Beginning a recent Gospel Doctrine lesson I asked the class what they were doing in their own personal scripture study that might be different than their routine sequential scripture reading. Two people responded. One saying she was purposefully reading the GD assigned scriptures during her temple work sessions and the other saying she was trying to read the Book of Mormon in a month online during her lunch hour.
I then shared my experience in listening to the BYU Round-table Discussions on the New Testament free podcasts with my IPod while taking my daily 2 mi. walk with my baby. I joked about multi-tasking—it really works!
Then, I launched into the concept of studying a different version of the Bible and offered the New International Version (NIV) as an example. We began by reading the Lord’s Prayer found in Matt.6:9-13. We first read it from the King James Version (KJV), then I had my dad read it from his German KJV and then I read it from the NIV. Oh…it was so beautiful in German! Then we discussed the fact that the NIV left off the last line of verse 13, ending with “…deliver us from the evil one.” I explained that scholars feel primary sources indicate that the additional line was added by a later scribe in the early Christian church’s history.
A class member noted that the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 13:13) kept this last phrase. It should be noted that the Book of Mormon Lord’s Prayer is also free of the JST changes made in the Bible at Matt. 6:14 in footnote for Matt.6:13. Interesting paradox that I don’t have an answer for at this moment.
None the less, I find the prayer most powerful without the last phrase, “…For thine is the kingdom…” omitted. Without the phrase, the Atonement’s working in our lives is predicated upon our forgiving others. I believe this relationship to be essential to our understanding of the gospel. It is from studying other versions of the Bible that I gained this understanding. Thus, my point is that when we reach outside of our regular resources to gain greater understanding of the scriptures, we will experience a fresh and invigorated perspective.
Another thought related to my father’s reading of the German KJV Lord’s Prayer, he noted after class that the German Bible was originally the Luther translation which Joseph Smith counted as a very accurate translation of the Bible. The German LDS no longer use the Luther Bible because the church uses the LDS KJV with selected JST footnotes and appendix. The German people are not happy about this because of what they’ve lost in not using the German Lutheran Bible. Here I can say, “Use it!” We don’t need to miss something simply because we’re all using the LDS KJV as a common book during meetings. It’s essential that we’re all using the same book as we’re teaching lessons and looking things up en mass, but in our individual study, seek learning from the best books and this includes translations of the scriptures! Some people consider the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) the best Bible translation. I own the Oxford annotated 2001 edition.
Some other ideas for fresh Bible study:
- Use an interlinear Bible with the Hebrew & Greek.
- Learn biblical Greek & read the original NT language. This is my new project!
- Learn Hebrew & read the original OT language. BYU offers independent study Hebrew instruction.
- Read the Bible in another language, perhaps the one you used on your mission or the language of your ancestors to first join the church.
- Study with a bible dictionary by your side, like the recommended Harper Collins Bible Dictionary.
- Join a Blog, like this one, and be involved in the faithful gospel centered discussions. You’ll be surprised at how this will motivate your study! You’ll read some questions you’ve never thought of and have the opportunity to discuss things you might have questions about. But, remember to ALWAYS approach this questioning with FAITH and be cautious about the agenda of the blog and those who frequent it.
- Read commentaries and other books about the scriptures, but never instead of the scriptures. Jesus the Christby Talmage and the 3 volume set of The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christby Holzapfel & Wayment are two suggestions.
FYI, modern apostles have used modern translations of the Bible to supplement difficult KJV passages, for example:
- Neal A. Maxwell, (Ensign, May 1991, p. 90); RSV (Revised Standard Version), (Ensign, Dec. 1986, p. 23); NKJV (New King James Version)
- Jeffrey R. Holland, (Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 34); NEB (New English Bible)
- Robert D. Hales, (Ensign, Nov. 1997, p. 26). NIV (New International Version)
Some suggested other versions of the Bible are discussed here.