We wanted to buy a Korean Bible for a Korean who is planning on being baptized. We didn’t know much about Korean versions of the Bible, so we invited our friend, Hanul, to help us. Hanul is a Christian, works in the old American missionary’s office, and is a double major in English and Theology at the university. (Theology means “the study of God.) She sits by me every Sunday at church and has been attending my Bible classes for several years now. We decided if anyone would know about Korean translations of the Bible, she would.
I got there first, but even though I could find the Bibles, I really didn’t know one from the other. My Korean Bible is a Korean/English Bible, and the English part is NIV. My daughter has an easy version of the Korean Bible that is easier to read, and someone gave me a paraphrased version that is easier to read. However, we wanted one that was easy to understand and respected. We have heard Koreans who speak English tell us how much easier the Bible is to understand in English than in Korean, and the guy who is going to be baptized doesn’t speak any English and is just beginning his Christian walk. In the Bible class, he always borrows one of my Bibles, so we know he needs one of his own.
It was difficult to choose. The name of my daughter’s easy version is “Oori mal,” but we were told that even though it would be easy for him to understand, it wouldn’t be the best translation. We found a translation called “Sebonyok,” but Hanul also said even though it was easy, it was not the best translation either. We came up with a couple more possibilities: “Gheyokhangool” and “Gheyokghecheong.”
We almost bought the “Gheyokhangool” because Hanul said it was a good translation and because it had lots of help. It was a hard translation, but an accurate translation with explanations of the hard words and even Greek definitions of the hard words with the Greek word explained. It was a good translation, and they had taken something hard and tried to make it easy. However, in the end, Hanul said that in Korean churches, there is a kind of conformity in translations during worship and Bible classes, and this translation is not the translation they use.
Finally, we came up with a translation of the Bible that they use in churches that also had helps. We also wanted a Bible small enough that he could carry it in the subway since he travels by subway like most Koreans. We chose the translation called “Gheyokghecheong” It is the translation used in Korean churches during worship services and Bible classes. It is a hard translation, but an accurate one, and we found one that had some helps too. We are in the orient, and in the orient, conformity is very important. If this guy is ever asked to read a scripture in front of the church, this is the translation they will expect him to use.
My English study Bible actually has a lot more than this. This Bible has an index in the back, but not a concordance, and I really like my concordance in my English study Bible. However, I think we did okay. He has been borrowing my Bible, but he is going to become a Christian, and he needs a Bible of his own. We are grateful to Hanul for helping us choose. If you are Korean who reads English blogs, perhaps this will help you if you want to buy a Bible, and if you are a foreigner wanting to buy a Bible for a Korean, I hope this would help you. Hanul keeps a blog in Korean, and I told her she needed to blog about this information in Korean because not everyone understands the different translations, and she could help a Korean who doesn’t speak English find the right translation if she blogged about it in Korean too. She thought it was a good idea because she blogs about Bible topics in Korean.