Bibles – different versions, translations, etc.
Click on the following to get to the webpage with information about comparative religions:
Much of the information in this chart comes from sources that I believe are reliable, such as encyclopedias, almanacs, books, and people who I believe to be reliable who have sent me emails. I have sometimes included information on this chart when I believe, but do not know know, if it is accurate. I am always willing to add any comments that are sent to me, since I am not an expert on this subject.
If anyone wants to send me email, especially if any of the information on this chart is not correct or if you know of additional information that should be included, please send me email by clicking on my name:
Paul M. Bessel
The Bible and the Ten Commandments
(Much of the following information comes from The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (1993), and The Ten Commandments, by Joseph Lewis, which is shown on the Internet.)
The contents of “the Bible” are different in different religions. Different numbers of books are included, or the books are included in different order. In addition, there are many different translations of the Bible, some of which are considered authoritative by some religions.
Even the “Ten Commandments” is not a clear term. There is no part of the Bible that says, “The Ten Commandments are ……………..” What are considered the Ten Commandments are included in different places in the Bible (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), the number of commandments is not clearly (it may appear more reasonable to view the passages as containing 13 commandments, in either book of the Bible where they are contained), and they are presented in different words in different books even in the same translations of the Bible (for example: Exodus – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” or Deuteronomy – “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God has commanded thee”). Different religions present the Ten Commandments in different words, and sometimes identify each Commandment in a different order than other religions.
|Religion||examples of differences in Bible||examples of differences in Ten Commandments|
Torah (Pentateuch): first 5 books – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number, Deuteronomy
Prophets: Former (4) – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings – and Latter (4) – (most use this order, but some do not) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Minor Prophets (usually a single unit, including Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
Writings (11) – (usual order, but not always) Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles
|1st Commandment: I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (or bondage).|
|Protestant||Old Testament (39) and New Testament (27), for a total of 66.
Protestant religions generally use the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament, but the books are ordered differently (for example, reversing the order of Prophets-Writings), and some are divided, so the total number of books in the Protestant Old Testament is 39:
The New Testament consists of 27 books:
|1st Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.|
|Catholic||73 books in total:
In addition to those books of the Bible accepted by Protestants, includes (in response to the Protestant Reformation, adopted at the Council of Trent in 1546):
Greek additions to Esther
Wisdom of Solomon
Letter of Jeremiah
3 Greek additions to Daniel:
Prayer of Azariah & the Song of the Three Jews
Bel and the Dragon
1 and 2 Maccabees
|1st Commandment: I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.9th and 10th Commandments both relate to coveting, while others consider these to be just one Commandment, the 10th|
|Anglican||Accepts only the Jewish canon and the New Testaments as authoritative, but also accepts segments of the apocryphal writings in the lectionary and liturgy. At one time all copies of the King James Version of 1611 included the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments|
|Greek Orthodox||Accepts all the books of the Bible accepted by the Catholic Church, plus:
Prayer of Manasseh
Other Eastern religions accept other books, too, such as 4 Maccabees
|Treats worshiping other gods and making images of the Deity as the 1st and 2nd Commandments, while Jewish, Catholic, and Lutherans put these together in a single Commandment (2nd for Jewish, part of the 1st for Catholics)|
|Ethiopic church||Largest Bible of all, with 81 books in its Bible.
Old Testament includes the books of the Hebrew Bible, plus all the deuterocanonical books listed above, plus:
Joseph ben Gorion’s (Josippon’s) medieval history of the Jews and other nations.
New Testament (“broader”) includes 35 books. In addition to the usual 27:
4 sections of church order from a compilation called Sinodos
2 sections from the Ethiopic Book of the Covenant
New Testament (“narrower”) includes only the 27 books, but the Old Testament books are divided differently so they make up 54 books instead of the usual 46.
The information in the following chart comes from various sources that appear to me to be knowledgeable. It is presented here to show the very wide variety of Bibles that are considered “The Bible” for different people. A good website for comparisons of Bible versions is http://www.bibleversions.com/ and, of course, there are many good books on the subject of Bible translations and versions. The question of which Bible is “correct” or the “best translation” is a controversial subject for many people in different religions, and sometimes for people within the same religion.
|ALT – Analytical-Literal Translation||Translation Philosophy: Strictly Literal
Manuscripts Consulted: BHS • TR [MT]
Completeness: Old Testament not yet started, New Testament in progress.
Number/Background of Translators: 1, Reformed Baptist
Second Person Plural? Yes, indicated by an asterisk (*) e.g., “you*”
Capital Diety Pronouns? Yes
Tetragrammaton? Yes, Yahweh
Added words offset? Yes, with brackets e.g., “[added word]”
Update of: YLT (New Testament), Dby (Old Testament)
Web Site: http://www.dtl.org/alt.htm Latest edition available
First Published: not yet completed
Last Updated: 1999
Copyright Status: ©1999 Gary F. Zeolla. Published by Darkness to Light Ministry. Permission is granted to use up to 1,000 verses of this translation as long as those verses do not account for an entire book of the Bible, nor amount to more than 50% of the work they are used in.
