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Comparing Bible Translations: Analysis

Issue #5: English Style


Scholars and language students often tend to judge translations based solely on Issues 2, 3, and 4. By their reasoning, a
conservative, literal translation from the best manuscripts must necessarily be the right Bible for everyone. But in reality,
Issue #5 is the one most present in the minds of most English-only readers. One need only look at the sales figures to see
this principle at work: for all the tradition behind the KJV, the NIV has been the best seller for years because of its
readability, and the even smoother NLT is a close third. The Living Bible, while a paraphrase, outsold the KJV when it was
first released. The message for translators is that readers want a Bible they can understand, and even the most accurate Bible
does little good for those who will not read it.

Is the language contemporary, older, or a combination?

• For the past century, Bibles have been translated into contemporary English, but before that time, the Bible and other
ancient texts were routinely translated using Elizabethan English. Thus, Tyndale, GEN, KJV, RV, Young, Darby, and
ASV have the style of the 16th and 17th centuries. For some time after, churches continued to pray in "King-James"
English, and so some translators retained Elizabethan grammar in psalms and prayers (e.g., John 17:2): Weymouth,
Moffatt, Montgomery, Lamsa, NEB, MLB, RSV, NASB (pre-95), and KJ21. The KJ21 is noteworthy here in that it
seeks to update the KJV's general grammar and vocabulary, but seems to do so only half-heartedly.
• Understanding Elizabethan grammar is only moderately difficult, but it can be a challenge to master the vocabulary,
especially when it continues into modern-English translations. Words from Tyndale such as liefer, despitions, and
noosell were already passing out of use when the KJV was produced. In 1 Samuel 17:6 (KJV), Goliath has greaves on
his legs and a target between his shoulders. Greaves must be more common than I was aware, for the word also
appears in RV, Darby, ASV, AAT, Lamsa, NWT, JB, RSV, NEB, NIV, NJB, NAB, NRSV, REB, KJ21, and NASB.
They are a kind of leg armor, as indicated by the other versions. (GEN reads bootes.) The target is called a collar in
KJ21 and a ƒhilde (shield) in GEN, but is really a kind of weapon. It may be a dagger (NEB, REB), a scimitar (NJB,
NAB), or a spear (NCV), but the majority opinion is that it is a javelin (RV, Young, Darby, ASV, NWT, AMP, JB,
MLB, RSV, LB, NKJV, NIV, NRSV, GNT, LITV, NASB, NLT, NIrV, ESV, CW). Another archaism that also
appears in later versions is the girdle that Jonathan wears and gives to David in 1 Samuel 18:4 (GEN, KJV, RV,
Young, Darby, ASV, AAT, Lamsa, RSV, KJ21). Today we would call it a belt, as all other versions have it.
• As with girdle, many words have changed their meaning over time. Thus, Bibles no longer call the Spirit the Holy
Ghost because of the negative connotations the word ghost has taken on. We are amused to see Jesus' command,
Suffer little children in Tyndale, GEN, KJV, RV, Young, Darby, ASV, and KJ21 (Matt. 19:14). It has often been said
that in the old style, suffer means to let, let means to prevent (1 Thes. 2:7, KJV only), and prevent means to precede
(Amos 9:10, KJV only). The contradiction Jesus endured in KJV, Darby, and KJ21 (Heb. 12:3) is more properly
rendered speaking against (Tyndale). And the honest conversation of Tyndale, GEN, KJV, and Darby (1 Pet. 2:12) is
actually an honorable way of life. My personal favorites are the superfluity of naughtiness in James 1:21 and the
certain lewd fellows of the baser sort in Acts 17:5 (both KJV only).
• Since the GEN was not revised after 1644, it retains the spelling of the time, which makes reading it today doubly
difficult. Consider for example forgiue vs our dettes; lead vs not into tentation, but deliuer vs fró euil; Dauid went out
whetherƒoeuer Saul ƒent him & behaued him ƒelƒe wiƒely (1 Sam. 18:3); and he hathe laied ƒiege against vs: they
ƒhal ƒmite the iudge of Iƒrael with a rodde vpon the cheke (Mic. 5:1). Editions of the KJV from 1611 and shortly
afterward read similarly, as do its predecessors, the Tyndale, Coverdale, Great, and Bishop's Bibles. Wycliffe's Bible
(earlier than Tyndale's) is most difficult because several letters in Wycliffe's alphabet have disappeared from our
language altogether.

