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Bible Translation Guide

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Bible Translation Continuum

This continuum shows how different Bible translations fit into the word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation philosophies

Word For Word

  • NLT
  • HCSB
  • KJV
  • NCV/ICB
  • NAB
  • NIrV
  • AMP
  • NIV
  • NRSV
  • NASB
  • NKJV
  • GNT
  • The Message
  • ESV
  • Interlinear
  • CEV
  • Living
  • RSV
  • NJB

Thought For Thought

Translation Translation Philosophy Target Audience 2 Corinthians 10:13 Distinctives
Amplified Bible Reading Level: 11 Word-for-word plus additional amplification of word meanings Those looking for more detailed shades of meaning in Scripture “We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our legitimate province and proper limit, but will keep within the limits [of our commission which] God has allotted us as our measuring line and which reaches and includes even you.“ A popular translation used to understand the hidden meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Published in 1964 (updated in 1987). Break through the language barrier.
Contemporary English Version Reading Level:5.4 Thought-for-thought Unchurched “We won’t brag about something we don’t have a right to brag about. We will only brag about the work that God has sent us to do, and you are part of that work.” Written at an elementary-school reading level, the CEV is readable and understandable for the modern reader. Published in 1995.
English Standard Version Reading Level: 7.4 Word-for-word Bible readers of all ages “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.” One of the fastest growing translations, the ESV balances accuracy with literary excellence and readability. A literal update of the Revised Standard Version. Published in 2001.
Reading Level: 4.3 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Christians and non-Christians; adults and children “How can we brag about things that no one can evaluate? Instead, we will only brag about what God has given us to do--coming to [the city of Corinth] where you live.” Published in 1995, a meaning-based, contemporary translation utilizing the thought-for-thought translation philosophy.
Holman Christian Standard Bible Reading Level:7.5 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Bible readers of all ages “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but according to the measure of the area [of ministry] that God has assigned to us, [which] reaches even to you.” A translation that attempts to combine both formal and dynamic equivalence. Published in 2004.
International Children's Bible Reading Level: 3 Thought-for-thought Children “But we will not brag about things outside the work that was given us to do. We will limit our bragging to the work that God gave us. And this work includes our work with you.” The International Children’s Bible® was the first Bible produced for children in 1982 and even today it is still one of the most easily read and understood versions of the Bible.
King James Version Reading Level: 12 Word-for-word Conservative Protestant “But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.” Traditionally loved and accepted by all Christians. Purpose in translation was “to deliver God’s book unto God’s people in a tongue which they can understand.” Published in 1611. Timeless Treasure.
A Paraphrase Reading Level: 5.5- 10 depending upon the passage Thought-for-thought. Converts the original languages into the tone and rhythms of modern-day American speech while retaining the idioms and meaning of the original languages Christians who want a fresh Bible-reading experience and seekers “We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you.” This paraphrase was translated using the rhythms and tone of contemporary English to communicate to the modern reader. Complete Bible published in 2002.
New American Bible Reading Level: 6.6 Word-for-word Catholic “But we will not boast beyond measure but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us, namely, to reach even to you.” Published under the direction of Pope Pius XII, this Catholic version of the Bible represents more than 25 years of effort by the Catholic Biblical Association of America. All editions include the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books. Published in 1970.
New American Standard Bible Reading Level: 11 Word-for-word Conservative, evangelical Protestant “But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.“ A highly respected, formal translation of the Bible. Purpose of the work was to update the American Standard Version into more current English. Published in 1971. Updated in 1995. The most literal is now more readable.
New Century Version Reading Level:5.6 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Those who want a highly readable translation of the Bible in today’s language “But we will not brag about things outside the work that was given us to do. We will limit our bragging to the work that God gave us, and this includes our work with you.” Based on the ICB (International Children’s Bible), it’s a readable and simple translation using the thought-for-thought translation methodology. Published in 1991.
New International Version Reading Level:7.8 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Evangelical Christians of all ages “We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.” The bestselling translation, widely accepted by evangelical Christians. Purpose in translation was to “produce an accurate translation, suitable for public and private

Reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use.” Published in 1978. Most read. Most trusted.
New International Reader's Version Reading Level: 2.9 Balance between word-for-word translation and thought-for-thought, with an emphasis on meaning when necessary for simplification Children ages 10 and under “But I won’t brag more than I should. Instead, I will brag only about what I have done in the area God has given me. It is an area that reaches all the way to you.” A thorough, scholarly simplification of the NIV, the NIrV was specifically designed to help young children and new readers understand the Bible for themselves and create an easy stepping-stone from a children’s Bible to an adult Bible. Published in 1994. Updated in 1998. The NIV for kids!
New King James Version Reading Level:8 Authors used the original KJV as a benchmark, while working to produce an accurate and modern word- for-word translation Those who want a readable translation of the Bible that is great for study but maintains the poetry of the KJV “We,however, will not boast beyond measure, but according to the measure of the area[of ministry] that God has assigned ti us, [which] reaches even to you.“ A modern language update of the original KJV. Purpose was to update and modernize the original KJV but preserve the KJV as much as possible. Published in 1982.
New Living Translation Reading Level: 6.3 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Adults and children “But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us, and this plan includes our working there with you.” Based on the work of 90 Bible scholars and a smaller team of English stylists. These scholars and stylists went back to the original languages and sought to produce the closest natural equivalent of the message in natural, contemporary English. Published in 1996.
New Revised Standard Version Reading Level: 8.1–10.4 Balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought Mainline and interconfessional “We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you.” A widely accepted translation in the tradition of the King James Version. Purpose was to make a good one better.” Published in 1990. A Bible for all Christians.