Common modern dilemma for readers: Which Bible should I use?


I am no longer sure which Bible to use. I currently have the New American Standard Bible. How accurate is this? What are your thoughts on the New English Translation?

Note: This is a direct response to our immediately preceding Religion Q & A : "Why were some verses removed from the New Testament?"


There are so many different English translations in today’s alphabet soup of a marketplace that Dale’s dilemma is common. Other responses to the August 16 Religion Q & A show there’s considerable anxiety out there, but the Religion Guy reassures readers they can rely upon any of the modern mainstream translations. That includes Dale’s NASB and NET. Not to say there aren’t important variations in wording that today’s Bible readers should know about and ponder, so it’s good to have a couple or three translations handy. And one blessing of our Internet age is that you can compare 52 English translations, verse by verse, at that familiar website --

Loose paraphrases like “The Living Bible,” “The Message,” or J.B. Phillips’ elegant “The New Testament in Modern English” are valuable for fresh thinking and enjoyable reading. But they aren’t Bibles. Then we have actual Bibles that are not paraphrases but lean toward “dynamic equivalence” translation that aims at clear comprehension and flow of thoughts. That’s an OK choice but serious students and seminarians, at least, should own a translation with more literal renderings of the original Greek and Hebrew such as Dale’s NASB (more on that version below).

Another example is the Revised Standard Version (1952, 2nd edition 1971). The RSV is often the Religion Guy’s preference for journalistic writing because of closeness to familiar phrasing from the ever-popular King James Version of 1611, wide ecumenical acceptance and many years of usage. The RSV phrasing in turn underlies a current evangelical favorite, the English Standard Version (ESV) of 2001.

Many editions include study aids that explain the text. These can be very helpful and are usually interesting, but readers should be aware that any add-ons are interpretations, not Holy Writ as such. As mentioned, another consideration in choices is that a translation may lean toward thought-for-thought ease of understanding, or toward word-for-word literalness. Then there’s the lively debate over use of gender-inclusive language,  featured especially in the National Council of Churches’ New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of 1989, a favorite of “mainline” Protestants.

Turning to Dale’s specific query, both versions he mentions were produced by non-denominational foundations with an Evangelical Protestant flavor that affirm the Bible’s “inerrancy” (error-free nature not only in spiritual but historical aspects). 

Continue reading "A common modern dilemma: Which Bible to use?" by Richard Ostling.

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