Maybe you have heard the phrase, “there are so many Bible translations out there how do we know which one is the right one?” That question might stump some people, but there is a simple answer. The one that you understand best.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (most of the Old Testament), Aramaic (Daniel and Ezra), and Greek (The whole New Testament. Early on there were translations of the Bible: Syrian, Coptic, and Latin. When the reformation came around in the 1400’s, the reformers believed that the church should have the Bible in their own languages. The Bible is for everybody, not just the religious elite. So the Bible was translated into English, German, French, and in whatever language the people of the reformation were. The Bible today has been translated into hundreds of languages for people of all types of reading levels.
What is a translation? A translation is taking the original message of the author and transforming it so that a person of another language or understanding can understand the passage without changing its original meaning. People do this everyday when going to another country or speaking with a person of another language. Use an interpreter. Bible translations take the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic transcripts and translate them into another language.
English has hundreds of translations. This is mostly due to copyright issues. People want to make money off of translating the Bible. Yet, most of them are reliable. The only type of translation that is not reliable are paraphrases. They do not try to take the original language and convert it into another. They interpret a translation and then give their interpretation of the passage. So don’t read The Message Bible.
Reliable translations that go back to the original languages and use the best manuscripts that we have available, are the best translations. There are three kinds:
- Word-for-word: These translations take the equivalent Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic Word to the language they are translating it to. Examples of this are the NASB and ESV. They usually have a higher reading level.
- Thought-for-thought: They take the idea of the original languages and translate them to the corresponding language they are translating to. Examples of this are the NLT and Living Bible. They usually have a low reading level.
- Compromise: They place equal emphasis on word-for-word and understandability. Examples of this are the NIV and CSB. They have a medium reading level.
Anyway, if we use a reliable translation, the one you understand best that is closest to the original is what is best for you. I prefer the ESV and NASB. I also like the NKJV. You might not have a high level reading level so you might want an NIV or and NLT. Use the Bible translation that you understand best. To interpret a passage, you might want to use all three types of Bibles. Whatever the case use the Bible you understand best.
Thank you for reading this I hope that this has blessed you. For additional resources you can go to Josiah’s sermons for examples of going verse by verse through the Bible and using context to explain it. You can also go to the Resources page to see the Using Hermeneutics Book Series. If you buy these books they will teach you how to study God’s Word and you will be helping this ministry greatly. Please consider buying my books to help support this blog, I can’t do this on a regular basis without you. Lord bless you and study God’s Word.
One thought on “Choosing the Best Bible Translation for You”
Very helpful! Thank you for this post!