When I browse through the Bible or Christian section of a bookstore I notice the various translations, and options for many of them. Why are there so many? Which ones can I trust to be the most accurate translation? Many Bible scholars have tried to answer this in the past, and many more will do so in the future. (All you need to do is do a web search for “history of Bible translations” or look at the preface of any study Bible.)
What is the reason for so many?
One thing we have to remember is that no matter the translation (this includes the King James Version) it is still an interpretation of the original Hebrew (for Old Testament) or Greek (for New Testament). Within the English speaking world there are numerous Bible societies and Christian Bible study publishers. Each is rooted in a different Christian church denomination, and each publisher wants to translate God’s Holy Word to the best that they can.
(A sad truth is copyright fees. This mean to use another’s published translation fees are required).
Within the realm of translating the Bible there are two main camps. They are word-for-word and thought-for-thought. Some people add paraphrase as a third category, but this would be inaccurate. A paraphrase is a retelling and not a translation, so I will be leaving this one out in this post.
Below is a condensed version of the translation continuum, with thirteen of the most common ones used. (Click here to check out the meaning of the abbreviations.)
There are many reasons people have for choosing a translation to use. They range from easy to read, what their church uses, or which one they believe is “more accurate”/ “God inspired”. I will not speak out against any of these reasons. Every person has his/her own convictions in this matter.
As a lay-Bible-schalor and a recent Bible college graduate, I want to encourage any one who is serious about studying God’s Holy Word to use multiple translations. Each one will say something differently without removing the actually meaning of the story or theological concept.
The recommendation that I have been given by many of my professors is to use translations from across the continuum or spectrum. Study the Scriptures from Bibles that you do not use to memorize or are unfamiliar with. The reason for this is to gain new eyes and new understanding. Reading from a new translation will definitely get our attention on matters that may be ambiguous in another translation, or a new way of wording that the Holy Spirit can use to enlighten our minds on things of God.
What Bible translation do you use? 1) ..in your personal devotions? 2) ..in your church? Why did you choose this particular translation?