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Bible Gateway and The Gospel Coalition have teamed up to host a discussion of English Bible translation. We have convened a team of world-class scholars representing different versions of the English Bible who will address specific passages from the Old and New Testaments and answer questions about the translation process.

We hope that by pulling back the curtain on translation, this discussion will help readers understand their Bibles more clearly and learn to love God's Word more deeply. And we pray that careful attention to Scripture will excite readers to behold God's glory as he has revealed himself to us in our own language.

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Should I Use Multiple Translations or Stick with One? James M. Hamilton Jr.

Posted in Translation Philosophy by James M. Hamilton Jr. on November 4th, 2010

Question: Should I consider using multiple translations or stick with one?

Stick with one, for one main reason: it facilitates the memorization of Scripture. If you are always reading, always studying, and always consulting the same version, you will be constantly reinforcing what you have memorized. It is so frustrating to have a text memorized, or almost memorized, then to hear it read or quoted in a different translation. The result? The next time you try to quote it you mix and mash the two translations together and can’t reproduce the concepts and the connections of the text you’re trying to quote. This reality alone has me pining for the days when there was one dominant translation of the Bible, even if it was the archaic KJV.

This isn’t to say never use another translation. If you’re studying to preach or teach it can be helpful to consult something other than your staple version. But I find that it’s even helpful to stick with one copy of the one translation that I use. I know where things are on the page or that I’ve marked something I’m looking for.

It’s far easier for us to inscribe the words of Scripture on the tablets of our hearts when we stick with one translation. I’m for being able to quote as much of the Bible as possible, and I’m for anything that facilitates that, which means that I’m for using one translation as my mainstay.

James M. Hamilton Jr. is associate professor of biblical theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as preaching pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church.

This entry was posted by James M. Hamilton Jr. and is filed under Translation Philosophy.