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Bible Translation Guide

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I wouldn't mind if you did the ESV. Is it coming? Or did I just miss it?

Awww drat. I didn't realize I missed your post.

Here ya go:

Full name: English Standard Version

Abbreviation: ESV

Complete Bible published: 2001

Derived from: RSV

Textual basis: OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Septuagint influence.

Apoc./DeutCan: Göttingen Septuagint, Ralf Septuagint and Stuttgart Vulgate.

NT: High Correspondence to Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition.[1]

Translation type: Formal Equivalence

Reading level: Middle School

Version revised: 1971 Revised Standard Version

Publisher: Crossway Bibles

Copyright status: Copyright © 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a ministry of the Good News Publishers of Wheaton, IL

The Apocrypha © 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc., of New York, NY

Online address: http://www.esv.org/

The English Standard Version (ESV) is an English translation of the Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version[2]. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

The ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway Bibles, was published in October 2008[3]. It uses the ESV translation and adds extensive notes and articles based on evangelical Christian scholarship.

The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of Bible translations beginning with English religious reformer William Tyndale in 1525–26 and culminating in the King James Version of 1611. Examples of other translations that stand in this stream are the Revised Version (1881–85), the American Standard Version (1901), and the Revised Standard Version (1946–1971). In their own words, they sought to follow a literal translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the popular New International Version, but more idiomatic than the New American Standard Bible.

I've found the ESV to be quite literal, usually quite accurate, and somewhat Calvinistic. It is a highly conservative translation, and an excellent one to use in conjunction with other versions.

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Full name: New International Reader's Version

Abbreviation: NIrV

Language: English

OT published: 1995

NT published: 1994

Complete Bible published: 1996

Derived from: New International Version

Reading level: 2.90 Publisher: International Bible Society

The NIrV was intended to make scripture easier to understand for people who didn't speak English well or who were non-native English speakers. It is gender-inclusive. As such, I do not recommend it for use.


Full name: New Living Translation

Abbreviation: NLT, NLTse

Complete Bible published: 1996

Textual basis: Revision to the Living Bible paraphrase.

NT: Greek New Testament (UBS 4th revised edition) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition.

OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with some Septuagint influence.

Translation type: Formal equivalence and Dynamic equivalence

Reading level: Middle School

Copyright status: Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation

The NLT is a translation, not a paraphrase. It is more dynamically equivalent than formally equivalent. It is therefore not quite as accurate for Bible study, but it is still suitable for devotional reading, or when used in conjunction with other versions. I have found it to be highly readable, and (taking into account the thought for thought translation), fairly accurate.


Full name: Holman Christian Standard Bible

Abbreviation: HCSB

Complete Bible published: 2004

Textual basis: NT: Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition.

OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with some Septuagint influence.

Translation type: Dynamic and Formal Equivalence[1][2]

Reading level: Middle School

Copyright status: Copyright 2004 Holman Bible Publishers

The HCSB translation team was committed to biblical inerrancy. They sought to strike a balance between formal and dynamic equivalence. This balance, they named Optimal Equivalence. The idea was to convey a sense of the original text with as much clarity as possible. I have found it to be an excellent, highly accurate, highly readable translation, suitable for devotional reading or bible study--and particularly fruitful when used with other translations (as always).


Full name: Today's New International Version

Abbreviation: TNIV

NT published: 2002

Complete Bible published: 2005

Translation type: Dynamic and Formal Equivalence

Version revised: New International Version (NIV)

Publisher: Zondervan

Copyright status: Copyright 2005 International Bible Society

The TNIV was intended as a new translation, based on the 1984 NIV. The translators intended to strike a balance between formal and dynamic equivalence, but this translation suffers from the same flaw as the NIrV: gender-inclusiveness, which potentially obscures and/or changes the original meaning of the text. Generally, I've found it readable, but I do not recommend it for Bible study or devotions, precisely because of its gender-inclusiveness.


