There are so many different Bibles out today, and as such, Christians face a lot of confusion in the deciding of what version or translation of the Bible they should be reading or studying from. As such, an understanding of translations, versions, or paraphrases should be examined.
Translations or versions
There is a difference between a translation and a version of the Bible. A translation means translating from the early Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to another language, whereas a version means translating within the same language, regardless of its translation. Throughout the centuries, however, these words have enmeshed with each other as many different kinds of Bibles have come into print. As such, both words have come to mean the same thing.
Literal, loose, or free versions or translations
Literal or free versions or translations come with adapting the wording to a culture or time in history, keeping the same meaning of the text of the original Hebrew or Greek text. A literal translation can range from tight and move toward a loose translation. The tighter the translation, such as King James Version (KJV), the closer the meaning to the early Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, carrying the syntax, idioms, and mannerisms of the times it was translated (Old England - 1611 A.D.). The looser the text, such as the New International Version (NIV) the more modern usage is used for the understanding of the reader today. They both have gone back to the original Greek or Hebrew in its correct meaning, but simply carry the language of the day in which it was translated. There are many variances out on the market today. Below are the tightest going down to the most loose translation out there. These are all good translations.
- King James Version
- New American Standard Version
- New King James Version
- New Revised Standard
- New Living Translation (Very easy to understand)
- New International Version
A free version or translation, however, is simply a paraphrase of the translators and cannot be trusted for accuracy. They are a modern interpretation of the translator, and simply the opinion of the writer, editor, or publisher. The translator has interpreted the text to his or her presuppositions, experiences and beliefs. Often the denomination of the translator has swayed the meaning of the text. It is generally not translated from the original Hebrew or Greek manuscripts, but taken from another version of the Scriptures. Most paraphrases have footnotes to give “their fuller interpretation.” Paraphrases are easy to read and interesting for devotional reading, but cannot be relied upon for accuracy. For study or accurate interpretation, you should always use a translation or version that came from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
Some examples of a paraphrase are:
The Living Bible: This paraphrase was one of the ealiest paraphrases out on the market. Created by Kenneth Taylor, who reinterpreted from the New American Standard Version a simple to understand paraphrase so his grandchildren could under the scriptures. This paraphrase carries a bias Baptist slant to the text.
The Message Bible: While the Message Bible was taken from the original Greek language, it was written in contemporary English in a free-flow modern-day (almost like a novel) understanding by Greek scholar and pastor Eugene Peterson in 2002. Only available in the New Testament.
The Passion Translation: This newly popular Bible is neither a translation nor a paraphrase. It comes out of mystical imagination of Brian Simmons, carrying passionate language to the text. This rendering reflects and promotes the New Apostolic Reformation (NAB) theology, which is a cultic entity of Christianity.
What kind of Bible should I purchase?
There is no right Bible for anyone. Most paraphrases are good for devotional reading and understanding the stories of Scripture. For study, however, one will find the greatest accuracy from a tight literal translation of the Bible, such as King James (KJV), New King James (NKJV), or New American Standard (NAS). If you still want an authorized version of Scripture that is easy to understand, a looser version, such as New International Version (NIV) would be fine. So many churches have changed to that translation because of its ease of understanding in our 21st century. It uses the idioms and personal pronouns of today, yet, for the most part, holds the same meaning as the original authors, when the authors, some 2000-3500 years ago, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put the words or syllables into print. It is wise, however, to have several different versions or translation of the Bible at your disposal. The Bible to bring to church is the one that your pastor uses during his/her sermon.
Psm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.