Bryan Chapell on Bible Translations

Often preachers can discern the nuances in the original text by comparing how the experts have variously translated the text. One old saying goes, “The King James Version is translated in the language of Pilgrim time, the New International Version is translated in the language of our times, and the New American Standard Bible is translated in the language of no time” — a line that is unfair because it fails to recognize the strengths of each version.

People love the King James Version (KJV)for the beauty of its language. That language now sounds archaic to most ears, but the translators were biblically sound and aided our understanding greatly by translating passages that echo one another theologically or terminologically in such a way that the reverberations remain clear in both Testaments. The New International Version (NIV) which now sells more than any other, is the most accurate translation that strives for easy reading by translating original phrases into their “dynamic equivalent” in our idiom. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) sacrifices readability for a more strictly equivalent translation, which continues to make it satisfying to many serious Bible students. The new English Standard Version (ESV) maintains much of the majesty of style of the older Revised Standard Version (RSV) but was edited by Bible-believing scholars who made the ESV translation ove of the most insightful and dependable currently available.

The Living Bible and other paraphrases can help preachers scan a large body of material in order to pick up its gist; the Amplified Bible and J.B. Phillip’s translation concentrate more on communicating the nuances behind specific statements. Most of the popular translations that are committed to the authority of Scripture have strengths and can be employed once you discern the purpose of a particular translation.

(Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell, BakerAcademic Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005. p. 73)