Modern Bible Translations
Click on the Download Document button to access our handy guide to Modern Bible Translations!
Two thousand years after the events of the New Testament a combination of technological, archaeological and linguistic advances have brought us a wide range of bible translations to choose from.
Modern bible versions tend to fall into one of two categories:
- Literal (or Formal Equivalence) - a ‘word for word’ (W4W) translation of the original texts. Literal translations are the most accurate, but sacrifice readability to be true to the original.
- Paraphrase (or Dynamic Equivalence) - a ‘thought for thought’ (T4T) translation of the original texts. Paraphrase translations are the easiest to read, but sacrifice literal accuracy to be easily understood.
All modern English translations are of one form or the other - or a combination of both.
The most popular modern translation is the New International Version (NIV) which currently claims about 25% of worldwide sales. The next most popular version is the Jerusalem bible used primarily in Catholic churches and which represents 12% of all bibles sold.
But which is the most accurate? This is a very difficult question to answer as all translations are considered to have their strengths and weaknesses; it is certainly worth studying with more than one translation if you want to capture the true essence of what is being conveyed. While purists will only refer to literal translations, many people find that the dynamic equivalent versions help them better understand a passage by swapping the literal text for modern English phrases that mean the same thing.
A rapid browse of the internet would point to the newest translation - the English Standard Version or ESV - being the one that seems to find most favour among bible scholars who prefer a more literal approach. But the New Revised Standard Version is also highly thought of by modern academics.
In the United States the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the New Living Translation (NLT) are also highly regarded.
And then there are those who spurn all modern translations in favour of the King James Version (KJV), now in its 400th year.
So take your pick. We've provided a handy one page summary of the most common modern translations as a PDF download - just click on the link at the top of the page.