Bible Translations — Which one?

I was thinking about blogging on this and then I read ElShaddai’s posting on translations and thought why not?  Bible Translations use to be something that was easy to stick with.  I would say growing up you either read the NIV, NKJV, or the NASB.  And your pastor more than likely preached out of one these translations as his primary text.  Today there are many, many new choices.  Since I was 14 years old back in 1980 I started reading the NKJV, and it was also the bible that my pastor preached from.  I read it up until 2001 when I came across the ESV.  It was advertise as being as good as the NASB, but yet more readable.  The NASB was my primary study bible and the one I used to prepare most of my lessons from.  So I took the leap and replaced both the NKJV and the NASB with the ESV.

In 2005 I came across the HCSB and really liked it, there are a few translations choice they made that I don’t care for but overall it is not enough to cause me to not enjoy it.  The problem was that I could not find anyone to endorse it so I still read it but was reluctant to use it as a primary study bible.  I thought that it was literal enough and it was much more readable or smoother than the ESV.  Switching to the ESV was the greatest thing I had ever done as it freed me to consider other translations.  It was through blogging that I came across ElShaddai Edwards’s, and Rick Mansfield’s blog and a few others that they actually had some great things to say about the HCSB.  So for me that was enough to move from the ESV to the HCSB.

My goal for 2009 is to read the TNIV with my nice new Fine Leather Reference Bible that I just got for Christmas.  I am trying to work out a system where one is my primary bible that I use to memorize, read, and study with.  I know that it is going to be either the HCSB, TNIV, or the NLT (I think that all of these are great translations).  Regardless of which one I settle on, these three translations will be part of my normal studies and translations to compare with and teach from.  The other bible that I am going to give a fair shake to is the NET bible which I have not really given a good enough effort on.


11 thoughts on “Bible Translations — Which one?

  1. TNIV, for keeping it real.

    The scholarship is great.

    The language is contemporary enough.

    Quite smooth in reading.

    Quite accurate, which really helps.

    So my bias is quite obvious. 🙂

  2. Robert, I’m going to be reading through the TNIV this year as well (although I got a hardback). I’ll be looking forward to reading any comments you have to make as you go.

    FTR – I memorized mainly in the NASB 😉

  3. I’ve just started using the NET on my iphone, and so far so good. Also, our pastor just got a new NKJV, so he’s now preaching out of it, which means I’m now using my NKJV a lot more. I now think changes like these are good. I doubt either will ever be my primary reading Bibles, but I like branching out. I hope you enjoy your branching out.

  4. I decided a year ago that I don’t have to memorize from one translation. I can use whichever one I want. Whichever one is most readable/memorizable and conveys the meaning well to me, that’s the one I will use for that passage.

  5. Bitsy, I will be posting my journey in bits and pieces through out the year. Having a nice bible is a nice motivation, I read the first 10 chapters of 1 Cor. the other night.

    Peter, I was reading the NET bible the other night doing some comparison and it has an NIV feel to it.

    Jeff, that is an interesting thought. I would still like to settle on one primary translation for the long haul. One thing that I have found lately is that I have actually memorized more than one translation because I like them both.

    At my church we have no standard at all as to which primary bible we preach from. My Pastors will preach from NKJV, ESV, or NLT as their primary text. It would be nice if we can settle on one, and of course quote others.

  6. Switching to the ESV was the greatest thing I had ever done as it freed me to consider other translations.

    Ironically, me too. The ESV broke me out of over 20 years of exclusive NASB use and my subsequent search for “more readable” ended up in a far different place!

    I was reading the NET bible the other night doing some comparison and it has an NIV feel to it.

    I think that the HCSB and NET are both cut out of the NIV cloth. The HCSB a little more formally, the NET sometimes more dynamic. But both, and especially the HCSB, have large sections that match the NIV almost word for word.

  7. Nathan Stitt says:

    The other bible that I am going to give a fair shake to is the NET bible which I have not really given a good enough effort on.

    I’m switching to the NET as my primary Bible for 2009 now that I’ve just received one for Christmas. I’ve been doing some comparisons with various study Bibles, and I keep returning to the NET. I’m not sure how well I like the NET itself, but the notes are simply too good to pass up. I’m sure that I’ll be blogging about my experience in the future, and I’m curious to see if you are going to post about the NET as well.

    Four the record, I think all four of these translations are excellent, with the notable fact that they all lack the deuterocanon.

  8. Nathan, the real problem is that all of these translation in their own right are very good, and I think that is why it is so darn difficult to really like one over the other. They have their strengths and weakness. I am really committing to reading the TNIV as my primary bible, but I seriously doubt I will not read the HCSB, NET, or NLT. About the only one I am not reading at all anymore is the ESV.

  9. Nathan Stitt says:

    I haven’t read the NET at all in 2008 other than a few isolated comparisons. Similarly, I rarely if ever use the HCSB, and my usage of the ESV had fallen dramatically until I received my ESVSB. For the most part I’ve spent the most time with the TNIV and NLT. I’ll probably post some pics of my gorgeous NET later this month, along with more in depth commentary on the translation itself.

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