Author Tim Barnett
Published on 04/23/2018

Translations and Reliability of the Bible

Tim sets straight the assertion that the Bible has been translated many times over and therefore can’t be reliable.


The Bible has been translated many times over, so how can it be reliable? The Bible can now be read in nearly 700 different languages. For the New Testament, the number jumps to over 1500 languages. It’s not surprising that the Bible is the most translated book in history. Christians see the number of translations as a good thing. More people are able to read God’s Word in their own language. Others, however, see the number of translations as a bad thing. They believe that the Bible cannot be reliable since it has been translated so many times over its history.

In a Newsweek cover story titled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald asserts this: “No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the Pope. Neither have I. Neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

If there are multiple steps in the translation process, then it’s possible that something gets lost in translation. if our modern Bible translations are translation of a translation of a translation of—well, you get the point—then they probably wouldn’t resemble anything of what the author intended. This would be akin to playing the telephone game with people who translate the message into different languages as it gets passed from one person to the next.

For this challenge, we need to employ the “Just the Facts, Ma’am” tactic. Many challenges to Christianity are based upon bad information. They don’t get the facts right. We can overcome these objections by a simple appeal to the facts. So what are the facts in this instance? Eichenwald and those who continue to espouse this nonsense are wrong about modern Bible translations and how it works. In reality, the modern English translations that we have go back to the original languages. Those who can actually read Greek and Hebrew, the original languages, are in the best position to know what the authors actually wrote in their original language. As a result, there’s only really one step in the translation process—the original language to the modern language. Every modern translation has only been translated once. It isn’t a translation of a translation of a translation. It’s just a translation.