difference between the various categories (“literal” and “meaning-based,” “dynamic equivalent” and “paraphrase”) and their uses, this book is for you.

The authors address the technicalities of translation from Hebrew and Greek, yet the book is easy to understand. Readers will learn the history of translation in English, what category their favorite translation falls into and what makes a translation both accurate and reliable.

The authors cover the four areas of relationship in translating any text: accounting for cultural contexts, differences between languages, presentation (style and format) and dealing with ambiguity.

The ease of approach and helpful glossary in the back make this a useful guide for the pew-sitter and the person involved in vocational ministry.

Pro’s: Terms are well explained and the book is easy to read. Discussion is clear. Topics include process of bible translation, various difficulties, and the history involved. Read this book and you won’t be confused about which Bible to use for which purpose from devotional reading to research.

Cons: Authors seem slightly biased toward the methodology they used and the translation they helped put together. The book is not compromised by this, simply be aware they have an opinion and it shows up from time to time.

Men and the Decline of Marriage in the US

This is a brief editorial on a pressing issue in United States culture: Sexual Purity.

A February 2012 NY Times article “Young Mothers Describe Marriage’s Fading Allure,” suggests the attraction of marriage is not what it once was for many young mothers.

My heart broke at the resounding theme of this article: women do not trust men. What a sad thing, but is that surprising in a society where dating produces children more often than fathers?

Traditional marriage was a cultural standard in the US, but that is changing. According to the article cited above, the national figure for children born outside of marriage is 53%.

Premarital sex and child birth are now normative.
The basic unit of society is the family, which is being crippled by cultural practices of casual sex.
I would like to propose a partial solution to this epidemic problem can be found in Scripture:

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
-Hebrews 13:4 ESV

Men in our society are failing women at a basic moral level.

Sure, there’s enough guilt to go around, but according to scripture, God made men to lead.

Leaders are trend setters, so to alter a trend, leaders must act first.
A paradigm shift is required to change what is happening in our culture.
I argue that the weight of it lies on the shoulders of men first.

If we want to see change as a culture, men need to commit to sexual purity in all categories at all levels.

Imagine the change created by a situation where women did not feel pressured to have sex before marriage?
Imagine the respect inherently communicated in that situation.

How would that change things?
I think it would change a lot of things.

Please join me this week in praying for the sexual purity of the men you know.

Remember Those In Prison

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3 ESV

Christian persecution mostly flies under the media radar, despite being global and regular. But international pressure on the Iranian Government in the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has changed that—at least for the moment.

If you have not heard of him, you should google the name. He is an Iranian Christian accused of apostasy and scheduled for execution.

The Iranian government does not want the disapprobation of the international community, but they also seem intent on executing Pastor Youcef. For those of us who have elected officials, we have the ability to write them and ask for pressure to be put on the Iranian government for the release of Pastor Youcef, and others like him.

Go to here if you want to see what he did to garner the wrath of the Iranian authorities.

According to a recent article on the Christian Post,

“United States Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), with the support of seven members of Congress, introduced a resolution into the U.S. House of Representatives Friday that condemns Iran for continuing to imprison pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and calls for his immediate release.
The resolution, called H. Res. 556, is “Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.”

Seeing the US Congress take action in protesting the Iranian government’s actions is quite encouraging.
If you take the verse listed at the top seriously, there are good resources available to get involved in multiple ways.

First, you should read a report on Youcef’s story.

Second, you could sign the petition at the ACLJ site, backing the Congressional resolution mentioned above:

Thirdly, you could also join the Tweet to save Youcef campaign—if you twitter.

Lastly, if you want to know more about Christian persecution around the globe check out the following:

www.persecution.com is the premier website for such.

www.prisoneralert.com also has lots of info on many other Christians persecuted for their faith. Consider adding some of the brothers and sisters listed on either site to your prayer list.

The book of Hebrews says we need to remember those in prison. That means taking action. How are you going to do that this week?

 

Why Should a Christian Read the Bible?

Reading the Bible has been called a ‘means of grace.’ For the Christian, it is both a privilege and duty. When people focus on the duty but misapprehend the privilege, discouragement is swift to follow.

 Why do you read the Bible?

The idea Christians must read the Bible is common knowledge within the Christian community. However, it is the experience of this author that many Christians have trouble articulating why they should.