Full name: The Message

Abbreviation: MSG

Complete Bible published: 2002

Translation type: Idiomatic/Dynamic equivalence

Copyright status: Copyright 2002 Eugene H. Peterson

The Message is a paraphrase of scripture, not a translation (or metaphrase) of scripture. As such, it is strong where its writer (Eugene Peterson) is strong, and weak where he is weak. Because it is not a translation, I do not recommend it for bible study, and I do believe it should only be used for devotional reading in conjunction with a translation of scripture. I've found it to be highly readable, but also somewhat . . . lopsided in its focus. As stated previously, it is a paraphrase by one man, containing his emphases and inflections--not an even-handed approach to all of scripture.

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My favorite is NLT :) it is what my youth group uses most. its very easy to read and simple to understand. i also have an NIV Teen Study Bible and an ESV... but my NLT is by far my favorite :D

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I am looking to buy a new bible because mine is worn out, and I have the NIV. But I have been looking online and now I don't know which one I want. I'm thinking about the following

Bible in Basic English

Common English Bible

God's Word

Holman Christian Standard


I think I want a more simple version kind of like the first 4 I listed, but I want one that's not really paraprahsed and not changed very much, simple but accurate basically. Any suggestions?

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The HCSB is excellent. It is as easy to read as the NIV, but generally a step or two more literal. It also retains most use of important theological terms like justification and regeneration, but not exclusively. It is very easy to memorize, and the formatting features are quite attractive.

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The HCSB is excellent. It is as easy to read as the NIV, but generally a step or two more literal. It also retains most use of important theological terms like justification and regeneration, but not exclusively. It is very easy to memorize, and the formatting features are quite attractive.

Thanks. I think I am going with either HCSB or God's Word, havent really decided yet.

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If you don't mind further advice, I would give some reasons I suggest the HCSB over the GWT.

  • The HCSB retains most usage of words like justification, regeneration, grace, and covenant, while the GWT deliberately replaces them with simpler terms. While simple is good in some cases, in this case significant meaning is lost. Compare Romans 4:2-3 in the HCSB and the GWT:


    If Abraham had God’s approval because of something he did, he would have had a reason to brag. But he could not brag to God about it. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham.”


    If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to brag about—but not before God. For what does the Scripture say?

    Abraham believed God,

    and it was credited to him for righteousness.

    In the GWT, the legal and technical aspects of justification are entirely lost. The rich and beautiful term "grace" is consistently replaced with the rather bland "good will."
  • The HCSB and the GWT both generally use the term "Lord" for the personal name of God, Yahweh. However, the HCSB also uses Yahweh where it is specifically emphasized as God's name. Compare Exodus 34:5-7 in these translations:


    The Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him and called out his name “the Lord.”
    Then he passed in front of Moses, calling out, “The Lord, the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God, patient, always faithful and ready to forgive. He continues to show his love to thousands of generations, forgiving wrongdoing, disobedience, and sin. He never lets the guilty go unpunished, punishing children and grandchildren for their parents’ sins to the third and fourth generation.”


    The Lord came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed His name Yahweh. Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:

    Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

  • Many editions of the HCSB includes bullets in front of commonly misunderstood, obscure, or technical words to reference its helpful glossary. For example, you may see •slave in the text. You go to the glossary and find this helpful definition:
    The strong Greek word doulos cannot be accurately translated in English by "servant" or "bondservant"; the HCBS translates this word as "slave," not out of insensitivity to the legitimate concerns of modern English speakers, but out of a commitment to accurately convey the brutal reality of the Roman empire's inhumane institution as well as the ownership called for by Christ.
    Incidentally, the use of the word "slave" for doulos is another thing I like about the HCSB.

So, those are some of my thoughts. I hope you gain much from whatever translation you choose!

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I made this blog post about Bible translations, so I figured it could go here.

For some bizarre reason, translations of the Bible are actually a matter of controversy in the Church. I think this is ridiculous, but I guess people take their personal opinions about the Word of God pretty seriously, even if they all affirm the basic truths about the Bible (inerrancy and inspiration in the original manuscripts). So, I have decided to write what I think about mainstream English translations of God's Word.

