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Bible Books Summary

Session 9: Section 1

Study tools (Part 2)

We are going to have a look at some more aids to your study of the Bible. Most of these are rather more advanced than the previous ones. We are also going to look a little closer at the different translations available. It will help you to know more about the different Bibles available.

Bible atlases

These give the geographical background to the Bible, and often provide additional information to fill out the Bible story.

Useful atlases are:-

  • The Macmillan Bible Atlas
  • The Oxford Bible Atlas
  • The Times Bible Atlas

History books

These give historical background to Bible times. There are many history books available; probably your local library is a good place to start if you want background to a specific period. There are two very useful atlases of world history:

  • The Times Atlas of World History
  • The Penguin Atlas of World History (2 parts)
  • Another very useful book is Longman’s Chronicle of the World, which presents the sweep of world history as newspaper reports and pictures.

Most of these books are expensive, but are generally available in the larger reference libraries.

Versions of the Bible

We looked briefly at translations in the first session. We are now going to look in more detail at the various translations of the English Bible.

There are four different types of translation:-

a) "Word-for-word" translations.

These are translations where each original word is translated as accurately as possible into English.

Bibles of this type are:-

  • The Authorised Version (also called the King James Version)
  • The Revised Version
  • The Revised Standard Version
  • The New King James Version
  • The American Standard Version

b) "Phrase-for-phrase" translations.

These are translations where the principle of "dynamic equivalence" is used in translation. This means that the translators put difficult phrases into modern English in an attempt to give what the translators believe is the meaning of such phrases.

Bibles of this type are:-

  • The New English Bible
  • The New International Version (of which there are four versions)
  • The New Revised Standard Version
  • The New American Standard Version
  • The Revised English Bible

c) Catholic translations.

These are versions produced by, and mainly used by, the Roman Catholic Church.

Examples are:-

  • The Douai / Rheims Version
  • The Knox Bible
  • The Jerusalem Bible

d) Paraphrase translations.

These are versions where the principle of "dynamic equivalence" has been carried a stage further from the "phrase-for-phrase" versions. They make very easy reading, but they are the furthest away from reflecting the meaning of the original text.

Examples of paraphrase versions are:-

  • The Living Bible
  • The Children’s Bible
  • J.B. Phillips (Minor Prophets and New Testament)

The Interlinear Bible is popular with some Bible students. This edition is two versions in one - the Authorised and Revised Versions. Where the two versions vary in translation of the original, the text is split and reduced in size; the AV text is below with the RV text above it. This means that the two versions can be compared instantly.

There are other parallel versions available where two versions are side by side on each page. Examples are the New King James Version parallel with King James Version, and the New International Version parallel with the King James Version. Large Print and Wide Margin versions are also available.

Some of these special Bibles are expensive, so we recommend that you see a particular Bible before buying it to make sure that it is right for you.

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