SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
WHICH TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE IS BEST?
A question often asked is which translation of the Bible is the best? You go to a Christian bookstore and which one do you choose? There are so many versions and a person can get confused. You hear one thing from one person and another thing from somebody else. And does it matter anyway? Let’s take a closer look at this issue together.
First of all, you will want a translation that is accurate as well as readable. It used to be that the King James Version was the main version out there. But then there was an explosion of translations that took out the thee’s and thou’s and made the language more contemporary. While this was appreciated some warned that these modern versions weren’t word for word translations from the original language.
There are two basic families of Greek texts from which a Bible is translated. One is the Byzantine family of manuscripts (A.D. 500 - 1000) frequently referred to as the Textus Receptus and from which the King James Version (and New King James Version) was translated. The other is the “Alexandrian Family” manuscripts (A.D. 200-400) which include the three oldest: The Codex Alexandrius, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus. (Also called the Westcott and Hort text). From this family comes most of the modern translations (such as NASB, NIV, etc.)
The basic debate is that the oldest manuscripts are better and more reliable. However, this has been cast in doubt by others, especially since the older copies make up only a tiny portion of the large quantity of manuscripts available. At least 90% of the 5,400 existing Greek manuscripts come from the Byzantine family (the basis for the Textus Receptus). And due to the overwhelming numbers of copies with which to compare and verify for accuracy, some Bible scholars feel that the small handful of older texts should not be used to claim superiority over the credibility of the majority. In addition, some feel there were important deletions by scholars Westcott and Hort that might relate to their liberal views.
At Calvary Chapel, we hold to the accuracy of the King James Version based upon the Byzantine-Textus Receptus family of Greek texts. And yet at the seminary I attended they used the NASB which is based upon the other family of Greek texts. After studying both sides I have concluded the King James Version is the most trusted translation. And if you don’t like the ancient language then there is the New King James version which is my favorite and has been for years. Remember what I said…strive for accuracy and readability.
Should you throw away your other Bible translations then? I didn’t. I kept them for reference and comparison. And even those paraphrase Bibles can bring colorful commentaries to a passage. But in all the debate of which translation is best…don’t forget to read your Bible!
Louie (Read Psa 119:140; Pro 30:5-6; Mat 24:35; 2 Tim 2:15, 3:16; 1 Pet 1:23-25; Rev 22:18-19)