Showing posts with label Bible Gateway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Gateway. Show all posts

March 5, 2018

The #Bible: Reading is Believing


God's love seems like an abstract concept, but reading the Bible makes it real. Through God’s Word to us, we can feel the Holy Presence with us. We can discover the way to love God, other people, and ourselves. We can learn what true love is and how we can become part of that Eternal Life of Love.

As we read the whole Bible, cover to cover, we can also see how the Law, Prophets, and Wisdom books point to Christ. Jesus Himself confirms this when “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” Luke 24:27, New American Standard Bible (NASB.)

In Luke 24:44-46, the risen Christ also said, “'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

If we don't understand what we're reading or we feel confused about the character, will, and purposes of God, we can pray for the Lord to guide us and give us insight. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope,” Romans 15:4 (NASB.)

In an encouraging letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “you have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:15-17, New Living Translation (NLT.)

Another word on the Word comes in Psalm 119, which I encourage you to read in the many translations presented by Bible Gateway. Or read my favorite renderings of Psalm 119, also found on Bible Gateway.

Comparing various translations will let you know which ones you prefer. If you don’t have a copy of that particular one, type the name of the translation into the Search box on this page to read reviews of Bibles translated from the original languages into your favorite English version.

May the Lord continue to bless your continual reading of God's Word.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

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October 27, 2017

What the Bible Says about the Bible

Every morning, Bible Gateway emails me a Bible verse for the day. Today’s scripture reminded me of the power we have when we see and believe what the Bible has to say about the Bible:

“God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions,” Hebrews 4:12, Common English Bible (CEB.)

Reading the Bible brings into focus the relationship God developed with His people – an ongoing relationship that wasn’t just for a particular time and place, but for all times, all places, and all of us – here and now.

In Deuteronomy 12:28, for example, Moses received God’s Word, which said:

Observe and obey these words I’m commanding you, so things will go well for you and your children because you followed what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Psalm 106:12 tells us, Our ancestors trusted God’s Word and praised God in song.

The whole earth may do the same! As Psalm 147:15 says, God gives a command to the earth, and whatever God says is quickly done!

When we don’t know what to do or are feeling vulnerable, we can take comfort in Proverbs 30:5: Every word of God is tried and true – protective armor for those who take refuge in Him.

This source of care and comfort isn’t only for a troubling moment though. As Isaiah 40:8 tells us, The grass dries up. The flowers wither. But the word of our God will last forever.

The same can be said for every word Jesus gave. Even before His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, Jesus was known for speaking truth from God’s perspective. As Luke 5:1 reports: One day as Jesus was standing by Lake Gennesaret, crowds of people pressed around Him to hear God’s word.

In Luke 11:28, Jesus told us to expect to be blessed when we hear God’s word and put it into practice.

After He ascended into heaven, His followers came together to pray. Then, after they prayed, the place where they’d gathered began to shake! And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit! And they began speaking God’s word with confidence, Acts 4:31.

As people listened to those early believers, they, too, began to believe, and the church grew. In Acts 12:24, however, the Bible doesn’t mention the growth of the church or of Christianity. Instead, it says, The word of God continued to grow, spread, and increase.

That’s what it’s about! Our faith isn’t about the size of our church membership or our church buildings or number of denominations. It’s about letting the Word of God grow strong in us and spreading that Word to others.

What power we have in God’s Word!

What power we have when we believe the Bible means what it says about the Bible!

As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:15-17: Ever since you were a babe in Christ, you have learned Holy Scriptures that helped you to be wise in a way that led to salvation through your faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, training, showing mistakes, improving, and exercising character, so those who belong to God will be equipped to do everything good.


Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer and author of the new book, What the Bible Says About Love.


October 22, 2014

New Jerusalem Bible, reader edition


The first time I read The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), I had a study edition with footnotes that were hard to see because of the small font but were so interesting, I got sidetracked from the Bible text! Recently, however, Image Books kindly sent me a review copy of their NJB reader edition, which rarely adds any footnotes, but has a nice, clear font and bonded leather cover.

The main additions in this edition are a brief but important-to-read “General Editor’s Foreword” by Henry Wansbrough in the front of the book and, in the back, black and white maps showing Palestine in Old and New Testament Times. Being somewhat geographically challenged, I wish a modern-day map had been included, too. Nevertheless, those of us who customarily lug around plump study editions will find this regular book-sized Bible highly refreshing.

Most importantly, the NJB translation itself is refreshing.

Instead of telling you about this, I’ll try to show you some examples of well-known passages in favored forms followed by the fresh, sometimes startling way NJB has of getting us to see, hear, and think about things we’re apt to glide by without realizing it.

