A couple days ago I was at the point where I could hardly tell the difference between several of the translations. I had decided it was time to give the NKJV another look, and so I spent several hours reading it. Then I did some comparisons with the NASB and ESV, and discovered few differences. Mostly they are just different archaic terms here and there. The message was identical. I became a little restless; this couldn’t be!
I picked up my newest NIV, the 2011 version, and read the same passages. I was amazed at how little difference there was between the four translations. Certainly, the NIV was easiest to read, but what I was reading (later chapters of Genesis) came across identically, as far as the meaning was concerned. Most of the words were identical, if perhaps rearranged a bit.
I am thinking this is telling me that our English translations of the scripture are so good, that it makes little difference which one you use, as long as you can understand it. Not only are all the basics there in all of them, nearly all of the non-basics are there as well! So take your pick!
I wish it were that easy.
While I have come to trust the newest NIV on a par with the rest, there are times when it seems a little drab. Perhaps it’s because it’s so easy it doesn’t challenge me vocabulary-wise. Perhaps there’s something to be said for the challenge of reading the old 1977 NASB. I think I may spend a few dollars next pay day and get one of those.
It can really be hard to decide between some of these translations, by the way. I was very impressed with the NKJV this time when I spent time in it; my biggest problem with it now is that it’s based on manuscripts that don’t quite measure up, in my mind, to the earlier manuscripts that are used in the more common translations that are usually bought today. So I still tend to shy away from the NKJV a bit. But the NIV, ESV, NASB, et al, don’t have that problem, not even the 1977 NASB.
But how come I feel like I’m going back and trading in a new car for a 1977 Pontiac?