WHAT TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE SHOULD I USE?
When you’re just starting to read the Bible, what translation should you use?
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So, what translation is best for me? There’s so many of them and it’s super confusing because there’s a lot of disagreement about which is the best and which is most accurate and yada yada yada.
Well there are over 100 translations available in English only today so I definitely understand the confusion.
And the original text of the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. So if you don’t know Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek you gotta rely on something else.
When it comes to translations, there’s basically three types of translations.
You have word for word,
Thought for thought,
And a paraphrase.
Now word for word would probably make the most sense when you think about it, but the tricky part of that is that the Hebrew language consists of way fewer words than the English language. And most words mean a ton of different things. So it would be pretty easy to get lost in translation.
Then you have thought for thought, which is looking at a string of words or a sentence in the Hebrew or Greek, and they created a thought out of it in English.
And the third is paraphrase, which rewords things a little bit and adds to the thought to help us really understand it. May be great for casual reading but not necessarily for a deep dive on the Scriptures.
So let’s look at a few translations:
NASB, it’s the New American Standard Bible, this is a word for word translation and it’s often considered to be the most accurate English translation available. Not necessarily the easiest to read, but it’s a great direct representation. I use it frequently.
Next up we have ESV, or English Standard Version, this is probably my favorite when I’m studying. It’s also word for word and just slightly easier to read than the NASB, but very close to the ancient text.
Then you have the KJV, the King James Version, It’s probably the most owned translation in the U.S. It’s full of thees, and thous, and thus. This is the cream of the crop, the gold standard for a lot of people, and they actually will discredit all other translations aside from this one. For me it’s almost impossible to understand but I respect the passion that people have towards it.
Next up we have the NIV, the New International Version, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of. It’s kind of a mix between word for word and thought for thought. Getting closer on the spectrum to thought for thought. It’s definitely one of the most popular translations today. It’s easy to read, easy to understand. It’s great.
Now when you get into the thought for thought category you’re going to have translations like the NLT, the New Living Translation or TPT, which is the passion translation. These are going to be a lot more relaxed, a lot more modern in language. I love them because it really helps you understand the text.
Then you have the paraphrase category, with the most popular one probably being the Message. This is probably the most debated translation of Scripture available. I mean, we know it’s not word for word, it’s not thought for thought, it’s a paraphrase, but some people despise this translation. I personally don’t think it’s bad. Probably don’t use it when you’re trying to understand how the original text used a word, but if you’re looking for a new breath on a text, it’s worth using.
Well I hope all of that made sense, I hope you now have a little direction when picking out which translation is best for you.