Bible Geeks' Corner


Are you interested in Christian stuff, The Bible, different Bible translations, Christian books, Bible software and so on, you might find something of interest here.

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Bible Translations

When I first got saved, back in 2003, I really wanted an English translation of the Bible. Being Norwegian, that might sound weird, as most would mainly use a Norwegian translation. I don't really remember my reasoning or reasons back then, but today I'm glad that I did get an English Bible early on. The first I got, was the NLT (New Living Translation, first edition) One Year Bible. So I read it through the coming year.

NLT is a translation that focuses on conveying the meaning/thoughts of the original authors (dynamic equivalence), while being very easily understandable and readable for today's readers. And for me it was very refreshing. This was my favorite translation for two years or something like that. I still turn to NLT quite often, especially when I'm reading something difficult, like in Paul's letters. (Another nice dynamic translation is The Messge, MSG. It's also very refreshing, but it is very paraphrased, so I find myself turning more often to NLT.)

After a couple of years, reading NLT daily, I felt the need for some translation where I could dig deeper. Like in Acts 1:8, If I remember correctly (I don’t have NLT first edition available here now), it said “you will tell people about me everywhere”. A more literal translation (formal equivalence) would instead say “you will be my witnesses”. And being witnesses is more than just telling people. It might even be without words. (Like St. Francis of Assisi, I think it was, who said to go witness, and “if nescessary, use words”.)

So then I got myself NASB95 (New American Standard version, 1995 update) with Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Concordance on my PalmOS device (Palm Tungsten T5). And for a couple of years, NASB (1995 update) was my favorite translation. I still compared with and looked up stuff in NLT (second edition now) and others, like the Amplified (AMP) translation (which is really cool, but not always nescessary if you use Strong’s concordance and dig yourselves).

Then, after a year or two of using NASB as my primary Bible, I was going to buy a new compact Bible, and I did some comparisons between the ESV, NASB, KJV and NKJV, and I found that in many instances, the NKJV (New King James Version) was much more precise and even more literal than the others. And I found the language to be refreshingly good, and even beautiful, so I switched to NKJV as my preferred Bible text. (I had owned a copy of the Spirit Filled Life Bible for some years, so I knew NKJV from that, but now I sort of rediscovered it, and found the translation to be refreshing. I also strongly recommend the Spirit Filled Life Study Bible, by the way.)

But recently, in the fall of 2009, I was considering Bible software for my Mac, and while playing with Accordance, I saw that they used the Holman CSB (HCSB) in some of their demos. I had seen this in stores, but knew nothing about it. I started reading about it and found it to be very interesting. After using it for a short while on my computer, I found that I wanted a paper copy as well, so I got a nice and compact “Soldier’s Bible” at a nice price. And it has been very refreshing. (I guess changing translation every now and then might give you a fresh perspective.) I find myself preferring the HCSB most of the time now, especially after I got a version with Strong’s for my Bible Software (Accordance for Mac).

HCSB uses something they call optimal equivalence, which roughly says that if formal equivalence doesn’t work (convey meaning), we need something more dynamic. One might ask how this is different from translations like the NIV or the TNIV, and in some aspects, HCSB and those are quite similar. But I find HCSB to be more literal, while still being quite readable and clear/understandable. I like TNIV too, but I more often get the feeling that the literal meaning is hidden there (as in “digested”, “explained” or “paraphrased”), and also sometimes I find the TNIV to be a little “trapped” in the KJV tradition.

All of this is, of course, highly subjective, and might change later on. It will be interesting to see how the revised NIV 2011 will be. I might also end up using the NET translation more. I already use their study/translation notes quite often.

Read more about HCSB and other translations in my blog.