Does the translation contain regionalisms, slang, or considerable informalities?

• In Tyndale's day, it was common to mix English with Latin or even Latinized English within the same sentence.
Tyndale stuck closely to common English words, usually preferring Anglo-Saxon words over Latin derivatives. Such
was natural for his work, produced for the common people in defiance of the church's prohibitions. As the church
adapted Tyndale's Bible for its own use, they added more elevated style and refined vocabulary with each revision
until the KJV reached its stately form. Comparing the KJV with Tyndale reveals just how informal Tyndale's work is,
even if it seems stylized to us today.

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• When the RV was produced in England, an American committee offered alternative renderings for spelling and
vocabulary that were less common in the US. Most printed copies of the RV contain an appendix listing these
proposed changes. Among the Britishisms the committee noted are chapiter, astonied, minish, defenced, wist, and
froward.
• The NEB also drew harsh criticism upon its release for being too "British." This includes references to possessions as
chattels (Gen. 36:6), Pentecost as Whitsuntide (1 Cor. 16:8), and reports that the people fell foul of Jesus (Matt. 13:57)
and that the Lord is coming to hold assize (1 Pet. 2:12). Both NEB and REB refer to the gnat of Matthew 23:24 as a
midge. Nearly all of these regionalisms were corrected by the REB. Likewise, Moffatt's translation has a strong
Scottish feel to it that may make reading difficult for American readers.
• The MSG exchanges original-language idioms for American ones. Expressions that are anachronistic or otherwise
obviously not drawn from the text include Smart-mouth College (Psa. 1:1), in the driver's seat (Matt. 16:24), in plain
English (Acts 13:8), minimum wage (1 Cor. 3:7), blueprints (1 Cor. 3:10), put your mind into gear (1 Pet. 1:13), slip
back into those old grooves (1 Pet. 1:14). This becomes most problematic when components of meaning (such as
sacrifice) are lost, as in Romans 8:36, where the sheep to be slaughtered are changed into sitting ducks. Norlie
sometimes gets a little too contemporary with expressions such as wicked rowdies in Acts 17:5 (compare AAT's
loafers in the same verse).
• The CPV is deliberately filled with the slang of the American South. In Luke, Jesus is thought to be old Joe's boy
(4:22), the children of God are the spittin' image of the Almighty (6:35), and the white supremacists accuse Jesus of
being a gadfly and a jitter-bug, a friend of Yankees and a nigger-lover. In comparison with the CPV, the LB is
positively restrained, despite its strong Americanisms and occasional extremes. The LB's most infamous vocabulary is
Saul's outburst in 1 Samuel 20:30, You son of a bitch!, which the NLT moderates to stupid son of a whore. The NJB
and MSG approach the coarseness with son of a rebellious slut, which is not entirely out of keeping with the intensity
of the Hebrew, whereas the NWT's son of a rebellious maid is far too cautious and actually contradicts the meaning of
the Hebrew.

What is the reading level and range of vocabulary for the translation?

I have not seen a satisfactory way of assessing reading level. Many computer programs simply consider vocabulary totals,
number of syllables, and average sentence length, and so versions like the GNT and NLT1 which multiply sentences may
have an artificially low score. Some minor versions, such as the Bible in Basic English, work from a vocabulary of only 800
to 3,000 words. The NCV and NIrV, both claiming third-grade reading levels, are designed for reading by 6- to 10-year
olds, though the NCV is also popular for adults who read little serious literature. The most difficult for children would be the
older versions and those that most retain Hebrew and Greek grammatical structure (Tyndale, GEN, KJV, RV, Young,
Darby, ASV, and LITV; though Tyndale's shorter sentences and simpler vocabulary help once its alphabet is modernized).
These are generally said to have a 12th-grade or college reading level.
Conventional reading levels reported for other fairly literal versions are 11th grade for NASB and NAB, 10th grade for
Weymouth and NRSV, and 9th grade for the NJB. The PME, while a paraphrase, is sophisticated enough to score at the
high-school level as well. Most free translations aim at a middle-school level (6th to 8th grade), which is the level of most
newspapers and popular literature. The NKJV and the contemporized portions of KJ21 also have 8th-grade reading levels by
most methods.

Is the translation pleasant to read?

