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Q. What is the best Bible translation?

Dear Sir or Madam,

Which are the best bible translations???

Thank You,


Dear *****,

That’s a loaded question, and one over which Christians strongly differ.

The first issue is which textual tradition you believe to be the most accurate. Some are strongly committed to the Byzantine text type, which underlies the King James Version and the New King James Version. This has the vast majority of manuscripts, but they are not the earliest ones that we possess. And thus others choose to rely on the earlier manuscripts. (There is a debate over being older is being more accurate and trustworthy.) Virtually all of the recent translations are based on these earlier texts.

The next point of disagreement is over how literal a translation should be, or how much it should be paraphrased to be more easily understood. Versions like The Message and the New International Version would lean heavily toward a paraphrase. The King James Version, New King James, New American Standard, English Standard Version, and the Holman Christian Standard Version lean toward a more literal rendering.  The stated purpose of the NET Bible (the translation featured on our Lumina study tool) is to strive to strike a happy medium between a paraphrase and a strictly literal rendering of the text. 

My preference is for the more literal translations. (Rather than having the translator make interpretive decisions for me, I’d rather wrestle with them myself.) Having said this, in my “through the Bible” readings I use a variety of translations (one per reading). One can read faster and get the major themes more easily.

I am not a “King James only” student of Scripture, but neither do I always agree with those who set aside texts included in the King James version (such as John 8 and Mark 16).

In spirit of fairness, I think you would do well to consider John Piper’s view has a number of related articles which I would recommend that you consider:

I hope this helps,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Text & Translation

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