The first point I want to make is that one should never condemn a translation for its choice of textual basis. Many KJV-onlyists say that Bibles based heavily on Alexandrian texts (basically any major translation since 1880 except the NKJV) are corrupt and/or perverted. This is absurd. While I do lean towards traditional readings on textual variants, my views on textual criticism are not infallible, and neither is the Textus Receptus, the Greek text on which the KJV was based. The fact is that whether you use the Textus Receptus, or the Byzantine majority text, or a critical Alexandrian text, your Bible contains all you need to know pertaining to life and godliness. No textual choice alters doctrine or, to any notable extent, historical accuracy.

The second point I would like to make is that I believe more literal translations are better for serious Bible study than more dynamic translations. I do believe in verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, which means that the Spirit led the authors not only in the thoughts to express, but guided the choice of words used as well, all without overriding the authors' natural style and voice. Because of this, I think that there are elements of Scripture which can be lost when translations become less literal. Now, I do not at all condemn dynamic translations, and indeed find them extremely useful for general reading(especially long narratives, ritual instruction, and laws in the Old Testament). However, I think for deep, serious study, a literal translation is far superior. After all, both Jesus and Paul made points based on elements of single words (Mark 12:26-27; Galatians 3:16).

So, now on to my opinions about individual translations.

King James Version (Authorized Version) - KJV/AV

Textual Basis: Masoretic Text w/ Septuagint influence (Old Testament); Textus Receptus (New Testament)

The Masoretic Text is pretty well the standard for Old Testament Hebrew, as there aren't really any other well-preserved options. The Septuagint readings, found in places such as Ps. 22:16, are also justified.

The Received Text is certainly not a corruption or perversion, but it does have many readings which simply are not original, many of which will not be found in any other Bible you read. Nevertheless, it is fairly close to the Majority Text, which gives it some further credibility.

Translation Type: Highly literal

The KJV is arguably one of the most literal translations of the Bible available. It ranks along with the NASB as suitable for word studies where it is required to be as close as possible to the original Hebrew and Greek. However, this compounds with other issues to hurt readability at times.

Names of God: El and Elohim are usually "God." YHWH is generally "Lord," though is written a few times as "Jehovah," and Adonai YHWH is "Lord God."

Readability: Slightly difficult

The KJV isn't exactly known for its readability. While it is not as hard as some (the only that comes to mind is Young's Literal Translation, which almost no one uses), it is harder than almost any other Bible you can buy today, primarily because speakers of modern English are not familiar with inflected verbs (-est, -eth, etc.) and old pronouns (thou, thy, thine, ye), and many words have changed in meaning. Nevertheless, while it can be difficult to become acquainted with unless you grew up with it, once understood it is very elegant. Many places where the original languages were written in a poetic prose appear with the same poetry originally intended, even though the flow is lacking from other translations.

Notable Features: The nuances of inflected verbs are valuable for study to anyone who knows how to use them. The use of "ye" as the plural of "you" is also helpful in distinguishing to whom a second person statement refers. Other such elements of early modern English abound. The lack of quotation marks, while seemingly a problem, is good for those who realize that the original manuscripts had no quotation marks, and therefore allows for interpretive opinions regarding the extent of some quotes.

Overall: The King James is a very good Bible, and was probably one of the best translations ever made for a single generation. However, since it is hundreds of years old, this benefit has worn, and there are many differences in contemporary language that make is seem somewhat unapproachable. Final thought: if you learn how to read it effectively, you will find it to be extremely close to reading in the original languages, though some textual discrepancies still exist. Just a thought: if you like old Bibles, I think the Geneva Bible is superior to the KJV.

New King James Version - NKJV

Textual Basis: Essentially same as KJV

Translation Type: Very literal

While the NKJV is still essentially a literal translation, it is slightly less literal than the KJV, making several of the changes used in most modern translations, such as changing historic present tense verbs to past tense and simplifying "Verily, verily" to "Most assuredly." Still, it is a very literal translation, and preserves much of the original syntax as the KJV does.

Names of God: Same as KJV, though no use of "Jehovah."

Readability: Average

By removing inflected verbs and old pronouns from the KJV, the NKJV is about on par with any other modern translation in readability. It is not especially readable, but it is certainly simple for the average English speaker.