Can you answer that question?

To the satisfaction of others?

To your own satisfaction?

If you can, how well does your answer sustain your efforts? Do you struggle to take time regularly to read your Bible? If you struggle, you are in good company as many faithful Christians do. This author does.

So, right up front we have two fundamental “why” questions we need to answer before we get into the hows and wherefores: one theoretical to explain the habit, the other existential, as relates to motivation.

For many Christians, I fear the answer to both questions is the same common, but incorrect answer: “The Bible says to do it, so I am supposed to do it.”

Why is this incorrect? Does the Bible say to do it?

In fact, yes, the Bible’s own testimony places knowing the scriptures as fundamental and right, even commanded. It does so in both Testaments, Old and New. See for yourself:

Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

New Testament:

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

1 Peter 3:14-16 (ESV)

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Even a quick reading of these three passages reveals God’s concern for our comprehension and exposure to his Word.

The Deuteronomy passage uses references to putting scripture up all over the place, particularly the body. The purpose is to show how much God wants the scripture to penetrate our hearts and minds.

The 2 Timothy passage tells us all Scripture is valuable because it is God breathed. That means all of scripture issues forth from God, it is his, and is therefore true and holy.

Paul lists a slew of great uses for scripture, but it is all God breathed. More on that in a moment.

1 Peter is less direct, but the context is the believer under duress, being asked to give a reason for his/her faith, and the hope that is in them.

Can you explain the gospel to the soldier holding a loaded gun to your head? What about at your execution for conversion to Christianity?

Peter is commending his Christian audience to be ready within such a context. Their daily reality was life or death persecution. While that was roughly 2000 years ago, Peter’s call to be ready has lost none of its weight, even for those of us free from such severe persecution.

So it is valuable. Still, what is my motivation?

Why read it?

If you answer that question with the imperative of “because I am supposed to,” you have missed the point.

An imperative is a command. The command to read, study and know scripture is either directly or indirectly present in all three passages given above. However, the command is not the justification for obedience, it is what obedience looks like. It is meant as guidance only. Relying on the command to motivate you will only wear you out because motivation comes from somewhere else.

Where is the motivation to read the Bible?

In the military, a soldier trains to be ready, and a good soldier takes training seriously. The question is not whether you are going to use the training soon but that you are a soldier, and by definition, you are to be ever ready. That is your identity: soldier. This is doing because of identity and action that flows out of identity is at the heart of these three verses.

In Identity…

All three passages are written to God’s people. The original audiences were varied, being separated by time and space. Their IDENTITY as God’s people was the common thread uniting them all. They were his children, and by implication, He was and is their Father.

So the command to know scripture, to let it penetrate your heart through constant exposure and deliberate study is a constant theme throughout the whole of scripture. You are supposed to know your faith so well, the cold press of a gun barrel fails to silence its message—that imperative command is built upon the foundation of Identity in and with God.

Reading the Bible for duty’s sake misses the point of all three passages. It is a reason, but lacks sustaining power. When times are hard, duty will be a burden you long to put down. It may even break your back. You need more than an “I told you to” when the going is rough.

Our call to be students of the Word is built on the Christian’s identity as an adopted son or daughter of God. Family tradition demand we know scripture like Jesus did. If you are a Christian, an authentic life requires regular reading and study of the scriptures as much as being human requires sleep, oxygen and vitamins.

Why Read the Bible?           Authenticity

Authenticity demands you be true to your identity and reading the bible is authentic to the Christian identity.

Christians should read the Bible because knowing His Word is required to know ourselves and our heritage. This is where it all connects with the scriptures being God breathed (2 Timothy 3:14-17). God is our Father and we should be about the family business. To do this we must know who he says he is and what he says about us. The Bible is your best repository of such things.

If this is true, how should we go about reading the Bible? Is there a proper way or will any way do as well as another? How do you maximize your Bible reading?

These questions and more will occupy the next installment of this series.

 

NOTE: This is the first post of a series on reading the Bible.

The Incarnation: The Best Present Ever

Written by Josh

The Incarnation: The Best Present Ever

The greatest gift ever given came as a baby, and we would do well to reflect and remember who He is and why coming as a baby was necessary.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

(Luke 2:11-12 ESV)

This week, the Carolers at my local grocer filled the air with holiday cheer by singing “Away in a Manger.” We sing songs about him, but who is the baby with ‘no crib for a bed?’ They don’t include scenes of Jesus crying or pooing in the church plays, but we have manger scenes, not ‘inn scenes.’ Jesus situation was very human, gritty and Real.

