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Bible Translation Guide

Bible Translation Comparison - Romans 5:6-9

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

First published by the American Bible Society in 1995, the Contemporary English Version is an accurate and faithful Bible translation (not a paraphrase) from the original manuscripts, using English that can be read easily by children of primary school age, as well as adults for whom English is a second language. The aim is to present God’s Word in contemporary language that is clear, direct, and uncompromisingly simple. Ideal for children’s and youth ministry, and for cross-cultural outreach.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The English Standard Version stands in the tradition of the great mainstream English Bible translations of the past half-millennium: William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526, the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). Continuing in the spirit of this great legacy, the ESV is an essentially literal translation that seeks to capture the exact words and phrasing of the original text – a translation philosophy known as “formal equivalence”. Although obsolete and archaic English terms have been revised according to current usage, the strength and clarity of traditional English literary expression have been retained, making this version ideal for both private study and public reading.

God’s Word

The God’s Word version – first published by Baker Publishing Group in 1995 – is founded on the translation principle of “closest natural equivalent” (CNE), finding the right balance between literal word-for-word equivalence - which can leave the modern reader confused – and a meaning-for-meaning “dynamic” equivalence – which can lose some of the distinctive imagery and vividness of biblical expression. In all cases, the God’s Word translation seeks the most natural English equivalent for the original biblical text. There is no conceptual levelling out – abstract concepts in Greek or Hebrew are kept abstract in the English; likewise for concrete concepts. The result of this careful methodology is a translation that successfully blends everyday clarity with close adherence to the original text.

Good News Bible (GNB)

The Good News Bible, or Today’s English Version, was first published in 1976 by the American Bible Society in order to make God’s Word available in everyday English. It is well known and loved for its clear, simple language and its faithfulness to the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts. A highly trusted translation that holds a special place in many hearts.

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

In the 1990s Holman Bible Publishers - the oldest Bible publisher in America - developed a fresh translation of God’s Word, using a select team of 90 scholars, all of whom shared a strong commitment to biblical inerrancy. The result of their careful work was the Holman Christian Standard Bible, or HCSB, first published in 1999. This version involved a careful balance between the two main approaches to Bible translation – formal equivalence (word-for-word) and dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought). The HCSB drew from both approaches to arrive at optimal equivalence. In 2016, the HCSB translation committee oversaw the completion of an updated version which has been published as the Christian Standard Bible, or CSB. It incorporates recent advances in biblical scholarship, and has improved consistency in several areas, including the rendering of God’s name, non-capitalization of pronouns, and the application of traditional gender terms.

International Children’s Bible (ICB)

The International Children’s Bible is the children’s presentation of the New Century Version (NCV) first published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2005. Unlike some kids' Bibles that present adult translations with notes and illustrations for children, the ICB was translated directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts into simple English that can be read and understood by children between the ages of 6 and 12.

King James Version (KJV)

The Bible translation commissioned by King James I of England was a monumental achievement of biblical scholarship, completed in the astonishingly short space of seven years, from 1604 to 1611. This ‘King James’ Bible, formally known as the Authorised Version, was officially appointed to be read aloud in the Church of England. Its influence on the development of literary and spoken English is impossible to overstate; its rich language – contemporary with that of Shakespeare – retains a compelling grandeur even after four centuries. Building on the legacy of William Tyndale, King James’ translators maintained a commitment to word-for-word accuracy that has largely stood the test of time, and set a high standard for all subsequent English Bible translations. Although the English language has changed a lot since 1611, the KJV continues to be the translation of choice for many Christians.

The Message

As a scholar, Eugene Peterson had the training to read the New Testament in Greek. As a pastor, he found that the vitality and spirit he encountered in the original text were not being transmitted to his students by the standard English translations. So he began to find contemporary English parallels for Greek idioms, seeking to express the overall tone and impact of Scripture - a departure from the more academic word-for-word approach. Peterson writes:

“I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant, and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'"

Peterson’s aim with The Message is to help ordinary Christians truly engage with what they read in Scripture, and to better grasp the great themes of God’s unfolding story. Accordingly, The Message is not a study Bible but a “reading Bible”. It has proven immensely popular since its first publication by NavPress in 1993.

Modern English Version (MEV)

The MEV is a translation of the Textus Receptus and the Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text,using the King James Version as the base manuscript. The MEV is a literal translation. It is also often referred to as a formal correspondence translation. The Committee on Bible Translation began their work on the MEV in 2005 and completed it in 2013.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

First published in 1960, the NASB has earned a deserved reputation as the most accurate English Bible translation. As such it is the preferred version for many scholars and Bible students. Originally conceived as a revision of the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), the NASB has been updated most recently in 1995, improving readability and keeping in step with the best biblical scholarship. For a Bible translation that reveals what the original manuscripts actually say - rather than what the translator believes they mean – you cannot go past the NASB.

