Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What you always wanted to know about the Bible but were too embarassed to admit you might not know...

Do you know what Bible you have? I mean, do you REALLY know? Do you have the best one for you? Do you have a good and reliable translation? Do you have an interpretation that might not be so good for study, but okay to read in the bubble bath?

Over the course of the next few weeks, we'll look at different translations, interpretations, and adaptations. We'll see which are closest to the horse's mouth (closest to the original manuscripts) and those which are a bit too close to the other end of the horse to be reliable in your studying.

We'll also look at kinds of Bibles. For example, do you have a Life Application, a Study, a Devotional Bible? Which kind do I want? How do I figure that out?

Third, we'll look at reference materials, and how to use them to grow in your faith. We'll look at the difference between studying and reading. We'll learn how to study and how to apply God's Truth in our lives.

Join in! Invite your friends and family! Let's ask those questions we have without embarassment...and with God's help, we'll discover the answers.

His, thanking Him for YOU!
Lee Ann


  1. I have always wondered these very things, so am excited to learn more. I am a little hesitant to trust these new-fangled translations, but can't read the original manuscripts (who can?) to really tell if they are close. I am truly puzzled on how to even begin, so am glad you have been blessed with direction on this!

  2. Let's look at first things, first!

    What translation/interpretation/version/adaptation do you have? What is the difference?

    "Translation" and "Interpretation" and "Version" are often used interchangeably. To translate means to change from one language into another language. To interpret means to explain the meaning of. A version is a translation of the Bible. So a translation or an interpretation is simply taking that from another language, then changing it into a language we can understand. And the version is simply that translation we use.

    An adaptation is something which is changed and adjusted and altered to be used in a new situation, suitable for a new use or condition.

    Given these explanations, we should strive to study from a translation/interpretation/version that is closest to the most original manuscripts available.

    And we should not consider an adaptation to be as close to the original manuscripts since it is changed or altered to suit a new situation or use.

    Make sense? Or clear as mud?! Send me your questions, and we'll sort through it with God's help!

  3. So...where do I begin trying to figure out which Bible is for me?

    1. Make a list (I love lists!) Do I want a Bible to read quietly at the end of my day? Do I want a Bible to study from? Do I want a Bible with study helps? Do I want one closest to the original manuscripts? Do I want one that gives me a boost when I might not understand the passage?

    2. Once you narrow down what you want then it's time to decide what translation or version you want and which kind best suits you.

    Given that I love lists, here's a bit of a start in the right direction:

    (First, the translations/versions in order of their closeness to the original manuscripts...)

    1. Horse's mouth: Amplified Version (AMP) The AMP includes more words which help to describe the original language better. For example, when we say love we only have one word. There were many words for love in the ancient languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, etc.) They had a word for brotherly love, motherly love, fatherly love, neighborly love, etc. So the AMP spells out more clearly for you which love was being spoken of in the original text. However, because there are lots more words it can sometimes be more difficult to read. It's my personal favorite to study from in conjunction with an easier read version like NASB or NIV.

    2. Horse's snout: New American Standard Bible (NASB) The NASB is more true to the original manuscripts but can be a bit "drier" to read. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) falls into this part of the horse as well, but was written often with the verse numbers to the side, and not preceding each verse. Since the original manuscripts were written without verses, the RSV is more true in that respect and a more literal translation. However, (there always seems to be a "however!") the RSV and ASV (American Standard Version) can be a "drier" read than even the AMP, and confusing to follow if you aren't familiar with these versions.

    3. Horse's forehead: King James Version (KJV) Still a GREAT translation even though it was authorized by King James in 1611. It was translated from the most original manuscripts available at the time. The New King James Version (NKJV) has removed gender issues in some cases and is a bit further down (say at the horse's shoulder). It's important to keep the Truth as close to that which God divined. Removing context by removing gender removes some of the lesson we can learn when we remain true to His Word.