Most Christians will say Jesus is God (note the activetense of the verb) while most non-Christians say Jesus was just a man. In my experience, we in the church have responded to the doubt around us by stressing the divinity of Christ to the exclusion of his humanity. While we should stress the divinity of Christ, we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ as it were and conceptually sacrifice His humanity to protect His divinity.

When we sing about Jesus’ birth, it’s very easy to think of Jesus as either a man or as God only. But Scripture holds these two ideas in tension without apology so we must as well.

Simply put, the Incarnation is a key tenet of Christianity. If you don’t believe it, you give up the entire enchilada of the faith. Why? First, without the Incarnation you do not get the Jesus of the Bible. Secondly, you lose the Savior of infinite worth but human identity.

Without being God, Jesus’ death would be of limited value, but being God, his death is of infinite value, so there’s no internal limit to its saving power (he can cover our bill). But, without being human, Jesus’ life could not fulfill the Law Adam broke for us nor could his death on a cross take our place. Only a human could be a propitiation or substitute for us. So it is precisely the Incarnation that empowers Jesus’ victory over sin and death in the cross and resurrection. For as Hebrews says he took on flesh and blood like us so he could intercede on our behalf as our propitiation (Hebrews 2:9, 17).

Who does scripture say Baby Jesus is?

He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Eternal Logos and maker of all things, yet he is also a man who grew in wisdom and stature before both men and God, who got tired, was tempted, suffered true anguish in Gethsemane, and was crucified and died.

Only by permanently shouldering true humanity could God the Son stand in our place as the Second Adam. (That’s right, the Incarnation is permanent.)

What is the Incarnation?

The Eternal Word (Logos), i.e. the 2nd Person of the Trinity, took on flesh (permanently became human) and is forever now the God-Man, fully God and fully Man, joined together in a union comprised of two distinct natures (human and divine) neither of which being confused or blended, but distinct and yet somehow together in a way we can better describe than understand.

The boys back in the day called this the “hypostatic union.” It is a mystery, kinda like gravity. We can describe gravity, and tell you about its results, but truly master it? Nope. But what would you expect from the Trinity?

So, as you prepare to celebrate Christmas, mull over how the greatest gift given came without a gift receipt: the giving of the Son by the Father in the Incarnation.

If you really want to get into the Spirit of the Season, find the nearest baby and cuddle it. Be gentle, they’re fragile, but hold that baby close and contemplate how Jesus was like that: small, weak, frail, in a real sense dependent. He ate, slept and pooped just like you and I did when we first showed up. Yet, in the mystery that is the Incarnation, he was at the same time still fully God, somehow through his divine nature, still upholding the universe (Heb 1:2-3 and Col 1:16-17). Wild—Strange—Real.

This should humble and encourage us: God the Father, gave us his Son who willfully became human forever altering himself to honor the Father’s will, so as to make all things New. We can move through our day with a kind of courage that comes from knowing God the Son loved us so much he was willing to endure what we do and more, just to rescue us while we were still his enemies.

That kind of love does not abandon or quit on a person, it can and should propel us as we go through whatever providence brings our way, because if He would do that for us, we can trust Him in it with assurance and hopefulness no matter what comes. That doesn’t mean we like it or even enjoy all that life brings for life brings thorns and thistles. Still, we can deal with such knowing knowing we are not being abandoned to be cut by them. God the Father took the Evil of His Son’s crucifixion and used it to redeem the world and the resurrection is our proof.

Merry Christmas. This week I invite you to the following passages about Baby Jesus, why he came and how his unique status as the God-man made possible what he accomplished in his life, death and resurrection.

Virginal Conception Predicted:

  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus Humanity:

  • Matt 1:22-23
  • Luke 1:68-69
  • Luke 2:29-32
  • Luke 2:40
  • Luke 2:52
  • John 1:1-18
  • John 4:6
  • John 10:30

Purpose and Result of His Coming:

  • John 1:1-18
  • Galatians 4:4-5
  • 1 Peter 1:10-12
  • Philippians 2:5-8, 9-11
  • Hebrews 2:9, 14-15, 16-17