As Tom, Jeff and then Beth read aloud from the Bible there were some puzzled glances among members of the new class. A few people turned pages, trying to find what was being read, thinking they had perhaps misunderstood the chapter reference. "Excuse me", Janet spoke up, "my Bible agrees with Jeff's, but what are Tom and Beth reading?" "I asked them to read sections of today's chapter, from two modern Bible translation and a paraphrase, so you could hear the difference", the teacher responded. Jim asked, "How can we know which one is correct, if they all say something different?" "That is exactly the point. We can have absolute confidence in God's Word, even though there are different translations, paraphrases, interpretations and commentaries", replied the teacher.
"Parlez vous Francais?" No one responded. "Wist ye not French?" A few eyebrows raised. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek about 280 B.C.. This is called the Septuagint (LXX), because it is believed to be the work of 72 Jewish scholars. The New Testament was written in Greek, or possibly Aramaic and translated into Latin about A.D.150. One of the earliest English translations is a paraphrase by Caedmon, written about A.D. 670. Few would understand Caedmon's Anglo-Saxon vernacular. For example, "mihtig drikten thurh mine hand' is translated, "the mighty Lord through my hand". One of the earliest English translation (not a paraphrase) was made by Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, who died in A.D. 709. The first modern English translation of the entire Bible is attributed to John Wycliffe, about 1382. Today, there are well over a hundred English translations of the Bible.
The Bible is intended for all people of all times. Before people can read and understand God's Word for themselves, however both language and vernacular translations are necessary. No other writing of such antiquity has survived long enough to require all those translations. Textual scholars have confirmed the accuracy of Jewish scribes in maintaining the integrity of these writings. In the thousand years between the recording of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls; about 100 B.C., and the earliest Masoretic text from about A.D. 900, there are only a few incidental variant readings. Westcott and Hort made a similar observation about the New Testament, after years of study, concluding that "no more than a thousanth part of the whole work is subject to any doubt" (Greek New Testament, p.565). All Scripture is God-breathed [inspired] (2 Tim.3:16) and did not have its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21 NIV).
The Bible was written over a 1200 year period by 100 different writers from different cultures and generations. The amazing convergence of thought utterly defies any statistical probability of human coincidence or intervention. Further, to suggest that God's Word was originally inspired, but that translators overpowered God and changed the timeless, inspired truth of his Word, is at best completely illogical, as well as unsupported by documented history.
There are two major types of translations: the literal, word-for-word approach, and the free translation approach, which presents the same sense as the original, but not necessarily the same grammatical form. The paraphrase is still more free than a free translation. It restates a passage in the writer's own words with little regard for the original. A paraphrase is not considered an actual translation. Bible interpretations and commentaries are the opinion of men about the Word of God. While these are useful and are hopefully written by men of God, seeking the Holy Spirit, scripture is clear: "your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor 2:5 KJV) .
( See Dr. Lewis Foster, "Slecting a Translation of the Bible"; 1978, 1983, The STANDARD PUBLISHING Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. BS455.F66 1983 - ISBN 0-87239-645-2)