Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
4. With all the translations of the Bible, how should I decide which one to use?
Select a version you judge readable and understandable. There are no inspired versions. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow.
1) Select a true version. Paraphrases, such as The Living Bible, are not versions. A paraphrase rewords the English text to produce a highly readable product, but one that is subject to the doctrinal prejudices of the paraphraser.
2) Select a version translated from the original languages. The Jerusalem Bible is an English translation from a French translation based on the original Hebrew and Greek compared to the Latin Vulgate. The King James Version of 1611 and subsequent revisions is based on the received text which has come to us complete only because Erasmus of Rotterdam translated missing sections into Greek from the Latin Vulgate. Nonetheless, the KJV remains a significant and valued translation.
3) Select a version according to purpose. I recommend The New Century Bible for general reading because it is translated on a third grade reading level making it highly understandable. The New International Version is translated on a seventh grade level. I recommend the New American Standard Bible or New New American Standard Bible (that is not an error) for study. The NCV and the NIV are dynamic translations. They interpret the text's meaning while the NASB is a literal translation sticking very close to the exact wording of the Greek and Hebrew text.
4) Avoid translations which are the work of one individual or group. While The Message is very good, it reflects the work of Eugene Peterson and carries his theological prejudices. The New World Translation is a translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses which supports their heretical theological views.
5) Avoid expensive translations with extensive helps and notes. A carefully selected study Bible may be helpful, but Christians need to read God's words more than man's words about the Bible.
What's the bottom line? Pick a translation you enjoy and read it. Which ever one you'll read is the best one for you. If you don't read it, then it doesn't matter.