Which Version of the Bible is the Best One?
I know absolutely no Greek. And even less Latin. So my opinion on Bible versions is based upon the opinions of others who are much smarter than me. I have done quite a bit of research on different versions and I have considered the opinions of many various experts. But my opinion is just that - only my opinion.
Whatever Christians may think about different Bible versions they must first consider their audience. I have heard many an animated discussion of controversial topics by Christians taking place in front of non-believers. According to God's word this is not a good thing. I also think that any Bible version that leads someone to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is a good one. But there are many factors to be considered when choosing any Bible version. What follows is my own personal path to the Bible version that I read today.
I was raised on the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. This version is very accurate to the original manuscripts of its' time. It was written however in 1611. This means that it does not reference the latest manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is also written in a style of the English language that today can be difficult to read. But even then I still prefer certain passages, such as Psalm 37, in the King James Version. The New King James Version (NKJV) updates the language of the KJV and is still an accurate and reliable version. If not for my grandmother I might have migrated over to the NKJV.
When I was in my teens my grandmother gave me a leather-backed Bible for my birthday. It was a New International Version (NIV). This version became my standard for the next 40+ years. The NIV is currently the most popular English version on the market. But as I have recently found out, it is also not the best. My daughter is attending a Bible school and they are studying different versions of the Bible. She told me that the NIV is a paraphrase. While that is not entirely true it is close. The NIV is a thought-for-thought version rather than word-for-word. This makes it easier to read but also not as accurate. It also means that the translators are interpreting the verses for the reader rather letting the reader do the interpreting. I have questioned the NIV for some time but when the publishers decided to go gender neutral I knew that I had to make a change.
After doing some research I came to the conclusion that either the New American Standard Bible (NASB) or the English Standard Versions (ESV) would be my best choice. Both the NASB and the ESV are word-for-word translations. This makes them more accurate but a little more difficult to read. For various reasons I decided to change over to the ESV. All of my memory verses, which were done in NIV, now were going to need to be re-learned. And at my age that is no easy task. But no sooner had I finished typing in the new verses when I had a troubling thought. What about quotations? I like to quote scriptures quite often on my web pages. With either the NKJV, NIV, NASB or ESV there had to be a citation after every quote. This is because these versions are copyrighted. Space on a web page is rather limited and I did not want to include a citation eveytime I used a verse or two. I then decided to search for an accurate Bible version that did not have a copyright.
The KJV is in the public domain. But because of the Old English language employed in this version I did not want to use it. I found other versions in the public domain but none of them seemed suitable for my purposes. Then I came upon the World English Bible (WEB). The WEB is a word-for-word translation that is considered highly accurate according to most experts. It also is in the public domain. This means that it can be quoted freely without any restrictions whatsoever. In fact, the publishers specifically state that they want God's word to be shared freely wherever and whenever possible. To that I can only say Amen. And even the acronym, WEB, is appropriate for my use. The WEB is now my Bible of choice.