A HISTORY AND COMPARISON OF ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS Most Popular Bibles by Reading Level Click to show more information and compare sample verses Other Modern English Translations 1900 1800 1700 1600 1500 1400 400 200 200 BC © 2020 Pastor Melissa Scott All Rights Reserved icons below to show or hide Bible information and compare sample verses. Click the TIP Click the outlined Bibles to learn fun facts about translations and translators. Early Copies of New Testament *Bibles in the Catholic tradition **First complete printed English Bible. KJV Reading Level: 12 NASB Reading Level: 11 ESV Reading Level: 10 NIV Reading Level: 8 NLT Reading Level: 6 NCV Reading Level: 5 NIrV Reading Level: 3 Young’s Reading Level: 12 AMP Reading Level: 11 NKJV Reading Level: 8 Living Reading Level: 8 CEB Reading Level: 7 Holman Reading Level: 7 Message Reading Level: 6 NEB 1970 NAB* 1970 New Jerusalem* 1985 REB 1989 NRSV 1989-90 CEV 1995 RSV 1952 Phillips NT 1957 Berkeley MLB 1959 Jerusalem* 1966 GNB/TEV 1966-1976 Barclay NT 1969 Weymouth NT 1903 Moffatt 1913-1924 Centenary NT 1924 Goodspeed-Smith 1923-27 Williams NT 1937 Knox* 1950 Confraternity* 1941-69 American Standard 1901 English Revised 1885 Webster’s 1833 Challoner’s Revision* 1750-1777 King James Version 1611 Douay-Rheims* 1582-1610 Stephanus 1550 Bishop’s Bible 1568 Geneva Bible 1560 Great Bible 1539 Matthew’s Bible 1537 Coverdale’s Bible** 1535 Tyndale’s New Testament 1525 Erasmus Printed Greek New Testament 1516 Complutensian Polyglot 1514-1522 Printed Hebrew Old Testament 1488 Wycliffe Bible 1380 First complete English Bible in manuscript Hebrew Masoretic Text 500 - 900 Codex Alexandrinus c. 450 Codex Sinaiticus c. 400 Codex Vaticanus c. 340 Latin Vulgate 405 Old Latin c. 3rd cent. Armenian 5th cent. Coptic 4th cent. Syriac 2nd-5th cent. Early Bible Versions Ethiopic 4th-5th cent. Original Greek New Testament 48 - 90 Dead Sea Scrolls 400 BC - AD 200 Septuagint Greek Old Testament 300 BC - 200 BC Early Copies of Hebrew Old Testament Original Hebrew Old Testament 1500 BC - 430 BC Did you know...? Robert Estienne (aka Stephanus) was a French scholar and printer, best-known for producing the first Bible with numbered verses in the New Testament. His son wrote that Stephanus divided the New Testament into verses while traveling on horseback from Paris to Lyon. Some have argued that his son simply meant that the work was done while traveling, and not literally while riding on a horse. Whether Stephanus actually penned his verse divisions while riding, we may never know. But his verse numbers often break up the text in an almost random way, making parts of the Bible harder to understand to this very day. The Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to employ Stephanus’ verse divisions. Did you know...? Noah Webster (1758-1843) is best known for his American Dictionary of the English Language. A staunch advocate of intellectual property rights, Webster also became known as “the father of American copyright law.” Webster wanted a version of the Bible that was easier to read than the King James Version. So, using the King James as the basis for his translation, he modernized some archaic expressions and he changed words that he felt were so offensive that you could not read them aloud to young women without blushing. For example, in 1 Samuel 25:22, he changed “him that pisseth against the wall” to simply “any male person.” Did you know...? One of the contributors to the English translation of the Jerusalem Bible was J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien was asked to participate because of his skill as an English stylist, although at the time he did not know Hebrew or Greek, so he translated the book of Jonah from the French Jerusalem Bible. His original manuscript, now in the Bodleian library at Oxford, has Hebrew words written in the margin, so he likely consulted a Hebrew lexicon to make his translation. A paperback edition was planned of his original translation work, but that project never came to fruition. The proposed book cover may still be found on the Internet. Did you know...? Gerrit Verkuyl was 86 years old when his Berkeley Version Bible was published! Did you know...? The Amplified Bible was produced by Mrs. Frances Siewert when she was 83 years old! Did you know...? Young became proficient in ancient languages through self-study. He had a peculiar theory about the translation of Hebrew verbs which put him out of harmony with all mainstream Bible translators and grammarians. (Young believed that the so-called “waw-conversive” was a fictional construct existing only in the minds of grammarians.) Did you know..? Kenneth N. Taylor’s paraphrase began as a series of lessons to help his children understand the Bible in their nightly devotionals. New American Standard Bible Published 1971 Based upon the best available Hebrew and Greek texts, purportedly aims for literal, word-for-word accuracy. The present version has evolved from the American Standard Version of 1901, which in turn traces its pedigree to the Revised Version of 1885. Job 19:25-27 25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me! Philippians 4:17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. Jude 1:22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; English Standard Version Published 2001 Aims for literal, word-for-word accuracy. Purports to build upon the legacy of the Tyndale Bible, King James Version, and the Revised Standard Version. Job 19:25-27 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! Philippians 4:17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. Jude 1:22 And have mercy on those who doubt; New Living Translation Published 1996 Non-literal “thought-for-thought” translation, rather than a word-for-word translation. Originally conceived as a revision to the Living Bible paraphrase published in 1971. Job 19:25-27 25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. 26 And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! 