The Best English Bible Translation (5)

I have heard it said, and I tend to agree, that the best translation is one somebody will actually read.  A person could be in possession of the finest, most accurate Bible translation ever made, but if they never read it, what difference would it make?

It would make about as much sense as a person insisting on carrying an original language Bible–a Hebrew Old Testament and a Greek New Testament–because they wanted the most accurate biblical text to the originals, yet they didn’t know biblical Greek or Hebrew.   They may have the assurance of the text’s accuracy, but would be totally ignorant of its content.

Reading Levels

One of the goals of Bible translation, as we’ve discussed elsewhere (and can be read HERE) is to be readable.  In the effort to achieve greater readability some translations have aimed for lower and lower grade reading levels.  Here is a list of a few translations and their grade reading levels:

King James Version                                 12th

New King James Version                        7-8th

New International Version                     7-8th

New American Standard Bible               11th

English Standard Version                       10th  (though I have seen it listed as low as 8th)

Revised Standard Version                       12th

New Revised Standard Version              11th

Still other translations have aimed for even lower reading levels.

New Century Version                                       3rd

New International Reader’s Version             3rd

New Living Translation                                    6th

The Living Bible                                                 4th

The Message                                                        3rd

I have known people whose reading and comprehension levels were such that if they were to read and understand the Bible they needed something on a very simple reading level.  This was true for some of them by virtue of their young age, for others it was a lack of learning or lack of a capacity to learn.

So, it may be, that in given circumstances a simpler reading translation may be necessary.  But remember that accuracy is what is being sacrificed for readability.  If a person begins with an easy-to-read translation, then as their capacity to comprehend increases, they should move on to a more accurate translation.

One Last Recommendation

Here is one other important recommendation: do comparison readings from a variety of translations.  As you become more serious in your Bible reading and study, referring to others translations can be very helpful.

Quite frankly, some translations do a better job of translating and communicating a given text than do others.  So, don’t get too “married” to one translation.  You may have one that is for your primary use (as the English Standard Version is for me), but then also read a number of others as well.

While we’ve been concerned with the best translation, it might be that you are ready to purchase a Bible.  Maybe you have never had one or you’ve decided it’s time to change translations.  Believe it or not, deciding which translation you want is just the beginning.  Some thoughts on how to choose a Bible can be found HERE.

What are your thoughts?  Why not leave a comment below?

God Bless,

No Responses to “The Best English Bible Translation (5)”

  1. […] • and who the reader is–what is their ability level in reading and comprehension? (to see this post, CLICK HERE) […]

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2013, Good Enterprises, LLC | All rights reserved