Recommended Bible Translations (Which Bible Is Best?)

by Sean Finnegan

Today after a quick review and an appeal to learn the biblical languages, I’ll recommend a number of Bible translations.  Although I’m hesitant to do this, so many have written in asking for it that I would be negligent to avoid making some recommendations in this last episode.  Additionally, we’ll cover a list of 7 verses you can use to check translations accuracy.

—— Verses to Check for Translation Accuracy ——

Genesis 4.8 Cain says “Let’s go into the field” (SP, LXX, Syriac, Vulgate)

Isaiah 53.11 “he shall see light” not “he shall see it” (DSS, LXX)

1 Samuel 14.41 does it say “Urim?” (LXX)

Psalm 145.13 is it 2 sentences or just 1? (DSS, LXX, Syriac)

Honesty about Mark 16.9-20 and John 7.53-8.11

Revelation 22.19 “tree of life” not “book of life”

Matthew 2.2 “pay homage” not “worship”

—— Recommended Translations ——

Jewish Publication Society Tanakh (JPS): dynamic equivalence from Jewish perspective

English Standard Version (ESV): formal equivalence from evangelical perspective

New English Translation (NET): dynamic equivalence from evangelical perspective

New American Bible (NAB): dynamic equivalence from Roman Catholic perspective

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): formal equivalence from a mainline/liberal perspective

—— Biased Translations to Avoid ——

Message Bible (MSG): extreme dynamic equivalence

Passion Translation (PT): extreme dynamic equivalence

New Living Translation (NLT): dynamic equivalence

—— Outdated Translations ——

1769 King James Version (KJV): formal equivalence

1982 New King James Version (NKJV): formal equivalence

1995 New American Standard Bible (NASB): formal equivalence

any versions not taking into account the Dead Sea Scrolls (see verses above to check)

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Pastor Sean! I loved this presentation on How We Got the Bible! One cannot argue with the logic of using the most current research available for bible translations. Question: Is there a reason why you did not include the REV in your recommended Bible translations in the last segment? God Bless! Nancy Conell - Albuquerque, NM
    • Sean Finnegan
      Hello Nancy, the REV is years away from completion. Even so, I did a review of unitarian bible translations here that you might be interested in:
  2. My thing for choosing a Bible is John 1:18, it's the only verse I know of (there could be others) that says God was begotten, is the son, or some trinity concept saying God is Jesus for a lot of translations after 1900 [there is John 10:30 but it seems few in comparison when considering how a lot of translations try to prove the trinity with John1:18] Any recommendations for translations keeping John 1:18 trinity free?
    • Sean Finnegan
      Mark, Dealing with John 1.18 is a very tricky textual criticism issue (not really related to translation). The standard Greek critical text (NA28) goes with "one and only God" so any translations using that text will have that reading. However, the recent Tyndale House (TH) critical text (made by evangelicals) went with "one and only son," but as of yet, I don't believe there are any translations that use the TH text. I would suggest that John 1.18 is not a good litmus test for translation since the issue is textual. For the record, a number of biblical unitarians also prefer God to son in John 1.18, interpreting it as an instance of agency (where Jesus is called God because he represents God). As for me, I'm not sure what is best here from a textual perspective. From a theological point of view, of course, I prefer "son," but we have to be careful not to change the biblical text based on our theology.
      • I wish I had the resources and time to be able to do more research - all I have are KJV Concordances,and reference tools when it comes to Greek, The verse uses "huios" (i think I spelled it right) which seems to mean some kind of child [human or beast] and I don't see (is it) Theos(?) being used Don't know what other Grk texts use or how to find them, I do consider what other translations have to say and ask myself "why interpret it that way?" Any site where we can reference other grk texts? How would I look up NA28? Any opinion on the "Evangelical Heritage Translation" Bible? Came across it looking for a Bible for a novice. It sems to have the corrections noted above or a footnote
        • Sean Finnegan
          As for reading the NA28 or the TH Greek texts, you can order them on Amazon or if you want the print copies. For electronic, you'll need to purchase Bible software (either Accordance or Logos) and then buy the electronic versions of each. For more about textual criticism (comparing manuscripts to figure out which is likely original), watch episodes 6-10 in my class: How We Got the Bible. Here's the link to episode 6:

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