    4. Just behind the horse's ears and moving on down the neck: New International Version (NIV), New Living Testament (NLT), The Bible in Basic English (BBE), Contemporary English Version (CEV)...there are more but these should cover some of the more familiar versions. Good Bibles to study from, easier to read and understand, but not as deep as the AMP or even the NASB. Because the interest was in making these an easier read and an easier to understand version, just a bit of the depth has been sacrificed. I use the NIV, the NLT, the NASB first when I study (so I can have a basic understanding of the passage) and I follow it up with the AMP so I get a more fuller understanding of the original text.

    This is probably enough to process for today! I'm happy to answer your specific questions about versions or translations or interpretations if you send them to me! To get a better understanding, go to and look up a familiar passage in multiple versions. Compare them side by side to see the difference for yourself!

    Praying for you!
    Lee Ann

  4. How are you doing? Figured out yet what translation might work for you? Remember, I am happy to answer questions if you have any!

    Let's look today at kinds of Bibles. As with the versions and translations, there are just as many kinds to choose from!

    A list!
    1. Study Bible: designed to help you study, it often includes historical information, info on the author of the book you're in, geographical data, etc. Factual stuff about the characters, the author, the time period. Some are even designed (as the inductive NASB) to be easy to mark with larger margins to write in, and verses with space between each one.

    2. Life Application: gives you information on how you might apply that which you have read to your own life. Helps to explain scriptures you might not quite understand, and expands on how we might apply the lessons contained in scripture.

    3. Devotional: has anecdotal stories of how a particular scripture has touched the author's life. There are several different devotional kinds, too...for example, a women's devotional Bible, or men's, or a couple's devotional Bible, a student devotional get the picture!

    4. Parallel: has two or more different translations or versions next to one another. A great comparison if you've learned something in the KJV, for example, and you'd like to read it in the NIV so it's a bit easier to understand. One of my favorites is the parallel Bible which has KJV, AMP, NASB, and NIV side by side on two pages.

    5. Chain-reference: FILLED with helps! My favorite is the Thompson's Chain Reference, NASB. (This one takes a while to understand how it works, so be patient! Then again, I'd be happy to share how it works!)

    These are just a few kinds of Bibles available. There are MANY more! Let me know if you have questions!

  5. I copied this & printed it out because it is a very good definition of various bibles. Thanks Lee Ann.

  6. Praise the Lord, Peggy! There are so many translations and kinds, it can be hard to know which to choose without someone sharing a bit of information. Glad it helped.

  7. Let's begin to look at how the Bible is ordered.

    I use Rainbow Tabbies (available on line through Christian Book Distributors among others). They are colored tabs which help to identify the Books as well as the section of the Bible to which they belong.

    For example, the first five books collectively are considered the Books of Law, The Pentateuch, or the Books of Moses. The tabbies are pink!

    Let's make a list of these first five books:
    1. Genesis: The Beginning. Contains familiar stories of The Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, and more! Examples our first disobedience as creatures designed with free will with the eating of the forbidden fruit. The first mention of God as the Trinity occurs in verses 1-3, and verse 26.
    2. Exodus: The going out. Begins the tale of the Chosen Family as they escape the slavery of Egypt. Led by Moses, it's filled with adventure, miracles, and continuing disobedience. You'll find the Ten Commandments in this book.
    3. Leviticus: The Law. Lays out guidelines for the Levites (priests) and for sacrifices.
    4. Numbers: Shares the wanderings of the Chosen Family as they are exiled in the wilderness for disobeying God.
    5. Deuteronomy: The Law, again! Especially the first commandment that we need to honor God. Moses hands over the reigns of leadership to Joshua.

  8. What follows the first five books? Twelve books, referred to collectively as the Historical Books. In my rainbow tabbies, they are orange!

    Before I share, YOU share with me! What do YOU know about these 12 books?

  9. Where were we...oh yes! We're in the 12 Historical Books!

    The first book in this line-up is The Book of Joshua. Oh, do I love this book! Joshua is such a faithful follower of God and such a diligent prayer warrior! This book is all about the battles to win the Promised Land.

    The Book of Judges follows Joshua. God wanted to give the Chosen Family wise judges to help counsel them as they so often "did what was right in their own eyes." The story of Deborah, a prophetess is a great one, and so is the story of Gideon! Samson's tale is told here as well.

