A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE TRANSLATIONS

These are a few of the best well-known versions of the Holy Scriptures. There are more, but I wanted to introduce the reader to these from information gathered from the Internet.

  1. King James Translation (KJV): “In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years… The King James Version has with good reason been termed ‘the noblest monument of English prose.’ Its revisers in 1881 expressed admiration for ‘its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of expression… the music of it cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm.’ It entered, as no other book has, into the making of the personal character and the public institutions of the English-speaking peoples.”

  1. Revised Version (RV): “The Revised Standard Version of the Bible (RSV) is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which was a revision of the King James Version, published in 1611.” It met with criticism by its treatment of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman”, and omission of “begotten” in John 3:16. Some regarded this as a denial of the virgin birth, and deity of Jesus. Part of the suspicion arose from the sponsorship and promotion of this translation by the liberal National Council of Churches. (“Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.”)

  1. New American Standard Bible: “This Bible is in the public domain in the United States. Summary of this 1995 version attempts to preserve the literal accuracy of the 1901 (ASV) and to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English.”

  2. International Standard Version (ISV): “The International Standard Version embodies the best results of modern scholarship as to the meaning of Scripture, and expresses this meaning in clear and natural English. It is intended for liturgical and pulpit uses as well as for devotional reading, Bible study, and reading in the home. The ISV is a moderately literal translation, seeking to avoid the paraphrasing tendencies of some modern versions.”

  3. The English Standard Version (ESV) “is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version. The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium.”

  4. Amplified Bible (AMP): “The Amplified Bible attempts to take both word meaning and context into account in order to accurately translate the original text from one language into another. The Amplified Bible does this through the use of explanatory alternate readings and amplifications to assist the reader in understanding what the Scripture really says.” It is classified as a paraphrase, and may not be as dependable as other versions.

  5. The Message: Its “contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message (Bible) current and fresh and understandable. Peterson notes that in the course of the project, he realized this was exactly what he had been doing in his thirty-five years as a pastor, ‘always looking for an English way to make the biblical text relevant to the conditions of the people.’”

  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible published by Broadman Holman: “Our purpose is to publish Bibles that positively impact the hearts and minds of people around the world, inspiring them to build a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ. Simply put, it’s why we exist. We have a deep sense of responsibility to share God’s Word in a trustworthy and faithful manner.”

  7. Young’s Literal Translation(YLT): “The Modern Literal Version translators goal was to create an extremely literal and accurate translation… The Bible text designated in YLT is from the 1898 Young’s Literal Translation by Robert Young, who also compiled Young’s Analytical Concordance. This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. There is also a similar translation in Green’s Literal Translation (LITV) which is a formal equivalence translation.”

  8. Contemporary English Version: “Uncompromising simplicity marked the American Bible Society’s translation of the Contemporary English Version Bible. Published by the American Bible Society, the Contemporary English Version has the goal of uncompromising simplicity. Also known as the Bible for Today’s Family, the CEV is written at a fourth grade reading level, making it appropriate for children and adults with limited English skills. In 1991, the 175th anniversary of the American Bible Society, the CEV New Testament was released. The CEV Old Testament was released in 1995. The CEV is similar to Good News for Modern Man is a modern version of the Bible in mid-20th century American English, prepared… to provide the Holy Scriptures to every man, woman and child in a language and form each can understand.”

  9. William Tyndale’s Bible “was the very first English language Bible to appear in print. It was first published in the year 1525.”Older Translations have provided a source to build upon.

  10. Coverdale Bible. “The first complete Bible printed in English gave no indication of the name of the one who published it. Its translator was Miles Coverdale.”

  11. The Geneva Bible “is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into English, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. It was the Bible of the Protestant Reformation. The Geneva Bible was providentially unleashed on a dark, discouraged, downtrodden people, and it was the spark for a Christian Reformation of life . It has been regarded to be the choice of the older translations.”

  1. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament “brings home the full force of the original message.” The New Testament in Modern English “was originally written for the benefit of Phillips’ youth group; it was later published more widely in response to popular demand. The language is up-to-date and forceful, involving the reader in the dramatic events and powerful teaching of the New Testament. It brings home the message of Good News as it was first heard two thousand years ago.”

Disclaimer: Information concerning these versions has been gleaned from the Internet and Bibles in my possession. The King James version remains my preference and standby because it is in the public domain, and I prefer it’s style and reverence for God. Its revisers in 1881 expressed admiration for “its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of expression… the music of it cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm.” I agree with that appraisal.