|Amp – Amplified Bible||Excellent for detailed study of a passage. It seeks to reveal the full richness of the underlying Greek and Hebrew, and often reveals insights that you might miss in reading a more conventional translation. This isn’t real good for reading aloud (because of its punctuation and wordiness), but recommended for study to set along side one of the other translations. The Amplified Old Testament is not available in any electronic form, because of copyright and greed issues between the copyright owners. The Amplified New Testament is available from Logos.|
|ASV – American Standard Version||The American Standard Version (ASV) of the Holy Bible was first published in 1901. It has earned the reputation of being the Rock of Biblical Honesty. Although the English used in the ASV is somewhat archaic, it isn’t nearly as hard to understand as some passages of the King James Version of nearly 3 centuries earlier. This translation of the Holy Bible is in the public domain, since its copyright has expired.American Standard Version
Translation Philosophy: Literal-Idiomatic
Manuscripts Consulted: BHS • CT(WH)
Completeness: Old Testament, New Testament
Number/Background of Translators: 50+, interdenominational/ecumenical
Second Person Plural? Yes, indicated by using “ye,” “you,” or “your” (“thee,” “thou,” or “thine” are second person singulars.)
Capital Diety Pronouns? No
Tetragrammaton? Yes, Jehovah
Added words offset? Yes, with italics e.g., “added words”
Update of: ERV, KJV
Web Site: http://www.ebible.org/bible/asv/ Complete version, also downloadable
First Published: 1901
Last Updated: 1901
Copyright Status: Public Domain The American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901 is a revision of the Revised Bible, a revision of the KJV for language and to take advantage of some new (then) manuscript discoveries to allow greater accuracy. The ASV uses “Jehovah” for God’s name, instead of “LORD” (which the KJV and many others use). The language of the ASV is less archaic than the KJV, but still far from modern. The ASV is in the Public Domain. American equivalent of RV, done shortly thereafter. Contained some additional advances in scholarship. Tended to be more literal than AV.
|BBE – Bible in Basic English||Translation Philosophy: Easy English/Literal
Manuscripts Consulted: BHS • CT
Completeness: Old Testament, New Testament
Number/Background of Translators: 1, unknown
Second Person Plural? Not indicated
Capital Diety Pronouns? No
Tetragrammaton? Not indicated
Added words offset? No
Web Site: http://www.bf.org/bfetexts.htm Downloadable complete version
First Published: 1949
Last Updated: 1962
Copyright Status: Public Domain in the United States of America, due to its being originally published without a copyright notice. Else copyright by C. K. Ogden and Cambridge University Press/E. P. Dutton & Co.
|Book of Mormon||According to LDS (Mormon) belief, the Book of Mormon is a companion Scripture to the Bible, with which it shares equal status.|
|CET – Today’s English Version||See TEV|
|CEV – Contemporary English Version||The American Bible Society’s latest English entry. It is aimed at a 3rd grade reading level, but I think it is really more like 2nd grade level. If you don’t mind calling Passover “The Feast of Thin Bread,” it is OK. Copyrighted. CEV (Contemporary English Version): The CEV is highly readable, for both adults and children, and exegetically faithful. It strives to preserve the meaning of the original in natural English expressions. The CEV is not a paraphrase; it is an accurate translation of the original languages.
The CEV Project was begun in 1984 by the American Bible Society. Both the adult version and illustrated children’s version have many reading aids. Said to be 5th grade level.
|Darby Translation||Another somewhat archaic translation. It is freely available on line.|
|Easy to Read Version||This version was especially prepared to meet the needs of the deaf, those learning English as a foreign language, and those facing special reading difficulties. It served as the basis for the New Century Version and the International Children’s Bible. Said to be at 4th grade level.|
|Good News Bible||See TEV|
|GW – God’s Word||God’s Word is a fresh, new translation from the God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society. It is easy to read and well done. Copyrighted. GW (God’s Word): highly lauded by its producers who say: it is the most readable translation available – it represents the best English grammar (syntax) ever put “on the page” of an English Bible – it is, quite possibly, the most accurate English translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts ever produced! These are the same claims made by the producers of the ISV, but the English of the GW is, on the whole, a little more natural, with better stylistic flow than that of the ISV. GW is more
dynamic and readable than the NIV.This version is outstanding for its accurate and readable translation. The theory of translation is “closest natural equivalence,” exceeding “dynamic/function equivalence” translation in accuracy. Said to be 4th -5th grade level.
|HNV – Hebrew Names Version (HNV) of the World English Bible||An edition of the World English Bible that uses traditional Hebrew names instead of the Greek/English forms common to most English translations of the Holy Bible. For example, “Jesus” is rendered “Yeshua” and “Moses” is rendered “Moshe.” Like the WEB, the HNV is in the Public Domain. It is available on line at http://www.ebible.org/bible/hnv You can have daily readings from the HNV sent to you by email by sending email to email@example.com with “subscribe hnv” in the body of the message.|
|ICV – International Children’s Version||See NCV|
|ISV – International Standard Version||Highlights careful attention to Greek verb “tenses” (aspect) and translation of these to English. Some Biblical poetry is translated as English rhyming poetry. Promoted by its producers as “the most readable and accurate English translation of the Bible ever produced” (the same claim made for the GW). The New Testament has been printed and is available for purchase. The entire New Testament and books of the Old Testament completed in preview form are available for download.|
|JB – Jerusalem Bible||See NJB|
|Jefferson Bible||According to the webpage at http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/
Thomas Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. In compiling what has come to be called “The Jefferson Bible,” he sought to separate these ethical teachings from the religious dogma and other supernatural elements that are intermixed in the account provided by the four Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative. This presentation of The Jefferson Bible uses the King James Version of the texts, corrected in accordance with the findings of modern scholarship. The selection and arrangement are by Jefferson.
