I am reading the ASV translation and I find it confusing in some ways.
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The ASV (American Standard Bible) was written in 1901and based on the RV (Revised Version) Bible. The RV Bible in turn was written in the late 19th century and was itself a revision of the King James Bible of 1611. The English language of the ASV is more than 100 years old, hence readability is more challenging. If you're looking for another English translation and your criterion is strictly readability (all else being equal), then the NLT or NIV may be a better option for you. Consider the following for Galatians 3:5-6. ASV He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, [doeth he it] by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. NLT I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” NIV So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." There are other more "accurate" word-for-word translations but the NLT or NIV should serve you well in your journey of reading the word of God.
There are three main types of translations; literal/word-for-word, paraphrase/thought-for-thought, and blends that seek to find the optimum balance between accuracy and readability. Here are some good translations in those three areas: Literal These translations seek to directly translate the Greek into English as close as possible. This accuracy can have a trade-off in readability. If ease of reading is your main concern, but you want a literal translation, then these are my top three recommendations: #1 (HCSB) Holman Christian Standard Bible - A good literal translation that is easier to read than other literal translations. - 8th grade reading level #2 (ESV) English Standard Version - A good literal translation that is High in literary quality - 10th grade reading level #3 New American Standard Bible (NASB) - An excellent literal translation, though not as easy to read/memorize than the other two. -11th grade reading level Blend These translations try to keep a close, literal translation, while ensuring that thoughts flow in an easy-to-read manner. These will probably be the best 'starting Bibles'. #1 (NIV84) New International Version 1984 - An excellent translation for study or memorization, the NIV is easy to read and finds a balance between literal and thought for thought. - Take care not to get a newer edition than 1984, as the newer versions deliberately sacrifice accuracy in order to be gender-inclusive -7th to 8th grade reading level #2 (ISV) International Standard Version - The ISV conveys well the poetic language and emphasis of certain passages, while being easier than the New King James Version to read in clear english. -4th grade reading level #3 (NKJV) New King James Version - An updated translation of the King James Version, it deals well with conveying the poetic language of the Bible. - 7th-9th grade reading level Thought-for-Thought These translations seek to convey the general thought of a passage in an easy-to-read format for modern readers, children, or readers who speak English as a second language. While in general less accurate, they have a bonus of introducing Biblical concepts in easy to understand terms. # 1 (NLT) New Living Bible - Attempts to make the Bible easy to read for modern readers and new Christians, but the NLT still suffers from bias in places and attempts to use gender-neutral language. - 6th grade reading level #2 (GNB, GNT, TEV) Good News Bible, Good News Translation, Today's English Version: - A decent translation that is very easy to understand. It takes liberty with some of the paraphrasing, obscures some prophecy, and leans towards gender-neutrality. - Good for ESOL learners - 5-6th grade reading level #3 (TLB) The Living Bible - Very easy to read. The Living Bible was written so that children could be introduced to the gospel. Unfortunately, it was not translated from greek manuscripts, but paraphrased off the American Standard Version. - 4th grade reading level A tool such as a parallel Bible may help if used alongside reading a regular Bible. These show how different versions have translated a given verse. These also can help narrow down the translations to the ones you find easiest to read and understand. Here are a few verses shown in different translations: http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/1-18.htm http://biblehub.com/james/3-13.htm http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-2.htm
I have used the NASB (New American Standard Bible) and the NIV for study for more than 35 years.. NASB has been the "best" read for me since it was the more literal interpretation. I rarely use the NIV any more because it's phrases leave more for interpretation by the reader (a risky thing at best). However with the publication of the ESV, I find that version to be the more accurate interpretation of the original texts. The ESV is not much different from the NASB. Readability is excellent in either. Accuracy and trueness to the original language texts is an important factor for me in my "readability quotient". In my mind the ESV is what the RV and ASV were supposed to achieve, but fell short. I am still porting notes from my NASB to my ESV, and that makes me rehash the old notes and comments; refreshing my mind so to speak.