A Short Introduction to Christian Seminaries

NON-DENOMINATIONAL SEMINARIES

1. Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, with a mission “to glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of His Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide.” In other words, we want to help men and women fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.” (It is also noted for defending Dispensational Theology).

  1. Fuller’s School of Theology “has offered the highest level of academic scholarship coupled with a commitment to your spiritual formation as a follower of Christ. Whether you are called to professional ministry or any other vocation, we will equip you to be biblically and theologically responsible, intellectually astute, spiritually mature, and articulate in sharing the gospel with a world in need.”

  2. Grace Theological Seminary (GTS) ‘is a conservative evangelical Christian seminary located in Winona Lake, Indiana. Grace College and Seminary is an evangelical Christian community of higher education which applies biblical values in strengthening character, sharpening competence, and preparing for service.”

  3. Asbury Theological Seminary “is an evangelical, multi-denominational, graduate institution with ties to the Methodists desire for theological learning. Asbury offers a variety of graduate and postgraduate degree programs.”

  4. Trinity Theological Seminary, “an evangelical learning community united around the gospel of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Trinity is dedicated to equipping men and women with a Christian worldview of leadership and service in life, work, and ministry through distance education that encourages professional and academic excellence. Trinity is a conservative evangelical Christian institution.”

  5. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary “is an evangelical seminary whose main campus is based in South Hamilton, Massachusetts with three other campuses in Boston, Massachusetts;

    Charlotte, North Carolina; and Jacksonville, Florida.”

    REFORMED SEMINARIES

  6. Knox Theological Seminary “exists to equip servant leaders for effective Reformed ministry that is Christ Centered, gospel driven, and mission focused.”

  7. Westminster Theological Seminary “is a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian graduate educational institution located in Glenside, Pennsylvania. “And if you want to understand what makes fundamentalists tick, Westminster is a good place to start.” (The same thing could be said of some other seminaries.)

  8. Calvin Theological Seminary “ is preparing men and women for ministry positions of visionary leadership in the church and the world through Reformed theological education and formation.”

  9. Reformed Theological Seminary of Orlando “desires to be a gospel-driven seminary that prepares pastors, counselors, and leaders for the global church of the 21st century.

    BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES

  10. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary “was founded in 1859 as the first seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. Today, it is one of the largest seminaries in the world and trains students from 41 countries and all 50 states.” (Under the leadership of President Mohler it has maintained a strong conservative theological stance.)

  11. New Orleans Baptist Seminary “whose mission is to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church.”

  12. Southwestern Baptist Seminary “is one of the largest seminaries in the world, and equips men and women with a strong theological foundation to fulfill the Great Commission.”

  13. Mid-western Baptist Seminary, “from start to finish, Midwestern Seminary, located in Kansas City, seeks to dramatically transform students by renewing their minds with biblical truth.”

  14. Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, “at the Northern California Campus (NCC) of Golden Gate Seminary is located in Mill Valley, California, only seven miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is strategically positioned for students throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.”

  15. Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, “founded in 1973 as part of Dr. Jerry Falwell’s vision for Christian education. Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS), located in Lynchburg, Va., provided an answer for the ever-growing need of students seeking graduate-level Christian theological education. With over 10,000 students, including both residential and online, LBTS provides a world-class education by combining rigorous theological study with hands-on practical training.”

Disclaimer: I have attended two of the Baptist seminaries and was greatly blessed by their training. The others I believe are committed to the evangelical Christian faith, or I would not have selected them for this list. Information has been gathered from the Internet. There are older seminaries which I do not believe meet this requirement. 2014

A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN COLLEGES

NON-DEN0MINATIONAL  CHRISTIAN COLLEGES

  1. Wheaton College is “a top-ranked, academically rigorous Christian liberal arts college located west of Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois…Committed to the principle that truth is revealed by God through Christ ‘in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ Wheaton College seeks to relate Christian liberal arts education to the needs of contemporary society. The curricular approach is designed to combine faith and learning in order to produce a biblical perspective needed to relate Christian experience to the demands of those needs.”

  2. Westmont College, is “a Christian, liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, California for undergraduate programs…Westmont College is a private institution that was founded in 1937. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,305, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 130 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Westmont College’s ranking in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, 96.”

  3. Biola University “is a nationally ranked private evangelical Christian university located in Southern California… All major classes are supplemented by general education and biblical studies courses and seek to soundly integrate the Christian faith.”