Notable Features: Much of the poetry of the KJV remains, which is good. Pronouns referring to deity are capitalized (for example: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Gen. 1:26-27). The introduction includes valuable textual information, and this continues throughout the Bible, as many notable textual variants are mentioned in the footnotes without charged phrases such as "The best manuscripts" or "The most reliable manuscripts."

Overall: The New King James Version is an excellent translation, easily one of the best. It maintains much of the good of the traditional King James, and one reading the NKJV could easily follow along with someone else using a KJV. The textual basis is good, though not the best.

New International Version - NIV

Textual Basis: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Masoretic Text (Old Testament); Novum Testamentum Graece: Nestle-Aland 27 (New Testament)

The NA27/USB4 Greek New Testament is a critical text that relies heavily on Alexandrian manuscripts. I personally do not believe it is as accurate at the Majority Text, but nevertheless I think it is still rather accurate, and probably better than the Textus Receptus.

Translation Type: Slightly dynamic

The NIV is certainly more dynamic than the KJV or NKJV, but it does remain relatively conservative in most verses. Some renderings are seemingly more dynamic than they need to be, and a few seem to have interpretive opinion where the original text is ambiguous. Still, it is probably middle of the spectrum, and therefore is fairly well-rounded for reading and studying.

Names of God: El and Elohim are usually "God." YHWH is consistently "Lord," and Adonai YHWH is "Sovereign Lord."

Readability: Fairly easy

Being somewhat dynamic, the NIV is a very smooth read most of the time, especially compared to the KJV. Some of the poetry of the KJV is absent, however. Still, the NIV is an easy-reading translation, which is probably why it is so incredibly popular. Every once in a while, though, the NIV takes an unexpectedly difficult rendering.

Notable Features: The NIV is gender-inclusive to an extent, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it is done in slight moderation, not being as radical as many other more dynamic translations. Many of the gender-neutral renderings are justified, though just as many are entirely unnecessary or even occasionally detrimental. Many traditional readings absent from the NA26 are dropped entirely from the text and relegated to a footnote, which is still better than not including them at all. Most other new translations are slightly more conservative with traditional readings.

Overall: I personally don't love the NIV, mainly for reasons of personal preference. I am not a fan of the dynamic renderings taken in many cases. However, I do believe the NIV is a good Bible, and its popularity makes it widely recognizable and useful. It was the herald of a new era filled with Bible translations that ordinary people can read and understand without a learning curve.

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New American Standard Bible - NASB

Textual Basis: Same as NIV

One interesting issue I have with the NASB is its unswerving commitment to following the exact text of the NA26. There are certainly places where it is incorrect, and it is only wise to compare other textual bases.

Translation Type: Highly literal

The NASB is arguably the most literal of all modern translations, sometimes to a fault. Nonetheless, the precise faithfulness to the wording of the original texts is admirable and provides numerous study opportunities not available with less literal translations.

Names of God: Same as NKJV.

Readability: Somewhat difficult

The NASB is far more readable than the KJV, but lacks the poetry. The ulta-literal style of the translation makes it in many places one of the most awkward of the modern translations. It is still certainly readable by most English speakers, but don't expect much clarity or smooth flow. While I greatly admire this translation, it is far from a pleasure to read.

Notable Features: The very literal translation philosophy allows for extensive, in-depth study. In the introduction, helpful facts about Greek verb tenses are presented, and the historical present, which most translations simply convert to past tense, is past tense in the text but is marked each time. Most editions have the verse-per-line format instead of paragraphs.

Overall: The NASB is a very good Bible for serious study, but probably my last pick for reading, especially in the Old Testament. I would suggest using the NASB in conjunction with another translation to delve deeper into questions you find. If you feel scholarly, I'd say use it for everything.

New Living Translation - NLT

Textual Basis: Same as NIV

Not much to say about this beyond what I said for the NIV, but I will mention that the NLT seems just as quick as the NIV, if not more so, to relegate verses not in the NA27 to the footnotes.

Translation Type: Very dynamic

The NLT is a very dynamic translation. Indeed, the project began as a revision of the paraphrased Living Bible. While it does adopt many literal renderings, it is characterized by its use of dynamic renderings for clarity and easy reading. This makes it less useful for serious study, especially related to aspects of the original languages, and occasionally involves loose interpretative renderings, but it is very readable.

