I have been a pastor since 1972. At times people have asked what Bible they should buy. They want to be certain the translation they chose is accurate. Usually they mean literal. They also want good and reliable explanatory notes for the reader.

Making such a recommendation is like telling someone what automobile is best to buy. While there are many good automobiles, so much depends on what each person needs and how the Bible will be used. In the end, a number of very personal preferences will have to be satisfied.

Note: This Instructable is limited to information about how Bible translations come to be, and choosing a Bible version (translation) for oneself. I did include some things about some passages I check as "test" passages, and things I have learned over the years about those passages; but, I do not necessarily expect others to agree with my comments on those passages. This Instructable will not seek to convince anyone about what the Christian faith is or whether it is true, whether the Bible is God's word, nor who Jesus Christ is. If you wish to discuss any of those things, please send me a private message rather than use the Comments section. 

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from Bing Images.

Step 1: Dynamic equivalence or literal translation?

Most people I meet have never studied a second language. They make the incorrect assumption that translating from one language to another is like removing one plug from an electrical outlet and inserting another. When you are finished running an electric vacuum cleaner, you unplug it from the wall and plug in a lamp in its place. That is, when you have a phrase in one language you wish to translate, you simply find the proper words in a dictionary and replace each word with another from the new language.

But, languages are different from one another in many ways. For example, in English an adjective comes before a noun. So, English speakers say, "A red ball." In many other languages, the adjective comes after the noun it describes. In those languages, "A ball red" is the correct usage. Simply replacing words can result in what sounds like nonsense.

And, each language has its own idiomatic expressions. For example, a very literal translation of Matthew 1:18 would be, "She was found having in the belly." That is the expression Matthew used to say Mary was pregnant. So, would you want that phrase rendered literally in the Bible you use; or should it be conveyed with words that express the intended meaning, even if words not in the text are required to say it? Most of us would rightly choose the accuracy of the thought over the literalness of the words.

Translators can make every effort to be as literal as possible, but often it will be necessary to use whatever words are required to preserve the accuracy of the thought, even if the words used must be changed. Once people understand what must be done to communicate something from one language in another language, they can accept a reasonable amount of dynamic equivalence in translation, even if it means literalness must be compromised a little.

On a personal note, my parents gave me my first Bible when I was ten years old. It was the King James Version (KJV). I noticed that some words and phrases were in italics. One day I learned those italicized words were not actually part of the original text, but had to be added for the sentences to make sense in English. That bothered me for quite a while. How did I know those words really belonged? A few years later I was studying Latin and German in preparation for becoming a pastor. Later I would also study Greek and Hebrew. I soon learned the difficulties of moving information from one language to another and some of the adjustments that had to be made to keep the meaning the same, even if the words had to change. My anxieties about those italicized words evaporated very quickly.

