There are a wide variety of different Bible versions to choose from. Sometimes, determining which one is right for you can be a tiresome process. That’s why it’s an essential practice to educate yourself on the differences between major English Bible translations available, as well as the different Christian denominations that read them. This resource aims to demystify some of the key questions one might have if considering the purchase of an Amplified Bible for study.
What is the Amplified Bible Version?
The Amplified Bible is jointly published by Zondervan (known for their New International Version) and The Lockman Foundation (a non-profit that publishes the NASB and Amplified Bibles). First published as a full edition in 1965, it started as a revision of the American Standard Version from 1901. The goal was to “amplify” the text by adding additional wording alongside a system of punctuation and other typographical features in an effort to produce a more accessible reading. The Amplified Bible was published in six stages: Gospel of John (1954); New Testament (1958); Old Testament Volume Two (Job-Malachi, 1962); Old Testament Volume One (Genesis-Esther, 1964); Complete Bible (1965); and Updated Edition (1987).
The Amplified Bible was produced from a “thought-for-thought” approach to Bible translating, meaning that instead of focusing on translating each individual word, the phrase as a whole was translated. This creates a freer translation process that grants translators the chance to make the text flow and be easier to read. This type of translation makes Bible reading much for attractive for the average, modern reader.
The textual basis of The Amplified Bible is the American Standard Version of 1901, Rudolph Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica, the Greek text of Westcott and Hort, and the 23rd edition of the Nestle Greek New Testament, as well as the best Hebrew and Greek lexicons available at the time. Cognate languages, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other Greek works were also used. The Septuagint and other versions were then compared for interpretation of textual differences.
What Exactly is Amplified, and Why Amplify It?
The Amplified Bible uses synonyms and definitions, to both explain and expand the meaning of words in the text by placing amplification in parentheses, brackets, and after key words. Multiple English word equivalents to each key Hebrew and Greek word clarify and amplify meanings that may otherwise have been concealed by the traditional translation method. The goal of this unique system of translation is to allow the reader to clearly grasp the meaning as it was understood in the original languages.
Amplifications may also provide further theological, historical, and other details for a better understanding of the text.
Let’s look at an example of how the added wording and typographical features look side by side with a more traditional translation:
- Acts 16:31, American Standard Version: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.”
- Acts 16:31, Amplified Bible: “And they answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].’”
This example shows what you can expect to see throughout the Amplified Bible.
Here we see a helpful definition of what it means to believe in Jesus. It’s not simply a belief that He existed or that He is the Son of God, but an acceptance of Him as your personal Savior and the giving of your life to Him. Then, at the end of the verse, it clarifies that for your household to be saved, they must also believe in Jesus as well. These explanations are largely derived from the layers of meaning found in the original languages of the Bible.
What is the Amplified Bible Classic Edition?
The Amplified Bible Classic Edition (AMPC) is the original 1965 publication of the Amplified Bible. Later revisions were published in 1987 and 2015, thus giving the original edition the AMPC designation. Because some readers still preferred the original version of the Amplified Bible, they continued to produce it with the new name.
What is the Amplified Bible Expanded Edition?
The Amplified Bible Expanded Edition contains the same Biblical text as the regular Amplified Bible but with the following added features:
- Footnotes providing historical and archaeological information, as well as devotional insights
- Introductions and outlines for every Bible book
- A Bible reading plan
- Bibliography of the sources cited in the study notes
- Glossary of the most frequent amplifications in the text
- Comprehensive concordance with 25,000 entries
- 8 pages of full-color maps
- Double-column format
What is Wrong with the Amplified Bible? Key Criticisms
Some take issue with the Amplified Bible because of a concern that the translator’s personal beliefs will be inserted into the text. The creators of the Amplified Bible attempt to quell these concerns by reminding the reader that the “amplified” parts of the text are not inserted by the translator’s own personal opinion but rather by the layers of meaning found within the wording of the original languages of the Bible.
We must remember that Bible translation is not codebreaking. Not all words in ancient Hebrew and Greek have perfectly equivalent English words to replace them. Not only that, but the differing grammar and syntax between the languages means that a 100 percent word-for-word translation is impossible. Hebrew and Greek words, in their proper grammatical structure, often have depths of meanings that cannot be accurately captured using a English word or phrase. These other depths of meaning are what are drawn upon for the “amplified” additions to this Bible.
The Amplified Bible is a valuable study tool, as the “amplified” readings can give additional insight into the meaning of a particular verse. The problem is the words the Amplified Bible uses can mean those things, but do not mean all of those things. The fact that a word can have different meanings does not mean that every possible meaning is a valid reading of the particular verse where it is displayed.
Many find the Amplified Bible to be a great resource for understanding the Bible more clearly. This makes the Amplified Bible is a consideration for personal Bible study as long as the reader is cognizant of potential uncertainties discussed above.
NOW READ: The Best Amplified Bibles to Consider
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