I remember sitting in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) years ago, listening to a powerful speaker talk about the Bible and its history. I was a new missionary, surrounded by hundreds of other missionaries. One of the church’s leaders (called a General Authority) was speaking with great knowledge in front of all of us.
Looking around, I was in a sea of clean-cut young people seriously intent on learning the scriptures as best they could. We didn’t have much eight weeks. For those missionaries “going stateside” in the United States, the stay at this intensive learning center was much more brief – three weeks in total.
Thus, our days were packed tight with all kinds of classes, from classes that focused on the culture of our assigned missions (if going to a foreign country) to classes teaching us how to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly and well.
But what I loved best were the once-a-week special meetings on Tuesday evenings. We congregated in a large hall, sang hymns, and heard a speaker. It was truly a spiritual feat and one I relished.
Which brings me back to the point at hand – sitting in this weekly Devotional, listening to a General Authority teach us about the history of the King James Bible. In fact, if you have a version of the King James Bible, open up with me to the dedicatory page at the beginning of the Bible. It is the page that begins with, “To the Most High and Mighty Prince James.”
The speaker that evening also had us open up to this dedicatory page. I’d ignored it all the years I’d had my Bible. By the end of the evening, I felt ashamed I’d not relished such a gem of information.
The print may be small (there is much to squeeze in for content), but it holds a potent message. The individuals responsible for the translation of the Bible for their King expressed their supreme joy in their duties as translators. Indeed, they expressed their view of God’s word as that of an “inestimable treasure” (second paragraph on the dedicatory page).
For eons, the general masses had no scripture. They were at the mercy of the priests who carried on the churchly tradition of a tight hold on Latin scriptures. Individuals risked (and even lost) their lives to eventually translate the scriptures into English.
We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, know how important the scriptures are to sustaining a Christ-like life. Without reading the Lord’s living word, it’s awfully hard to know His will and to see how He operates in our lives.
Of course, as ancient translations continued to occur, errors crept into the scriptures (note the conflict in the Bible between Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 compared to Exodus 33:20). God’s word is perfect, but man’s translation skills aren’t always.
For example, ever play the telephone game? Where one person (at the beginning of a long chain of people) whispers as clearly as possible a phrase into the ear of the next person. The next person transmits the message quietly in the ear of the next person as clearly as possible. By the end of the chain, even with great effort errors will have crept in.
Thus, as the General Authority spoke that evening, I felt blessed he pointed out to us the enthusiasm of Prince James’ translation team for their service. And it has been a beautiful effort, well-received in the lives and hearts of many people during the hundreds of years since the translation’s completion.
Regardless of some of the apparent doctrinal conflicts (again, visit Genesis 32:30 and Exodus 33:11 compared to Exodus 33:20), the word of God blesses our lives. I saw this on my mission as I helped others study the scriptures for the first time in their lives. I still see this now as I study my scriptures today. I hope we all view the word of God with the same joy as that ancient body of translators – that the word of God is an “inestimable treasure.”
When a treasure is “inestimable” we treat it differently. How is your scripture study going? Write and let me know!