I am in Mexico. Spanish is our language. However, all your comments, apply the same for the same problem in Spanish. Thank you very much.<br>
<p>Yeah well the niv took words out of john 3:16 </p>
<p>There are Bible translations that sometimes leave out or alter a passage that does not fit the doctrinal stance of the translators. These are usually done by one denominational group for the purpose of supporting their unusual doctrinal positions. But, sincere and well-meaning people will also sometimes tell you words have been changed or left out by a particular translation when they have not. In step 8 I discussed fears people have about renderings of John 3:16. I encourage you to read that carefully. Also, you do not need simply to take someone's word for something. In Acts 17 the people in Berea went home and checked their Bibles to see if what Paul had preached was really in the Bible. (The Bible for those people was most likely the Greek Old Testament.) You can be like that if you use good resources available to all. I recommend you compare the version you see examining with an interlinear original language text. You can do that at bible hub (dot) com. There you will find a variety of versions, original language texts, interlinear word-for-word translations, and links to lexical resources to help you get a more complete sense of the meaning of a word as it is used in original biblical languages apart from how we might use it twenty centuries later. </p>
<p>The KJV is the real bible</p>
I think I mentioned I did not want to start a King James only debate. I personally read the New Testament in the original Greek from which the King James was translated.
<p>What do you think of a Bible which has restored all occurences of God&acute;s name? For me it makes it more accurate than any other translation. That&acute;s the one I use for my personal Bible study.</p>
I assume you mean it uses &quot;Yahweh&quot; rather than LORD. I have used the WEB (World English Bible) based on the American Standard Version of 1901 by means of a free program named e-Sword. I always found it very accurate and good to use.
<p>Curious as to your thoughts on comparing the Geneva Bible to the KJV</p>
Thank you for the inquiry. I am really not familiar with the Geneva Bible firsthand. I have read only bits and pieces about it and can not give an informed opinion.
I like this instructable. I was kinda hesitant on reading it because I have seen many people stick to one version or another. You did a pretty good job. The message I got was to study multiple versions. While it is true the Bible has been translates multiple times and there could be more errors in it than we realize, I believe God will show us, through the spirit, what is truth. No matter how it is worded. Which is why I think it is important to pray while reading the Bible, no matter what versions. <br>I haven't read any other versions than KJV, but when I was a missionary teaching others, they usually used a different version. There are differences when it came to doctrine between different churches. But I wouldn't cry about it because if you are open to it, God will still lead you. <br> <br>I admire that you have read the greek translation. I would love to read the Bible in greek and hebrew, only I don't know those languages.
Thank you for looking at this Instructable and for commenting. One of our teachers encouraged typing three or four different versions below each other line by line when working with a difficult passage. That was before computers. Today that would be much easier, or at least it would be easy to line up verses in parallel columns. Translations are commentaries in the sense that an expression in Hebrew may be very difficult to understand. The translator must make some choices based on what he believes the text intends. He could do that based on the context and what he believes would follow next. He could rely on the flow of a similar discussion in another part of the Old Testament. He could also do that based on how the Greek Septuagint rendered the passage. But, such translation difficulties pertain to very minor things, not to any important doctrines. (As an example, our Sunday morning Bible class just covered Judges 3:22. Does the text say Ehud's sword came out between Eglon's legs, or does it say the contents of Eglon's intestines came out around the hilt of the sword? The grammar of the Hebrew text makes it very difficult to know.) There have been people who have worked independently to learn some Greek or Hebrew. We also have good tools for people who have not studied those languages, like Strong's Numbers. I did another Instructable you might like. Click on this <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Learn-New-Testament-Greek/" rel="nofollow">link</a>. It will give you some good access to a very helpful tool for those without training in Greek and Hebrew.&nbsp;<br> <br> I have been grateful for the training I received in Greek and Hebrew. Both have been very helpful. I do wish I had worked harder at both, especially Hebrew, which I badly neglected over the years. But, Greek has always been more useful than Hebrew, at least to me.<br> <br> God does guide our studies of His Word, and I believe blesses sincere attempts to sit under His tutelage through His Word. Often that comes in the form of expressions or mental pictures that enable communicating in clear ways that help our hearers better assimilate what we are trying to teach them.<br> <br> <br>
Thanks Phil, didn't read it all, but just wanted to commend you for a fine instructable (that which I did read at least :)<br>I have been very impressed by all your published content so far, keep up the good work, and God bless.
Thank you, and God bless.
have you ever read any of the street bible