|JNT – Jewish New Testament||An interesting mix of Hebrew and English terminology that brings out the Jewish nature of the Rabbi called Yeshua (Jesus). Copyrighted.|
|JPS – Jewish Publication Society||See NJV|
|JST – Joseph Smith Translation||Published in 1867, but it is not clear if this is used by some, or all, LDS (Mormons), or if it is official or not.|
|Judaica Press version||Edited by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg. http://www.judaicapress.com/|
|KJV – King James Version, sometimes called the Authorized Version (AV)||Was quite revolutionary when it came out in 1611 (and was revised a few times to correct its large collection of typos). It is still very popular, in spite of its archaic and difficult to understand language. Indeed, there is a cult-like following of this translation that claim that this is the only true Word of God, superior even to the original languages. The King James Version of the Holy Bible is in the Public Domain. You can publish, copy, distribute it for free, or sell it, all without having to ask anyone’s permission. The King James Version was an academic tour-de-force in 1611, at which time it was a hotly denounced modern translation. In some quarters today it is the only acceptable translation, even though the translators in 1611 explicitly stated that they looked forward to future scholarship to correct whatever errors they may have made.
The King James Version originated when a group of Puritans ambushed King James while he was on a journey and presented him with a petition requesting a new translation of the Bible. Since the petition had a thousand signatures, it was called the Millenary Petition. The Puritans wanted a new translation of the Bible, because most of the existing English Bibles were biased and polemic. To their surprise, the king readily agreed and assembled the brightest and best Bible scholars in England to undertake the project. They were dismayed at first when the king announced he would personally manage the project, but they were pleasantly surprised when it turned out that he had an excellent background in the subject. The resulting translation was made mandatory for the Church of England, over many protests from the clergy. Because books were extremely expensive in those days, well out of the reach of the common person, the law also required every church to keep a copy on display 24 hours a day, so that ordinary people could come in and read the Bible at any time. The Bibles were generally chained to the reading desks to prevent them from being stolen when no one was around. The cost of replacing a stolen Bible in those days could easily bankrupt a local parish.
|KJ21 – 21st Century King James Version of the Holy Bible||http://www.kj21.com/|
|KJ2000 – King James 2000 Bible||http://life-equals-jesus.org/Couric/|
|LB – Living Bible||See NLTThe Living Bible is the work of Kenneth N. Taylor, who in 1954 began paraphrasing scripture for use in family devotions. The first complete Living Bible appeared in 1970. It has been revised many times and appears in many different versions.
The Living Bible mixes the author’s interpretations with text, making objective study impossible unless you agree with Kenneth N. Taylor’s views. It is strongly tendentious, as the author often inserts wording that has no basis whatsoever in the original text in order to conform it to fundamentalist viewpoints on end-times, sexuality, politics, and social policy. (For example, compare Jude 7 in the Living Bible with Jude 7 in the King James Version and notice how much extra text they inserted.) Depending on your views, you may see the Living Bible as clarifying the meaning that is already present in the text or as imputing meaning into the text that is not there. Essentially, the Living Bible does the interpreting for you. Even some fundamentalists find it controversial.
The Living Bible is easy to read and it makes a good story book. Many editions explain the nature and purpose of the paraphrase.
|Leeser Bible||A Jewish Bible produced by Isaac Leeser in the 1800s|
|LITV – Literal Translation of the Bible||http://www.kconline.com/paul/litv/litv.htm|
|The Message||A paraphrase that claims to be a translation. It is very earthy, and is a great commentary, but not very accurate. Copyrighted.|
|MKJV – Modern King James Version||http://www.cet.com/~voice/mkjv/mkjv.htm|
|MLV – Modern Literal Version (ASV-3)||Came about because of a desire to let the public have the ASV on computer disks; the King James Version was then available. The ASV has been for years the translation held by most scholars as being the most accurate version ever made and the standard by which others should be judged. It is also known as being the version with the least amount of doctrinal or denominational bias. After some consideration, it seemed better to make a literal modern English revision of the ASV and then place it in the Public Domain. See http://christianlibrary.org/bibles/MLV/preface.htm|
|Mormon||see Book of Mormon|
|NAB – New American Bible||A “Catholic” Bible (with the Apocrypha interspersed in the Old Testament). It is very readable and accurate. Copyrighted.
Translated by Catholic Biblical scholars.The OT is uneven. It was done over decades. Gen was so far out of date that it had to be retranslated, so it ended up visibly newer, i.e. less literal and using more modern scholarship. Even the NT tended to be a bit uneven. The same expression would be translated differently in Mat. and Luke. The 2nd edition smooths this out, but makes it more literal. The newer parts of the OT still tend to have a less literal feeling. However this is still a competent translation. For detailed study of the NT, if you want something as close to the original words as possible but still want modern textual scholarship, the 2nd edition might be the best translation for you. In the OT they sometimes rearrange the order of passages. There’s some theory that the originals got out of order.The New American Bible is principally a lay-oriented Roman Catholic Bible translation, although some non-Catholic scholars were involved. It is primarily the outgrowth of an encyclical by Pope Pius XII (Divino afflante Spiritu) which encouraged Bible-reading among Roman Catholics.
