Is there really a bible translation that stands out above the others? Aren't they all just saying the same thing? Well I used to think that until I started studying more and realized the differences can be quite large. So stay tuned for today's episode where I will tell you about my top 5 bible translations and why I use them, so here we go.
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Today we are looking at my top 5 translations that I like to use and why. I will start off by saying that ultimately this is my opinion. You are free to read the translation of your choice. I, however, am going to show you some solid reasons why I think you should consider using the ones I share with you.
Something to consider, before we get started, and that is important to realize, is we are all utilizing translations. Unless you can read Greek and Hebrew and have copies of ancient manuscripts, we are relying on translators for all of these and they all have made mistakes in some form or fashion.
For the purposes of this podcast I will be sticking to the mainstream translations of the bible that most people are familiar with. I will have some others listed later on in the blog.
With that being said, lets jump right in.
King James Version.
This may shock some of my listeners who fall more to the hebraic side but there is a reason I picked this. When I am reading the scriptures I prefer a translation that falls more to the word for word rather than thought for thought. If you google word for word translations you will see chart after chart that shows you the focus of the translation. We won't go into it today but my next episode will be on studying the scripture and I will go more into depth on this.
The King James version falls into a more word for word category. In 1611 the King James Bible was published and was the first major undertaking of translating scripture since the Septuigent. The first Greek translation of scripture. He had 47 scholars split up the Original Hebrew and Greek writings to translate from. Because of this, more modern translations even translate straight from the KJV. As with all translations there are errors and we must always study the original Hebrew words to get a full grasp on what is trying to be conveyed. If it wasn't for the Olde english words used it probably would make it higher on the list.
English Standard Version
You might be saying “That's a pretty new translation to make the list” Yes it is but I will tell you why. The ESV was published in 2001 but has its roots in the Tyndale bible which is 100+ years older than the King James. The ESV employed over 100 scholars and pastors to translate it. It also boasts about being one of the best word for word translations of the bible and for the most part I agree with that. That does however come with a cost. One of the reasons why it landed at number 4 is readability. For studying the scripture it is an excellent translation but for everyday reading it can leave the reader behind. It lacks the literary flow and charm of some other translations. In some instances you really need to be in study mode to really grasp what the author is writing; you need more explanation of whats going on.
Which leads me to my next pick
If you are looking for a bible with commentary built right into the lines of text, here it is. Some people disregard this translation because they feel it is adding to scripture, which is forbidden by scripture, but the writers were very good about marking the text they add so as not to imply it was scripture. This is one of my go to reference translations because of the added insight they give into a text.
Now before we get to the top two I want to give you my honorable mentions. These translations are some of my favorite but arent as well know and used widely so I didnt put them into the list. First up is the Tree of life. This translation really attempts to add the hebraic feel of scripture back in by using hebrew names and words to add emphasis to the text. It was published in 2014 and has a decidedly messianic jewish feel. After that we have a translation simply know as “The Scriptures”. Like the tree of life, the scriptures attempts to add back the hebraic nature of the original texts. Another text that I study from is “The Complete Jewish Bible”. While they also add back in many Hebrew words, it can be a bit difficult to read without constantly having to look up the words they use within the verses. The last of my honorable mentions is the Schoken Bible by Everret Fox. In this bible, Fox uses the english language to try and restore the emphasis of Hebrew words that are not translated with the same weight a Hebrew word would have held. Because of this it doesn't read very smoothly so it is definitely used as a study reference and not an everyday read.
Now on to my top 2
New American Standard
Now these last two were hard to decide between but at the end of the day it came down to readability. The NASB was translated from original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts including the Dead Sea Scrolls. They translated it on these four principles. These publications shall be true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. They shall be grammatically correct. They shall be understandable. They shall give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place which the Word gives Him; therefore, no work will ever be personalized. Because of this the NASB is said to be one of the most literal translations of scripture. But there is still one left
Last but not least
Holman Christian Standard Bible
With over 100 translators helping on this project they developed a new philosophy of translating called the optimal equivalence. This was a combination of formal equivalence, that is word for word, and functional equivalence, that is thought for thought. This combination provides a great readable version that still hold true to many word for word ideologies. Because of this, I recommend this translation as a great first bible or even an everyday translation.
I hope this has helped and that you have learned something today. Stay tuned as next time we dive into the world of studying the scriptures and the tools I use to be most effective.
May the Lord bless you and keep you until next time!!