  4. Cairn University was originally Philadelphia School of the Bible, then Philadelphia Biblical University.“Cairn is a Christian university offering diverse academic programs and a dynamic college campus experience intentionally centered on Christ and His Word.”

  5. Houghton College is “a Christian college in Western New York offering an academically challenging Christ-centered education in the liberal arts including study abroad…Houghton College is a Christian liberal arts college in Houghton, in the Genesee Valley of southwestern New York State. It is affiliated with the Wesleyan Church.”

  6. Taylor University “ranks #1 as the ‘Best Regional College-Midwest’ and is an evangelical Christian liberal arts college in Upland Indiana dedicated to its discipleship community…Taylor University is an evangelical Christian college located in Upland, Indiana, about 90 minutes north of Indianapolis.”

  7. Bob Jones University. “At Bob Jones University we inspire you as a disciple of Jesus Christ to push the limits of your own creativity, skill and faith—all for the glory of God. We infuse every course with a biblical worldview and strive to offer the best academic experience of any Christian university.”

    PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGES

  8. Covenant College. “The mission of Covenant College is to explore and express the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things. We educate Christians to engage culture and cultures, to examine and unfold creation, and to pursue biblical justice and mercy in community. With the student-faculty relationship and strong teaching and scholarship at the foundation, our Christ-centered community seeks to help students mature in three primary areas:”

  9. Calvin College,located on a 400-acre campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a top-rated, four-year, Christian liberal arts college… that prepares students to be Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. Through rigorous academic study and intentional Christian community, you will learn to think deeply, act justly and live wholeheartedly in everything that you do.”

  10. Montreat College is “a Christian Liberal-Arts College located in North Carolina, offering degree and certificate programs… here, fact and faith go hand in hand. So even our most basic points tell a Christian story. (We’ve heard that God is in the details.) And that’s what we’re about—a Christ-centered community of students and educators.

BAPTIST COLLEGES

10. East Texas Baptist University is “an undergraduate-level liberal arts university affiliated with

the Baptist General Convention of Texas, located in Marshall, Texas. East Texas Baptist University is a private institution that was founded in 1912. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,196, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 250 acres… Our students aren’t just attending classes to earn a degree. They are living the bigger picture through an experience unlike any other – an experience of faith, community, learning, and leading.”

11. Baylor University “was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas… is the largest Baptist university in the world… is one of the top Texas colleges…and offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Baylor University, a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, provides a vibrant campus community for more than 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. It has great sports, and Texas is a great place to go to school.”

12. Bethel University, “with 6000 students is affiliated with and supported by the congregations in the Baptist General Conference, a denomination of Swedish Baptists… Bethel is all about community. That means making friends and memories to last a lifetime. But it’s about more than that. Here, we challenge each other just as much as we support each other. Our students are gracious servants, compassionate friends, and thoughtful neighbors who are intentional about helping each other grow, and having a lot of fun while they’re at it.”

13. Palm Beach Atlantic University, was “founded in 1968, is a fully accredited, private, Christ-centered university located on the water in West Palm Beach, Florida…Palm Beach Atlantic University is a comprehensive interdenominational (there are more than 26 denominations represented in the student body) faith-based university with a core emphasis on character formation by integrating a Christian worldview with the liberal arts and selected professional studies.” This is another great place to go to school.

14. Baptist College of Florida “in Graceville is an arm of the Florida Baptist Convention

offering a Christian education in a variety of academic disciplines Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word. The Baptist College of Florida is reaching out through international study opportunities, distance learning sites, internet delivery systems and many other innovative methods.”

15. Baptist Bible College of Pennsylvania, “an educational institution affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptists, offers an outstanding, accredited Christian education through on-campus, online, and distance training…Baptist Bible College & Seminary is a fully accredited educational institution. We are committed to providing students with excellence in biblical higher education for effectiveness in global Christian leadership. The first classes were held in 1932 in Johnson City, NY. The college remained there for 36 years.” Recently the name has been changed to Summit University and is located in Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania, just outside the city of Scranton.

16. Cedarville University is located in Cedarville, Ohio. “Across all academic disciplines, student life is influenced by codes of personal conduct, community service, and theological study. It is an accredited Christ-centered Baptist University of arts, sciences, professional, and graduate programs.

17. Liberty University. “Liberty University is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on more than 7,000 beautiful acres in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers over 450 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, and is home to more than 100,000 residential and online students.”

