An irony of faithful regular Bible study is that the more you read it, the more familiar the Bible becomes – and sometimes we may feel we are just not seeing as much as we did when we first, excitedly, came to the word of God. Now clearly, our major responsibility in this is faithful prayer along with the study – prayer to see and understand more each time we continue our journey in the book. We also need to study with a purpose – not just to be reminded of things we know, or to see something new, but to learn more of the mind of God, and to learn how we might take on that mind in the small things of which everyday life is composed.
But there is something else we can do to keep our interest level high and to be rewarded with new understanding. Get a new translation. Many of us stay with the same old translation simply because we like to stay with the same physical Bible. It’s “the Bible” to us, it’s comfortable and may have our markings and notes built up through years of reading. But we don’t have to end our relationship with that Bible in order to try a new translation.
I have my own favorite translation and it is the one to which I most frequently turn, but when I feel that I am not seeing anything beyond what I saw the last time I read a biblical book or pondered a single chapter or verse, I turn to another translation. It’s not that my regular version is not accurate enough, but that I want to hear the words with different stresses, from a different perspective as it were. Just recently I did this with the Book of Job. Rereading Job in a different translation opened up dozens of new insights for me. The words themselves were not necessarily so different from the translation I usually use, but time and again seeing the same verses from a different perspective helped me to see things I had read over earlier.
But I’m not talking about comparing lines or verses in different translations. That is fine for detailed study of exactly which words are “best” in translating a given verse. I’m talking about just taking a different version and immersing yourself in it – getting used to its speech patterns and style in the same way you would if you were listening to a new friend speak.
The great thing is just how simple it is to try another translation. If you like reading on a screen, many Bible versions are available online on various Bible websites (see our article “Five Bible Study Sites Compared”) and many Bible versions can now be obtained free for reading on the Kindle or with the Kindle for PC application or other e-reader. So, if you sometimes feel that Bible study is not as exciting for you as it was, or if you would just like to maximize what you see in a given study session, give yourself a lift – try a new translation.