The New American Bible is not as good as the Jerusalem Bible for serious study. The notes have a distinct Roman Catholic flavor, which can be a disadvantage for people who are not Roman Catholics. Advantages
This is a very good Bible for the lay Catholic. The notes have a distinct Roman Catholic flavor, which can be an advantage for Roman Catholics or for people who are not Roman Catholics themselves, but wish to inform themselves about the position of the Roman Catholic church on specific passages.
|NASB – New American Standard Bible||Said to be almost as good as the NASB95, except that it reverts to archaic English in the Psalms and in the language of prayer, and is a little harder to read. It is not widely available on line, due to copyright restrictions, but you can find it at the Bible Gateway. Favored by some conservatives who prefer a literal translation. The quality of English is not as good as in the NIV. An updated version was published in 1995.
New American Standard Bible – in some sense a conservative reaction to RSV. Tried to return to the supposed accuracy (i.e. literalness) of ASV, backed out of some of the more controversial positions of the RSV. However did still make use of early manuscripts (though not very aggressively).
The New American Standard Bible was the project of the Lockman Foundation, which sought to produce an accurate, readable translation. The translators came from a wide variety of evangelical backgrounds.
|NASB95 – New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update||An excellent translation, with wording that is more literal than the NIV, and which holds to the style of the original more closely. The NASB is well known for paying close attention to tenses of words, etc. It is based on the UBS4 Greek text. Available from Parsons Technology and Logos, as well as some printed Bibles.|
|NCV – New Century Version||A fairly free translation that reads like a newspaper. It is targeted at the 3rd grade reading level. Copyrighted. This version is also quite good. It is very readable. It was originally translated for children under the title International Children’s Version. It has undergone some revision so that it can be enjoyed by adults, as well. Several formats are available for children and adults.
Adapted from a translation for the deaf, the NCV began as the International Children’s Bible and later as the Everyday Bible (now out of print), both at 3rd grade level. The standard NCV is now written at 5th grade level.
|NEB – New English Bible||See REB, which is the 2nd edition of the NEB. (Actually there were a few minor changes made to the NEB after initial publication, but it was never called 2nd edition.)|
|NET – New English Translation||A new translation being done by the Biblical Studies Foundation (which is run by some people of good reputation). The NET is copyrighted, but available on line. In fact, this study Bible was designed to be read with a web browser. Copyrighted, but online at http://www.bible.org/netbible/index.htm Team of 20 translators. This version uses a relatively literal translation approach, generally avoiding dynamic phrasings. It is, however, more readable than more literal versions such as NASB. It will probably make a good study version for those already familiar with the Bible. Its website, like several other Bible version websites, lists its translation principles. There are myriads of informative footnotes explaining NET translation decisions and giving other background information. This version is Internet-friendly with footnotes clickable from the main text.|
|New Chain-Reference Bible, 4th improved edition||Published by B.B. Kirkbride Bible, Inc., Indianapolis, 1964.|
|New Life Version||The New Life Version is based on a vocabulary of about 850 words. It was translated by missionary Gleason H. Ledyard. Because of the limited number of words allowed, some verses can’t be expressed quite as clearly. Said to be at 3rd grade level.|
|NIV – New International Version||Evangelical ProtestantThe best-selling English Bible. Its New Testament is based on the UBS Greek text. Its language is easy to read, and its accuracy is well respected. It is not widely available on line, due to copyright restrictions, but you can find it at the Bible Gateway.
The best-selling English version. Could benefit from another update, but hindered recently by opposition from conservatives to NIV hopes to increase accuracy of its gender inclusive language. Considered the version of first choice by many evangelicals.
It tries to go as far towards readability as one can go while still showing you the form of the original. Note that there’s a tendency to make OT prophecies compatible with NT quotations, where a reading of the OT alone would come up with something different. Is 7:14 is an example.
The New International Version is the product of evangelical scholars from a wide variety of church backgrounds under the auspices of the New York Bible Society International.
|NIrV – New International Reader’s Version||A simplified (3rd grade level) Bible that is based on the NIV. It is the best limited vocabulary Bible I have seen. Copyrighted. This version is an excellent simplification of the New International Version, the most widely used English Bible. The NIrV is a very readable version for both adults and children. It contains many special features and helps to aid in understanding. Said to be 2.9 grade level.|
|NJB – New Jerusalem Bible||A “Catholic” Bible that is a bit more free in its translation, concentrating on readability and English style. Copyrighted. Carefully translated with strong Biblical scholarship. There is a literary sophistication to its English. The NJB is a revision of the Jerusalem Bible.
The (New) Jerusalem Bible is the product of the best Bible scholarship in the Roman Catholic Church.
|NJV (JPS) – New Jewish Verson||The modern translation of the Torah was published by JPS in 1985. Rabbis and Jewish leaders consider the JPS translation to be one of the best, if not the best translation available today. Major translations and retranslations of all or parts of the Bible were done in 1917 and 1982.|
|NKJV – New King James Version||Good for those who are used to the KJV, but want something in Modern English. The New Testament is based on the Textus Receptus, but has footnotes where the UBS and Majority Text differ. Copyrighted, but used in a public search engine. Seems to be in opposition to the textual scholarship of the previous revisions: it adopts the “majority text”. See below. Updates AV by removing “thee” and “thou”, and other things that are blatantly inappropriate in the 20th Cent., but otherwise sticks very close to AV. Presumably this means it is not as literal as the AV or NASB. Seems to be a proprietary translation, done by Thomas Nelson.
