Bible Study – 01 May

What is your favourite translation of the Bible?

Google “wiki complete English translations of the Bible”: there are over 100 different translations.

There are approximately 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. In addition, there are 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 9,300 manuscripts in other languages. The New Testament manuscripts written by the original authors, are unavailable, but manuscripts have been discovered that are dated as early as the 2nd century. Old Testament: Dead Sea Scrolls, going back to 200BC. Like a jigsaw, but with lots of duplicate pieces.

Translation is made more difficult that we are not dealing with today’s spoken language. New Testament Greek and the Greek spoken in Greece today are not the same. Like the language of Shakespeare to modern English – but much older. Similar situation with Hebrew Old Testament. On top of this, the scriptures have been translated into local languages all over the world as the Christian message has spread. Some words have no obvious English word… like the German word: Schadenfreude (which means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune”)

Translation is not just a matter of deciding what an ancient word means in English… the written nature of the scrolls is such that the Greek is written something like this:

(All in capitals; and with no vowels, spacing, or punctuation)

The Bible is now in 1,658 languages. There are 7000 different languages in the world today.

Example of translation challenges: The Lord’s Prayer

Epiousion (ἐπιούσιον) is a Greek adjective used in the Lord’s Prayer that appears twice: Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3. “Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον” (‘Give us today our epiousion bread’). Because the word is used nowhere else, its meaning is unclear. It is traditionally translated as “daily”, but most modern scholars reject that interpretation. Even Jerome, the most important translator of the Bible to Latin, translated this same word in the same context in two different ways. “Daily” and “Supersubstantial”.

Finding a translation that “speaks” your language
Sunday’s Bible Reading: Spot the difference.

John 15: 9-17

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.


John 15:9-17

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.

New Living Translation


  1. We played “Spot the difference” and discussed the way different translations say the same thing in different ways.
  2. We thought about the different translations and agreed to spend time finding a Bible translation that ‘speaks our language’.