27 I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!...” Philippians 4:17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. Jude 1:22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering New Century Version Published 1987 A revision of the International Children’s Bible, which was originally written for 3rd graders, and now is said to be at a 5th grade level. Current revision is also said to be “gender neutral.” Job 19:25-27 25 I know that my Defender lives, and in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, in my flesh I will see God. 27 I will see him myself; I will see him with my very own eyes. How my heart wants that to happen! Philippians 4:17 Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you, but I want you to have the good that comes from giving. Jude 1:22 Show mercy to some people who have doubts. New International Reader’s Version Published 1992 A simplification of the NIV, intended for children and non-native English language speakers. Job 19:25-27 25 I know that my redeemer lives. In the end he will stand on the earth. 26 Though my skin will be destroyed, in my body I’ll see God. 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes. I’ll see him, and he won’t be a stranger to me. How my heart longs for that day! Jude 1:22 Show mercy to those who doubt. Philippians 4:17 It is not that I want your gifts. What I really want is what is best for you. King James Version Published 1611 An anchor of Protestantism, and arguably still the most important book in the history of Western Civilization. Poetic grandeur occasionally sacrifices precision for style. Antiquated vocabulary causes difficulty for many readers. While the KJV perpetuates a number of traditional errors, in many instances it is more literal than many modern Bible translations. Job 19:25-27 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me Jude 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: Philippians 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. Job 19:25-27 25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Philippians 4:17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account Jude 1:22 Be merciful to those who doubt; New International Version Published/Revisions 1978, 1984, 2011 Currently the most popular translation in modern English. Its translation philosophy is said to be a balance between “thought-for-thought” and “word-for-word”; however, its literal accuracy suffers in some places. Also, NIV “Study Bible” versions should be approached with the caution that contributors’ theological positions range from conservative to liberal. Amplified Bible Published 1965 Uses the American Standard Version as its base text, with added explanatory text and altenative renderings in brackets, using sources including Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament. Genesis 15:6 Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) it to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). Luke 11:3 Give us each day our daily bread. Romans 8:27-28 27 And He who seaches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of God’s people in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and  purpose. New King James Version Published 1982 A conservative revision of the 1611 King James Version. Includes marginal notes based on later scholarship. Considered to be a literal translation. It appears to be marketed toward those who particularly enjoy the poetic sound of the original King James Version, in that its publishers highlight its “beauty” as one of its most important attributes. Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Luke 11:3 Give us day by day our daily bread. Romans 8:27-28 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of  God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His  purpose. Living Bible Published 1971 A paraphrase (that is, it has been reworded to give a general idea) and not a word-for-word or a thought-for-thought translation. Popularized by Billy Graham Crusade. Advocates say it is easy to read, while critical reviewers say its theology is biased against Calvinism. Genesis 15:6 And Abram believed God; then God considered him righteous on account of his faith. Luke 11:3 Give us our food day by day. Romans 8:27-28 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans. Common English Bible Published 2011 A completely new translation. Said to be a balance of “word-for-word” and “thought-for-thought” to achieve both accuracy and readability. However, it incorporates paraphrases and novel reinterpretations that venture far from the literal text. Genesis 15:6 Abram trusted the LORD, and the LORD recognized Abram’s high moral character. Luke 11:3 Give us the bread we need for today. Romans 8:27-28 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. 28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. Holman Bible Published 2004 The Holman Bible has been revised and is now the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Originally promoted as rendering the divine name of the Lord as Yahweh, however, the revised CSB subsequently abandoned that feature and now uses the traditional “Lord,” and also includes gender-inclusive language. Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness. Luke 11:3 Give us each day our daily bread. Romans 8:27-28 27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. The Message Bible Published 2002 The only translation that Pastor Scott unequivocally doesn’t recommend. A free and colorful paraphrase, often degrading into folly for the sake of keeping a reader’s attention, and tossing the word of God aside to the four winds. It tends to make use of the author’s own idiosyncratic expressions over universally understood idioms. Genesis 15:6 And he believed! Believed GOD! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.” Romans 8:27-28 27 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. 28 That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Luke 11:3 Keep us alive with three square meals. Young’s Literal Translation Published 1862 Based on Textus Receptus (Stephanus) and Masoretic Hebrew texts. Interesting for study, though not recommended as a primary Bible translation. It can be difficult to read because it attempts to follow the original word order in the Greek. Young also uses traditional King James English words such as thy, Genesis 15:6 And he hath believed in Jehovah, and He reckoneth it to him -- righteousness. Romans 8:27-28 27 and He who is searching the hearts hath known what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because according to God he doth intercede for saints. 28 And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose; Luke 11:3 our appointed bread be giving us daily; thou, thine, mayest, etc.

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