There are many different English Bible translations available today. The following translations are only a few of the total translations available in the English language:
- King James Version (KJV)
- New King James Versions (NKJV)
- New International Version (NIV)
- English Standard Version (ESV)
- New American Standard (NAS)
- Holman Christian Standard (HCSB)
- The Message (MSG)
- New American Standard (NASB)
- New Living Translation (NLT)
With so many versions to choose from, many people ask “Which Bible translation is best?” The first thing that must be understood is that the different translations are just that: translations. All of the different Bible versions are translations (or paraphrased versions) of existing copies of original scriptures.
There are not multiple versions of God’s Word. There is one complete version of God’s Word, which is translated into different languages by different people. We know for a fact that we can trust the Bible, based on many different irrefutable evidences.
The various translations within any one particular language are primarily a result of different texts being available at the time of translation and the different methods of textual criticism used to comprise the true cannon. With that being said, none of the legitimate translations differ on any critical doctrine of the Christian faith, but there are various minor differences based on the text base used and the method of textual criticism used.
Textual criticism is basically the methods used to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible (which were without error and 100% authoritative) said. The original documents are either hidden, lost or non-existent. There are, however, over 27,000 manuscripts in existence that can be cross-checked for accuracy and used to recreate the originals to 99.5% accuracy.
The King James Version and most of the other translations that were done during the reformation era use the “Textus Receptus” text as the base for the New Testament translations and the “Masoretic Text” as the base for the Old Testament.
These texts have historically been known to be the most accurate and authoritative, which is why the King James Version Bible has long been considered the most reliable version of the English Bible.
With new manuscripts being discovered since the time in which the Textus Receptus and Masoretic texts were completed, new translations have been done like the NIV and ESV (among many others). Because these newer versions are not only based off of the manuscripts that were available previously, but also the manuscripts that have recently been discovered, some believe that they are the more complete versions.
The most important thing to consider is the overall gospel message, which is the same no matter what translation you use. As previously stated, there is no doubt that all critical Christian doctrine remains consistent throughout all legitimate Bible translations and the soul-saving Gospel is contained in them all.
For anyone doing an in-depth study of the Scriptures, the King James Version is widely known to be the standard. For a lost sinner who just wants to know what God wants from him, any legitimate version will do and often times a translation with more modern English is more beneficial, at least to begin with, in order to gain a good understanding of the Gospel.