Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Which English Bible Translation is the Best? (Part 1)

As a pastor, I am often asked this question, and it is not a fair question. You see it is kind of like asking what is the best car ever built? Well, they all have strengths and weakness, but the all get you where you need to go, hopefully anyway. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most popular Bible translations.

1.    The King James Version (KJV) –Sometimes referred to as the authorized version.
     •    Strengths:
          o    Wide use- Familiar- Liturgical use – Bible of English literature
          o    Many supporting tools: concordances, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc.
          o    Wonderful literary quality.
     •    Weakness:
          o    Hard to read – early seventeenth century English,
          o    Lack of access to a seventh-century English dictionary for most people
          o    No paragraphing & Poetry not indicated
     •    Format: Word for Word- Follows Tyndale tradition
     •    Reading Level: 12th Grade

2.     The New International Version (NIV) – Note: The TNIV (Today’s New International Version) was created as a gender-neutral Bible, but created a huge backlash. The backlash caused it to be pulled, but revised in 2011. This address all NIV’s with a published of 1984.
     •    Strengths:
          o    Reads well, 7th-grade reading level
          o    Good supporting tools: concordances, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc…
          o    Good Paragraphing & Shows Poetry well
     •    Weaknesses:
          o    Not consistent in how it translates same word/expressions in similar contexts
          o    A concordance is less valuable.
          o    Not useful for a gospel synopsis
     •    Format: Dynamic Equivalent or thought for thought –started from scratch
     •    Reading Level: 7th Grade

3.    The New American Standard Bible (NASB)
     •    Strengths:
          o    Follows Tyndale/KJV tradition
          o    One of if not the most literal translation of the Greek and Hebrew into English.
          o    Best Bible for careful verse by verse bible study.
     •    Weaknesses
          o    Poor paragraphing
          o    Poetry designation only fair
          o    Awkward reading – not good for a new Christian, children, or block reading from the pulpit.
     •    Format: Word for Word – Follows Tyndale/KJV tradition
     •    Reading Level: 11th Grade

4.    The Revised Standard Version (RSV)
     •    Strengths:
          o    Good paragraphing & Shows poetry well
          o    The best translation for a gospel synopsis
          o    Most accepted translation among Protestants, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish.
     •    Weaknesses:
          o    Still uses some archaic language – “Thee, thou.”
          o    The Isaiah 7:14 controversy
          o    Should be limited to comparative and critical private study by discerning students only, as many of the translation committee were committed to a liberal view of the Scriptures.
     •   Format: Word for Word – Follows Tyndale/KJV Tradition
     •    Reading Level: 12th Grade

5.    The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
     •    Strengths:
            o    Excellent paragraphing & shows poetry well
            o    Removal of archaic language from the RSV
            o    Good ecumenical Bible
     •    Weaknesses:
            o    Uses inclusive language
            o    At times compromises author’s mean for inclusive
            o    Isiah 7:14 controversy
     •    Format: Word for Word follows Tyndale/King James traditions, with the exception where it uses inclusive language.
     •    Reading Level: 12th Grade

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