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Introduction

  • There are over 100 English translations of the Bible!
  • God intended for us to read and understand His word.
    • Matthew 24:15 – “let the reader understand”
    • Luke 10:26 – “how does it read”
    • Ephesians 3:4

Translating isn’t as simple as it sounds

  • No translation is inspired or perfect.
    • Example: Exodus 20:14 typo in “The Wicked Bible”, 1631 – “thou shalt commit adultery”
  • Languages change over time.
    • When the King James Version first became available, some criticized it for being too easy to understand!
  • There is usually no word-for-word correspondence.
    • Example: “Como se llama?” in Spanish:
      • “How yourself call?”
      • “How do you call yourself?” (Translation philosophy similar to the NASB.)
      • “What’s your name?” (Translation philosophy similar to the NIV.)
  • Grammar and word order are different.
    • Example: John 3:16
Word-for-word Thought-for-thought
KJV CSB NLT
NASB NIV NCV
NKJV NET GNT
ASV NAB CEV
ESV NRSV NIrV

Word-for-word translations aim to closely reflect the original.

  • Preserve the Holy Spirit’s phrasing
    • I Kings 2:10 – ASV vs. NLT
    • I Thessalonians 2:12 – NKJV vs. NLT
  • Make it easier to notice repetition
    • “immediately” in Mark
    • “abide” in I John (Compare I John 2:24 in NASB vs. NLT)
  • Let readers interpret for themselves
    • I Thessalonians 4:3

Thought-for-thought translations aim to interpret the meaning of the original.

  • These translations are generally more readable and natural.
  • Acts 27:17 – Compare ESV vs NIV vs NLT.
  • Matthew 23:5 – Compare NASB vs NIV vs NLT.
  • Psalms 23:5 – Compare ESV vs. GNB.

My recommendation: Use several word-for-word translations as your main Bibles

  • KJV, NASB, NKJV, ASV, ESV

Compare some thought-for-thought translations to prompt deeper looks … just know what you’re reading!

  • I Timothy 5:22

For further study, see also:

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© 2024, Mark Watson

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