Purpose of the session
There are many different versions and translations of the Bible in the English language. Not all are equal, and some are even erroneous. Of those that have worth for the diligent and hungry student each has some facet of God's richness to offer. In the list that follows are some of the better known versions and translations of the Holy Scriptures, together with brief moments about each one.
Versions, Translations and Types of the Bible
Technically there are several versions of the Bible, and numerous translations of these versions.
Versions of the Bible
- The HEBREW BIBLE is the Old Testament, arranged in a different order to our protestant Bible Old Testament, with some books named and combined differently. Jews refer to this version as the Tanakh.
- The PROTESTANT BIBLE consists of the 39 Books of the Old Testament and 27 New Testament books.
3. The CATHOLIC BIBLE consists of the 39 OT books and the 27 NT books, plus 14 other books added to their canon in 1546AD, largely in response to the Protestant Reformation. These ‘apocryphal’ books have never been considered as scripture by the Jews and were never quoted or referred to by New Testament writers.
4. The JEHOVAH’S WITNESS BIBLE is called ‘The New World Translation’. This ‘version’ purports to be a translation of the scriptures, but is actually a falsified document with forced interpretations produced in an attempt to justify heretical doctrines held by their sect.
5. The MORMON BIBLE is a “new translation” done by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Interestingly, Smith had no training or knowledge of Latin or Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic, yet he still claimed that he did a "corrected" translation. Among other things, he just outright added text saying that a person has to believe in him in order to be saved. No early, medieval, or early modern manuscripts support his additions. (Do not confuse Smith's alleged "translation" of the Bible with The Book of Mormon, another one of his erroneous works of deception.)
There are various Translations of the Hebrew, Protestant and Catholic Bibles.
Types of Bible
There are various types of Bible. Some of the most popular are:
1. Ordinary Bibles
This is the run-of-the-mill Bible that starts with Genesis, ends with Revelation, and is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.
2. Topical Bibles
Nave’s Topical Bible is a typical example of this type of Bible. Technically, these aren't really Bibles. Passages are grouped by topic. This is good for studying or teaching on a particular topic or finding additional passages on a topic when studying a regular Bible.
3. Parallel Bibles
A parallel versions Bible has the text of two or more translations side by side.
4. Parallel Languages Bibles
A parallel languages Bible presents the text in English, with the Hebrew and/or Greek text in parallel columns.
5. Study Bibles
A study Bible is a Bible that has extensive footnotes, commentaries, maps, outlines of each book, etc. These are simply added to a major version. A very popular study Bible is the NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible.
Modern English Translations and Paraphrases (AD 1611 to date)
Some Major Protestant Bible Translations and paraphrases are listed below. New translations appear all the time. One of the most recent is The Passion translation. AS yet, this is incomplete but so far shows great potential to be a beautiful addition to a disciple's library so did not want to leave it without mention.
- (Authorized) King James Version (1611AD) (KJV)
The standard by which all other modern translations are judged, and an enduring classic translation of the scriptures. A majestic work of many scholars from the original manuscripts. Essential to any scholar’s library.
- The English (1881-1885) and American (1901) Revisions
(RKJV and ASV)
Revisions of the original King James which aimed to update archaic language and draw from newly discovered manuscripts and knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. Neither enjoyed great popularity, although the ASV received a warmer reception.
- Youngs Literal Translation by Robert Young (1898)
This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings.
- The Revised Standard Version (1952) and New Revised Standard Version (RSV and NRSV)
A revision of the RSV by a evangelical scholars, which caused controversy in some sectors for because of obscure translations of key OT messianic passages. Nevertheless it is a clear, readable translation.
- The Amplified Bible (1954) (AMPLIFIED or AMP)
A literal translation giving alternative words to suggest different shades of meaning in the original languages. Intended to supplement other translations as an aid to study and understanding.
- The New English Bible (1961-1970) (NEB)
A completely new translation by panels of scholars sponsored by the main British churches and Bible Societies. Somewhat unusual in its rendering of familiar verses.
- The New American Standard Bible (1966) (NAS)
Translated by an editorial board of fifty-four Greek and Hebrew scholars, requiring nearly eleven years to complete. One of the most accurate translations available. (not to be confused with the New American Bible)
- The Good News Bible [Good News For Modern Man] (1966-1976) (GNB)
A straightforward paraphrase in non-academic language by Dr Robert G Bratcher (plus a distinguished review committee) which gained popularity in a short period of time.
- The Living Bible by Kenneth Taylor (1971) (LB)
An extremely popular paraphrase by one man in consultation with Greek and Hebrew specialists. The initial source was the ASV text. Takes great liberties with the original texts in order to modernise the text for common readership.
- The New International Version (1972) (NIV)
A new translation by an international team of evangelical scholars, using all available resources, which quickly became the most popular of the modern translations for many years. Because the translators used dynamic equivalence methodology some contend that certain scriptures were ‘watered down’ in translation.
- The New Living Translation (1996) (NLT)
Intended to be a revision of the popular Living Bible this project quickly evolved into a brand new translation. It has kept the readability of its predecessor but its translation is much closer to the original texts. Liberties, however, are still taken to render the text accessible to modern broad readership.
Other Notable Protestant Bible Translations
a. R T Weymouth, The New Testament In Modern Speech (1903)
A classical scholar’s translation of the New Testament into dignified modern English.
b. James Moffatt, A New Translation of the Bible (1913-1924)
A free and vigorous paraphrase which takes some liberties with the text and often diverts from literal interpretation.
c. J B Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English (1958)
A fresh, free, vigorous and though provoking translation/paraphrase of the New Testament.
d. THE MESSAGE by Eugene Peterson (2000)
A vigorous paraphrase which has gained great popularity. Cannot be trusted to present accurate translation of actual texts, but nevertheless presents a thought-provoking and enjoyable slant on the scriptures.
Modern Translations emphasising the Jewish Roots of The Gospel
a. The Jewish Bible by David H Stern (1975- 1995)
A translation of the Bible aiming to retain the Jewishness of its original contents. A very interesting and challenging translation for the gentile mind (not to be confused with the Jerusalem Bible).
Major Catholic Bible Translations
- The Holy Bible, Ronald Knox (1944-1952)
A Roman Catholic translation based on the Latin Vulgate.
- The Jerusalem Bible (1966) (JB)
A scholarly translation by twenty eight principal collaborators went into the production of this Catholic Bible from the original texts and studies of the Roman Catholic School of Biblical studies. (Not to be confused with the Jewish Bible by Stern)
- New American Bible (1970) (NAB)
A major Roman Catholic translation from the original languages, twenty six years in the making. The best of all catholic Translations which aimed at presenting a clear, accurate, rendering of the Biblical text. (not to be confused with the New American Standard Bible)
New translations continue to be produced all the time. Each have relative worth to the Bible student, but some are of more value to those who desire to remain true to the original documents.
Any or all of these above mentioned texts could aid the student in grasping the Bible’s meaning. Certainly each student should have an authoritative translation as his or her main Bible, such as the NKJV, KJV, NASB. Supplementary to this The Amplified Bible is an excellent addition to any library, as are the NAB, NLT, Phillips, Weymouth, NIV, MESSAGE, Young’s Literal and The Jewish Bible. Many Bible computer programs come with many Bible versions and translations.