Are there many versions of the Bible? Or many translations? If you cannot read Hebrew or Greek in which the original manuscripts were written, you'll need a translation from those texts. In order to live for Christ, you'll need a translation so you can read what He said, and what's been written about Him.
The English language has changed dramatically over the years. In fact it has changed so much only with great difficulty could you read any of the Bibles translated a mere 600 years ago! Because the English language is a living language - constantly changing - there is a continual need to translate frequently from the original text, as old words loose their sense of meaning, and new words come into being.
As new manuscripts are discovered, more understanding and accuracy is given to the texts we presently have. Since the King James Version has been translated, there have been 3 very important discoveries.
Since 1611 we have found more evidence that lends to more accurate translations, these are:
1. The Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph), discovered in 1844 in the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai peninsula by Tischendorf. This was written in the 4th century and contained most of the New Testament.
2. The New Testament papyri in 1895, discovered in Egypt, though fragmented, have proved to be valuable.
3. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 near the Dead Sea, provided nearly all of the Book of Isaiah, and many portions of the Old Testament. These are hundreds of yearsolder than previously known texts, and confirmed much of the Old Testament we already have. These are also duplicated BEFORE the birth of Jesus Christ.
Translation techniques, and Biblical Scholarship have tremendously improved in the last 100 years. We can have a more precise and accurate translation now - than our forefathers ever dreamed of! Other languages we previously knew little about, now we can understand and see the greater meaning of certain difficult words and phrases.
Today we need an easy-to-read translation - for those of us that are not linguistic scholars and stumble over those 27 letter words. Think about it...since the MESSAGE contained in the Bible is so important, then we MUST be able to give it to the poorest reader in a text they can read! This is not re-interpreting the text, it's giving an accurate rendering from the Hebrew & Greek in a language they can simply read and benefit from. For this reason alone, we need the BEST possible translation we can get...consequently, it must be readable.
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The following is a list of many of the versions that are offered by the Bible Gateway.
NIV - New International Version
The New International Version (NIV) is a translation made by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It was conceived in 1965 when, after several years of study by committees from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals, a trans-denominational and international group of scholars met at Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed on the need for a new translation in contemporary English. Their conclusion was endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966. Responsibility for the version was delegated to a self-governing body of fifteen Biblical scholars, the Committee on Bible Translation, and in 1967, the New York Bible Society (now International Bible Society) generously undertook the financial sponsorship of the project.
The translation of each book was assigned to a team of scholars, and the work was thoroughly reviewed and revised at various stages by three separate committees.The Committee submitted the developing version to stylistic consultants who made invaluable suggestions. Samples of the translation were tested for clarity and ease ofreading by various groups of people. In short, perhaps no other translation has been made by a more thorough process of review and revision.
The Committee held to certain goals for the NIV: that it be an Accurate, Beautiful, Clear, and Dignified translation suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use. The translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form. They agreed that faithful communication of the meaning of the original writers demands frequent modifications in sentence structure (resulting in a "thought-for-thought" translation) and constant regard for the contextual meanings of words.
In 1973 the New Testament was published. The Committee carefully reviewed suggestions for revisions and adopted a number of them, which they incorporated into the first printing of the entire Bible in 1978. Additional changes were made in 1983.
NASB - New American Standard Bible
While preserving the literal accuracy of the 1901 ASV, the NASB has sought to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English. Special attention has been given to the rendering of verb tenses to give the English reader a rendering as close as possible to the sense of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. In 1995, the text of the NASB was updated for greater understanding and smoother reading. The New American Standard Bible present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1995 printing.
The New American Standard Bible Update - 1995
Easier to read:
Passages with Old English "thee's" and "thou's" etc. have been updated to modern English.
Words and Phrases that could be misunderstood due to changes in their meaning during the past 20 years have been updated to current English.
Verses with difficult word order or vocabulary have been retranslated into smoother English.
Sentences beginning with "And" have often been retranslated for better English, in recognition of differences in style between the ancient languages and modern English. The original Greek and Hebrew did not have punctuation as is found in English, and in many cases modern English punctuation serves as a substitute for "And" in the original. In some other cases, "and" is translated by a different word such as "then" or "but" as called for by the context, when the word in the original language allows such translation.
More accurate than ever:
Recent research on the oldest and best Greek manuscripts of the New Testament has been reviewed, and some passages have been updated for even greater fidelity to the original manuscripts.
Parallel passages have been compared and reviewed.
Verbs that have a wide range of meaning have been retranslated in some passages to better account for their use in the context.
