Which Bible Translation Should I Use? is a comparison of four recent and popular translations of the Bible. Each translation is explained, defended and promoted by a scholar who was on the translation team of the respective translations: English Standard Version (ESV) – Wayne Grudem; New International 2011 (NIV) – Douglas Moo; Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – E. Ray Clendenen; and New Living Translation (NLT) – Philip Comfort. Each author not only explains the translation philosophy behind the version he supports, as well as its unique features, but also interacts with the same 16 passages from Scripture. These biblical selections were strategically chosen because they demonstrate well how the translations differ and why.
Important discussions are therefore given on gender neutral differences, the ending of Mark’s Gospel and the translations and meaning of such vital texts as Luke 17:3, John 1:18, Romans 3:25, 1 Timothy 2:12, John 1:18 and Mark 1:41. These discussions are both interesting and insightful. They arm the reader with knowledge that allows them to understand and make informed decisions concerning the translation process in general and the translation of these four versions in particular.
In addition, the reader is treated to a short history of Bible translation, especially as it relates to English (pp. 4-23; see a valuable chart on p. 9). Also, the various translation philosophies which guide the translating teams are explained. These philosophies range from essentially literal (also called formal equivalent), which attempts a word for word (as much as possible) translation, to the essentially functional (also called functional equivalent or dynamic equivalent), which aims for a thought-for-thought translation. At the extreme ends of essentially literal translations lies the New American Standard Bible and the King James. Of the translations under discussion in this book the ESV would represent this philosophy. At the other extreme (essentially functional) would be the Living Bible and The Message. The New Living Translation represents this philosophy, although it attempts to be more literal than its predecessor, The Living Bible. In the middle lies the NIV. A bit more toward essentially literal is the HCSB which claims to have an optimal equivalent philosophy which attempts to combine accuracy with readability (see helpful chart on p. 21).
Those concerned about the reliability of the English Bible and the translation process will find this volume most interesting and valuable.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel.