About Translation (repeat)

The Bible was not written in English, but in ancient languages.  Except for specialists who know Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, we read the Bible in English translation. There are dozens of translations to choose from.  

With FRESH READ, we will use a literary translation, such as the New Revised Standard Version. 

  ·        This is midway between “word for word”  literal versions and the freer “idea for idea” versions.  

 ·        The NRSV strives to be gender inclusive – it will usually only use male pronouns when that was the original intent. This is important for a FRESH READ. 

Since the goal is to experience the biblical text itself.  We will not attend to the observations and opinions of previous readers.  It is important to use a literary version that  reflects the language and the meaning of the Bible, and that is reads clearly in English. If you want to read more on this topic, keep reading.  If not, feel free to stop here! 

 Translations can be divided into four categories: Literal, Literary, Dynamic and Interpretive.  Literal translations try to follow the original in a word for word fashion.  This can lead to awkwardness and even confusion in English.  For example, the King James Version of Psalm 48:1:  Psalm 48:1‑2 – KJV       “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. [2] Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”    The phrase “mountain of his holiness” could suggest the image of the immensity of the holiness of God.  It actually is a literal translation of the Hebrew grammar, which means “His holy mountain.” 

Literary translations try to be “as literal as possible and as free as necessary.”  They try to retain as much as the flavor of the original text, while at the same time making it clear in English. 

Psalm 48:1,2 – NRSV“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised,in the city of our God.His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,is the joy of all the earth,Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.”  Dynamic Translations try to translate ideas for ideas.  They are not as concerned to carry over into English the structure or the words of the original.  They are freer in form, but try to stay close to the meaning of the original text.

Psalm 48:1,2 – NIV“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,in the city of our God, his holy mountain.It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth.Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,the city of the Great King.” 

Interpretive translations are really a more personal reflection upon the text.  These can be very free and offer insights by the translator into the text.  The New Century Version is one example:

Psalm 48:1,2 – NCV“The Lord is great; he should be praisedin the city of our God, on his holy mountain.It is high and beautifuland brings joy to the whole world.Mount Zion is like the high mountains to the north;it is the city of the Great King.” 

 It us usually best to read more than one translation.  We suggest a more literal translation and a more free version.  The more literal is a safeguard against following some one else’s interpretation.  The more free version guards against obscurity. 
Below is a Chart of some of the most popular current translations, but certainly not all of them: 


  • New American Standard Bible
  • English Standard Version
  • King James Version
  • New King James Version 

  • Revised Standard Version         
  •  New Revised Standard Version
  • Revised English Version   
  • Jerusalem Bible 



  • New International Version                            
  • New Century Version         



  • Living Bible The Message         
  • Phillips Translation
  • New Living Translation 


A good web site where you can search for passages or specific words in the Bible as well as compare several translations is: http://www.biblegateway.com 

3 thoughts on “About Translation (repeat)

  1. It seems to be a little more accurate than others and I like the way it reads. Did you know that the Greek Orthodox Church also uses the NKJV. Which seems interesting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s