A KYB viewer recently asked about the suitability of the New Living Translation (NLT). I googled up some reviews of the NLT, learned enough about it to sound pretty astute, and explained a bit about the accuracy of a “word-for-word” translating philosophy versus a “thought-for-thought” philosophy. I made a few other brilliant scholarly points, and concluded that the English Standard Version (ESV) was probably preferable for seriously studying the Bible. The viewer’s response was, “So then, a version is better than a translation?” It was then I realized I had fallen prey to the dreaded affliction of “thinking like a preacher.” Preachers can write articles or get together and discuss all kinds of minutiae about any topic imaginable. Some consider themselves great experts on the accuracy of every translation (or version) known to man. (Sounds a little like the rabbis arguing the finer points of the Law, doesn’t it?) When I got the viewer’s response, I saw that I had “laid a heavier burden” on him than necessary. All he wanted to know was, is this a good Bible to read? I can answer that question right 99% of the time without knowing the translation under consideration. “Yes!”
There are a couple of dishonest “translations” out there done to conform to some false doctrine, but not many. The other 99% vary in all sorts of ways, but all contain the basic story of the Bible. If it is understandable at your reading level, JUST READ IT! In a few years, if you want to become a serious student – or a teacher or a preacher – you may want to learn about translation philosophies and manuscript dates. You may want to get the most accurate word-for-word translation so you can run word studies and check lexicons. You may even want to learn Greek and/or Hebrew so you can get a personally accurate reading of the text. But until you’ve attained “scholar” status, pick a readable version of the Bible and JUST READ IT!