There is no real connection between the King James Version and the New King James Bible except for the name, the textual basis of the New Testament, and some similarity in the language. It was the brainchild of Sam Moore, who saw a market for a King-James-sounding modern translation.
|NLT – New Living Translation||Thought-for-thought translation that seeks to retain the readability of The Living Bible, but with greater accuracy. Copyrighted. Exegetically “tightened” by a team of 90 scholars to be more accurate than its predecessor, the Living Bible. Retains some of the good style of the Living Bible. Reads pretty well, better than most of the relatively literal recent versions. Better attention to good English composition and style than in most recent English versions.
The NLT is largely a replacement for the very popular Living Bible, although the Living Bible will continue to be published. Said to be at 6.4 grade level.
The New Living Translation is a revision of the Living Bible to transform it from a paraphrase to a true translation.
|NRSV – New Revised Standard Version||Liberal Protestant A decent Modern English Bible with some scholarly respect. It strives to avoid “sexist” terminology by translating, for example, “brother” as “brother or sister,” and trying to avoid gender-specific language by compromising on number (i. e. “their” for “his”). Generally, these substitutions are usually justified by context. This is an ecumenical work, with editions available that contain the Apocrypha/Dueterocanonical books for not only the Roman Catholic tradition, but for several other denominations, as well. Copyrighted, hard to find on line.
Highly regarded in scholarly circles. Reads about as well as the NIV.
Still guided by the instruction to stick with AV wording where possible. It’s not a bad compromise between literalness and readability. Its most visible feature is an avoidance of masculine gender where the original used masculine to mean everyone. “brothers” will be translated “brothers and sisters”, and “he” as “they” (with the whole passage turned plural). This was not true of RSV and RSV 2nd edition. It does not attempt to hide the patriachal nature of the ancient cultures. It is claimed that generic language is used only where that is the genuine meaning of the original.
The (New) Revised Standard Version is the direct descendant of the King James Version.
|NWT – New World Translation||Published in 1961 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of new York, one of the corporate bodies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.|
|OBP – Original Bible Project||Will be interesting because of its arrangement of the Biblical books. Extremely literal.|
|Philips (Phi) New Testament in Modern English, Revised||A free translation/paraphrase that is easy to read, and has good impact.
Copyrighted. This is one of the best translations ever produced, in terms of English style and impact upon readers. The translator was the British Biblical scholar J.B. Phillips.J B Phillips, an Anglican clergyman, first began paraphrasing the epistles of the New Testament into modern English for his church’s youth group, which met in bomb shelters during air raids in World War II. He eventually completed the entire New Testament, and later revised it into a true translation.
Many editions of the J B Phillips New Testament lack verse numbers. The wording is significantly different from other translations. Earlier editions are too British for Americans.
The J B Phillips New Testament gives unique and accurate insights into the New Testament.
|REB – Revised English Bible||A very readable British English (as opposed to American English) Bible, a revision of the New English Bible (NEB). It is available both with and without the Apocrypha. It has a respectable list of churches that endorse it. Some bracketed sections of the UBS4 Greek text are omitted entirely, so don’t look too hard for the story of the woman caught in adultery in this Bible. Copyrighted. Updated and improved version of the New English Bible, translated by British scholars. Reads well. The target audience is probably moderately well educated adults. Pleasant literary language.|
|RSV – Revised Standard Version||Liberal Protestant Another hybrid Modern/Archaic English Bible. (Archaic in the Psalms and in prayer, as if God only spoke Elizabethan English.) It is pretty well trusted, though. The RSV is copyrighted, but it is available freely with The Online Bible.
Yet another American revision, done primarily because of yet more manuscripts, including Dead Sea Scrolls. Backed out of literalness of ASV, though still not a very free translation. Included scholarly views that were controversial at the time (like translating Is 7:14 as young woman instead of virgin). So it was considered flamingly liberal at the time. Most of these features are now present in evangelical translations, and in fact it is now considered a bit too conservative.
|RV – Revised Version||First major attempt to revise the AV, primarily because of the great number of earlier manuscripts. Great Britain.|
|Scofield Bible||Published by Oxford University Press, New York, in 1967|
|Soncino Books Of The Bible – 14 Volume Tanach (Jewish Bible)||Conservative Judaism
|Tanakh, the Holy Scriptures||A good Modern English translation of the Jewish Bible (the same as the Christian Old Testament) from the traditional Hebrew text. “Tanakh” is an acronym for “Torah (Law), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Kethuvim (Writings).” This is the work of Jewish scholars and rabbis from the three largest branches of Judaism in America, done with reference to other Jewish and Christian translations. This work is copyrighted by the Jewish Publication Society. See NJV.|
|TEV – Today’s English Version, also called the Good News Bible or Good News for Modern Man||An older Modern English Bible from the American Bible Society. It has taken some flak for being too loose of a translation. Actually, I believe that they did fairly well with a limited vocabulary. Copyrighted. From the American Bible Society (a conservative Protestant organization that has managed to produce a liberal translation)
The Good News Bible is a project of the American Bible Society to render the Bible in a form that unchurched people can understand.
