Why are there different Bible translations? Is there one better than the other? Is there a correct Bible translation? Why so many different Bibles?
These are many questions you may have asked yourself when trying to figure what Bible to use or recommend for a Bible study. Did you know that some translations were developed with specific purposes and specific people in mind? Knowing the difference between these Bibles can greatly benefit your personal Bible study and group Bible studies (whether you are teaching or participating). This course will cover 20 different Bible translations, how we got them, how they were developed, and their unique features, so you can be better equipped to learn and build an effective Bible study toolkit.
In this course:
Introduction to Bible Translations | 22 min
This lesson will introduce you to the different categories and methods of translation. Here is where you can easily access different Bible translations for free:
King James Version – KJV (session 1) | 22 min
The King James Version is in the top 5 best sellers of Bible translations today. Many do not know that the KJV was not the first translation of the Bible translations we have today. This version was authorized by King James I in the 17th Century so that the common man could read scripture. Although the language may seem odd to us, it was written in the English of the time. This lesson will cover how the King James Version was put together and how you can use it to support your Bible studies.
DIAGRAM OF HOW WE GOT THE KJV BIBLE:
CITED BIBLE PASSAGE:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;Titus 2:11-13 (KJV)
CREDITS: Stock Music provided by mv_production, from Pond5, Thumbnail painting of King James attributed to John de Critz – Prado image, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37047
New King James Version – NKJV (session 2) | 15 min
Why would the King James need an update? Why are there different bible translations? The New King James Version (NKJV) follows the tradition of the King James Version while trying to update the language to a more modern English. Granted it may not feel like our modern English of 2023. What makes this translation stand out is its balance between a formal and dynamic translation, often dubbed by scholars as an optimum translation. This balance also makes this translation a great Bible to study from.
CREDITS: Stock Music provided by mv_production, from Pond5, Thumbnail painting of King James attributed to John de Critz – Prado image, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37047, Suit photo by Grigore Ricky on Unsplash, Sunglasses photo by wu yi on Unsplash
New Revised Standard Version – NRSV (session 3) | 13 min
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is known for one major change that caused some controversy among American denominations: it replaced gender specific words like “brother” and “mankind” with “brother and sister” and “people.” This translation is known for the effort to be “gender-inclusive.” How does this decision affect the quality of the translation? Is this translation biased? Maybe not in the way you think…
The Amplified Bible (session 4) | 19 min
The Amplified Bible was the first Bible whose chief scholar was a woman, France E. Siewert, in the 60s! This Bible is not very well known which can be partially attributed to attitudes towards women in leadership at the time. In an attempt to make scripture more understandable, the Amplified Bible makes heavy use of definitions and synonyms within scripture to “amplify” the meaning of the words. This “amplification” is a unique feature to this translation but also presents a unique problem. Listen in to find out more how this translation was put together and how to use it as part of a Bible study toolkit.
The New American Standard Bible (session 5) | 17 min
The New American Standard Bible stands out among other Bible translations as scholars used the oldest manuscripts available to build this translation. They also developed a system to try and capture the most accurate meaning and context of scripture. This makes the NASB one of the most accurate and more difficult translations to read and comprehend. There are a few other features that make this translation one of the best primary study Bible to use in your Bible study toolbox. Listen in to find out more about this translation.
The Legacy Standard Bible (session 6) | 18 min
The Legacy Standard Bible is the new kid on the block in terms of translations. It takes roots in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) but also uses the most ancient manuscripts to try and capture the most accurate meaning of the original text in English. This translation is also known for its association with John McArthur and his scholars at The Master’s University. Listen in to find out more about how this translation was put together and how you can use it in your Bible study toolkit.
The New English Translation (session 7) | 18 min
The New English Translation is a dynamic translation (though-for-thought as opposed to word for word) with the most scholarly translator notes than any other translation out there! This is great to add clarity but are these notes helpful to a layman looking for an accurate translation for everyday study? Listen in to find out more about this translation and how you can use it as a part of your Bible study toolkit.
The English Standard Version (session 8) | 16 min
The English Standard Version was put together with the goal of being the most readable word-for-word bible translations. It has a readability level of 8th grade making it easily accessible to youth and adults looking for an easier understood formal translation. Readability is a good reason with different bibles are needed. Listen in to find out more how this translation was put together and how you can use it in your Bible Study tool kit.
The Christian Standard Bible – CSB (session 9)| 17 min
In 2017 the Holman Christian Standard Bible received an update and became known as the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Although Holman is known as a baptist publishing company and 60% of the translation committee for the CSB was also Baptist, an additional 130 scholars from 21 denominations were used to help put this version together. There was an attempt to remove personal bias from the translation process which can be difficult to do when using thought-for-though translation processes. Listen in to find out more about the Christian Standard Bible and how it can be used in a Bible Study toolkit.
