The first thing to remember is what my most favorite New Testament scholar said, “All translation is treason.” Once we have that out of the way we can proceed with proper caution.
I prefer a translation that is more literal. I want to be as close to the original as I can and still have something readable. Here is a chart showing where the various versions fall on the spectrum.
From the list, here are my comments.
- LB – Living Bible. This is just a paraphrase and not really a translation at all. Kenneth Taylor started with an English Bible and re-phased things
- NLT – New Living Translation. A real translation this time still along the same principles as the LB. I know a number of the translators and they are real men of God.
- NIV – I just can’t grow to like this version. It is the classic thought-for-thought translation and there isn’t a word in the English that can be trusted. Maybe OK if you’re only reading in really large chunks at a time.
- NET – As we spoke this morning, the real value of this version is the translator’s footnotes which give insight into the whys and wherefores of what they put into English. A decent translation and I use it.
- NRSV – A clean-up of the RSV from a theology standpoint. A good translation. I just don’t think it will ever be widely used and so doesn’t have a lot of relevance.
- RSV – Good, a little dated, a little liberal in bias.
- ESV – Highly Recommended. Modern. In constant revision. Excellent scholarship. More readable than the NASB.
- KJV, NKJV. Uses the Majority Text, which I think is not wise. KJV is dated English. NKJV is a good translation.
- NASB. Highly Recommended. Probably the most faithful and consistent in translation, but does so to a fault at the cost of readability in the English.
- ASV – Dated. Good translation. Quite literal, with the associated shortcomings.