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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Biblical illiteracy: one solution

The Coffee Swirls blog laments decrease in Biblical literacy. Its blogger states:

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At Tue Aug 16, 01:23:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I have been in several situations recently with adults both younger and older than me who have expressed a desire to be a more spiritual person, but have been disappointed by their own difficulties in understanding the Bible. All too often, this has led them to not read the Bible at all and some of them have avoided attending any church for years. When I meet people that fit this description, I maintain a consistent message to them. I tell them that I was intimidated by the Bible and was in that same boat for years. I tell them that the cycle was only broken when I committed myself to read the Bible for myself. I don’t have all of the answers to the Bible and won’t have it all figured out in this lifetime, but I honor my Lord by never ceasing to seek His will for my life by learning from His revealed will to man.

I suggest that another reason that people have experienced "difficulties in understanding the Bible" is that they are trying to use Bible versions which are not written in their English.

I recall how millions of English speakers increased in Biblical literacy through the Living Bible paraphrase. Sometimes in our criticims of the Living Bible, we forget how greatly it increased Biblical literacy. The tool wasn't perfect, but God used it to enable millions of people to read the Bible who previously had not done so because they could not understand well the versions they had read.

A similar increase in Biblical literary occurred when the Good News Bible was published. The GNB, also, was written in standard forms of English, not in the awkward English found in so many English versions which are the ones used as pulpit Bibles in churches or recommended by church leaders who can understand them because they have additional Biblical training which enables them to understand (presumably!) Bible English.

We never want a decrease in translation accuracy, but if we want to increase Biblical literacy, one way to do so is to enable people to access Bibles which are written in good quality standard forms of contemporary English, not dumbed down, but English which fits a wide range of speakers of all ages, social levels, and educational backgrounds.

Categories: Biblical literacy, Bible versions, natural English, church English


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