Isaiah 60:1-3

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (King James Version, KJV)

"Arise, shine out, for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen on you. Look! though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples, on you Yahweh is rising and over you his glory can be seen. The nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"For this is how God loved the world:
he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in
him may not perish
but may have eternal life."
(New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 8:28

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." (Revised Standard Version, RSV)

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 12:2

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (New International Version, NIV)

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (King James Version, KJV)

"Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 12:4-5

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (King James Version, KJV)

"For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same functions: in the same way, all of us, though there are many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

I Corinthians 12:4-6

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." (KJV)

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." (NIV)

"There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all." (NJB)

I Corinthians 13:4-7

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (KJV)

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (NIV)

"Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited; it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes." (NJB)

Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (NIV)

"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (NABRE)

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (NRSV)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV)

"Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen." (NJB)


[Note: The Bible verses chosen as examples can be found on Bible Gateway along with Holy Scriptures from many other translations and other languages too.]


©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the traditionally published author of 27 books in all genres, including the Bible-based poetry book Outside Eden.


The New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition, bonded leather



October 3, 2014

The Modern English Version of KJV


To understand the contribution of the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Bible, we first need to look at the KJV, which, according to the preface of the MEV, provides the base manuscript for a new translation that also relies on earlier texts in Greek and Hebrew.

For over 400 years, people have loved the Authorized Version of the Bible, better known as the King James Version. The first edition came into being in the early 1600’s during the reign of King James I, who commissioned 47 scholars to provide an up-to-date English translation based on several versions in use at the time.

The King instructed representatives of the clergy in the Church of England and Puritan ministers to use ecclesiastical words such as “church,” rather than “congregation,” but in general James aimed to bring peace and harmony to these groups of Christians.

Drawing on the Bishop’s Bible, Coverdale Bible, Geneva Bible, and others, about 80% of the New Testament in the Authorized Version relied on the Tyndale Bible, which William Tyndale had translated from the Greek, now known as the Textus Receptus. According to the MEV preface, the "King James Version Old Testament is based on the Jacob en Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text," (1525) but some scholars believe a slightly earlier version of the Hebrew text was used. Regardless, the Authorized Version soon became known for the graceful rhythms found in English poetry and its then-contemporary vernacular fit for the king -- and the King of Kings.

Being fairly new at the time, English spellings and word usages were even more liquid than they are today, so in the 18th century, Oxford updated the KJV, contributing once again to standards of grammar and punctuation we might take for granted. Changes still occur, though, as words and phrases go in and out of favor or find new usages, for instance, as teens call something “Cool!” or say, “That’s hot!” with no thought of the actual temperature setting!

Because of the fluidity of our language, Bible publishers in the last few decades have sought to bring biblical texts into contemporary English, resulting in an influx of translations not seen in previous eras. Some have gone back to the oldest manuscripts to be found in the original languages to freshen phrases with equivalent ways we might say the same thing today, while others have tried to recover the 3 to 4-beat rhythms of Hebrew poetry or translate passages as close to a word-for-word rendering of the originals as possible.

Despite the wealth of choices, which we’ve been discussing on this blog for over two and a half years, most Christians love the majestic language of the KJV. Therefore, many of us welcomed the New King James Version (NKJV), as I have, since it’s more accessible with clearer language that encourages us to read straight through before going back again!

That said, those of us who grew up with the KJV will notice phrasing in the NKJV that, on the one hand, makes a passage easier to understand, but on the other, alerts our ears to subtle differences throughout the text. Some readers won’t notice. And some won’t care one way or the other as these variances don’t alter spiritual truths but, instead, might change a detail or a familiar phrase we like to hear as memorized without anyone messing with it!

From what I’ve seen and understand, the Modern English Version (MEV) aims to remedy these concerns. To give you an example, here is a familiar phrase as translated in the KJV, NKJV, and MEV.

In the KJV, St. Luke 3:16 records a conversation between the people and John the Baptist like this:

“John answered, saying until them all, I indeed baptize you with water, but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

Since most of us don’t use the word “latchet,” here’s how NKJV translates that same verse:

“John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’.”

Now, if I had been asked, I probably would have kept the word “unloose” or, better, used “unloosen.” Otherwise, I like how the NKJV modernized the punctuation, capitalized references to Jesus, used the current vernacular of “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost,” and clarified the word “latchet.” Or did it?

If we look up troublesome words in a dictionary, which I just did, we’ll find that “latchet” in Middle English meant “shoestring.” So when we read “sandal strap,” we’re apt to picture the wide strips of leather or other materials that hold the sole of a shoe in place today as they did some types of sandals in Jesus' time. According to Webster or his heirs, however, a “latchet” is more like “a narrow leather strap, thong, or lace that fastens a shoe or sandal on the foot,” similar in appearance, say, to a leather shoelace.

