Understanding English Bible Versions

Posted on: 
September 1, 2018

Book Review by A. S., 2016: One Bible, Many Versions, by Dave Brunn of Ethnos360 — Growing up around Elizabethan English, hearing the KJV read, and later reading it for myself puts a unique perspective on this ancient literary style. It helped me to at first be partial to the KJV-only voices, though I felt they usually came across too strong. As I progressed into language learning and preparation for Bible translation, I realized the foolishness of such a position, even if the KJV were arguably the most accurate English version. Therefore, the ideas and thoughts Dave Brunn put into writing One Bible, Many Versions is a refreshing gust of clean air.

One particular strength of this work, was his effort to ask and answer the deeper level questions instead of arguing blindly about surface issues. One example of this was to thoroughly discuss (with many tables of examples), the amount of meaning-based translation that ALL versions use, even the more literal ones. He points out that it is unfair to fault some versions for being meaning-based, when in fact at times they are using literal “word-based” methods in places where more “literal” versions are employing interpretive methods. He does an excellent job of leveling the playing field and taking away the opportunity for wild biased claims against certain versions or even techniques.

His arguments were not blind reasoning, nor were they overstated truths, nor yet did they take after the reactionary debate-styled discussion. He smoothly, with a level head and openness brought varying opinions up and talked through his thought processes. His reasoning processes appear quite sound and biblically based. He gave the impression that he puts more trust in the more literal translations when feasible; he also said that the more idiomatic ones can be beneficial when used in complementary ways.

A third notable aspect of Brunn’s work was the inclusion of other languages. This was not a small afterthought, but rather a major theme he developed in the latter half of the book. He offered significant insights into the BIG world of translation in simple, easy-to-understand ways. The examples cited and the reasoning processes are commendable.

This book adds another refreshing twist on the wearying debate about English versions. Not only fresh and enjoyable, it adds a particularly helpful dynamic for the would-be Bible translator. I can clearly recommend the book as beneficial to any and all.

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Learn the history of the English Bible

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10