Which Bible translation is best?

The short answer would be, it depends on what you are trying to do. Are you wanting to read rapidly to get an overview of the Bible? Then a modern-speech translation would be a must. Are you wanting to make a careful study of a difficult passage? Then you should choose one of the more literal versions. Are you seeking to be inspired by the poetic beauty and refined literary style of Scripture? The King James Version would suit you best for that purpose.

Readers of Bible translations in English are blessed beyond reckoning with the mulititude of Bible translations available to us. Seasoned Bible students know the value of consulting several translations when studying a passage.

Nevertheless, one of the main purposes of a Bible translation ought to be to help the reader shift the focus from the translation itself to the message&emdash;and an undistorted message at that&emdash;you need a translation that strikes a balance between accuracy and readability.

Another blessing of our times is that the wording of several of the most recent translations is converging: they are virtually identical in verse after verse! This is because they have general agreement on both the underlying Hebrew and Greek text to translate and on the translation principles they apply to that text. This is true with regard to the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and the newly revised New American Standard Version. Check out the many Bible translations in DeeperStudy Bookstore.

Want to go deeper?

The following are useful resources for pursuing your study of Bible translations and translation principles:

Recommended for purchase:
Check out the Bible translations section in our DeeperStudy Bookstore. We have discussions of many of the translations available and have worked hard to provide the best edition at the best value for each.

David Dewey – A User’s Guide to Bible Translations: Making the Most of Different Versions. (2005).

Online resources: 
DeeperStudy’s StudyLinks section provides links to the on-line editions of many Bible translations in English, in other modern languages, and summaries of some ancient ones.

The Bible Translator, a journal for translators around the world and for the rest of us interested in the principles of translation. (To use the index, look at the article titles, and then enter the page number in the search field. You can then go page by page through each article.)