- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Author
- 2021 28. April
when you talk about itThe BibleTranslations A question that will no doubt arise is: Which translations of the Bible are the most accurate or reliable? I know that some people are faithful to one translation or another. While we all have our favorites, that alone doesn't answer the question. If you do a simple Google search you will find that there are over 400 different translations of the Bible in English alone, so this question is legitimate. As you will soon find, answering the question of accuracy is not as easy as you might think, especially when you understand what a Bible translation entails.
To help you understand this better, I want to show you the different ways of translating the Bible. Once you know this, you will appreciate some of the challenges in trying to determine which Bible translations are the most accurate.
Why is it necessary to translate the Bible?
The reason the Bible needs to be translated is because it wasn't originally written in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, the New Testament in Greek. Unless you plan to learn Hebrew and Greek to read the Bible in its original language, you will need to translate it. As I was preparing to write this article, I came across this definition in the Lexham Survey of Theology, which I think helps clarify why.
“Translating means confirming the meaning of words from one language with words from another. Translating Scripture is part of the task of interpreting and communicating it.”
In order for us to know who God is and for the gospel message to spread throughout the world, it was necessary to translate the Bible into a language the reader could understand.
How do you define "exactly"?
The real challenge in answering the question of which Bible translations are the most accurate is how to define the word exactly.ben hammondmade a big point that sheds light on the dilemma.
“If we want to determine the most accurate version of the Bible available, we must first define the term 'accurate.' We're looking for the version that best represents thatProbeOriginal, or the one that most accurately representsNewsfrom the original? All translators must answer this question when starting their work. The answer determines which translation method is used.”
I hope you see the challenge presented here. As we proceed, I will give you translations that reflect both the text and the message. Another thing to keep in mind is that translating from one language to another is not always smooth and easy. There are words in other languages that don't have similarly sized words in another language. This applies to the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek that we find in the Scriptures. That doesn't mean the translation can't be done effectively, it just has to be done carefully.
How is the Bible translated?
Studying Bible translation can be an intense subject, but for the purposes of this article I want to give you a broad overview. There are basically three types of translations you can have.
1. Formal equivalence- That's a fancy way of saying it word for word. The goal of the translators here is to translate the words as close as possible to the original language. This type of translation gives you the most accurate translation in relation to the original text. In the case of formal equivalence, the literal translation takes precedence over readability. While this will give you the word-for-word translation that most closely resembles the source text, you will also find that it is not always the easiest to read.
2. Dynamic Equivalence- This is a fancy way of saying thought for thought or meaning for meaning. The goal of the translators here is to take the thought or meaning of the original text and translate that thought for the reader. With these types of translations, you're likely to see more variation in word usage, since part of the goal is readability. You want it to be easy for the reader to read and understand. The challenge here is to ensure that translators stick to the meaning of the source text, otherwise this could pose a problem.
3. Free translation- This is a fancy way of saying paraphrase. This is not a real translation. Paraphrases are not always created by teams of people, as is the case with other approaches. There are some made by individuals. Of all the types, this form is perhaps the easiest to read, but you'll find that it doesn't look like the other translations. To be honest this isn't my favorite reading as a standalone translation. I would also like to add that this is probably not the best way to translate if you are new to reading the Bible.
Let's summarize the three types:
- Formal: uses the original text and the translation focuses on matching the words to the original text as closely as possible.
- Dynamic: uses the source text and the translation focuses on matching the meaning of the source text.
- Free Translation: Reads more like a summary derived from Scripture or personal commentary, but not necessarily from the original text. The “translation” can come from an already translated version.
Which Bible translation is the most accurate?
There are good, accurate translations you can find in any format, so let me share them with you.
Formal equivalence (word for word)
- KJV - King-James-Version
- NKJV - Neue King-James-Version
- AMP - Amplified
- ESV - English standard version
- NASB - New American Standard Bible
Dynamic equivalence (thought for thought)
- NIV – New international version
- NTV – New Living Translation
- CSB - Christian Standard Bible
Free translation (paraphrase)
- MSG - The message
- GNT – Good News Translation
Just a reminder, as you begin your Bible reading journey, I would recommend choosing a word-for-word or mind-by-mind translation. My personal reading favorites are the NIV and the NLT. These don't have to be your favourites, they're just mine. By the way, I also use a parallel Bible that has four different versions in one Bible. It is quite possible that you have a different opinion. You can even choose another favorite version of the Bible that you enjoy reading, and that's okay. The goal should not be to win an argument that benefits no one. The goal should be to encourage people to read the Bible, understand it, and then make sure they do what it says. Santiago reminds us of that.
“Don't just listen to the word and deceive yourself. Do what it says.” –Santiago 1:22.
I know that since you've been reading this, some of your favorite translations may not have been mentioned. Not because they aren't good translations. This is simply because they cannot all be listed here. As I said earlier, there are more than 400 translations into the English language. Now that you understand how they were translated, take the time to find one you understand and start reading it. If you are not sure about a translation or version, you can always contact me. I'm happy to help. True joy is discovering the truth of who God is and the wonder of His plan for your life. I'm sure you can find it in any version you choose.
