Choosing the Right Bible Translation for You
Reading and studying the Word of God is vitally important to the Christian walk; it’s what connects us to God and His promises. Reading the Bible may seem easy enough however it can become difficult if we are reading a translation of the Bible that is difficult for us to comprehend. I want to make it clear that this post is not saying one translation is better than another, nor am I intending to bash a particular translation. I simply want to provide information on various translations so you can choose what will work best for you! I will also share what translations I use and why!
There are countless translations so I am only going to cover some of the most popular. I will be also be explaining the different types of translations: word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase.
Let’s start with the different types:
- Word for Word: A word for word translation, or a formal translation, is considered to be more accurate and literal because each word from the original text is translated into a language used today (in the instance of this post, English.) Word for word translations are often used for studying because they stick closely to the original text. In most case, formal translations have a higher reading level than other translations.
- Thought for Thought: A thought for thought translation, or dynamic translations, is translated phrase by phrase and often use a more contemporary form of language. Dynamic translations are great for every day reading because they are written in a way that is easy to read yet they do not compromise the meaning of the text.
- Paraphrase: Paraphrase translations focus on the readability of their text rather than the accuracy. In some cases, paraphrase translations may sacrifice the original meaning of the text in order to make it read more smoothly. For this reason, paraphrase Bibles are mostly used for devotional reading and not studying.
- Amplified: The Amplified Bible is a word for word translation that attempts to be as literal as possible. This version includes added context by including the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek words in parenthesis and clarifying text in brackets to help break down the language barrier.
- English Standard Version: The ESV Bible is a word for word translation. It is modeled after the King James Version, but is much easier to read and comprehend. It is well noted for its word for word accuracy.
- King James Version: The KJV Bible is one of the most popular word for word translations. It is translated well but can be hard to understand because many of the words used (this Bible was first printed in 1611) are not found in today’s English language.
- New International Version: The NIV Bible is a phrase for phrase translation and is one of the most popular translations is history. The NIV Bible balances word for word and phrase for phrase translation so that the text is easy to read but stays true to the original meaning.
- New Living Translation: The NLT Bible is a phrase for phrase translation. The goal of this translation is to have the same impact on people today as the original text would have on people in biblical times.
- The Message: The Message Bible is paraphrase translation. This version was designed to encourage people to simply read the Bible rather than to encourage studying. No verses are used which make it difficult to look up specific passages.
With all of this being said, I would like to share the three Bible I use the most:
- Amplified: I use the Amplified Bible (specifically Joyce Meyer’s Every Day Life Bible) every day for the deep studying of scripture. I love how it includes the original definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words right there beside the English words. This Bible has an added depth that helps me to understand exactly what God is saying. However, this Bible can be difficult to read (especially aloud) because of all of the parentheses and brackets.
- English Standard Version: I use my ESV Bible for both studying and memorizing scripture. I usually use this Bible for lighter studying because it is highly accurate while being easier to read. I use it to memorize scripture for the same reason.
- New International Version: I use the NIV Bible for reading and journaling purposes. I love this translation because it is so easy to understand. I am currently reading through the Bible in a year and NIV is the translation that I am using. I also have a journaling Bible in NIV.
I would again like to state that I am not promoting one version of the Bible over another. The Bible versions that work well for me may not work well for you. I recommend praying earnestly and asking God to reveal what translation you should be reading and studying. You can also visit a website like Bible Gateway or Bible Hub and read through different translations (for free) and get a feel for what you like the best. Also, don’t be afraid to have more than one Bible for different purposes.
What are your favorite Bible translations?
**Information on the different translations of the Bible from Family Christian.**