|TLB – The Living Bible||A paraphrase of the KJV that sacrifices accuracy for readability. Sometimes in makes a point pretty well. The flashlight in Psalms 119:105 seems a bit odd, though. Copyrighted.|
|TM – The Message||Excellent style. A real pleasure to read. It grips me, the reader, and challenges and convicts me, as no other translation does. Occasionally gets carried away with strange idioms.|
|TMB – Third Millennium Bible||http://www.tmbible.com/|
|WEB – World English Bible||The World English Bible (WEB) is a Public Domain (no copyright) Modern English translation of the Holy Bible, based on the ASV of the Holy Bible first published in 1901, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. It is in draft form, and currently being edited for accuracy and readability. The New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs are close to how they will read when they are finished, but most of the Old Testament still contains some archaic grammar that will be revised.A revision of the ASV of 1901 into Modern English. The New Testament is revised to reflect the Majority Text. God’s name in the Old Testament is rendered as “Yahweh” instead of “Jehovah” because that is widely regarded to be more correct. This is an all-volunteer project still in progress. The purpose of the WEB is to put an accurate, whole, Modern English Bible into the Public Domain. Note that there are no other English translations in this category. Please see http://www.ebible.org/bible/WEB for more information.
|Webster Bible (a revision of the KJV bible)||Has updated spelling, but retains the same grammar and almost all of the wording of the KJV. The Webster Bible is in the Public Domain.|
|Weymouth New Testament in Modern Speech||A decent translation of the New Testament only. It is freely available on line.|
|YLT – Young’s Literal Translation||A somewhat archaic, but it is fairly well done and is freely available on line.|
Darkness to Light Home Page http://www.dtl.org/versions/book/outlines.htm
Summary Outlines on Bible Versions
The following outlines summarize the information presented in the articles listed at Bible Versions Controversy. See those articles for further details.
Different Translation Principles
I. Formal or complete equivalence (KJV, LITV, MKJV, NASB, NKJV).
A. Hebrew and Greek texts translated as WORD FOR WORD as possible.
B. Words added for clarity are italicized.
C. Concurs with the doctrine of verbal inspiration and the commands and warnings of Scripture (Deut 4:2;
Prov 30:5,6; Rev 22:18,19).
II. Dynamic equivalence (NIV and most other modern versions).
A. Attempts to express the MEANING of the Hebrew or Greek texts.
B. Words often added without any indication in the translation.
C. Hebrew and Greek words frequently left untranslated.
D. Grammar of words and phrases altered.
E. Tendency to interpret rather than just translate.
III. Paraphrase (Living Bible; The Message).
A. The text is REWORDED by one author.
B. Little regard for original vocabulary, syntax, and grammar.
C. Author’s theological biases can infiltrate the text.
D. Attempting to “simplifying” the Bible can cause significant points of a verse to be left out.
IV. Expanded (Amplified Bible; Wuest).
A. One author attempts to bring out NUANCES of the original languages.
B. Amplifications can be questionable.
C. Personal interpretations included within text.
D. The text can be very awkward to read.
Different Greek Text-Types
I. Textus Receptus/ Majority text (KJV, LITV, MKJV, NKJV).
A. Based on belief God has “providentially preserved” His words:
1. Reflected in the vast majority of manuscripts (4000+).
2. Widely distributed and accepted in early centuries.
3. Most early translations reflect this text-type.
4. Used by Bible translators from Reformation till 1881.
B. Recognizes Gnostics & other heretics produced corrupted manuscripts.
II. Critical Text (NASB, NIV and most other modern-day versions).
A. Primary premise: Bible should be treated just like any other book.
B. Based on handful of early, Alexandrian texts.
C. Developed by making decisions on “Transcriptional Probabilities”
1. These rules and decisions can be very subjective and questionable.
2. Assumes Christian scribes deliberately altered “difficult” readings.
D. Ignores that Gnostics and other early heretics produced corrupted manuscripts.
III. Comparison of text-types.
A. The two textual traditions are in substantial agreement.
B. Most differences are insignificant, but some important variants.
C. Textus Receptus/ Majority Text tradition best concurs with God’s promise to preserve His words: Ps
12:6,7; Matt 24:35; Luke 16:17.
The Four Recommended Bible Versions
I. King James Version (KJV).
A. Very reliable translation, but not inspired in and of itself.
B. Archaic English can leave it difficult to read for many today.
II. New King James Version (NKJV).
A. Updates the language of the KJV.
B. Footnotes significant variants between the TR, MT and CT.
C. Other helpful, textual footnotes.
D. Over 130 translators, all committed to verbal inspiration.
III. Modern King James Version (MKJV).
A. “the grand old version in the English of today – period.”
B. Somewhat more literal than the NKJV in is translation.
C. Somewhat more difficult to read than the NKJV, even awkward at times.
IV. Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV).
A. Marginal reading in The Interlinear Bible, J.P. Green. ed.
B. Also available separately.
C. Very literal translation.
D. Modern-day English used; but can be rather stilted in its wording.
V. Comments on all four versions.
A. All four follow a “formal equivalence” style of translating.
B. All four are based on the Textus Receptus.
C. In the last three, pronouns referring to Deity are capitalized.
D. The use of any one of these versions is highly recommended.
E. Comparing two or more of them is very helpful in Bible study.
F. I use the NKJV as my primary versions and the LITV as my secondary version.
VI. See also Additional Recommended Versions.
Recent Bible versions compared
Literal (highly form-based)
Idiomatic (highly meaning-based)
Each of the translations listed above is reliable. There are few exegetical differences between them. They are distinguished far more in terms of how idiomatic their English is.
