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Why Are There So Many English Bibles Today? Are We Better Off--Or Worse?

Many modern English language translations of the Bible are available to us today.  You probably own at least one: e.g., the NKJV, ESV, NASB, or NIV.  A newer NIV, the NIV 2011, was recently released. 

For the past 500 years, many Christians in English-speaking nations have regarded the King James Bible (KJV or KJB) as the "gold standard."  It's still popular today.  For some, it's considered the most (or only) accurate and reliable English Bible even if its prose (though beautiful) is archaic.

  • So why are there are so many modern English versions available?

  • How did this happen?

  • Is it a blessing or a curse?

  • Are they accurate and trustworthy?

  • Why do they differ?


I just finished reading a study by Daniel B. Wallace, a Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, and I'd like to share highlights with you. What follows are excerpts.


"A History of the English Bible"
by Dan Wallace


Let me conclude. Are we better off today with all these translations—or worse? What are the real differences?

  • Except for the NKJV, virtually all modern translations are following the most ancient MSS.

  • God has preserved his word in such a way that a person could get saved reading the KJV, Tyndale, Bishops’, RSV, NIV, REB or NET.

  • As for the translation, there are three different flavors:

    1) Accurate,

    2) Readable,

    3) Elegant.

  • Each Christian should own at least one of each flavor.

  • I recommend RSV, ESV, and NASB for accurate, NIV for readable, and REB for elegance.

  • Or, what tries to combine all of these, the NET. And for study, the NET Bible is by far the best.

  • Does all this cause confusion? Have we somehow lost the sure Word of God? No, not at all.

  • Final conclusion: Even with the proliferation of Bibles today, Christians are reading their Bibles less and less.

The four-part study found can be found at (see link below).

  • Part I:  From Wycliffe to King James  (The Period of Challenge)
  • Part II: The Reign of the King James (The Era of Elegance)
  • Part III: From the KJV to the RV  (from Elegance to Accuracy)
  • Part IV: Why So Many Versions?



Read more here:

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Tags: God, bible, english, esv, james, king, kjb, kjv, modern, nasb, More…niv, scripture, word


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Comment by Tammy_LIBAW on March 28, 2012 at 5:41am

I was reading this on Christian Media Cross & thought this would be the perfect spot to place this article. 

A panel has been formed to carry out an independent review of Wycliffe and SIL International’s translation of “God the Father” and the “Son of God”.

The World Evangelical Alliance, which works in 129 countries, was asked to establish the panel in the light of the controversy surrounding the translation of “Father” and “Son” for Muslim contexts.

In Arabic and Turkish translations of the Bible, “Father” is replaced with “Allah”, while “Messiah” is used where “Son” would appear in standard translations.

It has been suggested that direct translations of the term could be understood by some Muslims to mean that Jesus was the result of God’s procreation with Mary.

Critics of the changes, including John Piper and Vern Poythress, argue that the translations blur the Trinity.

In a statement posted to his website this month, Poythress wrote: “How we may best preserve both accuracy and understandability in translation has to be determined by those with more knowledge than I concerning the languages in question.

“But it is worth emphasising that, in all these endeavours, translators need to submit completely to Scripture, which is the word of God and therefore carries divine authority.”

Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA, said: “Rejoicing that many Christians globally do not have to learn Hebrew or Greek to read God’s Word and wishing to strengthen Evangelical unity on the basis of God’s Word, the WEA has agreed to facilitate an independent external audit of Wycliffe and SIL International’s practice of the translation of ‘God the Father’ and the ‘Son of God’.”

The panel will review SIL’s translation practices, set boundaries for theologically acceptable translation methodology particularly in Muslim contexts, and suggest how to practically implement these recommendations.

The review will be facilitated by the WEA and conducted by a global panel of respected evangelical theologians, biblical scholars, translators, linguists and missiologists.

National believers from countries with majority Muslim populations will be represented, as well as mature followers of Christ from Muslim backgrounds.

A final report is expected to be delivered to Wycliffe and SIL by the end of the year.

The WEA said that Wycliffe and SIL were committed to applying the review’s recommendations.

Comment by Colby on March 25, 2012 at 11:23am

I find it of great benefit to have several modern English language Bibles to read and study for the reason you cite.  It's better to read one verse that we understand than to read a whole chapter that we don't.  Our goal is to dig deep in the word of God, mining its depths for the wisdom that only can be found in the Scriptures.

Comment by Tammy_LIBAW on March 23, 2012 at 7:55pm

Just run across this. I probably own at least one of every translation & two or more of about 3 of them. I have more Bibles in my house then I have socks & shoes. When you have as many kids as I do, you have plenty of those. Sad to say, I don't use them as much as they use the socks & shoes. I love all of the translations. I would rather read one verse that I understand then to read a whole chapter that I don't. I loved this article. Thanks

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