The Way: Bible 1.0
My first job out of college was doing technical phone support for a Bible Software company. Their product would let you throw multiple translations of the Bible, as well primary texts and commentaries in Greek and Hebrew, all onto your screen and then have them roll synchronously up the screen together for comparison. Having come from a Bible reading family, this seemed like a fascinating job to me. But I soon found that there was a sad underbelly to it..
The users of this software were usually either pastors, teachers, or theologians. While some of their focus was on some aspect of the product that wasn’t working correctly, or that they didn’t understand, a considerable number were about nit-picking the text to me (which was not my job.) Alternately, they criticizing the company for offering upgrade packs for specific translations which they disagreed with on some theological or translation choice. If I didn’t agree with them (which I was rarely qualified to do) they would often turn their ire on me, accusing me and the company I represented as “leading people astray.”
I always finished these calls feeling tired mostly because, instead of marveling at the Bible for its unique place in history and as word of God written down in such a way that humans could understand their creator and savior, these people chose to deify their favorite translation, rather than the God who gave and preserved it for for them through the centuries.
Some of my hope was redeemed a little when I received a call near the end of that job from one of the scholars who turned out to be the father of a University friend of mine. After solving his problem, he said to me, “I love being able compare translations so much because the Holy Spirit speaks in every one of them--even the ones which aren’t well translated. The Spirit is what animates the Bible and allows it to change hearts. The blessed text is the vehicle for the Spirit.”
When I read my Bible now, instead of looking for ways to find that my Bible agrees with what I believe, I try to read so as to listen to the Holy Spirit that animates it and changes me with its words.