Bible Translations Overview

Canadian Bible Society. The Word. For Life.With my work for the Canadian Bible Society, I have been converting some old PDF newsletters into HTML5 formats. One newsletter – Word @ Work Winter 2010 – included this helpful chart copied here. Therefore the following content is copyright of the Canadian Bible Society, not me. Note that since it was from 2010, it isn’t completely up to date, e.g. the newest revision of NIV or a personal favourite the Common English Bible (CEB).

Bible Translations can be grouped into three translation styles:

  • Formal Correspondence – a literal approach that seeks to transmit into English as closely as possible the words and the structure of the original language.
  • Dynamic Equivalence – a meaning based approach that seeks to transmit into English as closely as possible the meanings and concepts of the original language.
  • Paraphrase – a more interpretive approach, which may simplify the text and restructure it in order to make the meaning clearer.
Translation King James Version
Style Published 1611 – Formal Correspondence
Features Poetic Style using Elizabethan English. Considered the most difficult to read.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) The noise there of sheweth concerning it; the cattle also concerning the vapour.
Translation New American Standard Version
Style Published 1971, updated 1995
Features A revision of the 1901 American Standard Version
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) Its noise declares His presence; the cattle also, concerning what is coming up.
Translation New Revised Standard Version
Style Published 1990 – Formal Correspondence
Features A revision of the original RSV Bible. Contemporary with generic language in reference to humans.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) Its crashing tells about Him; He is jealous with anger against iniquity.
Translation New King James
Style Published 1982 – Formal Correspondence
Features Modern language in the style of the original KJV but much easier to read and understand.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder declares it, the cattle also concerning the rising storm.
Translation New International Version
Style Published 1978 – Balances Formal Correspondence and Dynamic Equivalence
Features Widely popular modern-language translation that attempts to balance literal and dynamic translation methods
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder announced the coming storm, even the cattle made known its approach.
Translation Good News Bible
Style Published 1976 – Dynamic Equivalence
Features The first easy-to-read Bible, using a simple, readable vocabulary
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) Thunder announces the approaching storm, and the cattle know it is coming.
Translation New American Bible
Style Published 1970 – Formal Correspondence
Features Official translation of the Roman Catholic Church in USA – all editions contain Deuterocanonical books
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder speaks for Him and incites the fury of the storm.
Translation New Living Translation
Style Published 1996 – Dynamic Equivalence
Features A readable translation, using vocabulary and language structures commonly used by the average person
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder announces His presence; the storm announces His indignant anger.
Translation New Century Version/International Children’s Version
Style Published 1987 – Dynamic Equivalence
Features Puts biblical concepts into natural terms. Some paraphrasing for ease of understanding.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder announces that a storm is coming. Even the cattle show that a storm is coming.
Translation Contemporary English Version
Style Published 1995 – Dynamic Equivalence
Features Natural, uncomplicated English for use by the entire family. Ideal for new Bible readers.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) And the thunder tells of His anger against sin.
Translation Amplified Bible
Style Published 1964 – Dynamic Equivalence with Paraphrase
Features Expands the meaning of the text by adding extra words and meanings in brackets in the text.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder speaks (awesomely) concerning Him; the cattle are told of His coming storm.
Translation New International Readers Version
Style Published 1998 – Dynamic Equivalence
Features Very easy to read and understand; uses simple, short words & sentences
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder announces that a storm is coming. Even the cattle let us know it’s approaching.
Translation English Standard Version
Style Published 2001 – Formal Correspondence
Features A literal update of the Revised Standard Version, seeks to produce word-for-word correspondence.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) It’s crashing declares his presence; the cattle also declare that He rises.
Translation Today’s New International Version
Style Published 2005 – Balances Formal Correspondence and Dynamic Equivalence
Features Based on the New International Version. Highly readable accurate translation in modern English.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach.
Translation The Message
Style Published 2002 – Paraphrase
Features A Paraphrase which effectively brings out the subtleties and nuances of the Hebrew and Greek text, comparable to the style of a preacher in the pulpit.
Passage Comparison (Job 36:33) The high God roars in the thunder, angry against evil. (Note: the text is restructured from vv.27-33. Some meaning components are found earlier in the passage.)

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.