5 Guidelines for Picking the Right Bible Translation

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Bert Perry's picture

I actually think that one of the most dangerous things we can do is to speak of "The" right Bible translation--even apart from errors like KJVO, it leads us to believe that our spiritual well-being will be irrevocably damaged if we choose the "wrong" translation, which in practice means "a translation which makes 99.9% of its translation choices on exactly the same basis as our favored translation."

Now Ward, to his credit, implicitly argues against this, endorsing various translations for various phases in Christian life, but it would be wonderful if our knee jerk response to the question "what is the best Bible translation?" would be "unless you're reading one of a few very bad translations like the NWT, it's the one you read every day."

I have, in my time, argued against the use of translations like the Good News and the TNIV because it removes so much of the original beauty, but if you tell me my friend Bob needs to read the "New Gelded Version" (TNIV) or won't understand Scripture at all, I'm confident enough in the Bible's overwhelming patriarchalism to overcome some iffy translation choices by the TNIV editors.  I once even found ways to establish the deity of Christ from the NWT--the scary thing was how easy it was if you've got a picture of the depth and breadth of Scripture.  Playing games with John 1:1 did make it less obvious in John 1, but the entire effect of the NWT manipulation was as if an oak leaf was fluttering in front of Lincoln's nose on Mt. Rushmore--the general picture was still brilliantly obvious.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


I think you are quite correct. Ward did write a related blog where he said much the same thing. I wrote something similar a few weeks ago on my own blog. I'm actually in the middle of translating the Book of Jude myself - I'll be doing a series on English Bible translations by comparing how different conservative translations handle the text of Jude, as a way to emphasize how important it is to change your primary devotional translation once in a while. 

I personally have switched to the NET for devotional use, and will still use the KJV for detailed study. I was very blessed to read through Jeremiah completely in the NET. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?