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I agree with what I believe Mr Houdmann correctly identified as a major issue with exclusively using a bible paraphrase, pointing out that the paraphrase is the author's words. Bible commentaries are a treasure, but they are not "the Word of God." Neither are paraphrases. Again, they are the words of an author who puts into "plain language" what the author believes the text offers in meaning. There's absolutely nothing wrong about that, I often use them. Again, a paraphrase is very similar to a bible commentary. What I've noticed is that the paraphrase lacks the mystique of a bible translation. The profundity of a translation, for me, is missing when an author puts "God's words" into his own words. Something gets lost, for me. Those "plain words" don't jump off the page or the screen, for me at any time, the way the words of Moses or Isaiah, Solomon, David or the gospel writers do. The men of the scriptures, their words wash over me in a way that a paraphrase of their words don't. The "spiritual experience" I have during bible study is reduced in intensity, and is more of a theological exercise. With the use of a traditional translation, I observe both a spiritual and a theological intersection of God's presence in His word. Which is better? To be told by someone what God has said, or to hear it straight from Him? A paraphrase is a report of a report. A middleman has been added to the list of middlemen. On the streets that's known as an additional "cut." Why do we study the scriptures? Are we looking for answers to life's problems, or trying to be comforted, or is it for spiritual growth? Maybe for these reasons and some others also. If we could accomplish these things some other way, without bible study, would we skip bible study? What if we could simply pray and are given answers to life's many troubling issues, which could comfort us and help us to graduate spiritually; would we not want to gain the knowledge and understanding of God that the scriptures propose? "Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth... " (Jer 9:24) "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me no God was formed, nor shall there be any after Me" (Isaiah 43:10). A witness should have first hand knowledge of what or whom, he/she is witnessing. A paraphrase is good, but it's closer to "hearsay" than a translation. I grew up in the Atlanta area. When I was twenty years old my wife Faye and I relocated to Monterey California. We caught two planes to get there. We changed planes in San Francisco. It took about 6 hours, total. When we returned to visit our family at Christmastime we came in the car we'd obtained. It took us days to get back. We experienced the crossing of the desert and all it entails. We were twenty years old, but we were a little older by the time we got back to Seaside. The plane ride was a paraphrase; it gave us an idea of how far we were away from home. Six hours on two planes testified to the 2500 mile distance we'd traveled. The car ride was a translation, an eye opening experience of the magnitude of our commute. The plane ride revealed something but the car ride spoke to us. A paraphrase tells the bible story, but a translation SPEAKS for God. Jesus often spoke in parables, using allegory to teach truth. Why not use "plain language?" "So that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." (Mk 4:12) The bible is also written in that way. A lamp is brought in to be put on a stand. The reason you hide things is so you can manifest them under your own terms. Things are secret so they can come to light. You must have ears to be able to hear. Pay attention to what you hear. Mk 4:21-24a. This is my paraphrase, and it speaks the truth.
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