In 1588, a Catholic priest, William Weston, a critic of the Puritans and their movement described for his readers a large gathering of them which he observed at Ely, England: "Each of them had his own Bible, and sedulously turned the pages and looked up the texts cited by the preachers, discussing the passages among themselves to see whether they had quoted them to the point, and accurately... Also they would start arguing among themselves about the meaning of passages from the Scriptures -- men, women, boys, girls...Here over a thousand of them sometimes assembled, their horses and pack animals burdened with a multitude of Bibles."
This revolution in people actually studying the Bible for themselves was largely the result of one man: William Tyndale. He was one of the early pioneers in working to translate the Bible from the original languages to the vernacular of the people of England. Despite strong opposition and death threats, he had 6,000 copies of his translation of the New Testament printed in 1525. Tyndale's efforts eventually led to his execution in 1536, at only 42 years of age. Nonetheless, his dream to get the Word of God into the hands of the common man is largely responsible for the reformation and restoration of New Testament Christianity. Today we are blessed with numerous translations that give us insight and understanding as we put them into practice. As the summer months approach let's take advantage of the time to read a translation that is new to us. When you do, you will discover treasures that will be new and refreshing. Following is a list of readily available translations and a summary of its translation philosophy.
New International Version (NIV): Best selling english version in the world. It strives for a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation. Most consider it a highly accurate and smooth reading version. A team of 108 translators worked on the project and it was first published in 1978.
New American Standard Bible (NASB): The NASB is considered a strictly literal version and adheres to a word-for-word equivalent while striving to obtain a fluent and readable style. It is recommended for serious textual study. A team of 54 translators produced this version in 1971, with an update in 1995.
The Message Bible: This easy-to-read and recent version by Eugene Peterson attempts to convert the original languages into the tone and rhythms of American speech, while retaining the idioms and meaning of the original languages. Great for devotional reading and getting the overall meaning of a text. The N.T. was released in 1993, and the O.T. in 2002.
New Living Translation (NLT): The NLT strives to give priority to meaning rather than a word-for-word version. The goal of this work was 'to enhance the power and clarity of The Living Bible' and create a 'translation as good for study as it is for devotional reading.' It uses vocabulary and language structure commonly used by the average person. This version was produced by a team of 90 scholars and was released in 1996.
New King James Version (NKJV): The NKJV is an update and modernization of the KJV. It has easier wording, but is somewhat choppy because it maintains a 17th century sentence structure. It is a word-for-word version and was published in 1982.
Amplified Bible (AM): This unique version is expanded and amplified by a means of a system of brackets and parentheses (which sometimes makes for abrupt reading) and is used to give the broader meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Translated by a team of 13, it was published in 1964 and updated in 1987. It is recommended for serious textual study.
English Standard Version (ESV): The ESV is essentially a literal translation and attempts to capture the precise meaning of the original text and carry over the full range of meaning into the english language. Translated by a team of over 100 scholars, it was released in 2001 and is recommended for textual study.
More versions are available and most will refresh your study of God's Word. Learn new truths, confirm old ones and make a conscience decision to put them into practice in your life! - Toney C. Mulhollan