How to Choose a Good Bible
Not all Bibles are the same. Each translation has its strengths and weaknesses. No Bible is good for every purpose. As such, we need to choose carefully. What we use our bibles for will determine what type of Bible best suits our needs.
In order for you to understand the differences between different Bible translations, let us look at the process of Bible translation. Translators use different philosophies to translate the Bible from the original languages into another language, English.
1. Word-for-Word translation: This approach translates as much as possible the best possible meaning of each Bible word from one language (say Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic) to another (say English). The advantage it has is that it stays as close as possible to the words and sentence structure of the original language. The disadvantage is that many people find it hard to read. Examples of word-for-word translations are the KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NASB. Word-for-Word Translations are excellent for in-depth academic study of the Bible. It is not good for daily Bible reading.
2. Thought-for-Thought: This approach, which is also called dynamic equivalency approach, translates in such a way that a contemporary reader gets the equivalent meaning as the original readers would have gotten. The advantage with this method is that the Bibles are easy to read. Example of a pure of thought-for-thought Bible translation is the CEV. Other Bibles are a balance between thought-for-thought and word-for-word translation. Examples are NIV, TNIV, and NLT. Thought-for-thought translations are good for daily Bible reading. They are not recommended for in-depth academic Bible study.
3. Word-for-Word with additional amplification of word meanings: An example is the Amplified Bible. When the original manuscripts are translated word-for-word, some shades of meaning are lost. The Amplified Bible does a good job of trying to fill in the other shades of meaning. The Amplified Bible is helpful for word studies and comparison with other translations. It is tedious if used for daily reading.
4. Paraphrase: Paraphrases are a thought-for-thought rendering of scriptures. They are usually written by a single author who uses vocabulary and language structures currently in common use. Contemporary tones, rhythms, and figures of speech are used. Sometimes even vulgar language is used to produce a rendition of scripture that is clear, interesting, and captivating to the modern reader. Examples are the Message Bible and the Living Bible.
For more on this, visit our post titled great bible study tools.