This is by far the most subjective criterion, though it is one of the most important. Young readers, those new to
Christianity, and many evangelists prefer a light, conversational style, somewhat like a personal letter. They certainly don't
want to feel like they are reading a translation. This is the goal of paraphrases such as the PME, LB, and MSG, though the
PME is a bit on the formal side. The MSG has received extremely high praise from many circles, but some critics see it as
downright silly in places. The NLT, CEV, NCV, and NIrV also have this as a priority–translating the Scriptures as if they
were written today, to our culture. Additionally, the CEV was specially designed to sound like original contemporary speech
when read aloud. On the other hand, many in-depth Bible students want to feel as if they are transported back to the Bible's
original culture, hearing it along with the original audience. This is more the feel of the RSV, NASB, and ESV, and also of
the KJV, RV, and ASV for those who prefer older English. Others like a smooth-reading but somewhat formal style, as
found in the MLB, NIV, ISV, NET, and HCSB, and to a lesser extent in the GNC and TNIV. And what has kept the KJV
afloat is that millions of readers see it as the most "Biblical," with its stately, rich English, elevated, poetic, and easy to
memorize. No modern translation has matched the KJV as a literary masterpiece. The GEN and RV are also quite elegant,
and not nearly as wooden as the ASV. Tyndale may be the best example of making a Bible simple to read without departing
from a literal translation philosophy. It doesn't "feel" like a 500-year-old document, except for the occasional obsolete
words. The most difficult translations to enjoy at length are the Young (esp. OT) and AMP versions.

Does the translator capitalize pronouns referring to deity?

When the Bible was originally written, there was no distinction between capital and lower-case letters. But in English, it
is common to capitalize personal pronouns referring to God, and for Christians, those referring to Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
This has become so commonplace that it is surprising how many versions do not do so. Of the forty-nine versions surveyed,
the nine that use capitals are Weymouth, William, MLB, NKJV, KJ21, LITV, NASB, CW, and HCSB. (This was not always
the case. In the days of Tyndale, GEN, and KJV, divine pronouns were not capitalized, and even Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost sometimes lacked capitalization.)

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What does the translator do with the name of God?

God has a name. When the Israelites said, "The LORD is God," it was not merely a tautology. Scholars are unanimous
that God's name was pronounced Yahweh or Yahveh, with the accent most likely on the first syllable; so they would say,
"Yahweh is God.". Some time after the Old Testament was completed, Jews stopped pronouncing the name out of
reverence, and later Hebrew texts replaced the vowels of Yahweh with those of the word Lord ('adonai). This is where the
transliteration Jehovah comes from. (Y-names usually become J-names in Bible translation.) Likewise, Greek Old
Testaments translated Yahweh as kyrios (Lord).
• In consideration of the traditional Jewish reticence, most versions translate Yahweh as Lord (GEN, AMP, LB, NCV)
–or more commonly LORD to distinguish from 'adonai (KJV, RV, AAT, Lasma, MLB, RSV, NEB, NKJV, NIV,
NAB, NRSV, REB, GNT, KJ21, NASB, GW, NLT1, NIrV, NET, ESV, HCSB, NTL2). Since the MSG avoids the
word Lord altogether, it uses GOD in all capitals. A few translations use Jehovah: Young, Darby, ASV, NWT, and
LITV. Only the JB and NJB use Yahweh. The NWT also translates the Greek kyrios as Jehovah in the New Testament
when the translators judge it to refer to the Father. (But never when it refers to Jesus.)

Does the translator show an effort to translate the same word consistently where appropriate?

