In my post “Translation Confusion,” I pointed out that the Bible has word-for-word translations, thought-for-thought translations, and paraphrases (more technically known as “functional equivalence”). These all exist on a continuum, so the lines of distinction between them are blurry.
Here is how Ministry Today magazine recently broke them down:
Popular word-for-word translations are the New American Standard Bible (NASB), King James Version (KJV), and the English Standard Version (ESV).
Popular thought-for-thought translations are the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), as well as the New International Version (NIV) and New Living Translation (NLT), though both those are viewed as more of a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought (hence the aforementioned continuum).
Popular paraphrases are The Message and The Living Bible.
Not included in their list is the Amplified Bible. It is based on the American Standard Bible, which is word-for-word translation.