“I want to buy a Bible, but there are many different translations. Which one should I use? Which is the most accurate translation of the Bible?” are some of the questions frequently asked by many Christians when buying a Bible. Not that they don’t know what the Bible is, but today we have a range of versions that easily confuse novices.
The Bible is the most translated book in history. Therefore, it is difficult to keep track of the exact figures of its publication. However, it has been translated into an estimated 2,500 languages, and in many of them there are multiple translations. Given the sheer number of times it has been translated, it may seem simple to choose one to read. However, how can you know which one is the best? In other words, how can you know which translation of the Bible is the most accurate?
In this article, we will explain which versions of the Bible are likely the most accurate.
Table of Contents
Classification of Translations
For centuries, the Bible has been the most widely read, translated and known book in history, it is normal that there are divergences among readers. So, if you ask which translation of the Bible is the most accurate, you will probably find different opinions. Why? Very simple. What for one reader may be a good translation, for another may have its errors.
Thus, it is not so easy to choose a translation of the Bible, since the choice depends on several factors:
As you may know, the Bible is a collection of ancient books and manuscripts. Not all translated versions of the Bible contain the same manuscripts, as more have been discovered over time. The Old Testament is written in Aramaic and Hebrew, while the New Testament was written in Greek. Given the complexity of these texts and their antiquity, as we have said, they do not all contain the same ones. The newer it is, the more complete it will be.
A translation, of course, will always depend on the translator and the translation strategy he/she uses. Thus, there are as many possible translations as there are translators in the world.
For the sake of simplicity, we distinguish between two strategies:
• Word for word translation: The translation is more accurate and faithful to the original document, which sometimes makes for complex reading. The most popular Bibles of this style are the Revised King James Version (RVR) and the Bible of the Americas (BLA). Therefore, if you want to know which translation of the Bible is the most accurate, we recommend one of the following.
• Meaning-for-meaning translation (sense-for-sense): This translation approach consists of rendering the meaning of the original, modifying the words, but maintaining the sense. This makes it easier to read. The most recognized Bibles in this category are the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT).
Audience and Purpose
Whenever a translation is done, it is crucial to establish a purpose and a target audience. This way, we will know better how to approach the translation process.
Therefore, to make your choice easier, here are 4 of the most common uses:
• For church purposes: the most widely used are the NTV and the NIV.
• For devotion: the BLA stands out for its great fidelity to the original.
• For voluntary reading: the NIV is widely used due to the simplicity and clarity of the reading.
• For theological studies: although there are large discrepancies in this category, the literal translation stands out.
More Accurate Translations of the Bible
Translation is not as easy as it seems, because languages have different grammars, idioms and rules. Therefore, it is impossible to perfectly translate one language into another.
Contrary to other ancient books, there are more than 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone, not counting the thousands of fragments and other manuscripts from the Qumran caves, which are proper to the Old Testament. And considering that the Bible was written for centuries in ancient Hebrew,
Aramaic and Greek, and then translated into Latin and finally into the vernacular languages of today, it is natural that the current translations strive to present modern versions, more and more accurate and accurate to the ancient scrolls.
While there is no perfect translation of the Bible, there are good ones and bad ones. Since most of us do not have unlimited resources to buy books or computer software, it is best to choose carefully before buying it.
The following is a list of the most accurate Bible translations that can be trusted and found in the market:
• New American Standard Bible (NASB)
• King James Version (KJV)
• New King James Version (NKJV)
• New International Version (NIV)
• The New Living Translation (NLT)
• Amplified Bible (AMP)
• English Standard Version (ESV)
• Revised Standard Version (RSV)
• Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
• New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
• The new English translation (NET)
• Translation of the Word of God (GW)
• Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
• International Standard Version (ISV)
• Common English Bible (CEB).
We will briefly discuss some of them, the most recognized and catalogued as accurate both by the scholars and theologians who have studied them and by the masses of the people who have read and scrutinized them for years.
King James Version (KJV)
The King James Version, also known as the Authorized Version, is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England.
The KJV was originally translated from Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts. The apocryphal books were translated from Greek and Latin texts.
The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic text and the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus.
The apocryphal books were translated from the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. The translators of the King James Version made use of word-for-word translation (formal equivalence).
KJV was originally published in 1611 and revised in 1769. Today, the KJV is the most popular Bible translation worldwide.
New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is primarily considered the most accurate English Bible translation. This translation used only literal translation.The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is the revised version of the American Standard Version (ASV), published by the Lockman Foundation.
NASB was translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts.
The Old Testament was translated from Rudolf Kiffel’s Hebrew Bible, as well as from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Stuttgartensia Hebrew Bible was consulted for the 1995 revision.
The New Testament was translated from Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece; the 23rd edition in the 1971 original and the 26th edition in the 1995 revision.
The complete NASB Bible was published in 1971 and the revised version was published in 1995.
New Living Translation
New Living Translation grew out of a project aimed at revising The Living Bible (TLB). This effort eventually led to the creation of the NLT.
NLT uses both formal equivalence (word-for-word translation) and dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought translation). This translation of the Bible was developed by more than 90 biblical scholars.
The Old Testament translators used the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; Stuttgartensia Hebrew Bible (1977). And the New Testament translators used the USB Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece.
NLT was originally published in 1996 and revised in 2004 and 2015.
New International Version
The New International Version (NIV) is a completely original translation of the Bible published by the Biblical formerly International Bible Society.
The core translation group consisted of 15 biblical scholars, with the goal of producing a translation of the Bible in English that was more modern than the King James Version.
NIV was created using word-for-word translation and thought-for-thought translation. As a result, NIV offers the best combination of accuracy and readability.
This Bible translation was developed using the best available manuscripts of the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic Bible.
The Old Testament was created using the Masoretic Hebrew Text of the Stuttgartensia Hebrew Bible. And the New Testament was created using the Kome Greek edition of the United Bible Societies and Nestlé-Aland.
The NIV is said to be one of the most widely read Bible translations in contemporary English. The complete Bible was published in 1978 and revised in 1984 and 2011.
It is not easy to speak of an accurate translation of the Scriptures, since language, historical and cultural differences are a major barrier to decoding the text and maintaining its original meaning.
Current translations depend on a number of factors, apart from the original manuscripts, such as audience and purpose, as well as the equivalence of translation, whether it is word-for-word or your interpretation of the meaning.
Among the most accurate and reliable Bibles available in our environment are the King James Bible, the New International Version, the New King James Version and the New Living Translation.