Compare Bible Translations

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WORD FOR WORD
(Formal Equivalence)

THOUGHT FOR THOUGHT
(Dynamic Equivalence)

PARAPHRASE

ASV
RSV
KJV

NASB
AMP

RSV
ESV

NKJV
NRSV
HSCB

JB
NIV
NEB

NJB
TNIV
NET

CEV
NCV
NAB
NIrV

GW
NLT
ICB
REB

TLB
MSG
GNT
ERV
TEV

compare bible translations

With the surplus of Bibles available in many different translations, it may help to understand the basic differences between each. Word-for-word (also known as formal equivalence) translations attempt to match the original language words with the closest English language counterpart. Thought-for-thought (also known as dynamic equivalence) translations attempt to pair the ideas behind each phrase or sentence with a similar idea in the English language. (source)

  • American Standard Version ASV

    The American Standard Version, also known as the Standard American Edition, Revised Version, is a revised version of the KJV. It was completed in 1885 and newly edited by the American Revision Committee in 1901.

  • Common English Bible CEB

    The Common English Bible is a translation of the scriptures intended to be a comfortable reading level for over half of all English readers. It attempts to substitute more traditional biblical terminology with more natural wording.

  • English Standard Version ESV

    The ESV Bible is a relatively new Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and readability.

  • GOD’S WORD Translation GW

    GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) accurately translates the meaning of the original texts into clear, everyday language. Readable and reliable, GW is living, active, and life-changing.

  • Good News Translation GNT

    The Good News Translation was first published in 1976 by the American Bible Society in a “common language.” The simple, everyday language makes it especially popular for children and those learning English.

  • Holman Christian Standard Bible CSB

    The HCS is a highly readable, accurate translation written in modern English. It is published by Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest Bible publisher in America.

  • Jubilee Bible 2000 JUB

    Translated from the Original Texts in Hebrew and Greek into Spanish by Casiodoro de Reina (1569) and compared with the revision of Cipriano de Valera (1602)

    Based on the New Testament of Francisco de Enzinas (1543) and on the New Testament (1556) with the Psalms (1557) of Juan Pérez de Pineda

    This material was translated from Spanish into English by Russell M. Stendal and compared with the Old English Translation of William Tyndale (Pentateuch of 1530, Ploughboy Edition New Testament of 1534, Joshua to 2 Chronicles of 1537, and Jonah). It was also compared word for word with the Authorized Version (by King James) of 1611.

  • King James Version KJV

    The KJV is the first version of Scripture authorized by the Protestant church and commissioned by England’s King James I.

  • Lexham English Bible LEB

    The LEB complements your primary translation with its transparent design and literal rendering. It helps you see the text of God’s Word from another angle.

  • Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible RHE

    The Douay-Rheims is the translation upon which nearly all English Catholic Bible versions are based. It includes the seven Deutero-Canonical books (also known as the Apocrypha).

  • New American Standard Bible NAS

    The NAS is written in a formal style, but is more readable than the King James Version. It is highly respected as the most literal English translation of the Bible.

  • New International Version NIV

    The NIV offers a balance between a word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation and is considered by many as a highly accurate and smooth-reading version of the Bible in modern English.

  • New King James Version NKJV

    The NKJ is a modern language update of the original King James Version. It retains much of the traditional interpretation and sentence structure of the KJV.

  • New Living Translation NLT

    Using modern English, the translators of the NLT focused on producing clarity in the meaning of the text rather than creating a literal, word-for-word equivalence. Their goal was to create a clear, readable translation while remaining faithful to original texts.

  • New Revised Standard NRS

    The New Revised Standard is a popular translation that follows in the traditions of the King James and Revised Standard Versions. It was written with the goal of preserving the best of the older versions while incorporating modern English.

  • Revised Standard Version RSV

    The Revised Standard Version is a revision of the King James Version, the Revised Version, and American Standard Version. This text is intended for both private reading and public worship.

  • The Message Bible MSG

    The Message is a paraphrase from the original languages written by Eugene, H. Peterson. The Message provides a fresh and unique Bible-reading experience.

Thoughts, Expository. “Bible Versions and Translations Online .” Bible Study Tools. n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017. <http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-versions/>

Literal translations are a word-for-word rendering of the Greek and Hebrew, conveying the literal meaning of the text. Compare Psalm 27:4 in many Bible translations.

