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Why Are There So Many Bible Versions?

Reason #4: Scholarship

By “scholarship” I mean specifically “Biblical language scholarship”. The situation is this: human knowledge of the Biblical languages continues to improve significantly as time passes.

You might be asking: “How can that be so? The Bible documents were written long ago, and the languages actually used in those documents are still the languages found in those documents. For example: The Gospel of John was authored in Koine Greek about 2,000 years ago, and the words in that document are (or should be) the same now as they were 2,000 years ago, having the same meanings that they had 2,000 years ago.”

Codex Vaticanus (end of Luke, beginning of John)
Codex Vaticanus c. 325
(Luke ends, John begins)

That’s true, of course. The Koine Greek words and phrases in The Gospel of John had a specific meaning when the author wrote them, and they have that very same meaning today. However…what those words and phrases mean is not necessarily the same as what scholars living hundreds of years later think they mean!

Consider that we have literally dozens — perhaps hundreds — of professors alive right now who are experts in one or more of the Biblical languages. Most of those experts are working to increase our knowledge of the Bible languages, and experts have been doing the same for several centuries now!

The result is that Biblical language scholarship increases significantly over time. To say that another way: an expert in one of the Biblical languages living now has a much better (more accurate and precise) understanding of that language than did an expert who lived one hundred years ago.

What that means is that experts in the Biblical languages who produce a translation of the Bible now are producing a significantly more accurate and precise translation than was possible one hundred years ago. And that means that Bible translators and publishers are eager to produce “new and improved” translations of the Bible employing the latest advances in scholarship.