I have not. I had not heard of it, but found it at Amazon. There I saw a bit of Genesis 1. It reminds me of something I saw a number of years ago in a bookstore called &quot;The Cottonpatch Bible.&quot; I suppose it would be categorized as a paraphrase, somewhat like Eugene Peterson's &quot;The Message&quot; or &quot;The Living Bible.&quot;
probably, it'd aimed at teenagers
Do you like it and find it helpful?
erm, hard to comment really. I think it is quite good, but then i do not particularly struggle to understand a standard bible, however, I know many my age or younger wouldn't understand the language used.
Look at the Revolution Bible for Guys in the New Living Translation, it's perfectly aimed at teens and is my favorite Bible to use.
the New Living Translation, isn't a translation at all.. it's a version... Highly inaccurate and very much a biased paraphrase. While it may be easy to read and understand, if what it says is incorrect, what good is it?
Please now, let's not get technical over this matter. Your comment is much like saying that people should not watch Veggie Tales. Veggie Tales is not accurate, but Veggie Tales is much better to connect with children then reading the rather graphic, but astounding book of Exodus. So in response. What good is Veggie Tales? Lots.
Satan likes it when you talk that way... &quot;Let's not get technical... The Devil's in the details&quot;... I disagree. Truth is truth. if you water it down, it's no longer truth. <br><br>While Veggie Tales, may be good stories, I refuse to watch them.. (Mostly because I can't stand singing vegetables but that's my problem) :-)<br><br>What if one of the Veggie tales characters told your kids that they don't have to listen to their parents? That they can learn everything they need from watching them (the Veggies) but they did it in a way that was very vague. Would it still be alright?<br><br>The English language has been steadily ruined over the past 100 years. Good means Bad and Bad means Good. (Gee isn't that a Bible Prophecy?) It's more important than ever to study an accurate Translation of the Bible and learn what's it REALLY Teaches.
The English language has deteriorated to the point where bad mean good, and good means bad, really? That has to be a matter of opinion. Matter of opinion is why there are multiple Bible Translation, and there may be up to 30K Christian denominations, each believing they know the truth.<br>
My opinion? maybe but....<br><br>I would ask you to compare Dictionaries from say 50 years ago and today. Compare the words, Honor, Praise and Glory. Today they all mean the same thing. Worship. However, 50 years ago you'd understand the differences in these words. 50 years ago to get worship you'd have to combine all three terms. That is what I mean by saying the English language has deteriorated. Today's dictionaries have taken all the nuances out of the language.<br><br>To quote Pilate... &quot;What is Truth?&quot;<br><br>What's more important? Changing the Bible to reflect your beliefs or changing your beliefs to what the Bible actually says and teaches? Sadly, there is so much bias in many of today's popular translations. To support this comment, I recommend you read the book &quot;Truth in Translation&quot; by Jason BeDuhn. In his book, he compares many different translations along with how it reads in Greek and explains how Bias and inaccuracy has crept into some translations. Having a translation that is as accurate as possible is the key to finding Truth.<br><br>Disclaimer. It's not my intention to anger anyone here. only to inspire one to thought that there maybe another option to the way you see things. How do you know you have truth, if you never look at things from the other side?
I am on my 13th time through the Greek New Testament, reading it cover-to-cover. Although I am far less capable in Hebrew, I have always been impressed with how good and how accurate the modern popular versions are in general. After nearly forty years as a pastor preparing sermons and Bible classes I need to dig into any variations that could affect meaning and translation. I just do not find any support for the position that modern translations are distortions. What I have presented aims to demystify issues related to translation. As I tried to stress in the beginning, my aim is not to get into what various groups try to do with their particular use of selected passages. Such things are related to hermeneutical (interpretive) principles, some of which are sound and some are not so sound.
13 times is to be commended! I've only been through it once so far. I agree that for the most part just about all popular versions are 99% accurate. Bias doesn't get inserted on purpose. It enters into any translation via the translators held beliefs and background. It's difficult to not let this happen and with 99% accuracy all are to be commended. Please don't misunderstand me. For example. the NIV released a new revision earlier this year. One of the verses they updated was Habbakukk 1:12 My question above was how many will not use this revision because of that change in scripture? If you agree like I do, that there can be no contradiction in the Bible because it is &quot;inspired of God&quot; then this should definately change some beliefs. But will it? It depends on the condition of each person's heart as to if they will accept the change.
I understand that, but my point to make is the fact that telling a teenager that the only way he should study the Bible is to make sure his edition is true to life translations; It's not modern it wouldn't connect. Simpler language will not destroy the Bible if we use it simply for the effect of affecting the youth.<br><br> I also do not like you insulting both me or my knowledge. I was helping someone out, telling them that this version is modern, easy to read, easy to understand, a teen connecting his spiritual journey to another teen, and here comes you...<br><br>Holy good molly... I see your comments list, your spamming the nonsense out of this Instructable! Why? Oh great... a witness. Oh golly. Sir. I respect your religion. Keep talking and I will no longer. Good day.
