What Is The Most Accurate Bible Translation?

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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.

So, back to my day dream I go:

“My oh my how I wish that I could read the original language of the bible!”

Until you and I can, we’ll have to settle for the next best thing: “ the most accurate bible translation”.


Yes, reading both Hebrew and Greek would me a blast! Getting the complete understanding that God intended us to have, would be an absolute blessing.

But Alas! ( with my hand on my forehead for dramatic effect) all I can do for now is read  English ( and utter a few Spanish words, here and there), so I am left to find the most accurate bible translation, so that I can at least get as close as I can to the literal understanding.

So what is the most accurate bible translation?

First, let's learn a thing or two about translations.

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.

Understanding Bible Translation and Why It Is Important?

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

  • There isn’t a matching word in the next language
  • There are different figures of speech ( interpreted differently among cultures)
  • There’s only one word to capture a complete thought, or wide variety of meanings

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.

When I was a new Christian, I read every passage thinking that all love ( in the bible )  was referring to the same thing.

My was I wrong!

As we would say in the Caribbean, ‘when you don’t know, you don’t know’. And that’s the problem. 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:

  1. Language
  2. Source of Material
  3. Culture
  4. Whether it should literal or paraphrased

Three Main Ways The Bible Is Translated

There are two main ways the scriptures can be translated. Either Word-For-Word or Thought-For-Thought.

  1. Word For Word: ( literal or most accurate bible translation ) : translators try to translate words into the ‘closest possible counterparts’ of the passage
  2. Thought For Thought: translators seek to ‘express the meaning’ of the original passage

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.  

Paraphrase: reworded to show the understanding of the passage in the translators opinion. 

Danger, danger ahead! 

Remember, at the beginning I asked, how far was too far? Well I think we’ve found the answer. 

Although their heart may be in the right place, there is a very big danger in using paraphrased bibles because the focus is not on accuracy but readability and summarization. For me, I want the most accurate bible translation and not an alternative!

Based On This Information, What is the Most Accurate Bible Translation?

Now without any further delay, there are three bibles that are viewed by most scholars to be the most accurate bible translation:


King James Version ( KJV)


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 Verson (NKJV)


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.


New American Standard Bible ( NASB)


New American Standard Bible : which is a ‘Word For Word’ bible translation:

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.


A Super Reason For Having A Literal Bible Translation

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!

Most Accurate Bible Translation Chart

most accurate bible translation chart

Other Helpful Translations : The NIV


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”

or

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 these three articles:

  1. Article 1
  2. Article 2
  3. Article 3

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.

Bible Translations To Avoid For Accuracy


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.

If 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.

Conclusion


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.


References:

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

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