The Bible…but which one? (Part 2)

By Dr. Gregory B. Boyd, Pastor

First Baptist Church, Hartsville

In my last article, I talked about why we have so many different translations or versions of the English Bible. Simply put, language evolves. Bible translators work hard to put an accurate and understandable copy of the Scriptures into every current language. In the New International Version of the Bible, Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (“They” refers to the first believers in the first church.) Like the believers in the first church, we must devote ourselves to the Apostles’ teaching. For us, this means we should do our best to diligently study the complete Bible in whatever translation we can read and understand. When you shop for Bibles, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices you have for different versions and for different types of Study Bibles. What’s a Study Bible? What’s wrong with just a simple, plain Bible? A Study Bible is not a book about the Bible; it is the Bible. Nor does it have fill-in-the-blank study pages or notes like you might see at a conference or for a class in school. A Study Bible is the Bible, but filled with helpful notes that provide background information, maps, and many other helpful resources. There is nothing wrong with a simple, plain Bible. But sometimes it’s just good to know who wrote what book to whom, when, where, and why. Study Bibles also provide timelines, outlines for each of the 66 books within the Bible, and insights to certain verses in each chapter of each book. These notes are written under the Bible text on each page. Most Bibles also include cross-references. Look for the tiny, superscript letters or numbers within or after each verse. When you look at the corresponding footnote, it will show another Scripture verse with the same word or idea of the one you just read. Which Study Bible is a good one? Good question. The answer depends somewhat on what interests you. Study Bibles come in many translations or versions, and there are least 20 Study Bibles available. So, you should be able to find one in your favorite translation that speaks to your interests. A couple of the first Study Bibles were the Ryrie Study Bible and the Scofield Study Bible. Originally, they were only in KJV, but they come in other translations now. These days you can get Study Bibles for men, women or children. You can get Study Bibles for beginners, for scholars, and everything in between. Some current theologians and popular preachers have their own Study Bibles. Some are centered around important doctrines or data from the ancient manuscripts. And one kind specifically highlights how the annotated verses can apply to your life today. That’s a good one. Here is what I learned through my Scriptural Journey. Study the Bible. It doesn’t matter as much what translation or who published it as it does that you are digging deep into it for meaning and application. Having said that, Study Bibles do help. When one person publishes their own Study Bible (Scofield, Ryrie, John McArthur, Tony Evans, Charles Stanley, etc.), the notes are usually very good, but are based on that one person’s interpretations. When a group of scholars publishes a Study Bible (Life Application Study Bible, NIV Study Bible, etc.), it usually considers more than one perspective. I really enjoy the information introducing each book in a good Study Bible, along with the maps, diagrams, charts, indexes and personality profiles of significant Bible personalities. If you have any questions about what might fit you best, ask your pastor, minister, or priest.

Author: Rachel Howell

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