What is the point of being a pastor if you &quot;do not seek to convince anyone about what the Christian faith is or whether it is true, whether the Bible is God's word, nor who Jesus Christ is?&quot;
You must understand proselytizing is not appropriate in this setting. I once did an Instructable on <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Learn-New-Testament-Greek/">Learning New Testament Greek</a>. One person commented that the title made him fear it would be an attempt to convert readers, but he was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a nice instructive guide. I did another that was a <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Basic-Introduction-to-Christian-Symbols/">basic introduction to Christian symbols</a>. It is an attempt to explain things we all often see in artwork and imagery, but may not recognize. I had several people accusing me in their comments of trying to promote my brand of religion, even though I tried to keep it very even handed and absent of proselytizing. If I had used this Instructable or the others I linked to promote a case for the Christian faith, I would have been widely flamed by numbers of readers, and rightly so. Chances are those Instructables would also have been removed as spam.&nbsp;
Thank you. As an agnostic, it's so much easier to listen to the pastors who teach ABOUT their religion, and let people come to the faith if it moves them, without shoving it down their throats. You seem like the type that would be able to have long, rational discussions about faith and religion without making someone uncomfortable about it, which I believe is really practicing the love you preach.
Thank you. I have long tried to take a long, slow, rational approach. Many times over the years there have been things in all sorts of areas I needed to think about before I was ready to assent, and I did eventually change my thinking. You probably know the saying, &quot;A man convinced against his will remains unconvinced still.&quot; I never appreciate someone trying to arm wrestle me into something I am not ready to endorse. BTW, if ever you would like to discuss some question with me, please feel free to send a private message. Thank you for looking and for commenting.
For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby WE MUST BE SAVED (Acts 4:10-12). Salvation can only be found in the name of Jesus Christ. You CANNOT find salvation in the name of Allah. You CANNOT find salvation in the name of the Pope. You CANNOT find salvation in the name of Buddha. You CANNOT find salvation in the name of a religion or a denomination. You CANNOT find salvation in the name of an evangelist. You can only find salvation in the person of Jesus Christ. This is God&rsquo;s plan. (now they can banned me)
When I was very young I tried to read the Bible. The wording was very hard for me to understand, so I gave up. Old Testament books are still hard for me! I went for a time as an atheist, grew to an agnostic, then matured to a Christian. I eventually became a Mormon, which has required a greater commitment of me than I have sometimes wished. When I first began reading and studying, I found it difficult. What I found very helpful was to purchase multiple translations and read and study with all of them open. Although many of the versions aren't generally used in my church setting, or aren't &quot;official&quot;, I find that modern language or red letters sometimes help me to better understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Comparing versions as you do is a very good tactic and highly recommended for the person who has not had the opportunity to learn to read any of the biblical languages.
Re &quot;Such changes are hardly large or significant,&quot; it would seem if there is an &quot;insignificant&quot; change in one place, it is likely there are others. It is such changes that sprout religions (e.g., Baptist, Catholic, Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.).<br><br>An example of the importance of even minor changes might be seen in the matter of celebrations, like Easter and Christmas (back to that game of telephone again), or trinity, security of the believer and other doctrine concepts. <br><br>These are not small matters. I know of a spouse who, while holding herself out as a pious Christian, was willing to divorce her husband because he would not celebrate Christmas for its pagan origins. Later, when he refused to believe Jesus prayed to himself, sat at his own right hand, handed the keys of the Kingdom back to himself and so forth, she did divorce him on her vague stances.
The changes, themselves, are not significant, but that does not keep individuals from excesses like you describe.
In the end it really doesn't matter by what means you choose the Bible you will use. There will come a time when you will run into Christians that will tell you used went about it in the wrong way, and you chose to use the wrong Bible. Has always baffled, frustrated me that a book described as divinely inspire, and with out error has produced so many editions of itself, and so many Christian denominations, that sect seems a better term than denomination.<br><br>You took on a tough challenge Phil. I will not even attempt to judge how well you did in in fulfilling that challenge. Because it deals with faith, and respectfully no one alive knows the truth. Not like I'm shy about commenting. On some of your more down to Earth instructables I do know enough to comment on errors,and add additional information,and have.<br><br>
