This post is part of a series investigating the most important items of Christian doctrine. View all posts by clicking here or the DOGMA tag above.
Is one translation of the Bible more accurate? Why the need for so many English translations?
I addressed this one on Sunday, and the basic answer is that because inerrancy depends on understanding the original intent of the original manuscripts, we employ as much scholarship and study as it takes to get back to both. Some scholarship helps us reconstruct the original manuscripts with greater accuracy. Some scholarship helps us translate the original intent with greater accuracy. Every year, archaeology helps us understand the ancient world better and uncovers new manuscript evidence. Every year, the English language grows and develops. Further, since the English speaking world currently dominates scholarship and finance, English is the first language to see the fruits of the new scholarship. It doesn’t hurt that English speaking people are quite willing to spend vast sums of money on new Bibles, and there are many agendas motivating people to produce new versions of the Bible.
The bottom line answer to this question is that more recent versions of the Bible are based on better manuscripts and therefore have the potential to be more accurate. However, one must be aware of the agenda of the translating group. Read the preface of each version and find out why that group made that translation.
On Sunday, I recommended the newest version of the NIV, the ESV, the second edition of the NASB, and the NLT as great Bibles committed to conveying the original intent of the original manuscripts.