Yesterday I preached about the Bible–how it differs from other religious sacred books, why we can trust it, how it was assembled, and how we should use it. Part of the sermon was a discussion about translations.
One of the most common questions I have asked of me is, “What translation of Scripture should I use?” The answer is yes. Unless you know Greek, Hebrew and Amamaic you need a translation. Which one you use depends on you.
ESV—the English Standard Version—this is the one I preach from and the one we use in worship services. I like it because it has good solid theological words in it and translates things closer to the way I would and it reads easily.
KJV—the King James Version is a very poor translation of the New Testament and a very good translation of the Old Testament. The problem is, that KJV English is almost another language itself, thus rendering it practically useless. The KJV is written in pirate.
NASB—New American Standard is becoming more dated than it used to be, its kind of old now, but it is still good. It is a literal (The most literal, actually), word for word rendering but it is terribly boring to read. It unfortunately shares a name with the maker of toilets (American Standard).
NIV—This is the most common and popular translation. It is easy to read, I think written at a 6th grade reading level. The problem I have with the NIV is that sometimes they make really stupid and unfortunate decision when translating. In seminary we used to call this the “Nearly Infallible Version.”
NRSV—The New Revised Standard Version—I like this one and it is the one I am currently reading in my morning devotional work. This version is written at a higher reading level and is preferred by academics because it is technically thorough. It also has the benefit of being inclusive in its language, whereas most other translations bend toward sexism (i.e. translation “sons” where the right rendering is “children” or “men” where the right translation is “people”).
NLT—the New Living Translation. It is written in common vernacular and avoids almost all theological language. I like it for newer Christ-followers or younger Christ-followers. It conveys the idea and the story without losing the reader in bogged down wordiness.
Which one is right? Depends on you and what your needs are. I do argue that when you are doing serious Bible study it is best to have three or four of these in front of you and compare them. With tablets like Kindle, iPad and Nook and such this is much easier and affordable. Most all of these have Bible apps that are free in all of these versions.
It has never been easier to do serious Bible study.