Ruislip Methodist Church
When the Bible is translated it is inevitable that the translators impose their own interpretation on the text.(Be sure to see the example at the bottom of this page.) It is always a good idea to compare translations and if possible refer to the text in the earliest version available; in Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. This is easy to do nowadays on-line and below are some links for your convenience.
Greek Interlinear Bible (for the New Testament)
Hebrew Interlinear Bible (for the Old Testament)
A link to the lectionary is included here for your convenience. However its shortcomings should be borne in mind.
The Lectionary misses out chunks of certain passages that are integral to understanding their message. For example in the story of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-27) the lectionary reading stops at verse 14 just before Gehazi enters the story. But it is the character of Gehazi that is the key to understanding what the story is really all about and seeing its relevance for us today.
There are also many challenging verses from the Bible that help us come to a truer understanding of Jesus's teaching but which are not included in the lectionary. For example Matthew 6:15 - 'If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.' and John 8:43 - 'Jesus said “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my message.”
Bible Translation Example: Different interpretations of Isaiah 9:3
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (Hebrew Interlinear - circa 150 BC) & (KJV - 1611)
Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils. (DRC - 1752)
(But then the word 'not' disappears!)
Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased their joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (RV - 1885)
You have given them great joy, LORD; you have made them happy. They rejoice in what you have done, as people rejoice when they harvest their corn or when they divide captured wealth. (GNB - 1966)
As you can see, Isaiah's message has, in recent times, been turned on its head by the removal of the word 'not'. However it is undeniably present in the earliest example we have of Isaiah, from about 150 BC. This is the manuscript that was found amongst the Dead Sea scrolls, a fragment of which is reproduced here showing the word in question.
The word 'not' disappeared from our translations in about 1850 after being included for around 2000 years. This passage has become ever more joyful ever since. But which is correct - what is written in the source material or what the more recent translators would have us believe? Are modern translators more enlightened, or have they conveniently missed the point Isaiah was trying to make?
(N.b. The modern-sounding Jubilee 2000 Bible includes the word "not'. But don't be misled into thinking it is a modern translation. The Jubilee Bible is actually an English rendering of a 16th century Spanish Bible valued for its word-for-word translation.)