Bible Translation

Which Translation Should I Use?

There is an excellent discussion about English Bibles taking place over at Better Bible’s Blog (make sure you read the comments).

No translation is perfect. Some people prefer a very literal translation like the NKJV, ESV or HCSB. They probably do that because they think these are the most accurate translations, because they are close to the grammar and structure of the original text in Hebrew or Greek. The downside of this feature is that they are not using normal English and therefore can be difficult to understand, especially in the New Testament Letters. People may also prefer these translations if they grew up with a literal version. Familiarity is important for some people because it gives a sense of security. However, familiarity with a text does not mean that one necessarily understands it.Other people prefer a translation that is readable and understandable. This kind of translation has many names. They may be called dynamic equivalent, idiomatic, meaning-based or communicative. The difference is that this kind of translation will focus on bringing the meaning  across in a new language and not necessarily follow the form. Examples in English are the New Living Translation, Good News Bible, Contemporary English Version, New Century Version, and God’s Word. The NIV is somewhere in the middle, but closer to the literal side than the meaning-based side.

If only all discussions of alternative translations were carried out in this sort of well informed and eirenic fashion. Crossway, please take note!

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2 replies on “Which Translation Should I Use?”

“Some people prefer…” is key – I think there are so many out there on the internet who don’t get that BASIC principle – some people like tea, some people like coffee. Let’s all get along.

(And my vote, for what it’s worth, is the NLT.)

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