Field Guide to Bible Translation-Part 3

Dynamic Equivalence

The translations in this category try to go further towards clear, flowing, modern English even if it sacrifices some of the literal wording of the original languages of the Bible. Let me be clear and say that I believe that in most cases, these types of translations are good translations and are the Word of God. Also, these translations are also on a scale. Some take more liberties than others. That does not necessarily mean they are less accurate. It just means their idea of modern and clear English are slightly different than others. Below are a few of the main dynamic translations. As with the literal translations, I will be listing these from more literal to less literal based on my own research. Others may disagree with me and that is fine.

 

New International Version

This is the version of the bible that replaced the King James for many people. It has actually outsold the King James Version as of 2020 according to the Christian Book Expo which is a Christian Book and Bible expo held every year: https://christianbookexpo.com/bestseller/translations.php?id=0120.

New English Translation

This is an interesting translation in that it has thousands of translator notes that explain why they translated verse a certain way or information about the people, places, and objects of the Bible you may not have known. It was also the first Bible designed for the internet although printed versions are available.

How do I use these translations?

This type of translation is opposed by some as too broad and too liberal, especially the New Living Translation. However, in my opinion, the NIV and NET Bibles can be used in Bible study. The New Living Translation is much broader and I would not recommend using it as your study Bible. However, if the meaning of a verse is not clear, it may be able to help. In my study, I study the NASB but compare it to the ESV, NIV, NET, and NLT (in that order).

Paraphrase

This last category, in my opinion, is not fit to be called a translation. Have you ever said something and another person decided to summarize and paraphrase what you said? I bet it ended up having a much different meaning than what you originally said. A paraphrase is someone saying, “This is how I would say it…” That may be fine for some things, but when it comes to the Word of God, that is dangerous. If you thank about it, an inaccurate translation on a contract could cause financial loss. An inaccurate translation in a treaty to bring two nations to war. A wrong “translation” of a passage or verse could, at best, confuse us about who God is and what He does and, at worst, keep us out of heaven. In my opinion, it is an extremely bad idea to use a paraphrase as your study Bible. Even using them as a tool to try to understand a difficult verse or passage in the Bible is unwise. You are reading a single person’s interpretation of what the Bible says that, at best, is loosely based on what the Bible actually says.

The translations I have referenced above were all translated by a team or committee of scholars. These paraphrases that I mention below were mostly done by one person. These individuals did not have the checks and balances of working with a team of scholars. In some cases, the people did not even know the original languages of the Bible. Below I will list some of the more common and some dangerous paraphrases. I will list these from least dangerous to most dangerous. All but the Living Bible and New World Translation will be talked about in separate articles.

  • The Living Bible (LB) (See Section Below)
  • The New World Translation (See the section below)
  • The Message (MESSAGE) (Discussed in the next article)
  • The Passion Translation (TPT) (As we will see, the word translation is a lie) (Discussed in the next article)
  • The Mirror Bible (Discussed in another article).

The Living Bible

This paraphrase of the Bible was created by Kenneth N. Taylor and published in 1971 by Tyndale house publishers. The intentions of Kenneth N. Taylor seem to be innocent in wanting to make the Bible more understandable by rewording the American Standard Version (ASV) published in 1901. The ASV was another word-for-word translation. In some areas, he did a fairly good job, but in other areas, he was not as accurate. See the following article for more details: https://www.gotquestions.org/The-Living-Bible-TLB.html. I will say again that no paraphrase should ever be used to study God’s Word.

The New World Translation

Although I am putting this here, this is not a paraphrase. It is a corrupted translation used by the Jehovah’s Witness Cult and purposefully mistranslates several verses to back up their erroneous teachings. Please see the following article for information on how this translation has corrupted God’s Word: https://www.gotquestions.org/New-World-Translation.html.

 

In the next article, we will look at the Message Bible and The Passion Translation, two “Bibles” to stay away from.