Monday, October 1, 2018

The Perfect Bible

As a Bible translator, I have spent much time (probably far too much time) searching for the perfect Bible. And although I haven’t found it yet, the following five Bibles come the closest for me.

1. Bibliotheca

Bibliotheca presents the Bible in five volumes without chapter numbers, verse numbers, section headings, footnotes, or any other such “helps.” No other presentation of Scripture draws you into the text itself more than Bibliotheca. For this unique Bible, Bibliotheca produced the American Literary Version, which is a light revision of the American Standard Version of 1901. It is the most literal translation available today that still maintains the literary beauty of Scripture in English.

2. The Early Church Bible
Much like Bibliotheca above, the Early Church Bible presents Scripture without chapter numbers, verse numbers, etc. This Bible combines Sir Lancelot Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint with the American Standard Version New Testament. The Septuagint is the Koine Greek translation of the Old Testament that was made before the time of Christ. It was THE BIBLE of the Early Church. If you have ever wondered why quotations in the New Testament don’t always match up with the Old Testament, it is because the apostles were quoting from the Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew text. This Bible is available only in Kindle format.

3. My Grandfather’s ASV
I was fortunate to inherit my grandfather’s pristine edition of the American Standard Version, which he received from his Sunday School teacher in 1922 at the age of eleven. They do not make Bibles like this anymore. The traditional beauty of the red goatskin leather matches perfectly the classical beauty of the ASV translation, which will probably never be surpassed in its translational integrity. If I could only ever have one Bible, it would probably be this one. It is long out of print, but a high quality replica is still available.

4. Cambridge Clarion ESV
This is the modern-day equivalent of my grandfather’s ASV. Of all the English translations of the Bible that are popular today, the ESV is my favorite (with the NKJV a close second). And while I prefer formats like Bibliotheca’s for reading, nothing beats the layout of the Cambridge Clarion for more in-depth study. This is the Bible I read with my family each night.

5. UBS Greek Reader’s New Testament
In my mind, the only thing better than reading from a well-executed English translation of Scripture, is reading the original Greek of the New Testament itself. But Greek can be hard to read without a little help. The UBS Greek Reader’s Edition of the New Testament puts the definitions of infrequent words right at the bottom of the page, so that you don’t have to constantly flip through a lexicon. I am also eagerly anticipating the release of the Septuagint Reader’s Edition this fall, which presents the Greek Septuagint in the same format. (My Hebrew isn't as good as my Greek.)

The Perfect Bible

Thinking about this list makes me realize that we English reader’s certainly are spoiled when it comes to all the choices we have as we seek after the perfect Bible. In fact, this powerful video from our coworker Todd Lindley puts into perspective the embarrassing amount of choices available to us as English speakers. But the people in Enga (not to mention thousands of other languages around the world) do not even have a complete Bible in their language at all. Any Bible in their language would be the perfect Bible for them. And so while we have the luxury to pick and choose between various translations, formats, bindings, etc., many others around the world remain ignorant of what Scripture says. But thanks to your support, we are working together to change that! Please pray that the Engans will soon have what will be, in their eyes, the perfect Bible!