Lens #1: Translations

After watching, head over to BibleGateway.com and try out the same search I did near the end of the video. If you do it the same way I did, you’ll end up with this webpage. Now, if you have a favorite passage of the Bible, search for it the same way and see how it reads in translations other than the one you’re familiar with. Since it’s your favorite and you probably know one version better than others, there’s a good chance the others might rub you the wrong way. The best example of this is Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd…”) because the King James language is so ingrained in many people’s minds.

Here are some more links to other sites where you can read the Bible online.

The Unbound Bible (Another way of looking at parallels, including NRSV)
The NRSV online (The best place to go to read the NRSV)
The Jerusalem Bible (Too many ads on this page, but…)
The Common English Bible (First Bible to have a website before it was in print!)
You Version (The Bible app I use on my phone)
The Greek Bible (Just in case you’re curious what it looks like — search “Mark 5:21” to see what I tried to speak aloud at the beginning of the video.)

Prompts for Discussion

Use the comments box below (under “Leave a Reply”) to discuss some of these prompts. You can post more than one comment and respond to other people’s comments The first time you do it, you many need to provide some basic info like name and email.

1) From the verses I read in the video, which word (plague, disease, suffering, or another) makes the most sense to you in the context of the passage and why? How does one word or another change the meaning of the passage? (Click here to go back to the passage, which is Mark 5:21-43.)

2) If you searched for a favorite passage, what is it? How did the other translations compare to the one you’re used to?

3) What translation of the Bible do you remember from childhood? Was there a Bible prominently featured in your house? In your grandparents’ house? How has that experience affected your reading of the Bible now?

4) What translation(s), if any, do you have in your house now? If you have a Bible, does it sit in a place of prominence or is it on a bookshelf with all the other books? On your nightstand? On your coffee table?

5) When was the last time you read some of the Bible on your own volition? What were the circumstances surrounding that reading?

6) Describe the experience you have when you read the Bible. (For example, reading may feel uplifting, confusing, enlightening, boring, like you’re back in school, etc.)

7) Daily Bible reading is a wonderful spiritual practice to get into, but many of us don’t do it. If you do, how is it helpful? If you don’t, what holds you back?

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15 responses to “Lens #1: Translations

  1. Ann Musto

    That was really good – I have looked often in different Bibles for different translations – usually because, for what ever reason, the understanding that I have seems incomplete or confusing, so I look elsewhere!
    The idea that the woman knew she had been healed ( she came up behind Him and touched his cloak) but that He didn’t know who had “done this” is fascinating!
    I tend to look at the NIV – because that was a gift to me when I first started studying the scriptures, and – although it is thought to be “conservative’, I find it to be clean and direct and no more “conservative’ than any of the translations… certainly not more than the King James or New American.


    • Susan Mosher

      Dear Adam,

      This is great!! It is not too long for one sitting; it is clear and so much better than merely reading the material. And paralleling a small portion of the Gospel gets across the message that different translations shade the text differently

      My everyday bible is the NIV. It sits on my desk and I have a dedicated mp3 player that has the bible recorded on it in the NIV translation. It has a feature that lets you read the bible in one year and I am doing that for the second time. The first time was in the Good News paraphrase.

      I recently got a side-by-side bible which has the NIV, the New Living Translation, the New King James version and the Message lined up next to each other. This can be helpful when a passage is tricky.

      There were no bibles in my home growing up. And now we own many.
      Reading the Bible for me is a time when Satan tries to distract me with doubts and many angry questions, but it also gives comfort, especially the New Testament where I can know Jesus better by reading His words seeing how we are to spend our earthly lives.

      Thank you for your hard work on this course. It will be a resource for everyone who thirsts for God’s message.

      Susan Mosher


  2. Ann Musto

    thank you susan – it is great to hear how each of us tries to access and make available the understandings from the scriptures – and it helps to come to understand each other’s heart – I love that! Ann


  3. Think you are off to a great start Adam. I love discovering the on line parallel translations and for this first one, I chose to look at the Philips and the Jewish Bible to compare wordings. Now to figure out how to comment. Monday I will checkout one of my favorite verses, and see which is the translation that I use most often. Sandy


  4. kathy regan

    I have never examined bible passages for many years (actually the 60’s and college at Stonehill in an Exegesis course with a great liberal theologian). I liked the poetry of the more traditional translations but also liked the Message with it’s 21st century speak. Thank you for this opportunity,
    Kathy Regan


  5. I grew up with the NIV, and I think that knowing it so well sometimes makes me hear it less. So, I appreciate reading and listening to other translations for many reasons, including to wake up my listening ear and see a passage in a new light.

    I remember at my first Easter Vigil a few years ago, hearing the creation story from the NRSV for the first time. I positively giggled when God created “creeping things”!


    • Phil Flaherty

      I do agree there is a place for a more vernacular translation when studying and teaching, yet there is also a place for more formal and poetic language. Language is like getting dressed: you don’t wear a suit when mowing the lawn, and you don’t wear a polo shirt to a formal dinner. I see the liturgical setting as one of those more “formal” places (perhaps that’s just my die hard prejudice). Then there is the place where one is most comfortable. I prefer the Revised Standard Version, 1946-52, (my generation) the first Bible I ever purchased for my own, which I have been carrying around since aound 1971. It retains the grandure of the KJV but is more accessible. It fits me like an old shoe, and looks like one too. I bring it with me to weekly Bible Fellowship where the New Revised Standard Version is in use, and frankly, read side by side, I like my older version better- just what my brain is accustomed to. It’s like my Dad always wore old army clothes when working around the yard. Mom talked him into getting blue jeans once, but to me they never looked right on him. I don’t think he liked them either.


  6. Ann Musto

    Phil – that’s interesting – to think not only of different translations, but of the changes in language over time within the same translation… that would be fun to look at.


  7. Kent Wittrup

    As TeenText has switched this year from NRSV to the Message, BibleGateway’s a windfall for me. I’ve used my mom’s 1611 King James occasionally to remind my students how classically ancient the Bible is. Also I’ve found the Message’s prefaces a mighty handy teaching aid, and its up-close-&-personal approach especially good for Paul’s epistles. Really appreciate your doing this–can’t have too many sources! Best, Kent


  8. Thank you all for the encouraging comments on our first experimental online Bible study. I hope you will all keep engaging the content at your convenience!


  9. I have just found your study and love it! I use the lectionary M-Th for study and will use this for my Fri study for the next ten weeks. I really love the youversion app on my devices as well as online but it doesn’t have NRSV, which just kills me. So I use it as my comparison source while holding onto my trusty “rock” nrsv. (Also a Harper Collins Study Bible, like the video)

    Thank you for these. I realize your church did this study last summer, I’m looking forward to digging in.

    SBT (St. John’s Norwood, Chevy Chase, MD)


  10. Cathy Rosenholtz

    Putting together a class for our adult forum at Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia, MO today, and came across your Lens series. Wonderful! Thank you for putting together this fabulous resource!
    Pastor Cathy


  11. Paul Chenault

    Since my confirmation classes I have used the New Oxford Annotated NRSV bible. Thanks for Biblegateway.com recourse!


  12. Paul Chenault

    Recourse = resource


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