If you live in the west, you are probably familiar with the plethora of English Bible translations. You probably also have experience with people who love one translation more than all the others. If you’re in this situation, you may be asking, “Which translation should I use?”
What to Consider
The original biblical languages are Hebrew, Aramaic (a variation of Hebrew), and Koine Greek, but there are several faithful English translations. Hebrew and Aramaic make up the Old Testament and Greek comprises the New Testament.
In searching for the right translation, it is preferable to keep an eye out for word-for-word translations. A word-for-word (or literal) translation is an English translation which best preserves the sense of the original languages. Contrary to what we might call a paraphrase translation, a word-for-word translation is more concerned with an accurate carry-over from the original to the English. Paraphrase translations only repeat other English translations in updated language.
The New Living Translation (NLT) is a paraphrase while the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a literal translation. For those of you out there love the King James (KJV), that’s a literal translation as well.
What Are You Looking For?
There are a few translations which preserve the sense of the original English rather accurately, but differ in things like sentence construction. This is when selecting a Bible becomes a matter of preference. I have found the English Standard Version (ESV) to be more readable than the NASB. This is because the NASB is a more wooden translation, down to word order, than that of the ESV. Yet both provide accurate representations of the original.
Because of some textual critical schools of thought, the ESV and the NASB will lack certain verses. This is because those verses, which you might find in the KJV, are not found in the oldest extant manuscripts. Some passages, even though they are not found in the oldest manuscripts are extant in the majority of manuscripts and so these passages are usually left alone and accompanied with a footnote explaining the lack of textual evidence in antiquity.
Between the ESV and NASB, for example, you have a choice between a smoother reading experience (ESV) or a more wooden translation with perhaps a more rough reading experience (NASB). Yet, these two are not the only faithful translations but are the two I have the most experience with. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with the KJV and should still be considered an accurate translation albeit not the most accurate.
The choice is yours!
Where to Buy:
Quality Bibles are available in many places online. You can find all major translations on Amazon for relatively inexpensive prices. Personally, I appreciate the quality of Schuyler Bibles.