This is called the principle of concordance. Pastors and Bible students like it because they can tell by looking at the
English which Hebrew or Greek word lies behind it. This is helpful when certain words occur an unusual number of times in
a passage, or when they are laden with theological meaning. Translators are limited in their ability to do this, however,
because words have different meanings in different contexts, and the English near-equivalent may not have the same range
of meaning.
• An example of a word that requires caution is the Greek dikaios, commonly translated righteous or just. In Luke 5:32
and 14:14, the meaning is the same–those whose lives are characterized by righteousness. But in 12:57, Jesus uses the
word to describe a correct judgment, which requires a different word. Young, NWT, TBV, NJB, INC, and NIrV
manage to translate the same all three times, but with a resultant loss of precision. This would be an overcommitment
to concordance. Many translations translate the first two references the same (e.g., righteous), and the third differently
(e.g., right): Tyndale, Weymouth, Moffatt, William, Lamsa, JB, NIV, NAB, NRSV, NCV, NASB, ISV, NET, HCSB.
The other translations have a different rendering each time: GEN, KJV, RV, Darby, ASV, Montgomery, AAT, PME,
Norlie, AMP, MLB, CPV, RSV, LB, NEB, NKJV, GNC, REB, CEV, GNT, KJ21, LITV, GW, NLT1, ESV, MSG,
CW, and NLT2. The reasons for this vary. Some translations do not make concordance a priority. Others lack
coordination between the different translators. But some, most notably the KJV, NEB, and CEV, have deliberately
sought to include as much variation as possible for stylistic reasons.
• A more difficult case has to do with one of John's favorite words: abide. It has the general sense of remaining. The
Spirit can abide with someone, people abide in houses, and eternal things abide forever. Since abide is an uncommon
word, and no common English word covers the entire range of meaning, the translator is forced into some variation.
The difficulty here is that John deliberately pairs different meanings of the word together, and as his Gospel
progresses, the word takes on more theological implications. Selecting just a few of the occurrences (John 1:32-33,
38-39; 3:36; 6:27; 14:10, 16) reveals the habits of different translations. The RV, being a concordant translation,
always translates the word abide. Young, Darby, and ASV manage to translate seven of the nine occurrences the same
(using remain or abide). Weymouth, William, NWT, MLB, and NET each use remain five times. But Tyndale,
Moffatt, Montgomery, AAT, Lamsa, Norlie, RSV, LB, NRSV, NASB, NLT1, HCSB, MSG, CW, and NLT2 never
use the same word more than twice to render the term in these verses.
◦ There are pairs of abide in which concordance is important. In verses 32 and 33, God has promised John that
the one on whom the Spirit abides is the Messiah. John then testifies to having seen the Spirit abide on Jesus.
The word is translated the same in all versions except Tyndale, GEN, KJV, Norlie, AMP, TBV, KJ21, and
MSG. The occurrence in 1:32 should also match 14:16, when Jesus tells the disciples the Spirit will abide with
them forever. But only GEN, KJV, RV, Young, William, AMP, GNT, and KJ21 make this connection. And it
would also be helpful to see that after some disciples asked Jesus where He was abiding, they abode with him
for the rest of the day. The versions that convey this are RV, Young, Darby, ASV, NWT, RSV, NAB, GNC,
NRSV, NCV, GNT, INC, NASB, NLT1, ISV, NET, HCSB, ESV, MSG, and NLT2.
◦ A second bit of clever word choice occurs in 1:38-39. Jesus tells these disciples, "Come and see," so they came
and saw. All versions except LB, CEV, GW, NLT1, CW, and NLT2 maintain the reiteration here.
• A much easier example to show the value of concordance is the word agape, which most translations regularly render
love. When the KJV's Apocrypha was completed, Andrew Downes was transferred from that committee to one that
was in the middle of Paul's epistles. With his aggressive and abrasive personality, he managed to get the word agape
translated as charity in most of the remaining texts, whereas love was the translation everywhere else (and also
throughout the Tyndale-based version they were revising). Thus charity appears 9 times in 1 Corinthians 8-16, and
alternates roughly with love from Colossians through Revelation. The KJ21 follows the KJV's word choice here, and
the NWT uses charity in 1 Corinthians 13, which is nevertheless famous as "the love chapter."

Has the King James Version influenced word order and word choice in familiar passages?

The influence of word order is hard to discern since the KJV follows the original languages so closely. But owing to the
differences in English usage, the influence of word choice is easy to detect (see the above discussion on greaves). Five

