Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Beauty of the Scriptures is Lost!

The Beauty of the Scriptures is Lost!

My favorite translation of The Bible is the Revised Standard… and second, the American Standard.

As a youth, in grammar school, I read The Bible from cover to cover. The King James edition, I might add. I was enthralled with the beauty of the near poetical rhythm of the scripture as it flowed.

I was brought up in a church, which stressed knowledge of the scriptures. And so… I learned them. That scripture has served me well over some 65 years of life and I'm sure it will serve me until my death.

Now, having said all that, I have to tell you... the new translations leave me cold. There is no beauty, there is no poetry, there is no rhythm, and there certainly is nothing to draw a reader to the pages.

For thirty years I made my living with the spoken, and written, word. I know a little something about words, and stringing them together to create a visual image in the minds of the listener or reader.

As my wife prepared the bulletins to be used in her church services for the various Christmas services, she asked me to proof read them. I did. But as I read the scripture, which was from one of the new translations, I found myself, as I said above, left cold. There was no passion there… there was no life to the words on that page. I found myself interjecting words and phrases from the old King James Version of "The Christmas Story". I simply could not help myself. My brain shifted gears, and before I was conscious of it, I was spouting that beautiful passage of scripture, which was burned, indelibly, into my consciousness as a child. There it was! "The Christmas Story" I knew. "The Christmas Story" with the warmth, the passion, the beauty, the inspiration, and yes, even something which resembles a soul.

Today, we read the modern day accounts of the events which transpired on Jesus’ birthday over two thousand and six years ago and they are, well, like reading a 6th grade student's book report! DULL. Lifeless. Boring!

Now, I don't recommend the King James Version of the Bible for accuracy. I DO, however, recommend it to you for a classic work of art. The Revised Standard, and the American Standard, are probably the most accurate translations to be found today. The Revised Standard, which I believe is now out of print, maintained some of the beauty of the old King James Version and added the accuracy.

It seems to me that the churches, which use the new translations of the scriture for their services, should consider using the King James Version for the two High Holy Days of the Christian Calendar, Easter and Christmas.

I taught myself to read as a child reading first the newspaper, and then Popular Mechanics, and then Popular Science, and then... I discovered the Bible. I was hooked on reading from then on. Even then, I could see the difference between the language of the newspapers and magazines, of the day, as compared to the language of the old King James Version of the Bible.

I must tell you what I believe has happened. I believe the publishers of bibles have “dumbed the bible down” to, roughly, the comprehension level of a 5th or 6th grader. In so doing, in my opinion, they have done great disservice to the Christian faith, and to the literacy of the Christian Community.

Now, this is all my personal opinion, mind you. If you find understanding in the modern translations of the Bible, then good for you. But, for me, reading the back of a cereal box has about as much meaning.



The Pine Blogger said...

Got to be honest with you. It's hard for me to understand the KJV. I get bogged down to easily. I like the NIV.

opinion-minion said...

I absolutely agree with you. The Bible HAS been dumbed down---right when those apostles decided to write in Koine (street) Greek, I just couldn't believe that they thought that they could communicate God's words in common plebian language.

OK, so I'm being sarcastic. I have nothing against the KJV, and since I read through the durn thing at age 10-11, find it difficult to believe when people say they can't understand it at all.

I personally used to think that modern translations dumbed down the Bible, and chuckled when I ran across the term "team mate" in one. It just struck me as amusing.

The question is: what type of translation effectively communicates to people? When the KJV talks about charity in 1 Cor 13, every modern reader, whether they know that charity once meant love, is unconciously thinking about giving money to, or helping, the poor. Oh, great. A split infinitive. Now you're really going to listen to me! :)

I think that the most effective test of a translation is to read it through. Yes, read it through, preferably swiftly.

On an informational note, check out the Better Bibles blog for all sorts of Bible translation info (great blog)

Longstreet said...

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