Names of God: Basically the same as NIV, but YHWH tseba’oth is "Lord of Heaven's Armies."Kurios, the Greek word for "Lord," is often rendered "Lord" when the NT quotes from an OT passage that has YHWH.

Readability: Very easy

The NLT is a very readable translation, as its translators specifically designed it to be so. In the introduction to the NLT, they write: "Clarity was a primary goal for the NLT translators, not only to facilitate private reading and understanding, but also to ensure that it would be excellent for public reading and make an immediate and powerful impact on any listener." Out of modern translations, the NLT is probably the closest you will get to a Bible that seems like a regular English book.

Notable Features: The NLT consistently goes out of its way to bring clarity to the reader. Weights, measures, and even money are all usually translated into modern American equivalents (I will say that, taking into account inflation and other economic factors, the decision to translate money that way was probably a bad idea). Dates are interpreted by the translators and written as full dates as they would be written for our calendar, though historical ambiguity can sometimes make this seem a bad idea.

Overall: I really like the style of the NLT. It is a pleasurable read, is easy to memorize, can bring extra clarity, and makes good public reading. Nevertheless, the liberal use of dynamic renderings limits the NLT's effectiveness for serious study, and occasionally unnecessary translators' opinions appear in the way a verse is translated. I wouldn't use it without a more literal translation to balance it out.

English Standard Version - ESV

Textual Basis: Same as NIV.

The ESV follows the NA27 more closely than the NIV, but significantly less closely than the NASB. Sometimes this results in odd rendering choices, but most of the time I agree. The Old Testament could use a little bit more Septuagint influence, but it is not that important.

Translation Type: "Essentially literal"

The ESV bills itself as an "essentially literal" translation. This is true. While it is not as literal as the NASB, it is still one of the most literal translations available, more or less equal to the NKJV. The ESV is probably one of the best in this regard, not being so literal as to obscure meaning and slow reading, but also very faithful to the original texts, traditionally literal in the vast majority of renderings.

Names of God: Same as NKJV.

Readability: Moderate

The ESV is significantly easier to read than the NASB, while less easy than the NIV. Still, this is probably one of the most readable translations I can think of that still maintains a high level of literalness. Any English speaker could understand most of it.

Notable Features: The ESV have a very useful and unobtrusive cross-reference system. The ESV Study Bible is excellent. However, for the most part the ESV is pretty plain, and few distinctive features are available in most copies.

Overall: The ESV is an absolutely excellent translation. It is literal enough for serious study and smooth enough for basic reading. It flows well and is produced in many brilliant editions, such as theESV Study Bible. I use an ESV MacArthur Study Bible, and it is the best I have ever owned. My suggestion: if you're in the market for a new translation, try the ESV.

New English Translation - NET Bible

Textual Basis: Fairly eclectic, but mostly the same as NIV.

The NET Bible is unique in that it gives in-depth translator's notes explaining thousands of textual variants and the chosen readings. Therefore, even in the places where I disagree on the textual choice, they still provide good justification.

Translation Type: Somewhat literal, somewhat dynamic

The NET Bible is hard to classify. It is usually rather conservative, but occasionally takes an unusually dynamic rendering. Many decisions were made to omit unnecessary linguistic features unique to the original languages and unusual in English. Odd Hebrew idioms were rarely retained. Many stylistic changes are made. The actual effect is a translation that is usually pretty literal in what it renders, but bringing the sentences into conformity with English style, editing connectors and similar pieces. The vast majority of verse renderings are excellent representations of what the original languages say. Still, there are a few places that are just strange, such as Genesis 15:6. The ESV says, "And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness." The NET Bible says, "Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty." Even so, most of the renderings are conservative, justified, and accurate.

Names of God: El and Elohim are usually "God." YHWH is "Lord." YHWH tseba’oth is either "Lordwho rules over all" or "Lord who commands armies."

Readability: Easy

The NET Bible is a very readable translation, almost as much so as the NLT. It is a pleasure to read, often owing to the translation decisions made for stylistic reasons. While the integrity of the text is never endangered, the variations made in the NET Bible for English readability work very well.

