Can you read this?
Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς Αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
OK, what if I put it into a script your more familiar with:
Houtōs gar ēgapēsen ho Theos ton kosmon, hōste ton Huion ton monogenē edōken, hina pas ho pisteuōn eis Auton mē apolētai all᾽ echē zōēn aiōnion.
Still lost? Let’s see if you can read this in another language:
Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret: ut omnis qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam.
Let’s try something a little more familiar:
For God louede so the world that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that beliueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.
Are you starting to understand it? Let me show this to you in a more modern form:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Yes – it’s John 3:16!
John 3:16 in an understandable form
The first version was in the original language and script of the New Testament – Koine Greek. Koine means common, because this was the common Greek used in much of the mediterranean region during the time the New Testament was written. This form of Greek, while common during the time of the Apostles, is quite different from modern Greek. It is considered a dead language because it is no longer in everyday spoken use. Ancient and modern Greek have a unique script that is different from what we use in English.
In English we use a Roman script. The second version of John 3:16 is in Koine Greek, but written in a Roman script. Roman script (also known as Latin script) is based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. It has become the most common writing system in the world.
The third version of John 3:16 is in Latin. It comes from the fourth century Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible done by Jerome. It is called the Vulgate because Jerome used the vulgar form of the language, meaning the common and everyday form of Latin. This version of the Bible was used throughout Europe for hundreds of years. It was used for so long, that eventually only the highly educated and the clergy could understand the text.
The fourth version of John 3:16 is from the Wycliffe Bible of the 14 century. John Wycliffe believed the Bible should again be available in a common language. He led a team of followers in England who together translated the Bible into common English. Our organization is named after John Wycliffe.
While the translation is in English, this old form of the language is quite different from modern English. This is because languages change over time. Language changes can include new vocabulary, changing meanings of words, and changes in spelling and grammar. As these changes in languages occur, translation revisions are needed to keep the Bible accessible.
The final version of John 3:16 is in the New International Version – one of the modern English translations of the Bible. Of all the versions of this verse in our list, this is the most accessible version of John 3:16 for English-speakers.
It’s all Greek to me
Imagine if we only had the Bible in Koine Greek – the original language it was written in. Even in a script I’m familiar with, I still do not understand what the words say. While I’m thankful for the pastors and teachers that do learn Koine Greek, having to learn a dead language in order to access the Bible at all would be a difficult undertaking for many of us.
Imagine if we continued to only use the old Latin translation of the Bible? This ancient language, while more familiar to some of us, is still not easy for most of us to understand. And, what if we only had the Bible in a very old form of our own language like Old English? Well, it may be easier to pick out some words, but Old English isn’t my language either.
English-speakers can enjoy many available translations of the Bible in modern English – in our mother tongue, in our heart language. When the Bible is translated in your own language, its message is decoded so that you can understand it.
Almost 200 million people around the world who use about 2000 languages still do not have a translation of the Bible in a language they can understand well. The Bible is as inaccessible to them as the Koine Greek Bible is to an English-speaker like me.
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