    Ruth is the third book in this Historical Twelve. Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi who has lost not only her husband, but her sons too. The story of Ruth speaks of the Kinsman Redeemer (prophecy of Christ)in the person of Boaz, and of faith and trust.

    1 and 2 Samuel follow Ruth. 1 Samuel speaks of the change from ruling judges to ruling kings. Saul's life is shared in 1 Samuel, and King David's life is shared in 2 Samuel. Much of 1 and 2 Samuel continue the theme begun in the first three Historical Books...disobedience just doesn't work! Faithfulness and trust in God's plan for our lives does!

    1 and 2 Kings speaks about the fall of the northern and southern kingdoms. God's judgement of His people's rebellion is evident in these two books.

    1 and 2 Chronicles retell events from 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. Rather than focus on the rebellious nature of His people, these books focus on the greatness of God when you pledge your life to Him. You can really see God at work in the Chronicles.

    The Chosen Family returns from exile in Babylon in The Book of Ezra. Ezra leads them in the way that they should go, helping them to reorganize their spiritual lives.

    Nehemiah speaks of his return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city.

    Esther rounds out the Historical Twelve. Queen Esther was born for "such a time as this" to help deliver the Jewish people from a terrible plot to destroy them all. Every time I read Esther, I get so caught up in the deceit and lies, the faithful servants of God, the excitement of her courage!

    That, in a nutshell, are the Twelve Historical Books. Which is your favorite?

  10. I haven't forgotten you! Summer sure can get busy! Let's see...where were we?

    Oh, yes! It's the five Poetical Books...yellow, on my rainbow tabbies.

    The first of the five is the book of Job. I love this story! What a great reminder of how God is truly in charge of all things! Job finds an unlikely mentor in a younger man, Elihu, who helps to put Job back on the right train of thought. God comes in when Job is ready to listen with some stern reminders of His omnipotence. And Job is amazingly blessed when he remembers it's all about Him!

    The Psalms, poems that were sung, follow Job. King David is credited as author of a number of the 150 Psalms.

    The wisdom of Solomon is shared in the book of Proverbs. He writes down lots of practical advice about how to live and how to think and how to keep your focus on a godly life. The book includes lots of "this is what will happen if you DO follow God's way, and this is what will happen if you DO NOT!"

    Ecclesiates to me is the Eeyore book, if you're at all familiar with Winnie the Pooh, and his friend Eeyore, the donkey. Eeyore is convinced the world is out to get him, and it matters little what he does, it'll still turn out poorly! There are some real gems in Ecclesiastes, and the book is largely wrapped up in the last two verses. To paraphrase, Life is pretty much gonna' be tough, and the very best way to get through it is with God!

    The Poetical Five ends with the Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs. It's a beautiful collection of love shared between a husband and his wife...gorgeous in the word pictures it paints!

    We'll work on the next 17 books of the Old Testament as the next few weeks go on.

    Praying for you as you study and grow!
    Lee Ann

  11. Is anyone still with me in this study?! I can't believe it's September already! And October is just around the corner! GEESH! Has time gotten away from me!

    Let's try to pick up where we left off, with the 17 Prophetical books (green tabbies for me with my rainbow tabbies).

    There are five main prophetical books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah's Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. They are followed by twelve minor prophets...those books with all the funny names! :-)

    Isaiah was a well-respected man in his community. The book of Isaiah speaks about the sincerity of our we live it? Or do we just claim to be a follower of God, going our own way and doing our own thing anyway? Isaiah speaks of the coming of Jesus, and how He will save all of us.

    Next come the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. Jeremiah spoke of God's judgment but he was not listened to. Jeremiah writes his woes in Lamentations after the capture of Jerusalem.

    Ezekiel is next. One of my favorite of the prophetical books, Ezekiel prophesied to the Chosen Family in exile. He was often ignored as the Israelites continued to do what was right in their own eyes. His words paint beautiful pictures of faith and restoration and hope and of a loving God who will raise up and breathe life back into dry bones (Ezekiel 37).

    Daniel is the last of the five major prophets. Throughout his entire life, Daniel remained true to God no matter what came his way. Daniel is the site of the lion's den story and more!

