The Most Pure Bible?

I had someone ask me the following question on Facebook, and thought it might be of interest to a wider audience:

In your opinion as a Theologist, what is considered the most pure Bible. I want to read the Bible in it’s purest form that hasn’t been edited to benefit anyone. Any suggestions?

After asking what a “theologist” is, the following is the rest of my reply:

There is no translation without interpretation, and so the best thing that you can do when reading in English is to compare Bibles from different traditions – if you read the New International Version which is Evangelical, then also read the New Revised Standard Version, a mainstream one preferred by scholars, and maybe the Jewish Publication Society translation for the Old Testament.

Most major translations will give you the gist accurately for the most part, but even slight nuances of wording can reflect the translators’ assumptions about the Bible and its meaning.

In my classes I use the New Revised Standard Version as the standard one, but if you want to read the Bible in its purest form, then you need to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Barring that, read multiple translations and consult commentaries. And even if you learn the languages, keep in mind that the form of the Bible’s contents and the list of contents itself has been edited to benefit those who decided on a particular canon. And so I suppose the short answer to your question would be that the Bible itself has been edited by human beings, and so what you are asking for is something other than the Bible.

What do you think of this answer? How would you have answered the question?

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  • Alejandro

    AKMA shared some similar thoughts earlier (or later?) today.

  • vader

    Don’t forget the various interlinears online and hard copy. has a collection of translations.

  • Sabio Lantz

    you are asking for is something other than the Bible.

    — Very nice !

  • Gary Holma

    RSV, KJV, and/or Catholic bible…only ones that say Thou shall not kill, instead of Thou shall not murder – Yeah, a long story.

  • Gary Holma

    However, I wouldn’t call any “pure”, only my preference. “Pure” means nothing. BTW… I kind of like the old graphics better. This web site seems rather “bland”, “antiseptic”, etc. Maybe patheos is pathetic? But only my first impression. Maybe it will get better.

    • Anonymous

      Which graphics did you like? I was told by a colleague who is an artist that my attempts at designing my own banner for the Blogger site were pretty tasteless. My better half also thinks this one is an improvement. But if you tell me what you liked about the old one, I might be able to get enough here to make it “feel like home.”

      • Paul D.

        I just made this for kicks.

      • Gary

        Maybe not so much graphics….more colorful. But it is probably just that I’m use to the old site, and there’s no place like home. Looks more academic, than fun. Not a big deal, though. I don’t think I like the google post of my full name without an extra search click, but I am paranoid. Think I’ll try a different “post as”.

  • Dan McClellan

    I would have answered along similar lines. The goal of finding a Bible that hasn’t been edited to benefit one group over another is impossible. Pretty much every book of the Bible was edited multiple times by different people (in the interest of one or another ideological group) before it ever reached whatever shape it has now.

  • Omar

    How can we discover the editions and re editions that has been made? is there a way to recognize that? do you recomment any book that deals with this problem?

    • Sabio Lantz

      Here is a diagram I did that helps show where New Testament translations come from. You may find it helpful.

  • James F. McGrath

    If it doesn’t look like that much of a fun place, I’ll just have to post cartoons regularly to change the atmosphere. I don’t think the old blog looked like that much fun (I mean seriously, I had the name of the blog in Courier New!), but it was associated with fun because the content was fun. And so I think that we can accomplish the same thing here. At least, I hope so!

    • Gary

      Just as a followup…I have no problems with the new site. But I guess I was use to the Titles in color, and LARGER; all the links in color (blue) instead of italics, and the font seemed either to be slightly larger, or different (easier to read), and dates in bold. I have no idea why the links would be italics instead of the classic blue. I always thought my browser determined that, and not the site, but I have no idea. For us old guys, larger and deeper color is better, as our eyes disappear into the sunset. But it’s OK.

  • James F. McGrath

    Yes, the links ought to be more visible as such. I bet I can change that somehow. If they appear, and/or titles get bigger, you’ll know it worked!