There are a lot of translations of the Bible in many languages. A business owner must look for a Bible that communicates in a way that is understandable. Many people like the King James Version, but I find the thus, thous and whereforto’s, to be a bit distracting. Plus, our language has evolved since the 1600’s, so you would expect it to sound a bit different.
This article is not a debate about the King James Version or any other. Some people like the poeticism found in that version of the Bible and that is perfectly fine. Each translation has its own good and bad points.
Why all the Bible translations?
People want to understand God. When you can read God’s word in your own ‘heart’ language it is much more accessible to the common person. Translations come about when there is a need to get a more ‘understandable’ version than what is commonly available.
Bibles are usually translated by a diverse group of people. I am always wary of any translation of the Bible that is created by one person for one group of people. A Bible translated only for a single purpose is never a good idea. Look for a Bible translation that involve many people from different denominations and skill levels.
How do I know which English Bible to use?
There are three main categories of translation
- Literal, or Word for Word: The literal translations try to take every word from the original language and translate it directly into English. You hope to get the translation as close to the original language along with sentence structure. They can sometimes read awkwardly since our grammar is different than Ancient Hebrew do many common translations include subtle grammar adjustments. Ex: King James Version (KJV) and New American Standard (NASB)
- Dynamic or Thought for thought: The dynamic version tries to keep the original thought of the passage intact. They update the context and use current grammatical structure to keep the reading more understandable. Ex: New International Version (NIV), Revised English Bible (REB)
- Free or Paraphrase: The free translation tries to modernize the idea presented in the passage. The focus is on readability rather than precision. Ex: The Living Bible (TLB), The Message (MSG)
I suggest getting a translation in the dynamic versions to start, but if you have the ability I would read a little from each type of translation. With our technology, we have apps and webpages that can easily pull up more than one translation. On Bible Gateway, there is even a way to create a parallel versions side by side, so you can read the same passage and see how it was translated by others.
If you want to study more about the different types of Bibles, Swap Meet Dave has a great article called “Holy Bible Versions and Types.” He gives a breakdown of each Bible translation, when it was published and how it reads.
Here is a list of article in the Bible tips for the series of Bible Tips for busy Christian entrepreneurs: