We need to compare Bible translations for several reasons, but mainly to obtain a better understanding of Bible teachings.
There are so many differences in Bible translations that it can so easy to make errors in misunderstanding what God's word really says.
Two Types of Bible Translations
There are basically 2 types of Bible translations - the "word for word" or literal translation, and "thought for thought" translations.
The "word for word" translation is also called "formal equivalence", while the "thought for thought" type is known as "dynamic equivalence".
In formal equivalence or 'word for word' translation, the translator will retain the same word order and grammatical structure as far as possible.
Formal equivalence translating retains as much of the writing style and beauty of the original scripture. However, that can be difficult at times because some words have no equivalent in other languages.
When that happens, the translator/s will use both types of translation.
Translators using the dynamic equivalence philosophy strive to translate thought for thought so the actual text can change dramatically from the original. Very few languages are the same in terms of words, sentence structure, syntax, etc. Also, cultural differences and the passage of time have a big impact on how a translation will be understood.
The translators focus on communicating the meaning of the original and not the wording. They usually use shorter words and sentences and difficult theology terms are expressed in easy to understand phrases.
Differences in Bible Translations
The King James Version of the Bible is one of the oldest translations that is still available for sale. This version is perfect for anyone who likes to read relatively old and fairly poetic prose. This King James Version is the one that was commonly used for most prayer books and hymns of the last few centuries, but now, this translation has been redone by modern scholars. Younger readers may struggle with the KJV, and critical readers who truly want to understand the original text may wish to compare Bible translations of other scholars in attempt to obtain a clearer understanding of some key verses or teachings.
The American Standard Version (ASV) is one of the first Bibles that many people notice when they start to compare Bible translations. It is a revised translation of the King James Version that puts that hard to understand language into more modern language.
The Common English Bible (CEB) is similar to the ASV, but it is even easier to understand. Readers who wish to maintain the poetic language of the King James with the clarity of modern text should look at the English Standard Version (ESV), or better still the NKJV Bible (or the New King James Bible). All of these versions were translated by the 'word for word' approach.
Scholars argue that one of the most important differences in Bible translations is whether it is translated "thought by thought" or "word by word".
Many of them claim that a thought by thought translation is more effective than a word by word translation.
There are several translations that focus on relaying the Bible's message thought by thought, e.g. the New Living Translation.
The Message (translated by Eugene H. Peterson) is considered to paraphrase the original text.
On the other hand, the New International Version Bible uses a blend of both formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence.
When Bible readers and students compare Bible translations, they ensure that they will be able to understand the Bible that they are reading and studying.
The differences in Bible translations can make a huge difference in the clarity of the text. In addition, there may even be differences in the verses or words themselves that may alter the meaning of the message.
The main thing is - always compare Bible translations for a better understanding of the Scriptures.