Disclaimer: Information on these Christian colleges are taken from their websites. There are many more christian colleges, but these are ones with which I am somewhat familiar. I am not in a position to recommend one over another. That is a personal manner where prospective students seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Some I have attended, and kept up on information for the rest. Distance, costs, and academics may also enter into a person’s decision. From the information I have been able to gather they all appear to be committed to a Christian world-view. I do not know whether that is true in all of their academic disciplines. 2014

Near Death Episodes

The influence of the professions of some who have had a near death experience on the operating table prompts me to examine the whole area of death, going to heaven, and returning to the earth. I believe we have to establish some biblical truths before judging any profession proceeding from the near-death experience. Let us begin with the general rule in this area:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

Hebrews 9:27 is the general rule. Now it is proper to recognize the sovereign exceptions.

1. Enoch is our first example:

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Genesis 5:24  “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5

2. Elijah is our second example of a sovereign exception to the general rule regarding death:

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” II Kings 2:11

3. The last sovereign exception is a great group of people who will never die. These are the saints which are alive at the Second Coming of Christ. I guess you could say this is the greatest sovereign exception to the general rule: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:17

Are there biblical examples of persons dying and then returning to the earth? Yes, I can think of one example in the past, Moses. In Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration, Moses is the one person who had died and was buried, had entered heaven, and God was pleased for him to appear on earth again in that amazing encounter with Jesus, Elijah, Peter, James, and John. It was a temporary return along with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. How long they stayed with the Lord and His three disciples we are not told. There is also a similar experience with select saints at the resurrection: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:52,53 In this case, dead saints were resurrected for a specific sovereign purpose. There is no indication that they went back in the grave, and I believe it is safe to assume that they went on to heaven when their mission was accomplished. They had actually died and were buried and resurrected.

There is one case of interest in the Old Testament of a person dying and being resuscitated by Elisha. It is the raising of the sick child from death by Elisha the prophet. The child first reported to his father in the field of a severe headache, was sent home and sat on his mother’s lap til noon “and then died.” II Kings 4:20 She quickly sought help from Elisha. He first sent Gehazi to lay the prophet’s staff upon the child, which he did and reported, “there was neither voice or hearing,” and “the child is not awaked.” When Elisha arrived at the house, “behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.” v.32  “And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.” v.34 “Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” v.35 Then he called to the boy’s mother, “Take up thy son.” v.36 This miracle was a combination of prayer and means. The one who restored life was God. There are clear statements that the child died and was raised to life.

The New Testament gives the account of a widow’s son being raised to life by Jesus in the city of Nain. The child appears to be a grown man since he is called “a dead man.” We do not know if there were other such miracles, since John explains in John 20:30, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.”

Lazarus appears to be a special problem for many because he actually died and was raised to life. But the same thing is true of the widow’s son in Nain. How long Lazarus lived afterwards we are not told. I believe it is safe to say he lived out God’s plan for him before his final decease. Before comparing Lazarus to those with near-death testimonies, remember Lazarus actually died. Those who have been resuscitated have not yet crossed the threshold of death. Before claiming a trip to heaven there should be certain medical steps taken to ascertain that the individual had crossed that threshold. “Cardiac arrest,” “respiratory cessation,” “flat EKG,” “complete loss of vital signs,” “rigor mortis and bodily decay” are generally evidences that the individual has crossed that threshold. Since the “near death episodes” are not actually dying the questions raised by David Kupelian in How Evil Works are pertinent to our understanding of what actually happened:

“If they didn’t actually die, and therefore didn’t experience the true afterlife, what then did they experience? A hallucination or delusion born out of the distress of life-threatening trauma and its accompanying, mental, emotional, and physiological turmoil? The result of chemical shock, the effects of anesthesia, seizure, brain-oxygen deprivation, or neurological shutdown? Or could it be something else, perhaps even some sort of spiritual deception or demonic visitation?”

In light of these understandings, we can evaluate the claims of those who have had a near death experience. First, they did not die and so they did not go to heaven. What they did see was a very subjective experience. It may have been based on what they had been taught about heaven, but we are in no wise to take their professions as an accurate description of heaven. The Word of God is sufficient and authoritative in that manner. Revelation 21:4 gives a better description of heaven. So does Paul in I Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The authors of such books describing their subjective and unusual experiences have probably become wealthy producing books of interest. Time and energy can be better spent in just spreading the word of what Jesus has done for us and the universal need of salvation.