It occurred to me just now, while reading the comments on an article about Internet Explorer market share, that something from the tech realm is roughly analogous to something in the theology realm: web browsers and Bible translations.
There are many different web browsers on the market today. They are all free, so cost is not a differentiating factor. What are the differentiating factors? Well, some browsers seem to care more about web standards and become the darlings of web designers. Some browsers care more about user features and become the favorites of web surfers and tinkerers, and some browsers come bundled with operating systems and become the default for people who don’t understand they have a choice.
Which browser do I use? Honestly, it depends on the mood I’m in. At work on my PC I go back and forth between Firefox and Chrome; at home on my Mac I go back and forth between Chrome and Safari. When I need my web development and debugging tools, I have to use Firefox. When I want something a little snappier for regular web browsing, I like Chrome and Safari. I’m kindof a snobby web designer, so I do try to avoid Internet Explorer, but honestly, I use it more than you might think. I do a lot of testing in IE, and I’ve even been known to use IE when I just need to look up something quick, or when I need to log into a different e-mail or Twitter account and I don’t want to log out of my main account in my other browser.
There are many different Bible translations on the market today. Comparable paperback, hardcover, or leather editions usually sell at about the same price point no matter which translation you choose, so, again, cost is not a differentiating factor. What are the differentiating factors? Well, some Bibles care more about getting the Word into a mode of speaking that is more vernacular, closer to the ground, so to speak, closer to the language of the common man. These Bibles become the favorites of youth ministries and evangelical outreach ministries trying to put the Bible into the hands of folks who’ve never read it. Other Bibles emphasize accuracy and literal conformity to the original languages. These become the darlings of seminarians and theology snobs.
Which Bible do I use? Honestly, it depends on the mood I’m in. I go back and forth between the ESV and the NLT, and this year, due to the momentous anniversary, I’ve been reading the KJV. If I’m doing intense study of a book or chapter, I prefer the ESV or the NASB. If I’m just reading straight through, I like the NIV (I don’t have a problem with the 2011 update), the NLT, and I’ve even been known to use The Message when I get in a really particular mood for that kind of thing.
One more thing…
One last similarity between these two seemingly disparate things, and this is what I was reading this morning that made me think of this whole subject, is that there are people who swear by one browser or one Bible and refuse to use the others. These people get so militant and evangelistic that they try to convert other people to their camp. Me, I just use all of them. I see value in all of them for various situations and purposes. Browsers are just tools. They all access the same web, and are really only as good as their developers and development philosophies, and some are better than others for various reasons. Bibles are tools too. They are all translations of the same Word of God, and are really only as good as the translators and their translation philosophies, and some are better than others for various reasons.
Am I crazy to see these similarities? Am I crazy to use more than one browser and more than one Bible? Let me know what you think in the comments.