Do We Have the Right Words?

Conversations About God (5:5)

That brings us to the question, “Do we have the right words?” That’s a huge subject. There are people who devote all their lives to this question. First of all, I am sure you are aware that the Bible was not written in English, but in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Not only that, ancient written Hebrew provided only the consonants. Although they were not written out, the vowels were understood by the original readers. Scholars have worked ever since to provide the appropriate vowels to the Hebrew words of the Bible. The Greek, on the other hand, was all in capital letters and there was no separation between the words. Can you imagine reading that? For example, how would you read the phrase: GODISNOWHERE. Are you going to read it as an atheist might? “God is nowhere.” Or are you going to say as a believer might; “God is now here.” No wonder the saints have argued and accused each other over the meaning of the Bible. But it’s often much more innocent than that. How easily one could make a mistake.

All the original copies of the Bible have disappeared. There are thousands of hand-written copies, though, that have come down to us through the years. And no two of them are the same, which could distress a person who doesn’t know better. But there is a bright side to this. When you look at thousands of these manuscripts, and note what the differences are like, you would be moved to say that no other ancient document has been preserved with such care and accuracy as the books of the Bible. Let me quote the one-time curator of the British Museum, who spent a lifetime studying such matters, “You can pick the Bible up with confidence and say, for all practical purposes, we have the word of God.”

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