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examples suffice to show the dramatic influence of the King James. (Technically, Tyndale and GEN cannot be said to be
influenced by the KJV (which came later). The KJV is instead influenced by them.)
• hallowed be Your name in Matthew 6:9: Tyndale, GEN, KJV, RV, Young, ASV, Montgomery, Lamsa, Norlie, AMP,
RSV, NEB, TBV, NKJV, NIV, NAB, NRSV, REB, INC, KJ21, NASB, ESV, TNIV.
◦ Other translations have honored, kept or treated as held holy, revered, or sanctified.
• babe in Luke 2:12: KJV, RV, Young, Darby, ASV, Weymouth, Montgomery, Lamsa, RSV, TBV, NKJV, KJ21, LITV
◦ Most other translations have baby; a few have infant or child.
• wrapped in swaddling clothes in Luke 2:12: KJV, RV, Darby, ASV, Weymouth, Montgomery, Lamsa, Norlie, AMP,
JB, MLB, NEB, TBV, NKJV, NJB, NAB, REB, KJ21, ESV
◦ Other translations have dressed in baby clothes, wrapped up, wrapped in cloths or bands or a blanket. A few
such as Tyndale have swaddled.
• multitude of the heavenly host in Luke 2:13: KJV, RV, Young, Darby, ASV, Norlie, NWT, MLB, RSV, TBV, NKJV,
NAB, NRSV, INC, KJ21, LITV, NASB, NET, HCSB, ESV
◦ Other translations vary widely. Tyndale (the KJV's predecessor) has multitude of heavenly soldiers.
• have not love/charity in 1 Corinthians 13:1: KJV, RV, Young, Darby, ASV, Lamsa, Norlie, AMP, RSV, NKJV, NIV,
KJ21, ESV
◦ Other translations, including Tyndale, use the modern word order do not have love, don't love, have no love or
am without love.

Are words supplied by the translator differentiated from the text itself?

Words that are implied in the Greek text but necessary for smooth English are sometimes placed in italics, a practice
begun with the GEN. Italics also appear in the KJV, RV, ASV, NKJV, and NASB. The NWT, AMP, and LITV place added
words in brackets, and the NIV and TNIV use half-brackets on rare occasions (about eight times in the whole New
Testament). The HCSB has few brackets in the New Testament but many in the Old Testament, perhaps suggesting a change
in policy during the latter portion of the translation project. Most modern translators do not see a need to distinguish the
added words since they are definitely implied in the text, and the use of italics is sometimes confusing for those who are
used to associating italics with emphasis. The MSG complicates the problem for those comparing translations: it does use
italics for emphasis.

Is prose text presented in paragraph format, or does each verse begin on a new line?

Traditionally in Bibles, each verse begins on a new line for ease of reference. More modern versions tend to prefer
paragraphs, since this better represents the author's structure and flow of thought. Those using paragraphs are Tyndale
(whose work predated verse divisions), Moffatt, Norlie, JB, MLB, CPV, RSV, LB, NEB, NIV, NJB, NAB, GNC, NRSV,
REB, CEV, NCV, GNT, INC, KJ21, GW, NLT1, NIrV, ISV, HCSB, ESV, TNIV, CW, and NLT2. There are also a few
editions of the NKJV available in paragraph format. The MSG not only uses paragraphs but omits verse numbers altogether.
Those preferring a verse-by-verse format are GEN (the first English Bible to have verses), KJV, RV, Young, Darby, ASV,
Weymouth, Montgomery, William, PME, NWT, AMP, TBV, NKJV, LITV, and NASB. NASB Bibles usually indicate the
beginnings of paragraphs by placing a verse number in bold face. Some recent editions of the NASB are available in
paragraph format.

Are prose, poetry, and other forms rendered as such in the format of the text?

• Much of the Bible is poetry, and most versions (all but Tyndale, GEN, KJV, AAT, AMP, LB, LITV, and CW) mark
poetic passages with an indented, line-by-line format. A good test verse is one of the first songs in the Bible, Genesis
4:23-24 (though NLT1 has it as prose). A debated occurrence of poetry is Daniel 7:10-14. RV, Young, Darby, ASV,
NWT, MLB, GNT, KJ21, and NLT1 have the entire passage in prose. Verses 9-10 are set off as poetry in NEB, NIV,
REB, NCV, GW, and NIrV. And verses 9-10 and 13-14 are poetry in Lamsa, JB, RSV, NKJV, NJB, NAB, NRSV,
NASB, NET, ESV, MSG, and HCSB. One particularly interesting passage is 1 Peter 2:21-25, which is prose
according to the UBS Greek text, but poetry in its companion, the Nestle-Aland text. The only versions that have the
section as poetry are CEV and HCSB. The versions most attentive to poetry are JB, NJB, CEV, and HCSB; while the
two least attentive are the LB and CW, which even paraphrase Psalms and Proverbs into prose paragraphs.
• The GEN and KJV began the tradition of placing inscriptions in all capitals (e.g., Matt. 27:37), and are followed by
RV, ASV, Weymouth, Montgomery, William, MLB, NIV, GNC, NCV, LITV, NASB, NIrV, TNIV, and MSG (with
some using small caps). Moffatt, Lamsa, PME, and NKJV go further by centering the capitalized inscription, and
HCSB additionally draws a box around it.
• Lists such as genealogies and censuses can be confusing, especially in paragraph form. As a result, a number of
versions give such lists an easy-to-read format. For the list of tribes in the 144,000, Revelation 7:5-8 is specially
formatted in RV, ASV, Weymouth, Montgomery, LB, NKJV, NIV, NRSV, NCV, NASB, GW, NLT1, NIrV, NET,
ESV, TNIV, and NLT2. The GNT condenses this particular list but renders others almost like spreadsheets, as does
the MSG (which has this example in regular prose).
• The KJ21 contains a novel feature. In addition to the now-standard prose paragraphs and set-off poetry, the updaters
have placed familiar texts in bold print, and have italicized Jesus' words.

