Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reading Critically

It is always a good idea to read critically, even if what you read is something very well researched.

Like the Bible.

This is a little different from my usual topics, but I wanted to share something I saw today. I was reading in Proverbs today in the New International Version (NIV) on Bible Gateway. This is what Proverbs 10:22 says:
The blessing of the LORD brings wealth,
   without painful toil for it.

I did a double take at that. That sounded like a prosperity gospel verse. I had never noticed it before, but I wondered about the translation of it.

I checked some other translations at Bible Gateway (very easy to do, that's why I recommend it), and this is what I got:
It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it. (NASB)

The blessing of the LORD makes one rich,
      And He adds no sorrow with it. (NKJV)

The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich,
      and he adds no sorrow with it. (NLT)

The blessing of the LORD makes rich,
   and he adds no sorrow with it. (ESV - adds a note that an alternate reading is "
and toil adds nothing to it")

I think the other readings matching up suggests that the NIV isn't the best reading in this instance.

I don't know Hebrew, but I wish I did so I could go to the original text. When we rely on translation, there is some interpretation involved by those doing the work. Every version is going to have verses where it the translation is skewed a little.

This doesn't put doubt on the Bible. It is an issue of trying to convey thoughts in English (or whatever language) from Hebrew. What it tells us is that we need to read critically and realize that we shouldn't rely on one translation when we study the Bible. The NIV version of 10:22 reads a lot differently to me than the others, and it didn't match up with other parts of the Bible that speak of working hard. We don't shut off our brains when we read anything, especially God's Word. Yes, I believe in inspiration and the leading of the Holy Spirit, but He also gave us minds for a reason.

If you are looking for a good book on Bible study, my favorite is How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Jason. Another really great resource that allows you to at least look at the Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic and to see the various translations and the other verses that use the word you're studying is">the Blue Bible. Don't ask me about the name. I haven't a clue. I use Bible Gateway for cross references, though.

    It's a great time to be alive as far as Bible study tools, that's for sure!