10 Different Bible Translations (and Help With Choosing One) – Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the 5 most popular Bible translations (To read that post, CLICK HERE). Today, we’ll look at 5 others, and I’ll give you 3 tips for choosing which one is right for you!

  1. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – Although this translation came out around the same time as the ESV (see previous post), it hasn’t had the same level of popularity.  The HCSB is published by Lifeway Christian Publishers, which is the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is likely one of the reasons that it hasn’t received the same recognition.  Still, the HCSB is recognized as a well translated version that is easy to understand. Nathan King says, “My Bible is HCSB and that is my preferred version because it seems to be the most readable but without being diluted or oversimplified.”
  2. Revised Standard Version (RSV) – The Revised Standard Version was the first, real attempt to knock out the KJV (see previous post). Most scholars either love it, or hate it. It tends to be more popular with the mainstream protestant denominations, and opposed by conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists. The biggest controversy surrounding the RSV was the translation of the Hebrew word, “almah” in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” rather than “virgin.” George Obregon likes is because “… it combines great accuracy with just a taste of the King James English.”
  3. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) – The NRSV is to the RSV what the NKJV is to the KJV (try saying that 5x fast). It removes much of the archaic language, while remaining true the intent of the RSV translators. Additionally, it includes knowledge gleaned after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the mid-20th Century.  Finally, the translation committee included Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish scholars and takes into account the varied perspectives. Gavin Ashenden prefers it “…because it combines the best of accuracy and beauty and is free-ish of committee bias.”
  4. The New Living Translation (NLT) – This is a very popular translation that started out not being a translation! Originally, it was intended to be an update of the very popular paraphrase called, “The Living Bible”. But as the team began working through the process, this version evolved into a full translation.  Tyndale House Publishers owns the rights to this translation, and has added to its popularity by releasing it as part of its highly successful “Life Application Bible” series. Mike Molinar adds that he enjoys “…NLT dramatized audio.”
  5. Amplified (AMP) – The Amplified Version is the most unique of all, as it takes every single possible meaning of the words being translated and includes it in the actual text.  It allows the reader to seek out a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.  Emery Smith uses it “…for deeper study.”

So there you have it! Ten different translations of the Bible to choose from. Now, if you don’t already have one that YOU prefer, you may be feeling a lot like a mosquito in a nudist colony: you know what you’re supposed to do, you just don’t know where to start. Never fear! Here’s some advice.

  1. Do you want “old school” or “new school”? – If you’re looking for more poetic language, go with the KJV, NKJV, RSV, or NRSV.  These will provide the reading experience you’re looking for.
  2. Are you looking for a more “evangelical” or “traditional” approach? – If you come from a Baptist, charismatic, Pentecostal or non-denominational background, the NIV, ESV, HCSB, or NLT are the right pick for you. If you fall into a more Protestant or Catholic tradition, than the RSV or NRSV are what you are looking for.
  3. Do you want to know every possible meaning of every word? – Then Amplified is the right pic for you!

Of course, no one is limiting you to only one translation. The beauty of today’s technology is the ability to use each and every version to understand a passage.  You can always check out BibleGateway.com to look at a passage in every possible translation you can think of.

And if you want to have a little fun, check out John 3:16 in the Hawai‘i Pidgin (HWP) translation:

“God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foeva.”

Gotta love it, no matter what language or dialect!

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