28 October, 2018

Which Translation?

Which Bible Translation is the Best? 

Which translation is the best? The best translation for you is the one you will read.

If you were to ask me, what is the most accurate version, I would have to say there is no "accurate" English version. The "accurate" version was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The good news? Concordances can allow us to know the original word. And IF we know the cultural context in which that word was used, and thus the definition of the word at the time it was written, we can come as close to accurate as possible even in English.

Translations I recommend (esp for study):

KJV or NKJV (if you understand what you are reading)

Basically any word-for-word EXCEPT the Amplified (see below).

Translations I don't recommend:

The Amplified (AMP): This translation has multiple words in brackets as though the true meaning of the verse includes all those variations. I personally know people who pick the word they like the best. In my opinion, the only correct word is the one that most closely reflects the intended meaning of the original language. However, if you like the AMP, and it's "the one you will read" by all means, keep reading. And check out this exceptional article How to Use—and How Not to Use—the Amplified Bible.

The Living Bible (TLB): I do not recommend this Bible at all. It is very inaccurate at times. Unlike The Message (see below), it reads like a Bible so unless you are comparing it verse-by-verse with a word-for-word, you could end up believing the Bible says the exact opposite of what it really says.

The New International Version (NIV): I have come across far too many verses inaccurately translated to really recommend this translation. That being said, they are the only ones to have produced the First Century Bible, which I highly recommend for the commentary. So I guess my thoughts on the NIV is this: Use with caution. be sure the meaning of a verse doesn't contradict what other translations say, especially if you are relying on it to support a particular paradigm or doctrine.

My opinion on thought-for-thoughts and paraphrases:

Contemporary English Version (CEV): The first Bible I bought (the one that I read in 6 months) was the CEV. 15 years ago, I knew little about translations, but that was the Bible that showed me God loved me, that the Bible was a love story. In that respect, you could say that Bible laid the foundation for who I am today, this blog, and The Chronicles of Time. This is why I say the best translation for you is the one you will read. Who am I to say what Bible you should or shouldn't read based on where you are in your life?

The New Living Translation (NLT): My favorite for personal devotions is the New Living Translation (NLT), a thought-for-thought that is super easy to read. (Apparently the chart above puts it right on the border of thought-for-thought and paraphrase.) Life is very hectic, and sometimes I just want to be able to read a passage and instantly understand what it means before I get caught up in the day.

The Message. This version uses modern-day slang. It's like a Bible Storybook for adults.  I wouldn't recommend it for study; I dare say you couldn't even follow along at church with it, so it really wouldn't suffice as your main Bible. I've heard that it can be inaccurate, but I've not personally read the whole thing. I'm thinking, though, that as long as one didn't come to a particular theological or doctrinal conclusion based on it, it makes for a fun read.

As For Me and My Blog

I only use word-for-word translations for study, whether personal, inductive, or for researching The Chronicles of Time or Blogging Hi§tory. The only exception (if you notice me post a verse from a thought-for-thought) would be a verse that's meaning did not change at all (or a verse that I know from the Hebrew or Greek to be accurately translated and I prefer its wording.

Take Psalm 147:3, for example:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (ESV)

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. (NLT)

I prefer the NLT here, because binds up is just a tad archaic and younger readers may not know what it means.

No Bible? No Problem!

Not only can you read any modern translation online (yes, there are Bible apps) on your phone, tablet, or laptop, but this blog is equipped with a hover-over tool from Blue Letter Bible in the NASB.  Check it out—just hover over this Bible reverence: Jeremiah 29:13.

So regardless of Bible translation (or whether you own a Bible at all), you can follow along with the Blogging Hi§tory Bible study.