What Does Your Preferred Bible Translation Say about You?

Liz Kanoy | Editor, Crosswalk.com | Monday, December 28, 2015
What Does Your Preferred Bible Translation Say about You?

What Does Your Preferred Bible Translation Say about You?


As we gear up for the New Year, you may be thinking about starting a Bible reading plan—and you probably have a favorite translation you’d use with it. You may own one Bible translation or you may own several (smart phones make this easy now), but chances are you have a default one that you go to more than others or prefer over others. Shane Pruitt, OP-ED Contributor for The Christian Post, has written an intriguing article titled What Your Favorite Bible Translation May Say About You?

Having worked in a Christian bookstore before, I always found Bible translations interesting and I would often find myself explaining the differences between word-for-word (translates the exact wording as closely as possible) and thought-for-thought translations (translates the meaning and ideas as closely as possible), as well as paraphrases (carries the same meaning but with new words - this is not an actual translation but a paraphrase of an existing translation).

Pruitt relays,

Let's be honest, when someone tells you what their favorite Bible translation is, you fairly or unfairly make certain immediate assumptions about that person; caricatures will pop into your mind.

For example, if someone says their preferred translation is the NIV Bible, what immediately comes to your mind? What about the King James? ESV? See what we mean? What you think and what we think may be different, but that point is...something does pop up.”

In his article, Pruitt composed fun and light-hearted profiles for each of the six main English translations of the Bible and one paraphrase. He prefaces it by saying, “This is not intended to offend anyone, upset anyone, or promote any translation over another. After all, being able to laugh at ourselves is a great quality to have, and frankly is good for our souls.”

Using ideas from Pruitt and myself, here are a few humorous thoughts on what your Bible translation may say about you:

*King James Version (KJV) – Word-for-Word Translation in Old English
2 Preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Their favorite pew spot.
  • The Left Behind Series.

Most likely to be found: At a church potluck.
Most likely to be discussing: End times and current events.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: The Classic Daily Bible Reading Plan.

*New King James Version (NKJV) – Word-for-Word Translation
2 preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Christian bumper stickers or a Jesus-fish car decoration.
  • A zip-up Bible cover to hold their Bible and church bulletins.

Most likely to be found: At a Southern Gospel show.
Most likely to be discussing: Upcoming mission plans and fundraisers.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: Book Order Bible Reading Plan.

*New International Version (NIV) – Thought-for-Thought translation
2 preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Jesus Calling devotional book.
  • Frequent social media shares depicting their devotional reading, quiet times, and favorite Bible verses.

Most likely to be found: At a trendy restaurant with their Bible study crew.
Most likely to be discussing: John MacArthur or Beth Moore’s new Bible Study.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: The Busy-Life Bible Reading Plan.

*English Standard Version (ESV) – Word-for-Word Translation
2 Preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Smart phone/tablet devices for Bible reading.
  • Reformed theology and hipster clothing.

Most likely to be found: At a coffee shop alone.
Most likely to be thinking or reading about: Predestination and total depravity.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: One Year Bible Immersion Reading Plan.

*New American Standard Bible (NASB) – Word-for-Word Translation
2 preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Pleated-pants and polo shirts.
  • A personal blog focused on their faith.

Most likely to be found: At a church conference.
Most likely to be discussing: The Greek language as it applies to the Bible.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

*New Living Translation (NLT) – Thought-for-Thought Translation
2 preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • Flip-flops and jeans.
  • Their enthusiasm for worship music.

Most likely to be found: At a small group meeting.
Most likely to be discussing: Free-will.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: Ninety-Day Challenge Bible Reading Plan.

*The Message Bible – A Paraphrase
2 preferences this reader is most well known for:

  • The saying, “Don’t give me theology, just give me Jesus.”
  • Their favorite book, The Shack.

Most likely to be found at: Barns and Noble.
Most likely to be discussing: The latest Christian living books.
Best Bible reading plan to try for the New Year: Stay-on-Track Bible Reading Plan.

These are all generalities and do no apply to everyone who reads these Bible translations. We can learn from different translations, and it is usually helpful to consult more than one translation when studying a particular passage in the Bible.

To read Shane Pruitt’s full article please visit The Christian Post.

Click here to check out all 7 Bible Reading Plans mentioned in the article. You can also see our top 10 Bible reading plans here!

And if you’re not sure which translation you prefer most, try our quiz: Which Bible Translation Should You Choose?

Related Video:
Why are There So Many Bible Translations?

Publication date: December 28, 2015

Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.

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