Whatever Bible You Want

April 8, 2008

Ray Coskery sent me this link today.  BibleGateway has twenty-one English translations of Scripture that can be easily and quickly accessed by chapter and verse.

Quick tutorial: translations fall along the spectrum of being literal, dynamic, and free.  Literal translations are basically word-for-word translations; dynamic translations are thought-for-thought; free translations aren’t really translations at all, but are more appropriately called paraphrases.  (I’m oversimplifying, but you get the idea.) 

Some of the best translations closer to the literal side of the spectrum include the English Standard Version, the Updated New American Standard, the New King James Version, and the Holman Christian Standard Version.

Two of the best translations that take a more dynamic approach to translation are the New International Version and the New Living Bible.

The most enjoyable free translation I have ever read is The Message, though many people (like me) cut their spiritual baby teeth on the well-loved Living Bible. 

What I’m about to say is dangerous without adding a lot of qualifications, but I think the risk will be worth it.  When selecting a translation that will serve as your main translation for reading, studying, and memorizing, pick one that is as accurate and readable as you can; i.e., pick one closer to the literal side of the spectrum.  When studying, read from different kinds of translations along the spectrum, but be sure to rely most heavily on the more literal translations for accuracy.  For a fresh reading of an overly familiar passage, or to see how a text has already been interpreted by the translators, enjoy the paraphrases.     

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