And still the NASB:
The NASB update is not a change-for-the-sake-of-change translation. The original NASB stands the test of time, and change has been kept to a minimum in recognition of the standard that has been set by the New American Standard Bible.
The NASB update continues the NASB's tradition of literal translation of the original Greek and Hebrew without compromise. Changes in the text have been kept within the strict parameters set forth by the Lockman Foundation's Fourfold Aim.
The translators and consultants who have contributed to the NASB update are conservative Bible scholars who have doctorates in Biblical languages, theology, or other advanced degrees. They represent a variety of denominational backgrounds.
Continuing a tradition:
The original NASB has earned the reputation of being the most accurate English Bible translation. The NASB update carries on the NASB tradition of being a true Bible translation, revealing what the original manuscripts actually say--not merely what the translator believes they mean.
The Amplified Bible was the first Bible project of The Lockman Foundation. It attempts to take both word meaning and context into account in order to accurately translate the original text from one language into another. The Amplified Bible does this through the use of explanatory alternate readings and amplifications to assist the reader in understanding what Scripture really says. Multiple English word equivalents to each key Hebrew and Greek word clarify and amplify meanings that may otherwise have been concealed by the traditional translation method. The Amplified Bible present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing.
NLT - New Living Translation
The goal of any Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible to the modern reader. The New Living Translation is based on the most recent scholarship in the theory of translation. The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The end result is a translation that is easy to read and understand and that accurately communicates the meaning of the original text.
CEV - Contemporary English Version
Uncompromising simplicity marked the American Bible Society's translation of the Contemporary English Version Bible that was first published in 1995. The text is easily read by grade schoolers, second language readers, and those who prefer the more contemporized form. The CEV is not a paraphrase. It is an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts.
KJV - King James Version - Public Domain
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years. The King James Version present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1987 printing. The KJV is public domain in the United States.
NKJV - New King James Version
Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for seven years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet one that would retain the purity and stylistic beauty of the original King James. With unyielding faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, the translatiors applies the most recent research in archaelology, linguistics, and textual studies.
KJ21 - 21st Century King James Version
The 21st Century King James Version of the Holy Bible (KJ21®) is an updating of the 1611 King James Version (KJV).
It is not a new translation, but a careful updating to eliminate obsolete words by reference to the most complete and definitive modern American dictionary, the Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, unabridged. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have also been updated.
What has been historically known as Biblical English has been retained in this updating. It is readily distinguished from the colloquial language of commerce and the media used in contemporary Bible translations.
Biblical English is the language which has found its acceptance in Scripture and liturgy for more than 500 years in most of the English-speaking churches throughout the world. Only in the late twentieth century does one find the use of secular English in Bible translations. All language relating to gender and theology in the King James Version remains unchanged from the original.
The 21st Century King James Version contains universally useful study aids. It includes the chapter summaries from the 1611 King James Version, updated for quick reference. Also included are the cross references from the original King James Version plus many more, but without sectarian emphasis. Not since 1611 has there been a Bible that is so - Right for its time, Right for traditionalist, Right for Bible lovers.
WE - World English New Testament
This New Testament was originally prepared by Annie Cressman, who died in 1993. She was a Canadian Bible teacher in Liberia in West Africa. Whilst teaching students in a Bible School where the language used was English, she found that she was spending more time explaining the meaning of the English than she was teaching the Bible itself. So she decided to write this simple version in easy English so that her students could easily understand.
In 1959 the Full Gospel Publishing House in Toronto, Canada, printed a trial edition of the Gospel of Mark. A further edition was published in 1962 by the American Bible Society. The whole New Testament was first published by SOON Publications in India in 1969 in hardback form. This was assisted by Operation Mobilisation (OM) and was reprinted in 1971.
The vision to reprint a new edition of the whole New Testament has now been carried out by SOON in conjunction with EPH and OM. Where a change to more modern words has been made, this has been kept in line with the the Authorised Version. The Bible in Worldwide English present on the Bible Gateway matches the 1996 printing by SOON Educational Publications.
YLT - Young's Literal Translation - Public Domain
The Bible text designated YLT is from the 1898 Young's Literal Translation by Robert Young who also compiled Young's Analytical Concordance. This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. The text was scanned from a reprint of the 1898 edition as published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan. The book is still in print and may be ordered from Baker Book House. Obvious errors in spelling or inconsistent spellings of the same word were corrected in the computer edition of the text.
Darby Translation - Public Domain
First published in 1890 by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher associated with the early years of the Plymouth Brethren. Darby also published translations of the Bible in French and German.