Bible VersionDescription
American Standard Version – ASVRooted in the work that was done with the Revised Version (RV), the ASV has earned the reputation of being a rock solid translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
Amplified Bible – AMP/a>A unique Bible version designed to reveal, along with the most accurate single word equivalent of a Hebrew or Greek word, the various shades of meaning that a word may have. As many words as are necessary to convey the original meaning are used, and the footnotes point out the names of original language scholars who are relied upon for the various renderings. Readable and very enlightening in its own right.
Bible in Basic EnglishA translation of the Bible using the standard 850 Basic English words. 100 words that were helpful to understand poetry were added along with 50 “Bible” words.
Contemporary English Version – CEVMarked by uncompromising simplicity, the CEV is an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts, described as a “user-friendly” translation that can be read aloud without stumbling, heard without misunderstanding, and listened to with enjoyment and appreciation because the language is contemporary and the style is lucid and lyrical.
Darby’s New TranslationProvides the simple and unlearned reader with as accurate a translation as possible. Darby’s English translation is a trusted, scholarly work based on a thorough knowledge of the original languages. More than 125 years after its introduction, The New Translation is still considered to be one of the most accurate English translations of the Bible.
Douay-RheimsThe Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible was derived from the Latin Vulgate Bible for which Pope Damasus commissioned St. Jerome to translate the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin in 382 A.D. The Douay-Rheims Bible was completed in 1609 AD and first published by the English college. It was revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Richard Challoner in 1749-1752 AD. This version includes the seven deuterocanonical books.
English Standard Version – ESVTo achieve the greatest possible accuracy in an English translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts, the translators of this readable, modern Bible version have attempted to write what is, as much as possible, a “word for word” rendering of the text. The authors of the English Standard Version, ESV, published in 2001, view their work as a continuation in a long line of solid, true, and beautiful English versions of the Bible, beginning with the New Testament of William Tyndale in 1526. While modernizing archaic language and correcting certain errors in key portions of text, the translators have labored to preserve the enduring language of their predecessors in a Bible version that is true to every God-breathed word of Scripture. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels (except on iPod).
Geneva BibleIn 1557 the Geneva Bible translators began to revise the English Bible. Much of the work was done by William Whittingham, the brother-in-law of John Calvin. The revisers used the Great Bible as their basis for the Old Testament and Tyndale’s work, Matthew’s Bible, for the New Testament. The new translation was verified against earlier works and the original text. It was not printed in England until 1575. The Geneva Bible was immediately popular, but considered a political threat to the King of England because of its ties with Calvin. Rome was also threatened by the Protestant undertones of the translation. As a result, it was replaced by the King James Version, and is sometimes referred to as the Forgotten Translation. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels, and contains only the books from Matthew through Romans.
Holman Christian Standard BibleAfter several years of preliminary development, Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest Bible publisher in America, assembled an international, interdenominational team of 90 scholars, all of whom were committed to biblical inerrancy. Smaller teams of editors, stylists, and proofreaders then corrected and polished the translation. Outside consultants contributed valuable suggestions from their areas of expertise. An executive team then reviewed the final manuscripts. The textual base for the New Testament [NT] is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition, and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition. The text for the Old Testament [OT] is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th edition. Significant differences among Hebrew [Hb] and Aramaic [Aram] manuscripts of the OT or among Greek [Gk] manuscripts of the NT are indicated in footnotes. In a few NT cases large square brackets indicate texts that are omitted in some ancient manuscripts. The Holman CSB® uses the traditional verse divisions found in most Protestant Bibles in English. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels.
King James Version – KJVIt is said that when William Tyndale (1494 to 1536) was burned at the stake for translating the New Testament into the English vernacular in 1526, his last words were, “Lord, open the eyes of the king!” Shortly thereafter, the Bible was made available in English by royal decree; and in 1604, 85 years after Tyndale’s work, King James I authorized a new translation of the whole Bible for use by the Church of England. The result was the King James Version, or KJV, of 1611, a work of profound gravity, careful scholarship, and surpassing literary quality, which has influenced English language and literature for hundreds of years, has been preached from thousands of pulpits, has been quoted by countless writers, and has led millions to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though modern scholarship has led to revisions that strive for greater accuracy and readability, based both on a broader array of Greek texts and on gradual changes in English usage, the King James Version is still the source from which most literal English translations derive their inspiration. This electronic version does not include the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels (except on iPod).
New American Bible – NABThis translation, published by the World Catholic Press in 1987, is a literal translation, based on the word-for-word principle and undertaken by fifty translators. Unlike previous Catholic Bibles, the New American Bible, or NAB, is based not on the Latin Vulgate, but on original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts representing the most recent textual scholarship. Although the NAB is intended for official use in the Catholic Mass, its authors collaborated with scholars outside of Catholic circles in an attempt to make the translation more suitable for use by all Christians. Extensive footnotes are a significant part of this work. This version contains the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament and (for Palm, Pocket PC, and Symbian UIQ) the complete publisher notes that expand on translation context and meaning.
New American Standard Bible – NASBIn the simplest of forwards, the goal of this popular translation is stated as follows: “to adhere as closely as possible to the original languages of the Holy Scriptures, and to make the translation in a fluent and readable style according to current English usage.” The New American Standard Bible, or NASB, is based on the American Standard Version of 1901, still highly regarded for its accuracy. The new translation was undertaken in order to incorporate recent discoveries in Hebrew and Greek textual scholarship. Additionally, numerous other translations were consulted, and decisions on the best rendering of the text were made jointly by scholars, educators, and pastors. The first printing of this readable and widely appreciated translation was in 1971. From the Lockman Foundation. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels (except on iPod).
New Century Version – NCVJust as the New Testament was originally written in the simple Greek of everyday life, the New Century Version translates the Scriptures in familiar, everyday words of our times. Two basic premises guided the translation process: faithfulness to the original manuscripts, and the use of language clear enough for anyone to read the Bible and understand it for himself. Several of the translation methods that were followed are listed below: ” Modern measurements and geographical locations have been used wherever possible. ” The most familiar name for a place is used consistently, instead of using variant names for the same place. ” The meaning of ancient customs referenced in the text are clarified in the text itself or in a footnote. ” Since word meaning changes over time, care has been taken to translate into terms that will not be misunderstood by readers today. ” Figures of speech are translated according to their meanings. ” Idiomatic expressions are translated to communicate the same meaning to today’s reader that would have been understood by the original audience. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels, and includes a notes file that provides ample cross references and a limited number of translator notes.
New English Translation – NET Bible®, First EditionThe NET Bible®, a modern translation of the Bible based entirely on the original languages, has been updated and revised, and is now available as the First Edition. It is noted to be accurate, readable and elegant, and includes almost 60,000 translator notes from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, as well as more than 700 references to scholarly works. The unparalleled detail in these notes unlocks the riches of the Bible’s truth from entirely new perspectives. A free version with limited notes is now available. “The NET Bible® … is a refreshing and radical departure from previous translations of the Bible into English. It includes extensive translators’ notes explaining and defending the translation and showing other options for handling difficult passages. The translators’ notes, along with the study notes and textual notes, form an excellent resource for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. Yet the translation itself is still easy to read and understand, well suited for pulpit use as well as personal reading and study. Highly recommended!” – Howard G. Hendricks, Distinguished Professor, Chairman, Center for Christian Leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary
New International Version – NIVStriving for faithfulness to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible, scholars from five English speaking countries labored to make this contemporary version of the Scriptures readable in style and international in scope. Begun in 1965, published in 1978, and revised in 1983, the New International Version, or NIV, has become one of the most popular English Bible translations. The translators’ goal was to produce a work of clarity and literary quality that would be well-suited to private and public reading, memorization, teaching, and preaching. This Bible includes red-letter support for the words of Jesus in the gospels.

