Let's have a little chit chat about 'accuracy'.
Imagine reading these words in the bible “they returned not height”
Would it make any sense to you?
Sounds like gibberish right?
That’s exactly what I thought too.
But that’s the literal interpretation of the first few words of Hosea 7:16
In the King James Version it reads: “They return, but not to the most High” and the NIV says “ they do not turn to the Most High”
Ah! Now it begins to make a little more sense!
It is a frequent daydream of mine, to have an accurate bible translation free of any form of tampering. But as the above sample demonstrates, it’s not always that possible.
Sometimes just to make any form of sense of the text, the translators may have to step in and make a few adjustments.
But how far, is too far?
In my opinion, some have gone a little too far for comfort.
This post will give you an overview on bible translations, identify 3 ways the bible is translated, and share 5 most accurate bible translations. Feel free to use the navigation below to jump to a particular section.
It has become a hot mess.
There are hundreds of bible versions and translations that it's overwhelming.
So, what does ‘translation’ actually mean?
According to its definition:
It is taking text in one language and converting it to the closest understanding or meaning of the words, in another language.
In the case of biblical translations, the original language of the bible - which was for the most part Hebrew ( Old Testament) , Greek ( New Testament), and in some areas Aramaic - was taken and translated into English, to make it readable to the masses!
Yes, there was once a time when only a few chosen ones were given the opportunity to read the bible and everyone else left to their mercy!
But thanks be to Jesus Christ, who provided a way out. We have now a grand opportunity to have a bible in our home. Or ten if we want to.
Ain’t that great?
The problem with translations is that many times, the context or message captured in the original tongue can become diluted, misinterpreted, or lost all together through translation.
Why you ask? Because
A perfect example of this is the word love.
It is found many times in the old and new testament. However there are four types of love in the Greek language, with a different word and understanding to match.
But when translating each word, the most accurate bible translation that was found is ‘love’.
With an English translation of the bible having only the word ‘love’, how would we know which love the verse is speaking about?
Worst yet, we would have no clue that something was wrong.
Even though the Word of God is sweet already, at times taking the Word of God, ‘as is’ in the English language can truly limit the magnitude of understanding that God wants to reveal to us!
So it is hard to be a translator.
When translating text, the translator has to takes into consideration:
There are three main ways the scriptures is
translated. Either Word-For-Word, Thought-For-Thought or Paraphrased.
Recently, in an attempt to make the bible even easier to understand, or perhaps to help God ‘get to the point quickly’ ( noticed the hint of sarcasm?); individuals have begun publishing bibles with paraphrased scripture.
Danger, danger ahead!
Remember, at the beginning I asked, how far was too far? Well I think we’ve found the answer.
Paraphrased bibles can be wonderful help when reading the bible or teaching the bible to kids. But, although their heart may be in the right place, there is a very big danger in using paraphrased bibles for adult bible studies, because the focus is not on accuracy but readability and summarization.
For me, I want the most accurate bible translation and not an alternative!
Wondering which bible translation is closest to the original text? We can get really close through an Interlinear bible.
An interlinear bible, like this one gives three things
1) the Hebrew/Greek word used
2) the transliteration ( which is the process of transferring a word from the alphabet of one language to another for pronunciation)
3) and the nearest translation
In an in-depth study, we can cover a whole lot of ground with those 3 information!
Here's an example
Genesis 1:1 in our bible reads : " in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"
The Interlinear shows God in
So in the Interlinear Genesis 1:1 reads: " in beginning he created Elohim the heavens and the earth"
There is much more to say on this scripture, but I'll leave it right there for now.
Now without any further delay, there are three bible versions that are viewed by most scholars to be the most accurate bible translation:
King James Version (KJV): which is a ‘Word for Word’ bible translation: Because it was written in Old English many have found it very hard to read without falling asleep, lol – with the ‘thou’s’ and ‘thee’s’ and ‘oust’ But I have to admit, love it!
