16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
Well, I’ve been pretty bad about memorizing verses and Bible study lately. Part of the reason is because we found out that the NIV is a pretty bad translation. It waters the meaning down terribly. So last night my mom got me a parallel bible with the NIV and KJV. I’ll read the KJV and if I can’t understand it I’ll refer to the NIV.
– October 18th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
Let me get this straight: You just graduated high school, but instead of going to college you are going to be a cashier and spend your spare time reading and memorizing Bible verses? What a waste! You only have so much time to learn about this amazing world, but instead you are memorizing the words of superstitious people from the bronze age who didn’t even know the Earth was a sphere. I promise that when you are older, you will wish you had spent more of your youth learning about the real world.
Memorizing is not learning, anyway. Even a small child can memorize Bible verses. It is much better to learn a concept and slowly digest it until you fully understand it. It is possible to become an expert in a field without memorizing a single quote–the ideas are more important than the words. People who use Bible verses to make their point often don’t fully understand the point they’re making.
It’s true that the New International Version of the Bible isn’t a perfectly accurate translation, but neither is the King James Version. They were both translated from the same Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, and there’s no doubt that much was lost in translation. For example, at least a dozen different Hebrew words were all translated into the English word “prince.” Christians spend a lot of time pondering the meaning of Bible verses without realizing that the original meaning of many verses was quite different.
You’d think God could have done a better job preserving his word. If God could speak through ancient writers, why couldn’t he speak through modern writers? At least then we would have a version of the Bible that we knew was accurate. But I suppose if someone wrote a modern version of the Bible without referencing ancient manuscripts, no one would believe it was divinely inspired. Yet Christians have no trouble believing the ancient versions by anonymous authors were divinely inspired.
— Matt, October 18th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.