The CEV, NCV, and TM are fully vernacular (idiomatic), that is, their English sounds the way ordinary fluent speakers of English speak and write. My experience with the NLT so far shows that its English is usually quite natural, as well; its vocabulary and style are slightly more literary than those of the CEV and NCV.
The NIV, ISV, and NET were produced with essentially identical translation philosophies. They are moderately idiomatic, with some constructions which are not totally vernacular, typically Hebraisms and Hellenisms transferred to their English. There are few significant differences between them.
The literal translations retain many Hebraic and Greek forms which are not natural in English, but they give readers a better feel for what the structures in the original Biblical texts were. Because all languages are different, both in vocabulary and grammatical structures, it is nearly impossible to retain form as well as a high level of readability in any translation. Readers will make their own choices as to which they value more, form or readability. For those who wish as much of both as possible, a high degree of both can be found with Bible versions in the middle ranges of the idiomaticity groupings.
If you want a clear, understandable, accurate Bible, useful for unchurched as well as churched audiences, adults as well as children, use the CEV. The NCV will also fit these audiences well.
For those wishing to read from a version written in a higher social register (similar to higher reading level), with a more literary quality, the NJB, REB, and NAB are good choices.
If you need a version which is appreciated by many conservatives, but want it to be as clear as possible, use the NLT. Otherwise, stick with the NIV. Its English is better than that of more form-oriented translations such as the NASB and NKJV.
If it is important that you follow along with your church public readings or what your minister preaches from, use that version. If it does not meet your need for understanding, supplement it with a clearer version.
If you need a translation based on the Received Text (RT), go with the NKJV. The English in each of the RT and MT versions is awkward, typical of all “literal” translations, but the NKJV seems to have the best English for this group.
If your study or church Bible is from the literal or moderately literal group, supplement it with a more idiomatic version for comprehension.
If your favorite Bible is idiomatic, supplement it with a more literal version when explicitly studying the Bible’s language forms, such as Hebrew poetry.
If you are already content with the Bible you currently use, continue with it. But periodically ask yourself how well you understand it. If you find yourself frequently wondering what English phrases in it mean, consider reading an idiomatic version part of the time.
I enjoy studying several versions to see how a passage is translated. I like using The Contemporary Parallel New Testament, edited by by John R. Kohlenberger, III. It contains the complete text of each of the following: King James Version · New American Standard Bible Updated Edition · New Century Version · Contemporary English Version · New International Version · New Living Translation · New King James Version · The Message
Finally, the best translation is simply one that is well used and translated into life.
English Bible Translations
(rated on a scale of 1 to 10 as to literalness)
#Marshall-Nestle interlinear – good Greek text (Nestle-Aland [NA23]), good interlinear, KJV, RSV, or NIV in margin, best interlinear
Berry interlinear – Textus Receptus [TR] Greek text, basically like Englishman’s, KJV in margin, lexicon in back
Englishman’s interlinear – TR, KJV in margin
Green interlinear – Englishman’s with KJ2 in margin
The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible* (1980) TR in NT, literal translation by Jay Green in margin; best OT interlinear (word meanings from BDB)
The NIV Interlinear Hebrew English Old Testament (1985) by John Kohlenberger; Hebrew from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgart (BHS); English word meanings from NIV; NIV in margin
Kingdom Interlinear – Westcott-Hort [WH] Greek text, New World Translation in margin, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses
Diaglott – Griesbach Greek text, Wilson’s New Emphatic Version in margin, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses
Young’s Literal Translation* (1862, 1887, 1898) very literal; Elizabethan English; based on TR
American Standard Version* (ASV–1901) also known as American Revised Version (ARV); best for literal study; based on good Greek text similar to WH; Elizabethan English; revision of KJV; American edition of ERV below:
English Revised Version* (ERV–1881, 1885) or Revised Version (RV), a revision of KJV; slightly less literal than ASV; British Elizabethan English; more textual variants in OT than ASV
New World Translation* (NWT–1961) Jehovah’s Witnesses version; modern English; mistranslates passages relating to diety of Jesus in order to agree with JW doctrine
King James II Version* (KJ2–1971) KJV rewritten in modern English by Jay Green; more literal; based on TR; weakness in scholarship
#New American Standard Version* (NASV, NASB–1963, 1971, rev. 1977, updated ed. 1995) revision of ASV; more modern English but not as literal, esp. updated ed.; uses Thou/Thy/Thee for God and Jesus; updated ed. uses You/Your; translated by unnamed evangelicals with Lockman Foundation; OT based on Biblia Hebraica (KBH); NT based on NA23; one of the two best for study
New Emphatic Version by B. Wilson in Diaglott; emphasis in Greek text indicated by use of typographical signs [YOU=pl]
