What's the Best Bible Translation?

I've used a handful of different Bible translations over the years. Here's a run-down of the ones that I can remember using, and why I liked it:
  1. New Revised Standard Version. I used an NRSV Bible for a couple of years because it was the first Bible I had. It was given to me even before I became a Christ-follower.
  2. New International Version. My first devotional Bible was NIV. I liked the easy readability, and have primarily used this translation for my Bible memorization.
  3. New American Standard Bible.  This was my first study Bible, and the version that we used at my church on Sunday mornings for many years. The NASB is a more accurate word-for-word translation than the NIV. As a scientist, I like things to be precise.
  4. New King James Version. I still use this translation occasionally. It is much more accurate than the King James Version.
  5. New Living Translation. The NLT is a great "phrase-for-phrase" translation, catching context and subtleties really well. 
  6. The Message. I never thought I'd be caught dead reading this version. But a few years ago, I realized that I needed to read the Bible as a story -- God's story -- more. When I read the NASB, I tend to get caught up breaking down sentence structure and such. Reading a few chapters per day out the message (a few days per week) was a great change of pace.
  7. English Standard Version. A newer version that I've come across. So friends (former co-workers) bought this for me last year as I transitioned off staff. Obviously, it has great sentimental value for me.

Those translations have all worked well for me, but deciding which is best is another matter. My friends Jeremy Keever and Chrystie Cole answered this question on the Grace Church Pastors Blog.

In that article, they go through a little bit of the history of how the Bible has been translated into English. The concluding thought is that "there is much to be gained by reading and studying various translations."

Another key point to remember is that all these versions are translations of copies of the originals -- and more likely they are translations of copies of copies of copies.
Scholars today have more resources available than they did many years ago, which make better, truer translations possible. Nevertheless, the fact remains that no translation is infallible. Errors in translation are inevitable. That does not, however, negate the fact that Scripture, in its original form, is without error. Though our translations today may have errors, readers can be confident that these errors are cosmetic in nature, not doctrinal.

This idea of the accuracy of our Bible was part of my point in The Inerrant, Infallible, Inspired Word of God . . . Or Not?  But even with the many variants and translations, the core message of the Scriptures is the same -- that a holy God has shown us grace and mercy by His redemption through Jesus Christ.

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