I have always loved the King James version but yes, many people have a problem with its wording. I now use the New King James Bible. It is wonderful. It still has the original words of importance but the thee, thou, shall,shalt, has been replaced and it just has a smooth reading format but still feels to the reader to be original.
I am glad this topic has come up because there are a lot of versions. In revelations 22:18-19, God gives us warning not to add or take away-sad to say christian scholars have done that in majority of the bible versions. In my own bible reading, the worst I have used was the NIV. For example Romans 8:1 say there is no condemnation who are in Christ Jesus(niv). There are many other verses that the message are not properly conveyed by what God wanted us to know as a result of scholars adding or taking away. The NKJV in Romans 8:1 says, therefore there is no condemnation who are in Christ Jesus, who walks after the spirit and not after the flesh-see how we have to be careful what version we read because God's word won't be properly given to us and satan has been having a jolly good time with all these versions. We believers have to be careful what version to use and I personally believe that if the King James Version is difficult with the archaic English, then use NKJV which are the closest to the original canon. I like the NKJV. Be a barean and line the scriptures with different versions and you see how bad a lot of them are.
Some people say the Good News Bible but I have found that the New American Standard Bible is good, also.
For literal translation, I use the New American Standard Version. For a new believer, I get them a New Living Translation (NLT).
When it comes to gripping, can't-put-it-down, makes sense in the language I speak, communication from God to me, The Message can't be beat. Consider the Works of the Flesh list from Galatians 5:19-23 in the King James Version: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like... Here is the same list from The Message: It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on... Try reading both passages out loud in your church. Which one better communicates with the people you know? Versions which translate Greek words to English words are called translations. Versions like Phillips, The Living Bible, and The Message translate the meanings of the phrases and sentences and immediate and whole-Bible context, and we call them paraphrases. Eugene Peterson started out as a seminary professor of Hebrew and Greek, but then pastored a church for 35 years, constantly explaining what the meanings of words spoken to Galilean fisherman, Jewish theologians, common Jewish people, Romans military, gentile Mediterraneans, and sophisticated Greeks, all in their own cultures. But what do they mean to the baby boomers in his congregation? He translated The Message by putting what Jesus, Paul, Moses, Peter, John, David, Luke, the prophets, and all the others would be saying if they stood in his pulpit communicating these truths to them in their culture and their English. And whatever additional explanation is needed to tell us what is going on, he packs into punchy 1-page introductions. If you are looking for a version where you can delight in letting God pour His wisdom and guidance into you and through you as you joyfully share what He's telling you with your friends, I challenge you to find one that's better! But OK... don't give up on daily studies in your KJ or NASB of NIV or whatever study version, which are always helpful and which most Christians consider essential...
Reading the Bible is more important than which translation is "best". "The Voice" can captivate new or first time readers. It has included certain delineated material relating to context, cultural, historical, theological, or devotional thoughts at appropriate places....also adds italicized words etc., making points that would have been obvious to original time/language audiences. It is very helpful to read side by side with NIV. After several passes through, the reader can more easily move to a more literal or word for word translation.
The Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an English translation of the Bible compiled by the World Bible Translation Center. It was originally published as the English Version for the Deaf (EVD) by BakerBooks. Deaf readers sometimes struggle with reading English because sign language is their first language. The World Bible Translation Center (WBTC) decided to do a translation that would make reading the Bible easier for them. The EVD uses simpler vocabulary and shorter sentences to make it simpler to understand. Ervin Bishop did most of the translating for the WBTC. He used a thought-for-thought or functional equivalence method of translation. It was found to be useful for others who struggle with reading and is often used in prisons and literacy programs. I love it because the people to whom I quote it can understand it better! But I have to watch its accuracy. The ERV uses the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1984) as its Old Testament text (which I used in seminary for my 3 years in Biblical Hebrew) with some readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also, it follows the Septuagint when its readings are considered more accurate. For the New Testament, the ERV uses the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th revised edition, 1993) which I used at Dallas Theological Seminary for 2 years and Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece (27th edition, 1993).
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