King James Version* (KJV–1611) or Authorized Version (AV); Elizabethan English; based on Greek text similar to TR; revision of Bishop’s Bible (1568) and 85% the same as Tyndale’s translation (1526–first English translation from Greek); most widely owned English version; leans slightly toward Calvinism and episcopalism; poor use of synonyms for study purposes (translates one word by many synonyms)
New King James Version* (NKJV–1979, 1980, 1982) revision of KJV in modern English; based on Biblia Hebraica Stuttgart (BHS) in OT; based on TR in NT with notes from Hodges/Farstad Majority Greek Text and and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (UBS)
Douay Version* (1582, 1610) or Douay-Rheims Version; old Catholic version translated from Latin Vulgate; many “churchy” words; revised by Challoner (1750)
The Better Version (TBV–1973) by Chester Estes; modern English; based on Griesbach’s Greek text
Living Oracles (1826) edited by A. Campbell; 19th century English; translated by G. Campbell, J. MacKnight, and P. Doddridge; important in the American Restoration Movement
Lamsa’s Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts* (1933, 1939, 1940, 1957) translation of Syriac Peshitta
Amplified Version* (AB–1958, 1965, 1987) much helpful explanatory material and synonyms in text, but based on older scholarship; not for public reading; produced by Lockman Foundation
#Revised Standard Version* (RSV–1946, 1952, 2nd ed. 1971) revision of ASV; modern formal English; uses Thou/Thy/Thee for God and Jesus; studiable; good balance between readability and literalness; 2nd edition better than 1st; Catholic edition (1965) based on best text; one of the two best for study
New Revised Standard Version* (NRSV–1989) revision of RSV; uses You for God; politically correct agenda to remove masculine emphasis from Bible; “brothers” translated many different ways; OT based on BHS; NT based on UBS3
Confraternity Version* (1941, 1952, 1955, 1961, 1969) Catholic translation; NT based on Latin compared with Greek; OT based on Hebrew
McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel (1989) uses immerse for baptizo
The Christian Counselor’s New Testament (1977) by Jay E. Adams; modern English; uses You for God; good
New Berkley Version* (NBV–1969) or Modern Language Bible; helpful footnotes; readable; revision of Berkley Version* (1945)
Translator’s Translation (TT–1973) published by British and Foreign Bible Society; source text for native translators
#New International Version* (NIV–1973, 1978, rev. 1984) readable; good; translated by evangelicals; published by International Bible Society (originally New York Bible Society); uses You for God; mixture of idiomatic and dynamic equivalence; less formal English than RSV and NRSV; eclectic Greek text (varies from UBS in about 300 places)
New American Bible* (NAB–1970, rev. 1986) Catholic; good; OT same as Confaternity
American Translation* (1923, 1927, 1948) by Smith and Goodspeed; NT by Edgar J. Goodspeed; OT by J.M.P. Smith, A.R. Gordon, T.J. Meek, and L. Waterman; uses “maiden” in Matt. 1:23
Moffat’s A New Translation* (1926) based on von Soden’s Greek text in NT
#Jerusalem Bible* (JB–1966) very good British English; primarily a Catholic translation; good footnotes (orginally in French)
New Jerusalem Bible* (NJB–1985) revision of JB; questionable if an improvement; also Catholic
New English Bible* (NEB–1961, 1970) good scholarship; interpretive in places; loose handling of order of OT text
Revised English Bible* (REB–1989) revision of NEB
Beck’s The Bible in the Language of Today: An American Translation* (1963, 1976)
William’s A Translation in the Language of the People (1937, 1966)
Today’s English Version* (TEV–1966, 1970, 1971, 1976) or Good News Bible (GNB–also called Good News for Modern Man); easy to read; lack of consistency; 3rd edition is the best; published by American Bible Society
#New Century Version* (NCV–1986) revision of English Version for the Deaf for greater population; 4th grade English; good simple English translation; excellent for speakers of ESL
International Children’s Version* (ICV–1983, 1986) children’s edition of NCV above; 3rd grade English
English Version for the Deaf (EVD–1978) or Easy-to-Read Version (EtRV or ERV–not to be confused with English Revised Version) by the World Bible Translation Center
God’s Word* (1995) dynamic-equivalent modern English translation without theological terms; some gender-neutral usage; OT based mainly on BHS, NT mainly on NA27; produced by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society
Contemporary English Version* (CEV–1995) in simple English; numerous mistranslated passages; published by American Bible Society; OT based on BHS; NT based on UBS3
#The Letters of Paul: An Expanded Paraphrase (1965) by F.F. Bruce; good paraphrase; interleaved with English Revised Version; just contains Paul’s letters
Barclay’s A New Translation (WnB–1968, 1969) insightful
#Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English (1958, 1972) highly readable
Living Bible* (LB–1967, 1971) easiest reading; very poor for study; changes meaning of passages; contain vulgarisms; biased to pre-millenialism
New Living Bible* (NLB–19??) revision of LB above
Wuest’s An Expanded Translation (1956, 1958, 1959) scholarly but anti-baptism bias; hard to read
Cotton Patch Version (1968, 1969) puts the gospel story in a twentieth century setting; only Luke, Acts, Paul’s letters
* Both Old and New Testaments now available
# Author’s choice for the best in each group; 9 & 10 not recommended
N.B. literalness is not necessarily an indication of accuracy
All rankings as to literalness are a subjective judgment of Bruce Terry, who has read most of these.
Last updated on June 20, 1999
Page maintained by Bruce Terry, <