*the following is an excerpt:
It is essential that the student find a translation that will encourage reading and study. No single translation is superior for every purpose. So, a series of questions should be asked when evaluating Bible translations.
- Has the best text been used to make this translation?
It should be clear that the King James Version (KJV), like other older versions, is not based on a text that benefits from all of the new manuscripts discovered in the 400 years since it was completed in 1611.
To decide whether a translation is based on the best text, check the introductory preface for specific statements. Does it say that this is an eclectic text (meaning each variant in the ancient manuscripts has been evaluated separately to determine its proximity to the original)? Almost all modern translations indicate the questionable nature of certain passages. Determine whether they have been omitted entirely, put in the footnotes or margins, put in the text or set in brackets.
- How accurate is the translation?
- Is it up-to-date? Check the copyright date. In general the newer the translation the more likely it is up to date. However, try to determine if the translation is a revision or a reprinting of an earlier translation.
- Has a team of scholars representing a cross-section of religious groups made the translation? No single individual can stay current with all of the vast amount of new scholarship that is necessary to make the best translation.
- Is the translation readable?
- How is the translation intended to be used?
Is the translation intended for study purposes? If so, then the translation should preserve the ambiguity of the original and the distance between the ancient and modern world. A careful student wants to know what the text said and draw out the relevance on his or her own. In general, the paraphrase and idiomatic translations are least satisfactory for careful study.
- What kind of information is in the annotations and notes?
- Is inclusive language used?
No translation is best for every purpose. Since there are about 500 different English versions now available, each individual has to decide for himself or herself. Hopefully, you will take the time to ask the necessary questions when searching for the right Bible. Fortunately, most of the Bibles translated in the last thirty or forty years are far superior to those made earlier. For instance, despite its literary beauty and long-standing use in the church, we cannot recommend the KJV because it contains archaic language and reflects out-of-date scholarship. It is simply necessary to realize that some translations are much better than others. We recommend:
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New International Version (NIV)
New American Bible (NAB)
Revised English Bible (REB)
New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
New Living Translation (NLT)
Matthews, Victor and James C. Moyer. The Old Testament: Text and Context. Second Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2005. Print