Notable Features: The full version of the NET Bible includes 60,932 translators' notes. These consist of translation notes, text-critical notes, study notes, and map notes. Curious about why some phrase was translated a certain way? There is an explanation. Wondering why John 5:3b-4 are missing? There is an explanation. The NET Bible tells you just about everything. It also has a loose, Internet-friendly copyright. You can use it at a whim in any context without permission, up to printing 1000 copies! You can download it without notes or with limited notes for free in a wide variety of formats, and you can purchase a digital or hard copy with all the notes for usually around $20 depending on the format.

Overall: The NET Bible is an excellent translation, and, with the notes, is an excellent study resource. It is almost always highly accurate in its renderings, it is highly readable, and it is very transparent about its methodology and individual decisions. Used alongside the ESV, as I use it, it can be one of the best resources you will ever get.

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Holman Christian Standard Bible - HCSB

Textual Basis: Same as NIV

The HCSB conforms pretty closely to the same texts as the NIV and ESV, though it has a little bit more Septuagint influence, which I like. Footnotes with other readings are usually impartial, saying innocently, "Other mss read" or similar. I am happy that they chose the traditional reading in John 1:18 (see my previous post: The Only Begotten God?).

Translation Type: "Optimal equivalence"

The HCSB is usually fairly formal, and it very similar to the NKJV. However, it is slightly more dynamic. Here is a statement from the HCSB website: "The HCSB employs a first-of-its kind translation philosophy known as Optimal Equivalence, which seeks to achieve an optimal balance of literary precision and emotive clarity through comprehensive analysis of the text at every level. This process assures maximum transfer of both words and thoughts contained in the original." For the most part, I believe they achieve this goal.

Names of God: Most of the time, it follows the NKJV. However, there are several hundred instances in which YHWH is rendered "Yahweh," designed to emphasize the use of God's proper name as a name. For example (Ex. 34:5-6): "The LORD came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed His name Yahweh. Then the LORD passed in front of him and proclaimed: Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth."

Readability: Easy

The HCSB is somewhere between the NKJV and the NET Bible in readability, leaning toward the NET Bible's level. It is a pretty readable translation, and a pleasure to read. The very slight tendency towards dynamic translation, mainly in reference to Hebraisms and such, helps significantly.

Notable Features: Several misunderstood or unique words are explained in the back, and are marked throughout the Bible with unobtrusive dots. These are helpful for explaining many terms. The Greek word doulos is rendered "slave" pretty consistently, which is good because that is what it means, even though most translations use "servant" or "bondservant." Most editions have a plan of salvation in the front. A very moderate number of explanatory footnotes help the reader understand some things.

Overall: The HCSB is a very good translation, somewhere in style, literalness, and textual decisions between the NKJV and the NIV. I really like it, and it is very easy to memorize. Children seem to adapt to it very quickly. I used it for a long time myself. The HCSB also comes as a brilliant apologetics study Bible.

The Message - MSG

Textual Basis: Same as NIV

The textual basis is almost irrelevant for The Message, since it is so dynamic.

Translation Type: Extremely dynamic

The Message is as close to a paraphrase as you can get without actually being one. In fact, it is so loose I hesitate to even consider it a Bible. Maybe more like an innovation type of commentary.

Names of God: Both YHWH and El/Elohim are "God," but YHWH is uppercase. Kurios is consistently rendered as "Master" instead of "Lord."

Readability: Very easy

The Message is one of the easiest Bibles you can read. It is so readable it's scary. Of course, this comes at the expense of literal accuracy. Many interpretive opinions appear. Quite often it doesn't even sound like a Bible.

Notable Features: Many editions do not contain verse numbering.

Overall: What to say about The Message? If you use, don't trust it as a Bible in and of itself. Trust it equal to commentary and use a literal translation with it. That's my opinion, but I would be very wary to treat is as a normal Bible. Still, I really like parts of it. It is a fun read, and makes the Old Testament significantly easier (though sometimes using extremely bizarre rendering). I would say that if you've never used it, try reading some. It's nice, if not to be trusted as a more formal translation.

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