by Kate McKenzie August 05, 2022 2 min read

Why are there so many Bible translations? Well, as you may know, the Bible was not originally written in English but in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. And if you've ever taken time to learn another language, you've likely found it's not always easy to offer a seamless, word-for-word translation.

This is why so many different translations, or versions, of the Bible exist.

We compare these versions to see how well-established translations have approached a text. It gives us greater insight into not only the meaning of a particular verse or passage but also each individual word. This can be invaluable in our understanding.

For the purpose of our study and best understanding the original meaning of a text, we encourage you to consider word-for-word translations over thought-for-thought.

Word-for-Word Translations

A word-for-word translation attempts to translate the Bible as literally as possible. While this helps preserve original meaning, as accuracy increases sometimes readability decreases. 

Well-known word-for-word translations include the King James Version (KJV) and New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard (NASB), and the English Standard Version (ESV).

As you know, at Abidible we use the ESV. We've found it does a nice job of maintaining accuracy while not feeling too cumbersome.

Thought-for-Thought Translations

Well-known thought-for-thought translations include the New Living Translation (NLT) and The Message. These translations are closer to what we would call a paraphrase. While accuracy may decrease with these versions, readability increases.

Translations Right in the Middle

The New International Version (NIV) and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) are examples of translations that land right in the middle when it comes to accuracy and readability.

How to Compare Versions

Now that you know a little more about why different translations exist and the kinds of translations we have, let's talk about how to compare these versions.

  1. Old School- If you own multiple versions of the Bible in your home, stack them near wherever you plan to study and have them ready to use.
  2. New School- There are plenty of online resources. For ease of use, we recommend using a free app like Blue Letter Bible to select which translations you'd like to compare. Here is a brief video tutorial on how to use this feature:

Want real training and practice with doing Bible comparisons? Get both in our "How to Study the Bible" course! Click the link to learn more.

Let's Abide,

Kate and Jason

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