(Deu 4:2) You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Do you ever wonder what translation of the Bible you should be reading? Is it the good old’ King James Version (KJV)? Or is one of the more modern translations the way you should go?
I think for the everyday Christian, we shop at a Christian bookstore and look for a Bible we have heard about that has a good reputation and one that is easily readable. We make our purchase and then that becomes our personal Bible that we typically stay with. But behind the translations is a debate amongst scholars that runs deep. Let me explain it in a nutshell.
There are two basic families of Greek texts from which the New Testament is translated. The King James Version (and New King James Version) is translated from one Greek text family (Byzantine/Textus Receptus) and the bulk of the more modern translations are from another Greek text family (Alexandrian/Westcott & Hort). The King James argument sees the Alexandrian text corrupted and influenced by early church heresy. The modern translations argument says the Greek texts they use are more ancient and therefore closer to the originals that the apostles wrote (called autographs). This school of debate among theologians is called textual criticism. (By the way, we are speaking of the Greek New Testament. There is really no valid argument against the Old Testament translation from the Hebrew because it was so well preserved and the Jewish scribes were so meticulous in their copying.)
So where does all this lead us? Well, if you are into the debate I would side with the King James Version for varying reasons that make sense to me. I personally use the New King James Version. I switched to that from the King James Version because I was a Youth pastor for so long and just couldn’t teach the teenagers with all those thee’s and thou’s! Then when I became a senior pastor I tried to go back to the KJV but just couldn’t handle the archaic language so I have stayed with the NKJV to this day.
So what do I think of the modern versions? There are some good ones that I respect like the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the English Standard Version (ESV) because they are so accurate in their translation, but they are from the Alexandrian text. Other modern versions like the New International Version (NIV) are loose translations (not word for word) so I stay away from them. (Although I would recommend them for children until they are adults). Paraphrase Bibles like the New Living Translation (NLT) are way too loose for my taste but could be used for evangelism and new believers. Accuracy and readability is the key. But remember the real issue is to read the Word of God and grow in your faith! (Psa 119:11) Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.