Thank you for a well written and carefully researched Instructable. I found it interesting reading.<br><br>I noticed that although your page is headed by an image of the Tetragrammaton that you did not include some discussion on the frequency of the Tetragammation in the original bible texts, (more than 7000 times) and the translation options that have been presented to modern translators.<br><br>While not wanting to detract from any notes that you may wish to add, here is some information that some readers may find interesting.<br><br>The Tetragrmmaton is widely viewed as the personal name of God. It directly translates out to the letters YHVH (or YHWH) without vowel sounds, which were inserted by the reader. This required that the reader would know which vowel sounds to insert. However, over the years this knowledge has been lost, largely due to a growing more recent belief that the personal name of God is too sacred to pronounce. It is now common practice to use the substitution &lsquo;Adonai&rsquo; (the Hebrew for 'Lord') or &lsquo;LORD&rsquo; in many translations. Interestingly, this is possibly the only example of where the older Bible translations may be more accurate than the newer translations, since many of them, including the King James version make use of a popular rendition of the name of God. (Ps 83:18) Some modern versions of the Bible that do not use Gods name in the text explain why they chose not to in the Foreword or in the Translators notes.<br><br>While an admittedly contentious issue with many, the Bible itself in many places presents an explicit and clear Divine Mandate for stressing and publishing proper knowledge of God&rsquo;s name. Here are two such instances:<br>Jeremiah 33:2 &quot;YHVH Who made the earth, Who formed it and set it firm - YHVH is His Name - says this: 'Call to Me and I will answer you ...'&quot;<br>Isaiah 12:4 &quot;Give thanks to YHVH - call His Name aloud. Proclaim His deeds to the nations,declare His Name sublime. Sing of YHVH, for He has done marvelous things - let it be known to the whole world!&quot;.<br><br>Many hold that God&rsquo;s personal name should be used more often in modern translations so as to conform with what may really be the more correctly interpreted instruction of Exod. 20:7 concerning the use of His Name: viz. &quot;Do not make His Name worthless&quot; &quot;Lo tisah et Shem YHVH Eloheicha l'shav.&quot; By withholding the proclamation of His Name, we may well be guilty of &quot;making His Name worthless.&quot; <br><br>Thanks again for your instructable.<br>
And don't forget:<br><br>1) God's son said he would make his father's name known; <br><br>2) Some well known Bibles use &quot;God&quot; (upper case g) where the Teragrammaton was removed. Elsewhere, it is &quot;god&quot; (lower case).
Thank you for your comment. I did use the Tetragrammaton (&quot;the four letters&quot;) as an image. In my mind, it was not exactly what I was looking for in that step, but as close as I could get. When I was discussing additional things in The Preface of the NIV that are worth reading and knowing, I mentioned 'Lord' and 'LORD,' which is, of course, the distinction most English (and other, including German) versions make between 'Adonai' (Lord) and YHWH in the text (LORD). My favorite translation of the Divine Name is by Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber in &quot;Die Schrift&quot; (a German paraphrase of the Old Testament from a Jewish perspective). They note that the same verbal form used in Exodus 3:14 for the Divine Name also occurs in Exodus 3:12 as the verb of the sentence, where God promised to be with Moses. Rosenzweig and Buber rendered it (in German) as, &quot;Ich bin der 'ich bin da.'&quot; It has a repetitive lilt in the syllables that rolls off of the tongue, and (more importantly) it means, &quot;I am the One Who is there with you.&quot;
Noting that religion is a highly personal and subjective subject, even while realizing that a minority seemed to enjoy your post, but would the people be so accepting if others placed their differing or anti religious views here also? Probably not, and some could possibly be banned were they to attempt it.<br><br>In view of such possibilities, I would like to object to having specific religious, governmental, philosophical viewpoints on the instructables site. I feel these matters are best contained within specialized sites, keeping Instructables out of the fray. <br>
As an addition to my other post, I also have not found significant differences in the meaning of different translations. And personally, I don't believe that any &quot;translations&quot; are an attempt to deceive the reader.
Your story is an interesting one. Older translations present unnecessary difficulties for contemporary readers. Historically, there have been some &quot;translations&quot; that consciously sought to change the text in order to further an aim of those sponsoring the &quot;translation.&quot; Your strategy of making comparisons between several translations is a good one. Although not within the scope of this Instructable, a good Bible dictionary (also sometimes called a Bible encyclopedia) is a very helpful tool. These can explain a lot of background matters that suddenly make the message of the text understandable. A really useful Bible dictionary usually is as large as a Bible, itself. If more people had been more conversant with their Bibles, 900 people would not have followed Jim Jones to the jungles of Guyana in 1977 where they all died drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in November 1978. Thank you for your comment.

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