Does the translation provide footnotes for explanations and alternate readings or renderings?

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Nearly all translations provide this feature to give the reader any information that cannot properly be placed in the text.
Even the KJV had such footnotes when first published. Often, as with the JB and NASB, these footnotes are mixed in with
cross-references. Extensive translator's notes are the hallmark of the NET Bible, which boasts nearly 60,000. The PME
contains endnotes rather than footnotes, and they come only rarely. As helpful and necessary as these notes are, there are
two factors that diminish their usefulness. The first is that readers rarely read footnotes, especially if they are in tiny print,
squashed into a margin or center column, or seldom relevant. The second is that software and compact Bibles often omit
footnotes, so there is no guarantee that every reader will have access to the information. For these reasons, it may be wise
for translators to use footnotes only sparingly (the NIV, GNC, ESV, HCSB, and NLT2 have a good balance). They should
also be intelligible, since most readers will balk at excessive abbreviation or the unfamiliar lingo of linguistic scholarship.
This hurt the popularity of Moffatt's version, whose footnotes include a great deal of untranslated Greek. The MSG omits all
footnotes, cross-references, verse-numbers, double-column formats, and anything else that would take away the feel of
reading a normal book. It may also be important to note whether the footnotes contain objective translation notes or
interpretive commentary, and whether the difference between the two is marked in some way.
Special comment should be made regarding alternate readings. Should the reader be informed of the presence of textual
readings that are traditional but obviously not original? I think, with regard to longer readings (e.g., whole verses), the reader
should be advised so as not to suspect that the version accidentally omitted the longer text. But a poorly worded footnote
may give the reader the impression that he can simply choose whichever reading he likes best (which will rarely be the
shorter or more difficult reading). An impressive solution appears in the NIrV, which deals with these verses in its
introduction. Ideally, however, pastors should make their congregations aware of the textual differences between the
KJV/NKJV and other versions, and the reasons behind them.

Does the translation mark Old Testament citations in the New Testament?

Reference Bibles of any translation do this, but the translators themselves provide these helps in a number of versions.
The AMP, LITV, and NIrV place OT addresses in the text. In GEN, RV, JB, MLB, RSV, LB, NKJV, NAB, GNC, NCV,
NASB, NLT1, ISV, NET, ESV, TNIV, and NLT2 they are in the footnotes or the margin. The NASB and HCSB capitalize
OT quotations, while in Moffatt and NET they are in italics. The LITV has the added feature of marking Messianic
prophecies in the Old Testament with the letter M. As with footnotes, these references may be omitted in certain compact
editions and software, and the MSG avoids them for the reason given above.

Grades (this category only)

Top 5: HCSB (highest), NASB, William, ISV, NET


B: NIrV, NCV, ESV, MLB, NIV, NLT1, NLT2, TNIV
C: GW, CW, JB, NKJV, NJB, NRSV, INC, NAB, GNC, NWT, RSV, Weymouth
D: Norlie, LITV, TBV, CEV, CPV, Tyndale
F: LB, REB, PME, MSG, KJ21, Montgomery, ASV, KJV, RV, Darby, Lamsa, AAT
Bottom 5: GEN, AMP, Young, NEB, Moffatt (lowest)

• Questions for Comparing Translations


• Issue #1: Historical Background
• Issue #2: Textual Basis
• Issue #3: Translation Philosophy
• Issue #4: Theological Orientation
• Issue #5: English Style
• Practice with Romans 8:26-39
• Conclusions

Translations Compared

• AAT - An American Translation; 1935, NT by Edgar J. Goodspeed, OT ed. by J. M. Powas Smith