    We'll touch on the next twelve real soon! Thanks for your patience in learning and growing.

  12. Minor prophet time!

    Hosea: Hosea was yoked with an unfaithful wife. This book chronicles not only Hosea's unfaithful wife and his personal experience, but it focuses on Israel's unfaithfulness to God.

    Joel: Joel talks about God's coming judgement, and it being worse than the plague of locusts. Yikes!

    Amos: Amos was a poor shepherd from the south who was called to be a prophet to the rich in the north. Geesh! Talk about a tough crowd from the get-go! He spoke about God being THE guy in charge, and that being great and powerful was not something won through control and greed.

    Obadiah: Judgement and restoration.

    Jonah: A real big fish story! :-) Jonah tries to go his own way and God reminds him disobedience lands you in a pretty precarious place.

    Micah: Dishonesty, maltreatment of those who are less privileged, unjust rulers...wouldn't you think by the 700 BC's they'd have learned this lesson? Funny how Micah still speaks to justice and righteousness in our day. Seems we haven't learned that lesson either!

    Nahum: Wickedness and judgement...Is it just me, or is there a theme here in the minor prophetical books of judgement coming for ungodly behavior??

    Habakkuk: A celebration of God's faithfulness, this book also speaks to that age-old question of why good things happen to bad people and vice versa.

    Zephaniah: If you worship other gods, it isn't going to bode well for you...duh. But! Turn from your wicked ways and the God who honors the faithful will restore you!

    Haggai: After the return from exile, Haggai spoke about rebuilding the Temple. His wonder was, "if you're living in mansions but God's house is still in ruins, where the heck is your faith focus, folks?!"

    Zechariah: Rebuilding the Temple means more symbolically. It's about rebuilding the relationship with God that was broken during the exiled years.

    Malachi: Sin and God's judgement. There's that recurring theme again!

    Invite your friends and family to join in this study. It's an "at your own time" sort of a study which allows all of us to understand the Bible a bit better.

    Love and prayers as you continue to grow!
    Lee Ann

  13. It's time for the Good News! Let's look at the Gospels.

    First, what is a Gospel? Gospel is quite literally "good news." The Gospels are the four New Testament books which include the accounts of Jesus' teaching and ministry, as well as His birth, His life, and His death and Resurrection.

    The first of the four is the book of Matthew. Matthew, or Levi, was a tax collector. Think about it! Jesus chose him to be one of His disciples. As a tax collector, he was likely equally hated by Romans and Jews! What an unlikely disciple for the Lord. Makes you think, doesn't it, that He can use all of us??!!

    The Book of Matthew focuses on Jesus the Teacher and the promised Messiah.

    Mark follows Matthew. Mark was the nephew of Barnabas and went with Paul on his first journey. This Gospel focuses on the ministry and miracles of Jesus.

    Luke was a Gentile, doctor, and a friend and co-worker of Paul. Luke wrote both this Gospel account and the book of Acts. As a physician working with the unclean (lepers, sick people, diseased people) AND a Gentile, it was a possibility that he was not widely received as a supper guest in the Jewish community. :-) Luke went with Paul on some of his journeys. Luke looks at the parables, Gentiles, healing and prayer.

    John is the last of the four Gospels. He was one of the twelve chosen disciples who walked and talked with Jesus. He and James were brothers and among those closest to Jesus. His Gospel focuses on coming to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

    We'll look at the books of Acts and Romans next time, and follow those up with some of the Pauline epistles!

    Praying you're still learning and growing!
    Lee Ann

  14. Good Morning! As promised, let's continue by looking at the books of Acts and Romans.

    Acts, most believe written by Luke sometime between 62 and 70 AD, is the historical account of the early church. It includes the promise fulfilled of the Holy Spirit coming to indwell among all believers (see Acts 2). It also shares the struggles of the early church. Much of Peter and Paul's travels are shared in this book. It details the spread of the early church through those believers who now shared the gospel with the divine power of the Holy Spirit.

    The book of Romans, written by Paul sometime around 57 or 58 AD, explains our salvation by grace through faith. He shares that we all fall short of the glory of the Lord and that our righteousness and redemption come through the grace given us by God because of Jesus Christ.

