Bible Reviews Bible Reviews

Why Are There So Many Bible Versions?

Reason #1 - English Language

How could the English language possibly lead to multiple Bible versions being produced?  The reason is simple though perhaps not obvious.  The English language changes over time, and a modern Bible translation, using modern language, ensures that modern readers correctly understand the text.

For example, one problem in older translations is the use of archaic terms that are no longer part of common English vocabulary.  Example:  the still-popular King James Version (1611, revised in 1769) uses words such as bruit (report), earing (plowing) and felloe (rim of a spoked wheel).

A much bigger problem is words that are still in use today but that have very different meanings now than they did centuries ago.  In such cases the reader typically believes they correctly understand the meaning of an archaic Bible passage when in fact they do not.

As an example, compare the King James Version Standard Text (1611, revised in 1769) to a modern, scholarly Bible translation that has the very same “style” as the King James Version.  For this purpose I use the NASBNew American Standard Bible (1995 update). 

Leviticus 2:10

King James Version Standard Text New American Standard Bible
KJVKing James Version Standard Text And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the Lord made by fire. NASB New American Standard Bible The remainder of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons: a thing most holy of the offerings to the Lord by fire.
Image of bread and grain

Yes, the King James Version often uses the word “meat” when referring to bread or grain or flour.  And this is just one of the more obvious examples.  There are many other such words.

So:  modern translations ensure that modern readers correctly understand what they are reading. One of the major reasons that there are so many English Bible versions is because new translations employing modern language are produced so that modern readers will correctly understand what they are reading.