Translations, why so many?

In the last 10 years we have seen so many translations that ones starts to wonder if I have the right one.  I have discussed this issue at various different blogs, and here is what I have concluded.

  1. You need to own at least one literal translation
    1. This is the bible you use to study with.  I would say that it is almost mandatory that you study with a literal bible
    2. Ones I recommend:
      1. ESV, NASB, HCSB
      2. Only recommending newer translations
      3. The NASB is really in a class of it’s own as it is the most literal English bible you can read.
      4. The reason I can recommend the HCSB is because of the footnotes.  If the main reading is a optimal translation, the footnotes will always give you the literal translation
  2. Everyday bible
    1. This is the bible you use to read and memorize verses
    2. This is really a matter of choice
    3. Find one you like and read it!
    4. Recommendations:
      1. HCSB, TNIV, ESV, NLT, (Second Edition)
  3. Causal Bibles:
    1. These would be Paraphrase bibles, and the only one I can think of would be the Message Bible.  I would not use this to memorize verses with, which is virtually impossible to do anyhow.  But I would use it to get a better understanding of the meaning, and to add color to the bible.  Makes for interesting reading, that’s for sure.

If you notice I have left the NKJV and the NIV.  For one, and this is personal I never warmed up to the NIV.  I think that the TNIV is a much better translation, and has improved the NIV.  I only recommend the NKJV to those of you that love the KJV.  The KJV is old, and does not take advantage of any of the latest scholarship.  So if you love the KJV that much, read the NKJV.  Otherwise I would recommend any of the above translations.

Just to be clear if you just love the NKJV, or the NIV, more power to you.  I read the NKJV for 20 years, and most scriptures I have memorized are from that translation.  But I encourage you to take a bold step and buy, read, and compare these different translations, you will gain so much by doing this.

Which is the best translation?  The one you read!

I’ll post more later on the each of the translations and try to give you pros and cons to each one.

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22 thoughts on “Translations, why so many?

  1. I have found that the NLT is a great everyday bible. But for studying its not up to my standards. I have that version and as we all saw in class on Tuesday, it was NOT the same translation as the study bible. I always find myself drawn to to the study bible after I read a scripture in the NLT to give me more of literal/deeper translation. So as soon as we got home on Tuesday we ordered a study bible for me!

  2. Karly,

    do you know what edition of the NLT you own? If you don’t own the second edition I would go out and get one. It is much better. Do you recall the verse your read in class?

  3. I think it was Isaiah 52:10 where it replaced the word salvation with victory. Very different. It down-played the prophesy. I dont know what edition that I have though.

  4. first!
    I just want to say that it is so crazy that in America we have so many different bible. so many different versions to choose from. I usually give bible’s away to new people in my bible study. but we are so blessed to have so many options and so spoiled that we don’t appreciate it as much as we should.
    NIV rules!
    I will have to explore the TNIV. I know the NIV has so many mistakes in it.

  5. Ralph,

    I don’t know if the NIV has “so many mistakes” I just never warmed up to it. I don’t think that it is the best translation to use when you are studying, that’s all. Many, many bible scholars have used it in their commentaries, and what not. Even our text book for my class use it as it’s main translation.

    But if you love the NIV, I would buy the TNIV, you will find that it is similar enough not to cause bible shock 😉

  6. You can see how each of these verses translate them slightly different. But by comparing them we get a better sense of what the meaning is. I find that I can get a richer, deeper, meaning by doing this. And it also cause me to reflect a bit more.

    I high lighted the major differences in word choices to help out a bit.

    Isaiah 52:10

    Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
    10 The LORD has displayed His holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations;
    all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

    New Living Translation (NLT)
    10 The Lord has demonstrated his holy power
    before the eyes of all the nations.
    All the ends of the earth will see
    the victory of our God.

    English Standard Version (ESV)
    10 The LORD has bared his holy arm
    before the eyes of all the nations,
    and all the ends of the earth shall see
    the salvation of our God.

    Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
    10 The LORD will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
    and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

  7. I should also include the NASB so that you can see how the others stack when compared to the most literal Bible of them all:

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    10The LORD has bared His holy arm
    In the sight of all the nations,
    That all the ends of the earth may see
    The salvation of our God.

    What do you see that is different in these translations? Do the choices in words make a big difference or not? Other than the choice of victory in the NLT, the rest was good translation.

  8. I just realized while looking at bible’s on line I do have the TNIV. it’s part of my collection. but it is so hard for me to get away from my NIV.
    Inspired by the Bible Experience Companion Bible-TNIV

  9. I read my TNIV last night. it’s a great version but my NIV is so warm and comfy that I don’t think I’ll ever leave it alone. it was my first love and I will never lay that sword down.

  10. Ralph,

    When are you going to fix your avatar? Or do you find that the avatar assigned to you reveals something about you that you want us to know about? 😉

    Hey, at least you are open to try, most people won’t even try to read a different translation. I try and read different translations all of the time. I use to be a hardliner bible dude – NKJV, and NASB ONLY! But I have been transformed 🙂

    Right now I am reading the Revised English Bible (REB). It is a rare example of moderate Dynamic Equivalence (DE) targeted at a higher reading level, whereas most DE translations feature simplified language to appeal to a larger audience of readers.

    Main reason why I like reading and comparing bibles are the nuances that will otherwise be missed when simply reading/studying with one translation.

  11. I try to use different bible when I’m doing a lesson. I mainly use my NIV study bible. but when I want to see different scripture or a different point of view. I go to my NIV life application. I also use NKJV and now I know I have the TNIV. plus I use the message bible when I want to add a very different translation.

  12. Robert: I think it would be better to describe the KJV as timeless or a classic rather than just old. It is after all, God’s inspired Word preserved perfectly and without error in the English language. 😉

  13. Pastor Robert, if your out there? is there anybody out there? I was a little disappointed in my TNIV on wed. night. Pastor Dave was preaching on his favorite story about fasting? In Mark 9:29 my bible said; 29He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.[a]” no reference of fasting? :[ what’s up with that? I guess every bible has it’s good and bad points. I guess that’s why it is really nice to have more than one version handy.

  14. Ralph,

    read your footnotes. The NIV reads the exact same way. All modern translations read that way. The HCSB has in brackets, but with the following footnote: a. Mark 9:29 Other mss omit bracketed text

    NIV, TNIV, ESV all have the following footnote:
    a. Mark 9:29 Some manuscripts add and fasting

  15. For the past couple of months I have been reading KJV and I think I have fallen in love with the translation!

    The extra effort required to “understand” certain archaic words has been most rewarding.

    In fact, I have started to memorize some of my favorite verses in Paul’s epistles in KJV!

    And yes, I do read in parallel with NKJV/NASB/NIV/ESV/NLTse & just recently HCSB (what a gem!)

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