Whose translation is the best?

BibleA few weeks ago, I asked a number of you which Bible translation(s) you read, how you would rate it (from one to three) and why you read that particular one. I thought I would post some of the responses here (in random order), along with my thoughts.

Survey results:

      1. a.) NIV, RSV, Amplified, The Message.

b.) The version is sometimes important if it makes the message I am preaching more clear to me and my listeners.

c.) Scale: 2

2. a.) I have NKJV, NIV, and one called “The Book”. 

b.) I normally read NKJV for my own reading, as I have a couple of them that were given to me for high school graduation, NIV is used for when we have groups over, as it is easier language to understand, and “The Book” is a paraphrase that is nice for reading with the kids.

c.) Scale: 1

          1. a.) I read the Message mostly and lately also GW.b.) Message makes the word practice and understandable to me.c.) I would put it at a 3!
          1. a.) KJV is my go to.b.) I use it because its the closest to an original greek/hebrew translation i can get with out digging into the orig texts in orig language. If i go to another translation its bc i need edification or a simple refresher. KJV is  for when i want to be as accurate with my understanding as possible. (I read ancient greek, well, i have 4 yrs of it from college at least, so i can go to orig text if needed).
            c.) It’s a 2 in importance to me.
          1. a.) Amplified

b.) I like how it continues to explain certain words in a verse

c.) 2

          1. a.) NIVb.) It was recommended when I was in bible school 30 years ago.
            c.) 2
          1. a.) I use NIV and NLT daily for reading.b.) I jump between the two because most people use the NIV. I like the NLT as it can give you some different insight.  Sometimes I use the ASV when I want to check the passage for certain words.c.) I give both of them a score of 3
          1. a.) NKJVb.) Similarity to KJV which I was weened on as a new Christian.  Translation accuracy of the root KJV is extremely high.  Preferred over things like NIV which is written for a 7th grade education (i.e. the dumbed down version) c.) 3 but I also like the American Standard.
          1. a.) I primarily read the NLT, NIV and Message paraphrase. b.) Typically my answer on translation priority is much lower than consumption. I just want people reading and engaging with God’s Word whichever version gets them doing that more often is typically what I will recommend to people. I read NLT and occasionally the Message to help break down the cob webs in my brain or the well worn paths of thinking from other translations I’ve read and memorized for years. When I’m studying I like the NASB and also Blue Letter Bible to get into the Greek & Hebrew. 
          1. a.) NIV and NKJ are my current versions.b.) NIV – It was quoted often as I was growing in my faith, decided to use it.   NKJ – It’s the format of my John Maxwell leadership Bible, so that’s what I     read. c.) 2 – I am “fed” from these two, but do like to read other versions too to see how verses are worded. The Message is really great sometimes for something that will stretch me.

Self Survey:

a.) I read the New Living Translation.

b.) I had a youth study Bible and the time came in my 20s to look for an adult study Bible. I came across a Promise Keeper’s Study Bible and having then recently attended Promise Keepers conventions, I grabbed that one not really making a big deal of which version it was (so long as it wasn’t King James). I’ve stuck with it ever since and said ‘someday, I’ll get me an NIV.’ I’ve never liked it as much as the NIV, which I had only as a New Testament before. The NLT seems too simple of a read, and I miss reading scripture the way it was presented and embedded in me through the NIV.

c.) 2.

What is the best version?

According to a recent article in Christianity Today, the most popular and fastest growing translation is King James at roughly 50 percent of the population (it varies slightly according to different surveys), followed, not very closely, by New International Version which is read by between 10 and 20 percent of the population, depending on the survey. Throughout the last century, the KJV was regarded by some (and still a few today) as the only truly accurate English Bible translation.

Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry stated in an article on its website that there are challenges converting from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into English. “A direct translation sometimes sounds a bit “wooden” and not as smooth as native English might sound.  Also, certain phrases in the original language just don’t make sense in the English, so an equivalent phrase is used to carry the meaning…If you want a more literal translation, then go with the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the King James Version (KJV), and the English Standard Version (ESV).  A more “flowing” translation is the New International Version (NIV) and even more loose is the Phillips Translation and the Living Bible” (http://carm.org/which-bible-version-is-best).

In an online article on whatchristianswanttoknow.com, the author concluded that the best translation was a matter of personal choice. Like some who replied to the survey above, the author gave not just one, but three versions that he reads and personally recommends, and why. The choices were KJV, NKJV and ESV. This having been said, it seems that most people not only read and recommend one, but will sometimes recommend more than one particular version. This is because they may want to use a particular Bible for differing reasons, i.e., one for personal study, one for teaching, etc.

In the course of Church history, scribes—even from the pre-church age—have very carefully and meticulously copied scripture to make sure its translations and transcriptions had minimal error. According to archeological findings, more than two hundred thousand pieces of ancient texts of scripture has been found either in whole or in part. When comparing them there is only slight differences, mostly in grammar and punctuation, not in meaning or context. What that means, so long as those today are as careful (and it seems that they are), is that the best translation is only the one in which a particular person prefers to read.

It seems to me that God, in his wisdom, has made scripture accessible according to our needs, primarily for personal understanding. Still today, the Bible is being carefully and accurately translated with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, we need to be careful not to engage ourselves in anything that might seem in error, such as overly liberal, apocryphal or cultish material such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or Latter Day Saints. We should find Bibles that are recommended and published by trusted sources.

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