N.a. “Literal Bible Translations – Olive Tree Bible Software.” Olivetree.com. n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017. <https://www.olivetree.com/resources/bibles/literaltranslations.php>

Paraphrased translations use modern lanugage and idoms to try to capture the thought and essence behind the original text. Compare Psalm 27:4 in many Bible translations.
Bible versionDescription
Easy-to-Read Version – ERVIt is perfect for outreach, correctional ministries, and those who want a text which is easy to understand.
God’s WordAn update to An American Translation (AAT), God’s Word to the Nations (a form equivalence translation of sorts).
Good News Bible – GNB, Today’s English Version – TEVA new translation, (1976), which seeks to state clearly and accurately the meaning of the original texts in words and forms that are widely accepted by people who use English as a language. It attempts to set forth the Biblical content and message in a standard, everyday, natural form of English.
The Living Bible – TLBThe Living Bible is Kenneth Taylor’s interpretive paraphrase of the Bible. Taylor created this paraphrase as a help for those who wanted to read the Bible to children without having to stop and explain many things. In a 1979 interview published in Christianity Today he explained that the version began in the context of his efforts to explain the biblical text to his own children during family devotions.
The MessageThis translation is a unique Bible-reading experience, a paraphrase by author Eugene Peterson of the traditional Bible text. With no formal language, The Message® reads like a letter from an old friend. Because it’s easier to understand, it is easier to make the connection between what you’re reading and what it means for your everyday life. The Message® is not meant to replace your current version of choice. Rather, it is designed as a reading Bible that can give you a fresh perspective on a familiar phrase or passage.
 N.a. “Paraphrased Bible Translations – Olive Tree Bible Software.” Olivetree.com. n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017. <https://www.olivetree.com/resources/bibles/paraphrasedtranslations.php>
 

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