As you will notice, each translation shows the ultimate worthiness of Jesus. So we’re not talking here about anything of theological significance or a faith breaker! We're talking about foot attire! So, for what it’s worth to you and me as readers, the MEV helps us to picture what was worn in Jesus’ time by saying:

“John answered them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water. But One mightier than I is coming, the strings of whose shoes I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’.”


Although those "strings" can be envisioned more readily than a "latchet," we no longer have a sandal here, but a pair of shoes. Wondering about this, I looked up an entry for sandals/ shoes in a Bible dictionary where I learned that, yes, by the Roman era, soldiers might wear something akin to boots while well-to-do people often wore shoes with leather that came up higher on the ankle or foot and, therefore, offered more protection than sandals. In any case, the lowest slave would untie the footwear his master wore, so John the Baptist was saying he wasn't even worthy enough to do that for Jesus.

Since I’m getting rather precise (or, maybe, picky!), I decided to compare these 3 translation above with the many found on Bible Gateway. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) says “thong,” the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) says “thongs,” the English Standard Version (ESV) and Common English Bible (CEB) say “strap,” and the New International Version (NIV) says “straps.”

In order to be clear, rather than precise, the New Living Translation (NLT) brings a thought-for-thought rendering by adding words, not in the original:

“John answered their questions by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’.”

And the Good News Translation (GNT) circumvents the problem, by saying, “I am not good enough even to untie his sandals.”

This may seem to be digressing from my purpose in requesting a review copy of the MEV, which Charisma kindly sent, as I've not followed my typical way of reviewing a new edition of the Bible. But in this unique instance with this unique translation, a comparison with its source is the best way I know to show you what to expect. Then you can review the MEV and consider what’s important to you.

Having now done that for myself, my recommendation is this: If you love the KJV and want a word-for-word translation to stay close to it and yet be easier to comprehend, you will most likely welcome a copy of the Modern English Version or, better yet, the MEV Parallel Bible, which gives you the KJV and MEV side-by-side for closer comparison and study.


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible (beginning with KJV and RSV then GNT) and is also a traditionally published author of 27 books, including the Bible-based book of poems Outside Eden.


Modern English Version, hardback




Lovers of the KJV might also prefer this edition.

KJV/ MEV Parallel Bible: King James Version / Modern English Version, hardback



July 14, 2014

NIV Life Journey Bible


If you’ve ever read the bestselling book Boundaries, you’ll know why I was glad to get a review copy of the NIV Life Journey Bible from Zondervan. In addition to providing the revised text of the super-bestselling NIV (New International Version) Bible, this edition includes 20 essays and 300 “Insights” by Boundaries authors, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. What a combination!

According to our Jewish ancestry, which came to all Christians through Christ, a person’s faith in God involves the body, mind, and spirit. In Luke 10:26-28 and Matthew 22:37, for example, Jesus tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind.”

Most of us “get” the spiritual side of believing, the physical side of putting those beliefs into practice, and the mental side of opening our minds to the mind of Christ through prayerful Bible reading. In worship services, we also hear sermons or homilies on spiritual growth and the various ministries requiring our physical presence and, perhaps, a little grease from our elbows.

Many Bible resources have been developed to help us draw closer to God spiritually and materially or tangibly, but articles and notes in this edition help us to draw closer to God mentally too. As explained in the front matter, “The Insights feature will give you an inside track on tips for emotional and relationship health, including where signs of emotional health and maturity, or their absence, occur in various stories, teachings and events found in Scripture.”

When it comes to dealing with problems, the Book of Job has much to say! For example, “God’s Right: Saying No” gives us this “Insight” on Job 2:9-10, where “Job did not ‘make God bad’ in his own mind. In all of his complaining, he did not end his relationship with God. Job didn’t understand God, but he allowed God to be himself. Job never withdrew his love from God, even when he was angry with him. This is a real relationship, and he was rewarded for his faithfulness, honesty and devotion to God, even when God did not do what he (Job) wanted.”

Another “Insight” pertains to “Sharing All Our Feelings With God,” where “Job wanted to fully express his protest to God (see Job 13:3).” However, Christians “often fear being honest with God because it has not been safe to express honesty in our earthly relationships. Like Job we fear both abandonment and retaliation. ...Rest assured, however, that God desires truth….(and) seeks people who will have a real relationship with him.”

