Information About the Most Used English Bible Translations

The books that make up the Bible were written over a period of about 1,500 years. The last book was completed about 1,900 years ago. The different parts of the Bible were originally written in one of three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Since then, it's been translated into many different languages.


A popular translation that uses a unique system of punctuation, italics, references, and synonyms to explain, in expanded form, the meaning found in the original Greek and Hebrew languages. Break through the language barrier.  The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. There are shades of meaning found in these original Bible texts that can't be captured in a straight word-for-word translation into English. Dr. Frances Siewert had the vision for a translation that would use additional English words to convey the full meaning of Scripture to those who don't have the knowledge of the original languages. Using the word-for-word American Standard Version as a reference text, she chose additional words to communicate the nuances of meaning from the original texts. These "amplification" words are offset from the text by brackets or parentheses. The Amplified New Testament, which was first published in 1958, took over 20,000 hours of research. Dr. Siewart's work was reviewed by a committee of translation experts for accuracy. The full Amplified Bible, first published in 1965, has become the favorite second Bible for millions of Christians. By comparing it to their favorite translation, they discover a wealth of additional insights into the Scripture.


After several years of preliminary development, Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest Bible publisher in America, assembled an international, interdenominational team of 90 scholars, all of whom were committed to biblical inerrancy. Smaller teams of editors, stylists, and proofreaders then corrected and polished the translation. Outside consultants contributed valuable suggestions from their areas of expertise. An executive team then reviewed the final manuscripts.


Traditionally loved and accepted by all Christians, the King James Version was the first version of Scripture authorized by the Protestant church. Commissioned by England's King James I, three panels of scholars drew upon the work of early translators and versions of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available at that time. Purpose in translation was "to deliver God's book unto God's people in a tongue which they can understand." Timeless treasure.

In 1603 James I, already king of Scotland, ascended to the throne of England. He was presented with a petition containing grievances of the Puritan party. A conference was called at Hampton Court in 1604 to hear the complaints. At this conference Dr. John Reynolds, an Oxford scholar and Puritan leader, raised the subject of the imperfections of available Bibles. King James became interested in the idea of a new translation completed by university scholars, reviewed by bishops, and ratified by King James himself. James was displeased with the Geneva Bible, which he felt undermined the theory of divine right of kings and contained marginal notes that made it unacceptable to church leaders.

King James appointed 6 panels of translators (about 50 men) to revise and translate assigned portions of the Old Testament, Apocrypha (which was at the time included in all Bibles), and the New Testament. The completed work was reviewed by a group of 12, consisting of 2 men from each panel, after which the work was sent to bishops and leading churchmen for approval. Among the translators were some of the finest scholars of the day. The revisers/translators, while not paid for their efforts, were granted free room and board.

The Bishops' Bible was used as the basis for this revision/translation, but it was also examined in the light of Hebrew and Greek documents, as well as compared with all other contemporary translations in various European languages. The work began in 1607, and in 1611 the new Bible was published. The Authorized Version — commonly referred to in America as the King James Version (KJV) — was dedicated to King James.

The AV was printed three times during the year of initial publication. The early editions contained a significant number of misprints and variations in wording and spelling. During the course of time the spelling in the earlier editions was modified, the chapter summaries were reduced, and the marginal references expanded. Revisions were made in 1613, 1629, and 1638, but it was the revisions made at Cambridge in 1762 and at Oxford in 1769 that modernized its spelling so that it may be read with relative ease in our day.

Trustworthy: It was developed by a committee of scholars and it represented a majority point of view. The scholars were able to build on the labors of many generations of Bible translators, and the revisers were able to draw from the recent growth in literary standards in the English language. The result was a work of excellent English prose.

But far greater than the literary significance has been the religious significance of this translation. The KJV has been the standard translation for millions for several hundred years. Despite its merits, however, the KJV would not remain unchallenged forever. Not only did the English language continue to develop, but early manuscripts of the Bible were discovered that have led to great improvement of the Biblical texts, especially in the Greek New Testament.




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.


In the 1880s the King James Version became the basis for the English Revised Version. The American counterpart was published in 1901 as the American Standard Version (ASV). A product of both British and American scholarship, the ASV has been highly regarded for its scholarship and accuracy.

