There will always be a battle in regards to what the best Biblical translation is especially for reference in historical studies. As the content of the Holy Bible was translated several times over the years, there were issues raised about the accuracy of its content. Which of the Biblical translations is better? Which should be used as a material for historical studies?
The Bible as a Historical Reference
According to experts, there is no point in using the Bible as a historical reference. The Bible itself is not a history book. In order to make the accounts in the Bible historically significant, they have to be augmented with other documents or historical accounts. This does not mean that the Bible is not a reliable source. It only means that the Bible is written by people who lived in different centuries and in different points of view. They also have different motives in writing the content of the Bible. In fact, it is considered more of a book of faith rather than a historical book.
A lot of Christians would argue that the best translation of the Bible is the King James Version. For them, it is the “true” translation. The said version was created specifically for King James I of England in 1604. The choice of words and the use of Shakespearean English which is also equated with religious authority were their basis for hailing this version as the “best”. However, the truth is that it is not the best nor the most accurate as a historical reference.
What Makes Biblical Translation Confusing?
Since there were tons of translations made through the years, it is really difficult to figure out which one is closest to the original text. When referring to the same specific text for instance, the interpretation starts to vary depending on what version was used. Of course, for believers who wanted to practice the correct teachings of the Bible, this becomes a big issue. Here are some of the reasons why translations differ significantly in some versions
• There are a lot of factors affecting the translator’s approach in translating. This includes their personal thoughts and biases, symbolisms, cultural idioms, and images. When the Scriptures are translated, a part of the meaning will always be lost. Metaphors that are connected with culture are not easily translated. The mindset of the translator is different from that of the original author as they have most likely lived in different times.
• Some versions used a translated Bible for translation rather than the original text. If this happens, some more meanings are lost. A part of the cultural identity of the original text has already been lost when it was first translated and if further translated, some more elements are lost.
• Translators don’t have direct contact with the culture in which the language was used. Those who did the translation during the Renaissance period were accused to have corrupted the original texts in Hebrew. Other translators were even called bias and have used the Bible to forward their personal interest rather than just explicitly say the truth.
Effects of the Confusion
Given the confusion on the correct translations, different Christian dominations also have different practices. For instance, there are groups that literally interpreted the food restrictions mentioned in the Bible and practiced those restrictions until now. The creation story is also another source of confusion. This is why some groups celebrate the Sabbath Day on a Sunday, while others do it on a Friday or a Saturday.
However, despite the differences in Christian rituals and traditions brought about by the differences in translations, the Bible remains as the text that ultimately spreads the message of peace and love.