Pastor’s ponderings

Does the word of God change?  No, this isn’t a question posed as an April Fool’s joke.  I’m serious.  This past week I was reading an article that noted how the sales of Bibles in this country has seen a dramatic shift.  For decades the King James Version (KJV) was the #1 best-seller in the world (of any book, let alone the Bible).  Yet, in recent years, its popularity has fallen.  The author speculated at a few reasons as to why this may be, but the truth is no one really knows.  What we do currently know is that this former #1 is now #4, giving way to more contemporary versions like the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), and English Standard Version (ESV).  Also in this top list are translations including: Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New International Readers Version (NIrV), The Message (MSG), and New American Standard Bible (NASB), among others.  (Ironically, the translations I most often use, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and Common English Bible (CEB) are not even ranked on this particular chart!)

            What I discern from this shift is that people are looking to be able to better understand Scripture in their own context; we want to be able to read the Bible in a language that we use on a regular basis.  While the KJV has been around for hundreds of years, today it makes less sense to us because it is written in grammar that is no longer used.  So, we are turning to something more relevant to our understanding, something written in a more modern language; we are changing how we read and understand the Bible.

            Yet, the question still remains.  In the midst of these changes in translations, does the word of God change?  Some scholars may say yes, for to change words can dramatically change meaning.  Yet, what I have noticed is that what we have long-held as an understanding of Scripture is often off base because we don’t understand it in that context or language form, when using those words from yesteryear.  So, the move to more modern language, helps us better grasp the original author’s intent, and subsequently the heart of what God was having them convey.

            The prophet Isiah declared, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa 40:8).  As such, we can know that regardless of what version we may read, the meaning behind it remains unchanged, because God remains unchanged.  Yet, we must change the words that are used in order to make them applicable in a current context; to help people understand.  I can’t imagine what versions/translations may come in a few more decades, as our society and culture continues to evolve.  (Perhaps one made up entirely of emojis and gifs?)

                                                                        Always pondering,                                                                         Pastor Steve

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