As English speakers in the 21st century, we have a very unique problem: we have TOO MANY translations of the Bible. This is an amazing problem to have, and it affords us the luxury of debating which translation is the best. Most people in Christian history were lucky to even own a Bible, something which was virtually impossible until the printing press was invented.
The Big Picture
- Word for Word (Formal Equivalence)
- Thought for Thought (Dynamic Equivalence)
Word for Word (or Formal Equivalence if you want to impress friends)
- The NASB (New American Standard Bible)
- ESV (English Standard Bible)
- They most accurately represent the exact words of the original language.
- They are great for Bible study.
- They are more difficult to read out loud.
- They require the reader to do all interpretation of the text. If you’re new to Bible study, this can be very difficult.
- The sentences are often very clunky.
Thought for Thought
- NIV (New International Version) – Closer to word for word
- NLT (New Living Translation) – Closer to paraphrase
- They are easy to understand without straying far from the original text.
- They are easy to read out loud.
- The interpreter makes choices in interpreting thoughts. Therefore, they are not ideal for Bible study.
- The Message
- They make the meaning of the text clear.
- They are the easiest versions to read.
- They can be great as a 2nd text during Bible study.
- They can be great for helping those new to Bible reading.
- They are BAD as a primary text for Bible study.
- The interpreters are given so much freedom they can misinterpret the Bible or leave out important details.
Which Bible is Best?
- HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
- NLT (New Living Translation)
- The Message