What English Translation of the Bible Do You Use?.

This was a question that was posed to me by one of the sweet people in the congregation where I serve as pastor. It's a good question. I knew that coming into this position that there would be various English translations used by different members of our congregation. My assumptions were correct. I've seen that some translations used by the congregation are: KJV, NIV, NLT, NASB, NKJV.

I love the fact that we have a translation of the Scriptures in our language where we can see what God's Word says to us. I am so thankful to the Reformers of old who fought so hard to get the Bible into the language of the common people. Today, we have numerous English translations... sometimes it seems like too many.

I thought that I would share here the main translations that I use and why.

  • The Holman Christian Standard. This is the primary translation I have been using for the past year now. I use it for personal study and to preach from. It is one of the newest English translations, but it has some great things about it. It uses a "word for word" type translation from the original languages, but where it is difficult to do that clearly, it uses a thought for thought. It combines the best of both translation types. It is very easy to read. One little thing that I appreciate about it is that it capitalizes any and every reference to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). This helps sometimes when pronouns are used to distinguish whom each is talking about in the text. It does word some of the texts that one may have memorized from another translation differently than those previous ones, but the true meaning of the text is not changed but clarified.

  • The New American Standard. I really like this translation because it is probably the most literal of all English translations. This was a giant crutch to me as I was studying Greek in seminary. One drawback to this translation because it is so literal (word-for-word from the original languages) is that sometimes the sentence structure is strange. It is definitely not the easiest to just read throughout. If you are looking for the closest to what the original authors wrote, this is your translation.

  • The New Living Translation. I came across this translation while working in student ministry and found it to be the best for those who may have never read the Bible before. It uses a "thought-for-thought" format of translation to provide a much easier readable translation than "word-for-word". This is one that I will often switch to for my personal devotions when I do not want to necessarily dig deep, but just hear the Word clearly.

There are other translations that I have used and recommended to people such as the English Standard Version (ESV), NKJV, and NIV 1984 edition (though this edition is no longer being printed). The important thing that we must see is that people are diving in and reading God's Word. Does the translation matter? I say yes. One must examine the translation and make sure that it is accurate to the original text or else they can be led to believe that the Bible says things it never has.

What translation of the Bible do you read and why?


Chad Ornter said...

I actually use the HCSB for my personal time, but I preach (to kids) out of the NLT. I enjoy the easy to read HCSB without loosing any of the original text. However when speaking to kids I find the NLT to be best for them to understand the word of God.

Brian said...

My faves at this point are NRSV and NASB; I also use NIV occasionally. A recent seminary grad recommended the NRSV to me because of its academic usage.

Anthony said...

How long have you been using the HCSB? I understand the using NLT for children's ministry. Appreciate your comments.

Anthony said...

Hey Brian!
Great to hear from you. The NRSV is not a usual translation you hear people using these days. Was there a particular reason that you didn't use the ESV as it also is an update to the RSV?

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