If you look at all the translations, you will find that they are different depending upon the aim of the translators. Translations that are meant to be a paraphrase and easy to read will differ greatly to those that aim to be as close as possible to literal renderings of the Hebrew or Greek.
Below are five translations. The first is from an interlinear, which is a direct word for word translation. The Young’s is a literal translation. The King James and the Revised Standard are literal/dynamic translations. The Easy-To-Read is a loose translation—a paraphrase. The text is from 1 John 5:1–2:
Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ of God has been born and everyone loving the having begotten loves also the having been begotten from him. By this we know that we love the children of God when God we love and the commandments of him keep.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
- Every one who is believing that Jesus is the Christ, of God he hath been begotten, and every one who is loving Him who did beget, doth love also him who is begotten of Him: in this we know that we love the children of God, when we may love God, and His commands may keep. (1 John 5:1–2)
- Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. (1 John 5:1–2)
- Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. (1 John 5:1–2)
- The people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah are God’s children. Anyone who loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. How do we know that we love God’s children? We know because we love God and we obey his commands. (1 John 5:1–2)
In the Old Testament the use of couplets, triplets and parallelism is a common feature. Mainly because these aid in memorization. Below are four translations of Psalm 1:1–3:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
1 O the happiness of that one, who Hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked. And in the way of sinners hath not stood, And in the seat of scorners hath not sat;
2 But in the law of Jehovah [is] his delight, And in His law he doth meditate by day and by night:
3 And he hath been as a tree, Planted by rivulets of water, That giveth its fruit in its season, And its leaf doth not wither, And all that he doth he causeth to prosper.(Psalm 1:1–3)
King James Version (KJV)
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:1–3)
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.(Psalm 1:1–3)
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
1 Great blessings belong to those
who don’t listen to evil advice,
who don’t live like sinners,
and who don’t join those who make fun of God.[a]
2 Instead, they love the Lord’s teachings
and think about them day and night.
3 So they grow strong,
like a tree planted by a stream—
a tree that produces fruit when it should
and has leaves that never fall.
Everything they do is successful. (Psalm 1:1–3)
As you can see, there are couplets, triplets, as well as parallelisms, metaphor and figures of speech evident in the literal translation. The King James improves upon the literal translation, but the Revised Standard Version is more to my liking. The Easy-To-Read version seems to lose something, even if all there is evidence of the couplets, triplets, parallelism, metaphor and figure of speech.
- but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
- and on his law he meditates day and night.
- who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
- nor stands in the way of sinners,
- nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
- yields its fruit in its season,
- and its leaf does not wither.
Figure of speech: day and night
However, I am not so much interested in the Bible as literature as I am in what is the purpose of its existence, even if I had been required to become conversant of the literary aspects of the Scriptures as part of a curriculum I had undertaken.
Truth is really what is more important. Memorization techniques are helpful and the use of metaphors, figures of speech, couplets, triplets, parallelism and rhyme are also beneficial for communication. Poetry becomes a song and, with music, makes the mood more uplifting. Still, if the point of the poetry is missed or the moral of the story forgotten, singing in the rain can quickly turns into a dirge, rather than a wonder to behold.
Nevertheless, from the above examples, to me it is evident that the King James was deliberate effort to make the Bible as generic and acceptable to the common people of its day. This is evident in the preface to the KJV. The translators state:
Truly (good Christian Reader) wee never thought from the beginning, that we should neede to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, (for then the imputation of Sixtus had bene true in some sort, that our people had bene fed with gall of Dragons in stead of wine, with whey in stead of milke:) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principall good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath bene our indeavour, that our marke. — King James Version Original PrefaceClearly the King Jame Version is a deliberate revision of other translations.
The Revised Standard Version was written with the aim of upholding the tradition of King James Version, while making the language more acceptable to the common people of the twentieth century and yet remain as literal to the original languages as possible.
However, it is not the Bible that saves us, but the gift given to us by our Heavenly Father through Lord Jesus Christ, which has to be received, so that we may believe.
The Ten Commandments Were Designed For You To Enjoy And Possess Life