One “Best” Translation?

My turn to weigh in on translations.  People always ask what the best translation is.  I typically reply that there is no one best translation as they all have different purposes for which they are intended.  That said, I also add on that the best one is really the one you are most comfortable with and will actually feel comfortable reading.  Or, stated more straight forwardly, the best translation is the one you read.  I say it in jest but I think it’s true. But then again, maybe it is better to go with whatever your local church is using, sort of like Nick was mentioning in his post about his experience with the NLT.

Those who try to say that such and such a translation is best for such and such a situation (for example, literal is better for study, less literal better for reading, etc) probably aren’t too up on what translations are for and why.

One should have a Bible they read from daily and yearly.  In fact I think it is probably best to find one translation you are comfortable with and read that one through and through, over and over until you have a solid and comprehensive overall understanding of the Bible and its message.  I often wonder if switching around to different translations could get things a bit convoluted.  But when studying it is always a good idea to compare translations and search out key important words to do studies on them and learn more of their meanings and nuances.  In so doing I think one will discover that word choices and some translation differences are more stylistic than anything else.

For sure, if one says such and such a translation is the truest to the Greek and Hebrew, etc, this person is either being irresponsible or just doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.  Every translation has it’s hits and misses, every translation fails in some manner or another to translate from the biblical languages to the receptor language to one degree or another.  No one translation is most accurate or infallible (despite some more extreme KJVO arguments), each translation has its points of accuracy and points of inaccuracy in one form or another.  A translation is just that, a translation.  There is just no way possible to give a word for word correspondence from one language to another (and this not just the biblical languages).

But, even so, I think some will feel more comfortable with a more literal translation and other will feel more comfortable with a less literal one – but here’s the thing: they both accomplish the same goal.

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8 responses to “One “Best” Translation?

  1. Me too. The reason why people make these uninformed remarks is because of what some pastor has said or someone like that.

    But I’m compelled to add that some translations are better than others when all is said and done.

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  3. I would tend to agree TC – which is why pastors need to be more responsible to not pit one translation against another – or take the time to study the biblical languages. Which translations might you suggest are better than others? I suspect those along the DE lines?

  4. Well, if we’re talking formal, then we have to contend with the NRSV/ESV/RSV/NASB/NKJV/KJV.

    If mediating then NET/TNIV/NIV/HCSB/REB.

    A person might think the NRSV is better than the others in the formal category, and the TNIV is better in the mediating category.

  5. I see your point TC. Then in my opinion the “better” translations are among the following in the order of formal (more literal) to dynamic (less literal): NASU; NRSV; TNIV; NLT; REB; CEV

  6. Pingback: Other Blogs: General Thoughts on Translations | Scripture Zealot

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