• AMP - Amplified Bible; NT 1958, OT 1965 by Frances E. Siewert, assisted by the Lockman Foundation
• ASV - American Standard Version, 1901; revision of KJV
• CEV - Contemporary English Version, 1991 by American Bible Society; revision of TEV
• CPV - Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts, 1969 by Clarence Jordan
• CW - The Clear Word; 2003 by Jack J. Blanco
• Darby - A New Translation; NT 1871, OT 1890 by John Nelson Darby
• ESV - English Standard Version; 2001 by Crossway Bibles; revision of RSV
• GEN - Geneva Bible; 1560
• GNC - God's New Covenant: A New Translation; 1989 by Heinrich Walter Cassirer
• GNT - Good News Translation (formerly Good News Bible: Today's English Version); NT 1966, OT 1976 by
American Bible Society; 1992 edition
• GW - God's Word; 1995 by God's Word to the Nations Bible Society
• HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible; NT 2000, OT 2004 by Holman Bible Publishers
• INC - Inclusive New Testament; 1994 by Priests for Equality
• ISV - International Standard Version; NT 1998 by the Learn Foundation

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• JB - Jerusalem Bible; 1966 by Dominican Biblical School of Jerusalem
• KJV - King James Version; orig. 1611; 1769 Cambridge Edition by Benjamin Blayney; revision of the Bishop's Bible
• KJ21 - 21st Century King James Version; 1994 by Deuel Publishers; revision of KJV
• Lamsa - The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts; 1957 by George M. Lamsa
• LB - Living Bible, 1962-1971 by Kenneth N. Taylor; paraphrase of ASV
• LITV - Literal Translation of the Holy Scriptures; 1995 by Jay P. Green; revision of The Interlinear Bible
• MLB - Modern Language Bible: The New Berkeley Version in Modern English; OT 1959, NT 1945, committee led
by Gerrit Verkuyl; 1969 revised edition
• Moffatt - New Translation of the New Testament, 1913 by James Moffatt
• Montgomery - Centenary Translation of the New Testament; 1924 by Helen Barrett Montgomery; revision of ASV
• MSG - The Message; 1993-2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
• NAB - New American Bible; trans. 1970 by Catholic Biblical Association of America; 1986 edition; revision of
Douai-Rheims NT
• NASB - New American Standard Bible; NT 1963, OT 1971 by the Lockman Foundation; 1995 Updated Edition;
revision of ASV
• NCV - New Century Version; 1986 by Word Publishing Company; 1991 edition
• NEB - New English Bible; NT 1961, OT 1970 by Joint Committee on the New Translation of the Bible; 1972 edition
• NET - New English Translation; 1998 by the NET Bible Project, version 2.0
• NIrV - New International Reader's Version; 1995 by International Bible Society; 1998 edition; revision of NIV
• NIV - New International Version; NT 1973, OT 1978 by Committee on Bible Translation; 1984 edition
• NJB - New Jerusalem Bible; 1985
• NKJV - New King James Version; NT 1979, OT 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
• NLT1 - New Living Translation; 1996 by Tyndale House; second printing; revision of LB
• NLT2 - New Living Translation (2nd Edition), 2004 by Tyndale House; revision of NLT1
• Norlie - New Testament in Modern English; 1961 by Olaf M. Norlie
• NRSV - New Revised Standard Version; 1989 by National Council of Churches of Christ; revision of RSV
• NWT - New World Translation; 1950-1960 by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; 1961 edition
• PME - New Testament in Modern English; 1947-1957 by John B. Phillips
• REB - Revised English Bible; 1989 by Joint Committee on the New Translation of the Bible; revision of REB
• RSV - Revised Standard Version; NT 1946, OT 1952 by National Council of Churches of Christ; 1970 edition;
revision of ASV
• RV - Revised Version; NT 1881, OT 1884; revision of KJV
• TBV - The Better Version of the New Testament; 1973 by Chester Estes
• TNIV - Today's New International Version; NT 2002 by International Bible Society; revision of NIV
• Tyndale - Tyndale's New Testament, 1534; Yale edition has spelling updated, 1989 by David Daniell
• Weymouth - New Testament in Modern Speech; 1903 by Richard Weymouth
• William - William's New Testament (date unknown, included with the UltraBible software library).
• Young - Young's Literal Translation; NT 1862, OT 1898 by Robert Young

For a concise statement of my beliefs about the Bible, see my Declaration of Faith.

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