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Which Bible Translation Should I Be Reading?

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When choosing a Bible translation for yourself, the best way to go is to understand where the translation comes from and which approach to take.


While there is much debate over which Bible translation is the best, it’s also important to remember that there wasn’t always a way for people to read the Bible themselves. People were only able to listen to the Bible read aloud in church, and oftentimes it was read in Latin, many could not even understand.

How do we have a Bible in English?

William Tyndale was an English scholar who felt strongly that the Bible should be available to every believer and that it, not the elect few, should determine the doctrines of the church. Church authorities in England did not agree with him at the time and even persecuted him for his revolutionary perspective. Because of this, he had to escape to Germany in order to complete his translation of the New Testament. He worked “from dawn to dusk, six days a week, for 11 years” and even taught himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament, as well. According to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, “At the time of his death, several thousand copies of his New Testament had been printed; however, only one intact copy remains today at London’s British Library.” In July 1525, it was completed and the first copies were received in England in 1526. He was not able to complete his translation of the Old Testament before he was executed in 1536.

As he stood at the gallows to be hanged, it is believed that he prayed that God would “open the eyes of the King of England.” In an answer to his prayer, King Henry VIII instructed publishers to allow “the free and liberal use of the Bible in [the] native tongue.” This led to the King James Version, which was published in 1611 and is still used to this day.

The selection process

When discovering which Bible translation to use, it can be overwhelming for readers to decide on one. The most important part is that it is a correct translation, although there are many different styles. When deciding how to choose a Bible, it’s important to think about the different methods of Bible translation.

1. A literal approach

The translator seeks to “render the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic into English as directly as possible.” Examples of this include the New American Standard Bible, the King James Version and the English Standard Version. As with all translations, sometimes the meaning of metaphorical sayings can be lost when literally translated, although the approach is still an excellent one.

2. The free approach

A style used when translators seek to show the ideas of scripture. Some Bibles that are written in this style are The Message, The Living Bible and the Phillips translation.

3. A middle road style

Also called the “dynamic equivalence approach,” this style uses a literal translation, but also allows some freedom when translating phrases into English. The most popular of this type is The New International Version.

According to Christian Post, the best way to study the Bible is to use one of all three of these biblical translations and cross-reference. This will allow you, as the reader, to understand better what is being said and to decipher the meanings of the text in order to apply them to your own life in the most effective way.

The website, Bible Study Tools, can be an effective way to study the Bible using different translations. Readers are able to place different translations of the same verse side by side in order to see the differences.