First of all, what I have done is go to BibleGateway.com and write down many of the Bible translations available there, as that is one of the premier Bible study sites. Truth be told, many of those I rarely use, or even look at. I often will use them for comparison purposes, but the fact is I really don’t know a whole lot about some of those translations beyond the fact that certain ones are obviously dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought) and others are formal equivalence (word-for-word), and still others ride the middle rail as mediating translations.
At any rate, I have divided them up into different classes of translations. This post will be about the ones I don’t use and will not recommend them, for the reasons which will be fairly obvious.
1. King James Version – My opinion hasn’t changed for many years. The King James is an old translation, one of the very first English translations made and the only one that is still in widespread use in the English-speaking world. This year we are “celebrating” the 400th anniversary of the first publishing of this Bible.
But its age isn’t what makes it bad, in fact, for what the translators had to work with back then, it’s really a very good Bible. And the KJV has in fact been updated many times since 1611, in order to try and keep up with the changes in the English language. Alas, the language has changed far faster than the KJV, and it is now hopelessly out-of-date. In fact, while many of the words the King James uses are still in regular use today, their meaning has changed so much that the contemporary Bible reader, even though he may think he understands the KJV, doesn’t really understand it nearly as well as he thinks he does.
Fortunately most people who try to read the KJV quickly realize they’re in over their heads, and instead go looking for a more contemporary English translation. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the KJV to anyone. There are far, far better translations available today, not only for easier English but also for better scholarship and better manuscripts from which the translation was made.
2. The Amplified Bible – I have to admit being of mixed feelings about this one, since it is a legitimate attempt at making a Bible which is easier to understand, and it comes from the makers of another Bible which I rank as one of my top choices – the NASB 1995 update. The Lockman Foundation began making the Amplified Bible many years ago, and it can be a help for some folks. I myself found it helpful once in a while, but today there are far better translations and Bible scholarship available to everyone, so why even give this one a try? You can do better.
3. Other Old Translations – Young’s Literal, Darby, etc., as well as a few recent revisions of the KJV, these all rely heavily on archaic English. While they may be helpful in a few rare circumstances, they’re not for most people. Once again, you can do better.