The Phillips Translation of the New Testament (session 10) | 20 min
J.B. Phillips, a Greek scholar and Anglican minister, noticed that the King James Version of the Bible was not connecting with the youth of his day. So in 1941 he set out to translate the Greek New Testament into modern English, complete with the London slang of his time. Listen in to find out more about how this Bible was put together.
The Message Bible (session 11) | 21 min
The Message Bible became popular very quickly as it is one of the most readable Bibles on the market. It uses present-day modern English and reads like a novel. There is only one problem: this is not a translation. It is a free paraphrase. What’s the difference? Listen in to find out how this Bible was put together and how to handle paraphrases as part of your Bible study tool kit.
The Living Bible (session 12)| 25 min
The Living Bible started as letters Kenneth Taylor would write to his children so they could better understand passages the Bible. These letters were called “Living Letters” and eventually were promoted to the greater public. The positive reception lead to Taylor complete and launch his own Bible paraphrase in 1971, based on these letters. Similar to the Message Bible, the Living Bible will have significant bias and is not intended to replace a proper translation for Bible study purposes. Listen in to found out more about how this Bible was put together.
The New Living Translation – NLT (session 13) | 20 min
After Kenneth Taylor successfully launched his Living Bible paraphrase and became the best-selling Bible among Youth in the 1970s, Tyndale Publishing wanted to remake it as a translation. The New Living Translation is a thought-for-thought translation that has converted cultural terms to their modern equivalent, including dates, times, currency, and measurements.
However this conversion of terms and translation method runs into similar problems as paraphrases. It can obscure the original intent and meaning of passages by removing the Jewish cultural components and inject bias. However, this Bible could still be of use in a Bible study tool kit. Listen in to find out more about how this Bible was put together and how it can be used in a Bible study tool kit.
The Complete Jewish Bible – CJB (session 14) | 15 min
What happens when one of the most notable Hebrew scholars translates the Bible in modern day English without loosing the original Jewish context? You get a very helpful Bible study tool for Jews and non-Jews alike! Dr. David Stern and his 28 contributors even included a glossary of Hebrew words with their pronunciation and other study helps to help readers get more context. Listen in to find out more about this translation and how you can use it as part of a Bible study toolkit.
The New International Version – NIV (session 15) | 25 min
The “international” in NIV comes from the fact that over 100 international scholars from different denominations and nations came together to create this translation. The original 1965 version also used as many ancient manuscripts as possible to make a dynamic translation from scratch. The NIV’s purpose was to create a translation easily readable by Christians and non-Christians alike in modern English. This is why the NIV gets revised almost on a schedule and why recent version have come under scrutiny for their choices. Listen in to find out more about this translation, it’s different editions and uses, and how you can use it as part of a Bible study toolkit.
God’s Word Translation (session 16) | 20 min
The God’s Word Translation Bible stands out from the other Bibles we have looked at in two ways: it is the easiest Bible to read for young children as young as grade 5 and it is written as an American literature book in a single column. This translation also uses the optimal equivalence approach to translation (which is a combination of formal and dynamic methodology). Listen in to find out more about this Bible and how you can use as part of a Bible study toolkit.
Contemporary English Version – CEV (session 17) | 20 min
The Contemporary English Version was made with specific people in mind: people who struggle with reading the English language. This includes little children, people with learning disabilities, or people just learning the English language. This translation often gets mistaken as a paraphrase but there are a few reasons why it should be included as a proper translation. Listen in to find out more about this Bible and how you can use it effectively.
Berean Standard Bible – BSB (session 18) | 21 min
The Berean collection of translations was developed by Bible Hub, the free online Bible study website. There are 4 tiers to this translation ranging from interlinear to emphasized. Only the Standard Bible (or Study Bible) is available in print. The 4 tiers are available for free online and in the Public Domain making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Listen in to find out more about this Bible and how you can use it as part of your Bible study toolkit.
Good News Translation – GNT (session 19) | 17 min
The Good News Translation was the first easy-to-read Bible to hit the market. It became popular very quickly with teens and was the most popular Bible in the United Kingdom by 1991. There have been more easy-to-read or children/teen Bibles that have come out since. The GNT was put together by only 7 translators using a dynamic approach (thought-for-thought). Some scholars regard the GNT as a paraphrase and take issue with its potentially misleading doctrine. Listen in to find out more about this translation and how it can be used.
Interlinear Bible (session 20) | 25 min
The Interlinear Bible is the most literal word-for-word translation you can get! This Bible contains the ancient text in Hebrew, Chaldean, and Greek from the oldest manuscripts available. Under each word is the English equivalent. This Bible is the most accurate Bible in terms of translation, however, it is not the most readable as the English words are not rearranged for comprehension or syntax. You might find that sentences read backwards! But the Bible also comes with helpful guides and structures to help you understand the ancient text. Listen in to find out more about how this Bible is designed and how to use it as part of a Bible study toolkit.