New Century Version (NCV)

The New Century Version was first published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2005. It is the work of a team of experienced translators who had contributed their expertise to such respected versions as the NIV and NASB. The NCV is based on the best contemporary biblical scholarship and the latest editions of the original Greek and Hebrew texts.

New International Version (NIV)

The first complete New International Version of the Bible was published in 1978, and since then has become the most popular, most trusted, and most authoritative modern English translation. It was conceived in 1965 by a broad coalition of America’s evangelical and reformed denominations, and its production was financed by the New York Bible Society (now known as Biblica). A team of over 100 experts undertook the translation, working with the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. A rigorous development and review procedure harmonised the efforts of both translators and stylistic consultants, resulting in a translation that matches scholarly integrity with clear readability.

New International Version (NIV) 2011 Edition

The updated text of the 2011 NIV is the result of painstaking revision by the committee of scholars responsible for the 1984 NIV. The 2011 update retains 95% of the original translation; gender inclusiveness choices introduced in the TNIV have been reconsidered in detail.
In pursuit of a less subjective, more analytically rigorous approach to gender pronouns and common usage, the translators have utilised an English language research tool, the Collins Bank of English. Some of the TNIV changes have been preserved, some rescinded in favour of the 1984 NIV rendering, and many have been freshly reworded. The priority in all cases has been to provide the optimum blend of faithfulness to the original text and ease of understanding for a broad audience.

New King James Version (NKJV)

Although the stylistic beauty and accuracy of the King James Version remain highly valued, many modern readers find it hard to understand due to changes in the English language since the 17th century. In 1975, Thomas Nelson Publishers sought to remedy this problem by commissioning a new edition of the KJV that would modify obsolete terms and apply the insights gained from more recent biblical scholarship. The New King James Version is the result, first published in 1982.

New Living Translation (NLT)

The New Living Translation was first published in 1996 by Tyndale House, and is based on the principle of “dynamic equivalence”, whereby the biblical text is translated according to overall sense and meaning rather than word-for-word. The aim is to express the biblical text in such a way that it will make the same impact on its contemporary readers as on its original audience. Accordingly, the English of the NLT is that of everyday speech, making this version exceptionally vivid, engaging, and easy-to-read. It is not a paraphrase, but a genuine translation of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, guided by best practice in contemporary translation scholarship.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The New Revised Standard Version stands in the tradition of the great mainstream English Bible translations of the past half-millennium: William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526, the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). The NRSV was commissioned in 1974 as an update of the RSV. Its purpose was to fine-tune the translation process in the light of advances in the study of Semitic languages, as well as recent documentary discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The NRSV builds on the legacy of the RSV as a highly accurate “formal equivalence” translation with great scholarly integrity.

New International Reader's Version (NIrV)

Building on the integrity and readability of the NIV, the New International Reader's Version is a simplified, highly reader-friendly edition of its illustrious forerunner. In many cases, the text of the NIV has been retained in the NIrV, but where possible simpler, shorter words and sentences have been used. In passages where the words may be difficult for today’s readers, explanations have been added. In passages quoting another part of the Bible, the book, chapter, and verse names of the quote are embedded in the text. Subheadings and chapter titles help guide the reader through the text. The translators of the NIrV have compared every revision they’ve made to the best copies of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, to ensure that their readers are getting the actual Word of God. First published in 1996 by Biblica (formerly known as the New York Bible Society).

The Amplified Bible

Uniquely among English Bible translations, the Amplified Bible supplies multiple alternative meanings for each key word in the biblical text. Readers can gain fresh insight into the richness of Scripture, and into the process of translation from the original languages. A wonderful resource for both study and devotions, the full Amplified Bible was first published by Zondervan in 1965. It was based on the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV).

The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Passion Translation is the work of seasoned linguist and missionary Bible translator Dr Brian Simmons. His stated goal is “to trigger inside of every English speaker an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible – unfolding the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the language of love, the language of the heart. This translation is accurate to the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts, but passionately powerful in a contemporary form.” ( http://thepassiontranslation.com/ accessed 29/01/2015). Dr Simmons has taken a dynamic equivalent approach to interpreting Scripture, finding the most effective modern English rendering of biblical idioms at the phrase level. Readers have found that the Passion Translation makes Scripture intensely moving, fresh and alive, with language that enables you to feel like “you're there”.

Verse Comparison Guide 

Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

Building on the proven integrity and rigorous translation procedure of the NIV, Today's New International Version sets out to express God’s Word accurately in clear, unambiguous, contemporary English. Aspects of traditional English usage sometimes obscure the actual meaning of certain words and phrases in the original biblical languages. Striving for the closest possible faithfulness to Scripture, the TNIV has clarified such passages. In particular, the TNIV expresses the gender terminology of the Bible with scrupulous precision. Whereas earlier English Bible translations – including the NIV – used “he”, “man”, or “men” to indicate all people, the TNIV uses the more accurate “person” or “people”, or other phrases that closely follow the original language. The TNIV was first published in 2001, and is carrying forward the great legacy of the NIV to a new generation.