Photo credit: ©Sparrows
Clarence L. Haynes Jr.She is a public speaker, Bible teacher and co-founder ofBible Study Club. He is the author ofthe search for meaning this will help you understand how God leads you to His will. He also just published his new book. The Pursuit of Victory: How to Meet Your Greatest Challenges and Win in Your Christian Life. Do you want to deepen your walk with the Lord, but can't seem to get past the things that stand in your way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so that you can lead a victorious Christian life and ultimately become the man or woman of God that you really want to be. To learn more about his ministry, visitclarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our largest library of resources on Christian topics relevant to the Christian faith. From basic beliefs to what the Bible says about angels, we want to bring you easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles that will answer your questions about the Christian life.
What do Christians believe?
how old is the earth
Who is my neighbor in the Bible?
what does god look like
Do guardian angels really exist?
What does it mean to be zealous for God?
What is the world's most accurate Bible translation? ›
BeDuhn said that the New World Translation was "not bias free", adding that whilst the general public and various biblical scholars might assume that the differences in the New World Translation are the result of religious bias, he considered it to be "the most accurate of the translations compared", and a "remarkably ...Which translation of the Bible is closest to the original text? ›
The New American Standard Bible is a literal translation from the original texts, well suited to study because of its accurate rendering of the source texts. It follows the style of the King James Version but uses modern English for words that have fallen out of use or changed their meanings.What version of the Bible is the most original? ›
|Other names||Breeches Bible|
|Complete Bible published||1560|
The New American Standard Bible is considered by some sources as the most literally translated of major 20th-century English Bible translations. According to the NASB's preface, the translators had a "Fourfold Aim" in this work: These publications shall be true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.Is the King James Bible the most accurate? ›
Published in 1611, the King James Bible spread quickly throughout Europe. Because of the wealth of resources devoted to the project, it was the most faithful and scholarly translation to date—not to mention the most accessible.Which translation of the Bible should I use? ›
A more literal Bible translation is not necessarily more accurate, especially if it's difficult to understand, leading modern readers to misinterpret it. For daily reading and Bible study, we recommend using a Bible translation that emphasizes the importance of being both literal and readable, such as the CSB or NIV.Is the New King James Version of the Bible accurate? ›
The NKJV is described by Thomas Nelson as being "scrupulously faithful to the original, yet truly updated to enhance its clarity and readability."What Bible did Billy Graham use? ›
Review of the Billy Graham Training Center Bible: The text is the New King James Version, and is a red letter edition (words of the Lord Jesus in red letters).What language did Jesus speak? ›
Jesus likely understood Hebrew, though his everyday life would have been conducted in Aramaic. Of the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark records Jesus using Aramaic terms and phrases, while in Luke 4:16, he was shown reading Hebrew from the Bible at a synagogue.How did King James change the Bible? ›
Among other things, the King James Bible established a universally familiar pattern of what "religious speech" should sound like in English. The model would be followed by virtually every alternative gospel and new prophetic revelation over the centuries to come, although the results would often represent a pastiche.
Why the KJV is superior? ›
Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and ...Why is it called the King James Bible? ›
Many people think that it's so named because James had a hand in writing it, but that's not the case. As king, James was also the head of the Church of England, and he had to approve of the new English translation of the Bible, which was also dedicated to him.How accurate is the NIV Bible? ›
The new NIV retains 95% of the words of the 1984 edition, but where there are changes, it communicates the original meaning better to modern readers and more accurately than before. Let me address several issues: gender-neutral language, omission of words, and accuracy of translation.Is the World English Bible accurate? ›
The World English Bible is designed to sound good and be accurate when read aloud. It is not formal in its language, just as the original Greek of the New Testament was not formal. The WEB uses contractions rather freely. The World English Bible doesn't capitalize pronouns pertaining to God.What Bible do Jehovah Witness use? ›
Jehovah's Witnesses prefer to use the New World Translation of the Bible.What verses are missing from the NASB? ›
- (1) Matthew 17:21. KJV: Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. ...
- (2) Matthew 18:11. KJV: For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. ...
- (3) Matthew 23:14. ...
- (4) Mark 7:16. ...
- (5 & 6) Mark 9:44 & 9:46. ...
- (7) Mark 11:26. ...
- (8) Mark 15:28. ...
- (9) Luke 17:36.
Though individual Southern Baptist congregations operate autonomously and use a variety of translations, NIV is among the most popular, said Gary Ledbetter, spokesman for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He estimated that about 40 percent of Texas Southern Baptist churches have the NIV Bible in their pews.Which version of the Bible is the best? ›
- New International Version.
- English Standard Version.
- New Living Translation.
- Christian Standard Bible.
- King James Version.
Review of the Billy Graham Training Center Bible: The text is the New King James Version, and is a red letter edition (words of the Lord Jesus in red letters).