What Is The Best Translation Of The Bible To Use In English?
If you are an English speaker and love the Word of God (Bible) like us, you are going to be very blessed. There are so many translations of the Bible that you can choose from. There are so many choices. Let us give you a quick understanding of what’s available and our reading experience with each version.
The religous people of Europe told people that went to their churches not to read their Bibles (as many of them were iliterate or couldn’t understand Latin), and that their religious leaders would interpret it for them. This is complete deception because God speaks to His people via His Word. The Bible is the most powerful book in the world.
We must all remember that the Bible was not written in English. It was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. These were the languages of the time and Hebrew continues to be a major language. The English Bible had to be translated from Hebrew and Greek to get whatever English translation you are looking at. Here’s a quick run down on English versions of the Bible from the publishers themselves and including our experience.
King James Version (KJV)
Originally funded and commissioned by King James of England, this translation was one of the first English translations done in the English of the time to be read by all. King James financed the translation team of experts getting this early Bible translation in English. This version completed in 1611 is still very popular today but uses archaic English words and phrases. It is out of copyright so it is pretty freely by many ministries and publishers. It is a good translation but can be difficult for non-native English speakers and the younger generations.
New King James Version (NKJV)
Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and Christians worked for seven years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet retain the purity and stylistic beauty of the original King James. With unyielding faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, the translation applies the most recent research in archaeology, linguistics, and textual studies.
The NKJV is very popular with Spirit-filled Christians as we find it very true to the original languages as well as the KJV phrases and terminology.
New International Version (NIV)
The New International Version (NIV) is a probably one of the best selling English Bible translations to date. It was done by the International Bible Society. IBS is the worldwide publisher and copyright holder of the NIV. The organization gives licensing and commercial rights to Zondervan in the United States and to Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. Originally published in the 1970s, the NIV was updated in 1984 and 2011
The NIV is written in relatively simple English and considered to be at US Junior High (8th grade) level English. It is a pretty easy reading translation and is used in many Christian schools around the globe.
Living Bible (TLB)
The Living Bible (TLB) is an English version of the Bible created by Kenneth N. Taylor. It was first published in 1971. Unlike most English Bibles, The Living Bible is a paraphrase. Taylor used the American Standard Version of 1901 as his base text. Taylor wrote the Living Bible paraphrased Bible for his children. He did not look at the original texts in creating this paraphrase but was ore focused on making something easier to read.
With translations like GWT we find we rarely if ever open a TLB. The Japanese translation of the TLB was quite popular but event the Tokyo publisher has moved on to a newer Japanese version of the NLT.
New Living Translation (NLT)
The New Living Translation (NLT) is a translation of the Bible into modern English. Originally starting out as an effort to revise The Living Bible, the project evolved into a new English translation from Hebrew and Greek texts. Some stylistic influences of The Living Bible remained in the first edition (1996), but these are less evident in the second edition (2004, 2007).
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The New American Standard Bible (NASB), also known as the New American Standard Version, is an English translation of the Bible. The New Testament was first published in 1963. The complete Bible was published in 1971. The most recent edition of the NASB text was published in 1995 changing the KJV styled old English to modern English. Copyright and trademark to the NASB text are owned by the Lockman Foundation.
Gods Word Translation (GWT)
The God’s Word Translation was released in March 1995. The publishing rights of God’s Word were acquired by Baker Publishing Group in the US.
The translation was done with the belief that communicating the original meaning of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts that comprise the Scriptures such that everyone can comprehend requires taking a completely new look at the original languages. Overall the GWT is a well done translation that does a fine job of getting the literal meanings in an easy to understand text.
We should remember however that GWT seems to have been translated by people who have not received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The translations in these areas are poor. Instead speaking in tongues in 1 Corithians 12, the translation is “speaking in other languages”. Speaking in tongues is for all believers, it’s not God helping you to learn a foreign language. It’s a prayer language.
The Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Amplified Bible (AMP) is an English translation of the Bible produced jointly by Zondervan (subsidiary of News Corp) and The Lockman Foundation. The first edition was published in 1965. It is largely a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901, with reference made to various texts in the original languages. It is designed to “amplify” the text by using a system of punctuation and other typographical features to bring out all shades of meaning present in the original texts.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Christian Bible is an English translation released in 1989. It is an updated revision of the Revised Standard Version, which was itself an update of the American Standard Version. The NRSV was intended as a translation to serve devotional, liturgical and scholarly needs of the broadest possible range of Christians.
Douay- Rheims Bible
The Douay–Rheims Bible known as the Rheims–Douai Bible or Douai Bible, and abbreviated as D–R and DV) is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.
The New Testament portion was published in Reims, France, in 1582. The apocrypha of the Vulgate was published in 1610. The Apocryypha are ancients texts that are considered uninspired by Christians and not included in the Word of God as they are not biblically accurate or in sync with the rest of the Word of God. One story has Jesus raising birds from the dead when the Bible is very clear that Jesus’ ministry started when He was about 30 years old and He changed the water into the wine at the wedding.
This is a Roman Catholic Bible and really only used within this group. Also, translation from Hebrew to Latin to English creates a point of failure for the translation. The best translations always look back to the original texts for inspiration.
New World Translation
The New World Translation was done by the Jehovah Witnesses’ group. They are known as a Christian cult as they say they are the only true church and took the King James Version (KJV) and replaced all instances of “The Lord” with Jehovah and edited Bible passages that did not match their doctrine. This is not really a translation but more of an edit by a fringe group trying to change the Word of God in their favor.
The Bible warns against this in Revelation 22:18-19 and those who will be condemned for not honoring God’s Word.
And The Winner Is?
So what is the best translation of the English Bible? This is all a preference issue. Here’s our take.
Many of us grew up on the NIV, but we have serious concerns about the recent versions. When you want to get a really good literal translation from Hebrew/Greek to English, there’s no beating the NASB. Although great for individual Bible study, the NASB seems a bit choppy when reading in a message or teaching in a Bible study. We have adopted the NKJV as it seems to have more punch as it is literally more smoothy and many generations are family with it’s similarity to the KJV it was inspired by.
One of our favorite translations is the GWT. It does a good job of taking the literal translation from the original languages and putting it into modern English. This translation is not as well-known as the NIV or NKJV for that matter but it is excellent. Of course, the Bible is not originally written in English so when you want to understand the original words you can pull out a Strong’s Concordance or you will find the AMP Bible does a great job of amplifying the Hebrew or Greek back into English. It’s not one of those read before you go to bed Bibles like the GWT or the NLT are.
If you are wanting an English Bible, we recommend that you go with either the NKJV or the GWT if English is not your first language.
You can have a study translation such as the NKJV or the NASB and a casual reading version such as the GTW or NLT. Whatever translation you read, know that God’s Word is powerful. God speaks to you by His Holy Spirit when you reads. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Bible will cut to the center of whatever issue we have because it is powerful. John chapter 1 shows us that the Word of God and Jesus are one. Amazing! Some much more to know but you can only know by reading His Word and getting plugged into a STRONG FAITH church.
PS. Is there a Bible translation/version you would like us to add? Please drop us a line on our submit a question form.
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