    The Romans Road, a plan of salvation, was summed up beautifully by Mary Fairchild, from

    Romans Road of Salvation
    Everyone needs salvation because we have all sinned.

    Romans 3:10-12, and 23
    As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” ... For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)

    The price (or consequence) of sin is death.

    Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

    Jesus Christ died for our sins. He paid the price for our death.

    Romans 5:8
    But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (NLT)

    We receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Romans 10:9-10, and 13
    If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved ... For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NLT)

    Salvation through Jesus Christ brings us into a relationship of peace with God.

    Romans 5:1
    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (NLT)

    Romans 8:1
    So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

    Romans 8:38-39
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

    Responding to Romans Road

    If you believe Romans Road leads to the path of truth, you can respond by receiving God's free gift of salvation today. Here's how to take a personal journey down Romans Road:

    1. Admit you are a sinner.
    2. Understand that as a sinner, you deserve death.
    3. Believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to save you from sin and death.
    4. Repent by turning from your old life of sin to a new life in Christ.
    5. Receive, through faith in Jesus Christ, his free gift of salvation.

    Please, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, speak with me via e-mail at

    Praying today as you learn and grow in your faith!

    Lee Ann

  15. It's been a while. Praise the Lord His Word never goes out of style, or loses its impact or relevance. Now...where were we? We're in the New Testament, and we're going to begin looking at the epistles. Epistles are formal letters, just so that you know. :-)

    Following the historical books of Acts and the first epistle to the Romans, we continue with the Pauline Epistles, or those formal letters credited to the Apostle Paul.

    The next two letters are written to the church in Corinth. Paul sends the first letter (1 Corinthians) with direction to help cleanse the church of outside (and some internal) evils. You know the kind...where religion begins to take over faith as more important. The spaghetti supper begins to take on more significance than the fellowship of believers joining together over a plateful of spaghetti. (Not saying, mind you, that the Corinthians had spaghetti supper...that's my modern-day example.) Make sense? 1 Corinthians also includes doctrinal instruction. 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, for example, gives a very clear definition of Christian love to all those who follow Jesus.

    2 Corinthians speaks about the importance of being an apostle (a messenger for the Lord) for each of us, spreading the Good News, speaking The Truth. Paul even defends his own calling to ministry and apostleship by boasting in his weaknesses, knowing then his spiritual power comes through the empowering strength of Jesus.

    We'll look at Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians in the next week or so!

    His, always praying for YOU!
    Lee Ann

  16. I cannot believe how time escapes me and soon months have passed! Oh, how I am praising God for a renewed chance to be in His Word! Would you join me in a prayer of re-focused study?

    Lord, help us as we continue to grow in our faith. Help us when life so gets in the way of what is truly important. Help us to realign our hearts and our minds on you. Amen.

    Now about that letter to the Galatians! Paul wrote the letter to the area churches of Galatia as they argued about the importance of circumcision of the Gentiles before they could enter into a saved relationship with Jesus. Written about 50 AD, Paul was trying to sort out the legalism and false teaching by those in positions of supposed power in the church. Paul wrote the letter to uphold the Truth of the Gospel, and to remind early believers we are saved by grace and not through legalistic works of the law.

  17. Let's take a look at Ephesians today. Written by Paul in about 60-62 AD to the church in Ephesus, it reminds us that we were chosen by God, adopted into His family, each of us, and that we all play a vital role in the Body of Christ. Each of us has freely been given the same grace and mercy. And we all share in the same inheritance and peace given us by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

    Ephesians reminds us to build up and not tear down fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with hateful words or behavior. It reminds us in chapter 4 not to grieve the Holy Spirit with actions that are not of Him. Chapter 5 tells us how to live in the Light. It gives us specific instructions on how to put on the full armor of God in chapter six.

    Ephesians is an amazing study in how we are all children of the Most High God, with the same grace given, the same love shared, the same forgiveness granted, called to serve in the one Body of Christ as we have been gifted by God to serve.

    Thank you, Lord, for the many lessons in the book of Ephesians. My prayer today is to bring glory to You with my words, my actions, my heart, and my service. Amen, and amen.