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Bible Studies

About the Bible Translation Used in These Studies

Each lesson contains one or more verses from the Holy Bible. These verses are printed out in their entirety. Naturally, when copying verses from an English Bible, the question of which Bible to copy from arises. (For beginners, the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek with a touch of Aramaic. All Bibles in modern languages are translations. Translations are also called versions.) There are multiple translations of the Bible into English. They range from careful, word-for-word-type translations through paraphrases that seek to express the same thought as the original but don’t try to give an exact wording. There have also been one or two oddball “translations” that seek to present the message of the Bible in more modern settings and are more literary creations than Bible translations. Each serious translation has its supporters and detractors, and the issue is often immersed in controversy. In such an environment, it becomes needful to explain the choice of translations for this study.

Why the King James Bible Is Used

The King James Version of the Bible is used throughout the study.

The publisher of these Bible studies is of the persuasion that the Greek text used by the King James Bible is more reliable than those used by most of the modern translations. He is also impressed by the technical accuracy of the King James as a translation. The other factor involved in the decision to use this translation was simply that it is in the public domain in most of the world. Since this study is published for the public domain and can be freely copied, it is needful to use a public domain translation.

So, whether we like the old-style English or not, these studies use the King James Bible. After nearly four hundred years, it remains, arguably, the best English Bible translation ever made. Of course, if you absolutely must use a different translation, you are free to look up the texts in the Bible of your choice just as you do the “Related Scriptures,” which aren’t printed out in the lesson. If English is a second language for you, you might find it helpful to use a Bible in your native language as well.

Understanding the King James Bible

One of the advantages of the King James Bible is that it has mechanisms that help the knowledgeable reader get a clearer picture of what is said in the Greek text. For instance, the second person in contemporary English is always “you.” If I am talking to one person, I call him or her “you.” If I’m talking to a crowd, I call them “you.” Also, “you” can be either the subject or object of a sentence. While English speakers manage this usage, many languages, including the Greek of the New Testament, distinguish between whether “you” is singular or plural and also between whether “you” is the subject or object of a sentence.

The King James Bible with its thee, thou, you, and ye reflects these differences. Thee and thou replace you when one person is spoken to. You and ye are used when more than one person is involved. Hence, when Jesus said, “Ye must be born again,” he was speaking of many people. Had he meant that only the man to whom he was speaking at the time needed to be born again, we would read, “Thou must be born again.” You will also notice that thou is the subject of a sentence while thee is the object. Likewise, in the plural, ye signifies the subject and you the object. While we understand just “you,” knowing when it is singular or plural can be helpful for the serious student.

Another thing you will notice in the King James Bible is that some words appear in italics. These are not words that are being emphasized. Rather they are words that the translators felt were needed to smooth the transition into English. They don’t appear in the original Greek or Hebrew, but make for smoother reading and for clarity in English.

And, of course, there are the unfamiliar words. This study, tries to define the most noticeable ones. However, either the dictionary part of a Strong’s Concordance or one of the published lists of words that have changed meaning will help in this area. (So will comparing your King James Bible with another translation.)

Last, but not least, are the famous –eth, -edst, and –est word endings. The –eth and –est endings represent the present tense. Today instead of saying believeth or believest, we simply say believes or believe. The –edst ending represents a past-tense type of construction. Believedst is now spelled believed. With a little thought, it really isn’t as confusing as it looks on first glance. After all, Shakespeare wrote the same way, and some people still read him!

We’ve only scratched the surface of the discussion over which English Bible is the best. While the publisher has fairly strong opinions on the subject, his greatest concern would be that you not let the debate over Bible versions (Bible translations) keep you from trusting the Bible as the word of God or from basing your life on its teachings.

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


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