With so many “versions” of the Bible floating around, it’s amazing how the common goal seems to be “make the Bible fit people.” I fully believe our goal should not be to change God to fit us, but we need to change to fit God. God is the constant, not us. Our society and culture are constantly changing. The meaning of words can change, sometimes daily it seems. Thanks to modern technology, new words are being created all the time. For instance, what did “tweet” mean 10 years ago? My spell checker would have marked Facebook as misspelled a decade ago, now it’s a noun and a verb! The rate of change in our culture is exponential. In fact, by the time a new “modern” version of the Bible is released, there are parts that are socially outdated. With this in mind, I believe we ought to try our best to pursue accuracy first. I agree that no translation can fully carry the sociological and contextual understanding that would have been understood by the original author and the intended recipient, but this is NO REASON to change the meaning of a passage in the Bible.
There should be two questions that precede Bible translation and study:
What did the author REALLY say?
What did the author mean in that socioeconomic culture (Bible times)?
Then, through study, we determine what that means for us today.
This is why I like the ESV Study Bible. They have done something way too rare in translation efforts, which is try really hard to KEEP the original meaning, and then through help notes explain cultural relevance. They don’t change the meaning of the Bible–they explain it. Though there are other translations that are fairly good, right now I recommend the English Standard Version.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
“16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
That’s hard to do when they keep changing the meaning. I believe it’s time to transform our culture with Scripture, rather than transform Scripture to fit our culture.