Although it is one of the most accurate bible translation, if you choose this one, ensure to look out for Old English terms like ‘manner of conversation’ ( 1 Peter 1: 15) which actually is not speaking greatly about your speech, but actually how you live and your attitude!
Yep, that got me too, in the past!
After over 400 years, King James Version is still the most accurate bible translation and the best on the planet! ( Ok, I may be a little bias :) )
New King James Version (NKJV): which is also a ‘Word for Word’ bible translation:
This is the King James Version brought to us in modern English. So we have the best of both worlds!
So that same scripture verse (1 Peter 1:15) says ‘manner of conduct’ instead of conversation. J I agree, it makes more sense that way.
These two translations are considered most accurate based on the source that the translators used when translating plus added scriptural information is found in footnotes.
But stop the presses!
There is still one more left to identify.
There has been a long fight between the New American Standard Bible and the King James Bible, for first place in accuracy. Depending on the article you read, you’ll see the New American Standard Bible in first place.
Some scholars say that this Bible reflects the Hebrew and Greek understanding best.
As for me, I will not join in their fight!
Once you have one of these bibles above, in your hand, you are off to the best start.
This list would be incomplete, without the Amplified Bible. As I mentioned, sometimes in English, there is only one word to capture a complete thought.
This is where the Amplified Bible picks up the slack.
It is great with accuracy because it not only offers the closest English translation, but includes in brackets [ / ] every additional meaning, and possible thought that may have been excluded.
For even more accuracy, you can find NASB Study Bibles that underline key words that link with a Hebrew and Greek lexicon in the back.
As for the King James Versions, you can dig a little deeper in each word by using the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek words found in the Strongs Bible Concordance and even online.
Oh happy day!
Although I was tempted to leave this one out, I have to admit it really is a helpful bible translation to have.
One of the most common struggles is the difficulty in understanding what we read in the bible.
If we do not even understand, how can we then apply and grow!
So with a little arm-twisting, I introduce the New International Version (NIV) of the bible.
Truthfully, it has really grown in popularity because it makes the bible really easy to understand.
The New International Version is a Thought For Thought Bible, which can either be viewed as a good or bad thing, based on your needs at this point.
So I recommend this bible if you are really having difficulty understanding the Word for Word bibles but please read it along side ( in a parallel bible) the King James Versions, for this main reason:
The NIV has omitted some scriptures that other translations have not.
For instance, in the NIV, there is no Matthew 18: 11 “For the son of man came to save that which was lost”
Act 8:37 “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
It is alleged, that the NIV bible has omitted, and replaced some really important words, and added some of their own.
Some have argued and claim that over 64000 words are gone.
Hey that’s a lot of words to just go missing, don’t you think?
My thing is, whether its 200, 6000 or 64000: those are words that I want to see. I don’t want to left in the dark one bit!
After reading this article:
I would suggest to make the choice yourself. You may prefer, as I would, to read this bible along side a Word for Word translation.
The more water we throw into a concentrated drink, the more diluted it gets.
Am I right?
Soon it will lose all its taste and substance all together.
Same thing goes for translations.
We should focus on the literal word as much as we can.
It makes sense to avoid translations that are less accurate and are loosely paraphrased.
In my opinion, you’ll receive instead a diluted version of the word.
you were to compare paraphrased bibles like The Message, to the New
King James Version, you will clearly see a big difference.
You might come out thinking …what the….???
It reads like a completely different story all together.
I hope you've enjoyed the most accurate bible translations that we've offered here. It was a blast as always.
What do you believe is the most accurate bible of them all, and why?
Let's hear your thoughts below.
I read several articles but these are my primary bad boys!
More Than Words: 4 Bible Translation Basics Every Christian Should Know; by Ron Krueger, December 1st 2017 – Taken From Ebsco
Distorting Scripture: The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy; by Mark Strauss, 2010. - Book