Last year I worked at a popular Christian bookstore chain. We were asked more questions about Bible translations than anything else.
“What are the differences in all these translations?”
“Why are there so many different Bibles?”
“How do I know which one to get?”
Here’s the basic information about different Bible translations and how to choose the best one for you!
The types of Bible translations are referred to as “word-for-word” and “thought-for-thought.” Word-for-word translations try to remain as close as possible to the early manuscripts. Thought-for-thought translations seek to communicate the original thoughts of the biblical writers.
Here are the most popular versions on a scale, beginning with word-for-word, and moving to thought-for-thought:
- New American Standard Bible
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
- New King James Version
- Holman Christian Standard Bible
- New International Version
- God’s Word Translation
- New Living Translation
(The Message is a paraphrase version of the Bible, not a translation.)
When choosing which translation of Bible is right for you, consider these questions,
- Will I be using this Bible for devotional reading? If so, you may want an easier to read, thought-for-thought translation.
- Will I be using this Bible for inductive study? If so, you may want a word-for-word translation.
- Will I be taking this Bible to church? If so, what version does your pastor use? You may want to get the same one so it’s easier to follow along.
- Will I be using this Bible to teach others? If so, you may want to pick a popular translation so more people in your audience will have the same version.
- Will I be using this Bible with my children or to teach children? If so, consider getting a translation that is easier for children to understand. (Two translations specifically for children are the New International Reader’s Version and the International Children’s Bible.)
Knowing what you will use your Bible for and understanding the types of Bible translations will help you choose the right Bible translation for you.
What’s your favorite Bible translation? Why do you like it?