Nevertheless, suffering can be expected, and so the “Insight” on Job 42:1-17 addresses “Suffering of Different Kinds,” where, “One is suffering as a result of working on our character, and the other is suffering that happens as a result of being in a fallen world. The key is to be able to tell the difference between the two and apply the right kind of experience to each. Too often in the church those who have been victims of destructive events are told that God is trying to teach them a lesson or that what they are going through is a result of their own sin or a part of the growth process.” But as happened with Job, “In reality, they are innocently suffering.”

Either way, disappointment will most likely occur – in God, in ourselves, or in other people, and so, an essay in this well-done edition offers thoughtful responses to the important question: “How Should We Respond to Disappointment With God?”

We do, of course, have choices as the “Insight” for Revelation 3:20 reminds us saying: “God has no interest in violating our boundaries so that he can relate to us. He wants us to love him freely, not because he controls us into it…. Intimacy with God is based on freedom, as are all good choices.”

When we think of “trespassing” as over-stepping the boundaries, we can choose to trust God not to trespass against us! The more we recognize God as loving, trustworthy, and true, the more we want to remove the obstacles, misunderstandings, and other boundaries between us. This edition can help to show us how.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler is a lifelong student of the Bible, writer in all genres, and poet-author of the Bible-based book of poetry Outside Eden.


NIV, Life Journey Bible, hardcover




I review for BookLook Bloggers

February 3, 2014

The Jubilee Bible

As an ecumenical Christian eager to promote, not uniformity but unity in the church Body of Christ, I began to read the foreword of The Jubilee Bible with trepidation. This new translation published by Aneko Press resulted from ten years of studious work by Russell Stendal, a missionary to the people of Columbia, including the very people who once held him hostage!

As impressive and loving as that it, I really didn’t want to review a Bible with any slams against any particular church – especially over murderous debates and family feuds a few hundred years old that I pray will soon be put to rest! However, the “To The Reader” section pointed to those terrible times only by way of introduction to a Bible translation that got caught in the crossfire.

But why bother to translate that ancient Spanish Bible into English now when new translations seem to be cramming the shelves? Actually, that is why!

New versions range from contemporary (even faddish or slang) English that lessens the rich vocabulary of the Bible to easy-to-read versions that lose connotations important to the context to “politically correct” versions that seem more interested in pleasing people than conveying what God inspired.

Leafing through The Jubilee Bible, however, one might think it’s another King James Version with its use of “Thee” or “Ye and “Thou,” and in many ways, it is. Unlike KJV though, this translation aimed for consistency in the many synonyms translators can choose to say the same thing.

As the publisher explained, this translation “has each unique Hebrew word matched and mated with a unique English word so that the usage (number of occurrences and number of verses where the word occurs) sets forth a meaningful number pattern and a complete definition of what God means by each word.”

To aid you in doing that kind of word search, Bible Gateway has made the text available online. If, however, you’re a Bible student or lover of God’s Word, as I am, who likes to compare texts to deepen your understanding, as I do, you might want to order a full copy as shown below.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer

The Holy Scriptures Jubilee Bible, paperback



December 17, 2013

Common English Bible (CEB) with Apocrypha

The more I get to know the CEB Study Bible, which I recently reviewed, the more I appreciate the fresh footnotes and study helps, but I’m also grateful for a new review copy of a reader edition of the Common English Bible (CEB) that includes the Apocrypha.

With or without study aids, the contemporary text and ecumenical input of scholars from most of the major denominations make this Bible ideal for easy reading alone or aloud in church worship.

The review copy of CEB I recently received from Church Publishing would make an excellent Christmas gift for teens and young adults but also an inexpensive pew Bible for church members who might want to present a memorable gift to their congregation or parish. I’ll include an Amazon ad below, as I do with each review for readers who might want to order. Thanks to the online help of Bible Gateway, the following excerpts from the CEB may be helpful, too, in giving you a feel for the reader-friendly text:

From the NT book, James 5:13-16

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.

From the apocryphal book, Judith 15:13-14

I will sing to my God a new song.
Lord, you are great and glorious, marvelous in strength
never to be outdone.
May all of your creation serve you;
you spoke,
and they came into being.
You sent forth your spirit
and it shaped them;
there is no one
who can resist your voice.


From the apocryphal book, Sirach 2:1-6

My child, if you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for testing.
Set your heart straight, be steadfast,
and don’t act hastily in a time of distress.
Hold fast to God
and don’t keep your distance from him,
so that you may find strength
at your end.
Accept whatever happens to you,
and be patient
when you suffer humiliation,
because gold is tested with fire,
and acceptable people are tested
in the furnace of humiliation.
Trust him, and he will help you;
make your ways straight,
and hope in him.


Amen.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler


Common English Bible with Apocrypha, paperback




Common English Bible – Pew Bible with Apocrypha, hardback