Help Believers to Stay Faithful in a Changing Culture


Nearly 400 years after the Authorized Version of the Bible was published, we can hardly fathom how dramatically this translation shaped Western culture and the English language. By God’s grace, this version bequeathed a common vocabulary to English speakers, a common cadence to public rhetoric and everyday conversation. You dare not begin to try and understand Western civilization unless you first become familiar with God’s Word as it was read and heard by English speakers for centuries through this particular translation. And you certainly will not understand church history unless you learn how this translation fueled reform that spread from England to the United States and far beyond.

When God calls Christians into a relationship with himself, he calls them into a relationship with his Word. Here we find our identity as beloved of God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These stories recount a history of redemption that extends to the church of Jesus Christ today. We believe, act, and profess based on the Bible. But we have no access to the words of life unless we behold them in a language we can comprehend. Consider how the church has been unleashed to proclaim the gospel worldwide as new translations have proliferated.

Translation is a vital and therefore controversial task. We give it little thought until we perceive a potential problem. Even then, we do not understand the complex process, conducted largely behind closed doors by learned scholars and linguists who have devoted their lives to studying ancient languages. So how do we know what we’re reading is truly God’s Word? How do translators make the tough calls? What principles guide their decision making?

Bible Gateway and The Gospel Coalition have teamed up to host a discussion of English Bible translation. Acting as moderator for Perspectives in Translation, I have convened a team of world-class scholars who have reviewed, translated, and studied several different English Bible versions, such as the HCSB, NIV, ESV, NET, and NLT. They will address specific passages from the Old and New Testaments and answer questions about the translation process. Readers are welcome to offer their perspective, too, but comments will be monitored to encourage civility and respect. The Committee on Bible Translation will contribute after the updated NIV goes live at Bible Gateway on November 1 and their notes are released.

We hope that by pulling back the curtain on translation, this discussion will help readers understand their Bibles more clearly and learn to love God’s Word more deeply. And we pray that careful attention to Scripture will excite readers to behold God’s glory as he has revealed himself to us in our own language.