Why are there so many versions of the Bible in English?

Frequently Asked Questions

Of course, since the KJV dates from 1611, it contains some archaic language, but the message of the KJV in this verse is also very difficult to decipher. In the NIV in this case the thought comes through with more clarity.

Translations also differ as to the reading level of the reader. They vary from a third grade to a twelfth grade reading level. The lower reading level translations have shorter sentences, draw from a smaller English word pool, and avoid all uncommon words. Some employ a vocabulary limited to 1000 words.

Let’s review several of the best-known translations. We cited two translations in the passage just quoted, and they are the two most widely used of all English translations:

  • The King James Version is loved for the majesty of its language and for the way God has used it in ministering to millions down through the centuries. Some Christians feel that no other translation can possibly replace it.
  • The New International Version is today the most widely distributed and utilized translation in the world. It is a thought-for-thought translation, but employs a moderately traditional tone that makes it appropriate for both public worship and personal reading.
  • A recent translation that is gaining widespread acceptance and uses contemporary terminology is the New Living Translation. It is both accurate and very readable.
  • Another widely used translation is the New American Standard Bible, which is a more literal rendition.
  • The New Revised Standard Version, is a contemporary thought-for-thought translation.
  • Many Roman Catholic readers prefer the New Jerusalem Bible.
So which is the best translation?

As you can see, there are many audiences and many different kinds of readers. You should decide what kind of reader you are and estimate your reading level. Are you seeking a literal translation or one that provides a thought-for-thought presentation? Do you prefer the historic dignity of the King James Version, the widely accepted and respected New International Version, or the very readable and contemporary New Living Translation? Consult a knowledgeable Christian and then immerse yourself in God’s Word!

Each translation has the power to transform your life. Though the cadence and the terminology may differ, the voice of God can speak to you through each one. Then the question remains: how will you respond to God’s voice as He speaks to you from the pages of this life-changing book?

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