As a believer in the inspired and inerrant word of God, I often encounter questions regarding the harmonization of the Bible’s contents and the accuracy of its translations. Let’s explore these topics in greater detail.
Harmonization of the Bible
Some may wonder if the diverse accounts in the Bible can truly be harmonized. Ultimately, the answer rests on whether we acknowledge Scripture as the inspired and inerrant word of God or view it as the errant work of men devoid of divine guidance.
From my perspective, I believe in a God who is capable of effectively communicating with His creation. If we assume the existence of God, we find a firm foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility, such as reasoning, language, interpretation, and transmission of texts across cultures and languages. God, as revealed in the Bible, spoke all things into existence, is the source of wisdom and knowledge, and created us with the capacity to understand and communicate.
Based on these foundational beliefs, I have no reason to doubt the Bible when it declares itself to be truth (Psalm 119:160) and affirms that its words were spoken by men moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). I trust that all Scripture is God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore, I firmly believe that Scripture verifies itself as true and trustworthy, and that it can be harmonized with itself, offering a cohesive understanding of God’s message to humanity.
When assessing the accuracy of Bible translations, it is crucial to consider the intricacies of language and the expertise of translation teams. While there are only a few translations that can be considered outright wrong, faithful translations strive to reproduce the original authors’ intentions rather than conforming to a particular agenda.
The process of translation involves grappling with the challenges of conveying nuanced meanings across languages and cultural contexts. For instance, Ancient Greek, the language of the New Testament, surpasses the expressiveness of English, making complete translation challenging. As a result, different translation teams may focus on different dimensions of the text, contributing to our comprehensive understanding of Scripture.
Moreover, when evaluating translation accuracy, it is essential to consider the manuscript evidence supporting the reliability of the biblical text itself. We have access to thousands of manuscript pieces, including ancient fragments that potentially date back to the first century. These early manuscripts provide valuable insights into the early transmission of the biblical texts and affirm the faithful preservation of God’s word throughout history.
Telescoping: Editorial Process
It is also important to recognize the concept of telescoping, an editorial process employed in the Gospels. Telescoping involves providing a condensed and panoramic view of Jesus’ life and ministry, emphasizing key elements while omitting certain details. This selectivity does not undermine the reliability of the Gospel accounts but rather reflects the authors’ purpose in conveying the overarching narrative and theological significance. The Gospels themselves acknowledge that they do not capture every single event, offering summarized accounts of Jesus’ ministry.
By understanding the concept of telescoping, acknowledging that not every detail is included, and appreciating the wealth of manuscript evidence, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the selectivity and purposeful focus of the Gospel writers. This understanding reinforces the reliability of the biblical text and its message.