WYC - Wycliffe New Testament
The "Early Version" of the "Wycliffe Bible", hand-printed about 1382, has long been criticized by Bible historians as too literal, often unintelligible, cumbersome, at best a deeply flawed 1st attempt. In fact, much of the Gospels and the Apocalypse were transferred without significant change from the "Early Version" to the "Later Version", and closely resemble the "Wycliffe-Purvey" text.
However, it is also true that when the "Early Version" is directly compared to the "Later Version", the "Early Version" is, overall, a less satisfying read. It is not so finely tuned and contains many more italicized glosses which interrupt the flow. That is why hand-written variations of the "Later Version" became the foundation upon which the King James Version (KJV) was built. But, as was stated earlier, comparing all three versions side-by-side, it becomes clear that the KJV translators rejected numerous revisions made in the "Later Version", and chose instead individual words and phraseology found in one variant or another of the "Early Version". Why did they do this? Simply put, in countless passages of the "Early Version", both the poetry of the language and fidelity to the original Greek text are superior to that found in the "Later Version".
As the words contained within the square brackets in "Wycliffe-Purvey" readily demonstrate, the KJV translators repeatedly followed the "Early Version", rather than the "Later Version", in regard to prepositions ("the" in "EV" replaced by "a" in "LV"), verb forms (e.g., "saying" and "sitting" in "EV" replaced by "said" and "sat" in "LV"), and phrase order within a verse ("a/b/c" in "EV" rearranged into "b/a/c" in "LV").
But of greatest consequence are almost one hundred significant words that appear in the "Early Version", which were later copied in the KJV, but which are not found in the equivalent "Later Version" verses. Translation is an inexact science. A single word can often be rendered several ways (as the "Wycliffe" versions themselves amply demonstrate). Therefore these linguistic agreements between the "Early Version" and the KJV are meaningful. Examples include: "unction" ("anointing" in "LV"), "allegory" ("understanding" in "LV"), "mystery" ("private" in "LV"), "liberty" ("freedom" in "LV"), "captive" ("prisoner" in "LV"), "Caesar" ("emperor" in "LV"), "prize" ("reward" in "LV"), "wise men" ("astrologers" in "LV"), "veil" ("covering" in "LV"), "faith" ("unbelief" in "LV"), "concision" ("division" in "LV"), and "sand" ("gravel" in "LV"). These words, and many others, were first introduced into the English New Testament lexicon in the 1382 "Early Version" of the "Wycliffe Bible". More than two hundred years later, they were utilized again by the KJV translators. Source - Gospel Communications International Box 455, Muskegon, MI 49443 1-231-773-3361 Contact and feedback : Bible Gateway feedback.
ESV - English Standard Version
The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale's New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.
To this end each word and phrase in the ESV has been carefully weighed against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to ensure the fullest accuracy and clarity and to avoid under-translating or overlooking any nuance of the original text. The words and phrases themselves grow out of the Tyndale-King James legacy, and most recently out of the RSV, with the 1971 RSV text providing the starting point for our work. Archaic language has been brought to current usage and significant corrections have been made in the translation of key texts. But throughout, our goal has been to retain the depth of meaning and enduring language that have made their indelible mark on the English-speaking world and have defined the life and doctrine of the church over the last four centuries. source - Good News Publishers - Crossway Books and Bibles.
ASV - American Standard Version - Public Domain
The American Standard Version (ASV) of the Holy Bible was first published in 1901. It has earned the reputation of being the Rock of Biblical Honesty. Although the English used in the ASV is somewhat archaic, it isn't nearly as hard to understand as some passages of the King James Version of nearly 3 centuries earlier. This translation of the Holy Bible is in the public domain, since its copyright has expired. Source - Rainbow Missions, Inc
WEB - World English Bible - Public Domain
The WEB Revision is an update of the American Standard Version of 1901, which is in the Public Domain. The revision is also in the Public Domain, which sets it apart from other revisions of the American Standard Version, like the New American Standard Bible and the Revised Standard Version. The first pass of the translation, which has already been done, was to convert about 1,000 archaic words and word forms to modern equivalents using a custom computer program. The second through seventh phases consist of manual editing and proofreading. The initial manual pass is to add quotation marks (the ASV of 1901 had none), update other punctuation, update usage, and spot check the translation against the original languages in places where the meaning is unclear or significant textual variants exist. The subsequent passes are to review of the results of the previous pass. In each pass, volunteers read the current draft, looking for typos, unclear passages, etc., then report back to the senior editor (Michael Paul Johnson email@example.com), who checks the suggestions and merges the best suggestions into the master draft. As this is going on, the draft at the WEB web page is updated. Source - Rainbow Missions, Inc
You can read most of these versions and find more information about them on the Bible Gateway website.
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