Bible Translations

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I’ve often viewed myself as "a man without a translation." Some are more literal, but are absolutely dreadful at communicating in the English language. Some are better at English, but give up some on the accuracy end. I have typically always been an NIV preacher and used a variety of translations for personal study.

I’m getting closer to joining the movement toward the ESV–which seems to do a pretty good job of being both accurate and beautiful. What translations do you find helpful for personal study and preaching/teaching?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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5 thoughts on “Bible Translations

  1. The ESV is a new translation, first published in 2001. From the ESV Preface:
    “The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.
    In contrast to the ESV, some Bible versions have followed a “thought-for-thought” rather than “word-for-word” translation philosophy, emphasizing “dynamic equivalence” rather than the “essentially literal” meaning of the original. A “thought-for-thought” translation is of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.
    Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence.”

  2. I use the NASB for personal study, but I would never preach out of it. It’s way too wooden in its cadence and uses some archaic language. Maybe if I was teaching to a really seasoned crowd, but never on a Sunday morning.
    The vast majority of the time I teach from the TNIV.

  3. I was an NASB man for a long time (that’s the version I received when I graduated from high school from my elders), until I found out that most use the NIV, and I switched. The NASB seems most accurate, I just hate all that “Thee” and “Thou” stuff in the Psalms and prayer language of Jesus. John 17 is a difficult read of one of my favorite passages in the NASB.
    I definitely don’t care for The Message and others like it. When I read from it or quote from it, I feel like I should be saying, “Here’s a word from my next door neighbor about what he thinks the Bible says.” Some put way too much stock in Peterson and what he thinks the text means rather than what it originally said. It does make for an interesting quote every now and then, but just give me the NIV and I’ll be happy. I haven’t looked into the ESV yet. What are its strong points?

  4. I have primarily been using the NASB (the updated version) for the past 5 or more years. I use it for almost all of my study and preperation, and I mostly use it when preaching and teaching. I like how literal it is. The problem with most NASB’s is that they mostly come in verse by verse format, not paragraph format. That makes it very difficult to read publicly, but if you can find a paragraph format then it flows pretty well.
    Sometimes, especially when speaking to the youth, I will use the NIV.