Which Version of the Bible is Best?

In the FAQ section of A-Bible-A-Day, one question is “Which version or translation of the Bible should I use?

The short answer is to pick whatever version you will actually read.

Unfortunately, there is much vociferous, albeit unwarranted, debate about this issue. With what seems like a countless list of versions to pick from, they are roughly divided into three groups, which exist on a continuum: word-for-word translations, thought-for-thought translations, and paraphrases.

While a word-for-word translation may seem to be the most pure and accurate, the true meaning of a text can be obscured or even misleading given the cultural and time differences between an ancient document written in another language and today’s English for a modern society.

Some see thought-for-thought translations as the answer to this dilemma and a means to minimize confusion. This helps to some extent, but doesn’t completely address differences in culture, era, and worldview.

To address this, paraphrases attempt to provide a modern understanding of the ancient texts, using more accessible phrasing and terminology. However, paraphrases are quick to become dated. Another concern is that the team doing the paraphrase has more latitude in the words they choose and must rely on their understanding of the original intent .

Hence, we go full circle, back to word-for-word translations, which takes me back to my original assertion to pick whichever version you will actually read.