By the middle of the twentieth century, The Lockman Foundation, a non-profit Christian corporation of La Habra, California, felt an urgency to preserve these and other lasting values of the ASV by incorporating recent discoveries of Hebrew and Greek textual sources and by rendering them into more current English.

The Lockman Foundation published the Gospel of John in 1960, all 4 Gospels as a unit in 1962, the New Testament in 1963, and the entire Bible in 1971. Sixteen translators worked on each Testament. More than 50 scholars in various capacities devoted more than 25,000 hours of research to the New Testament alone.

The NASB represented a conservative, literal approach to translation. While this translation followed the principles used in the ASV, the NASB should be viewed as a new translation rather than merely an update of the ASV.

The Lockman Foundation completed an update of the NASB in 1995. More than 20 translators (conservative Bible scholars representing a variety of denominational backgrounds) spent nearly 3 years completing the project. The team carefully adhered to the principles of literal translation and made no attempt to interpret Scripture through translation. This method of translation stands in contrast to the thought-for-thought method known as dynamic equivalence. The result was a word-for-word translation that is both accurate and readable.

The 1995 update makes several important refinements with regard to the original NASB: 1) It no longer uses "Thee" and "Thou" in reference to Deity; 2) phrases have been smoothed out; 3) words that have changed meaning have been updated; 4) verbs that have a wide range of meaning have been updated to better account for their use in the context; 5) punctuation and paragraphing have been formatted to fit today's standards; and 6) notes about the ancient manuscripts have been revised to include more new and interesting facts.


*****The NASB is the Bible your Pastor studies from.




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.


The New International Version (NIV) is a translation made by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It was conceived in 1965 when, after several years of study by committees from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals, a transdenominational and international group of scholars met at Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed on the need for a new translation in contemporary English. Their conclusion was endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966. Responsibility for the version was delegated to a self-governing body of fifteen Biblical scholars, the Committee on Bible Translation, and in 1967, the New York Bible Society (now International Bible Society) generously undertook the financial sponsorship of the project.

The translation of each book was assigned to a team of scholars, and the work was thoroughly reviewed and revised at various stages by three separate committees. The Committee submitted the developing version to stylistic consultants who made invaluable suggestions. Samples of the translation were tested for clarity and ease of reading by various groups of people. In short, perhaps no other translation has been made by a more thorough process of review and revision.

The Committee held to certain goals for the NIV: that it be an accurate, beautiful, clear, and dignified translation suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use. The translators were united in their commitment to the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God's Word in written form. They agreed that faithful communication of the meaning of the original writers demands frequent modifications in sentence structure (resulting in a "thought-for-thought" translation) and constant regard for the contextual meanings of words.

In 1973 the New Testament was published. The Committee carefully reviewed suggestions for revisions and adopted a number of them, which they incorporated into the first printing of the entire Bible in 1978. Additional changes were made in 1983.


*****The NIV is the translation your Pastor preaches and teaches from.




A modern language update of the original King James Version (KJV). Retains much of the traditional language and sentence structure of the KJV without the old English "thee's" and "thou's" and archaic English words.


The KJV is one oldest English translations of the Bible and continues to be the favorite of many. It is known as the Authorized Version of 1611 because King James I approved the project to create an authoritative English Bible. Although it contains many obsolete words (some of which have changed in meaning), many people appreciate its dignity and majesty. The NKJV is a similar translation, taken from the same group of ancient manuscripts, with updates the archaic language of the KJV.


Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for 7 years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet one that would retain the purity and stylistic beauty of the original King James Version. With unyielding faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, the translators applied the most recent research in archaeology, linguistics, and textual studies.




A paraphrase written by Eugene H. Peterson and translated from Greek manuscripts. The Message was translated using the rhythms and idioms of contemporary English to communicate to the modern reader. With no formal language and no verse numbers, The Message is a refreshingly unique Bible-reading experience.

Why was The Message written? The best answer to that question comes from Eugene Peterson himself: "While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren't feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'"

Peterson's parishioners simply weren't connecting with the real meaning of the words and the relevance of the New Testament for their own lives. So he began to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original ancient Greek—writing straight out of the Greek text without looking at other English translations. As he shared his version of Galatians with them, they quit stirring their coffee and started catching Paul's passion and excitement as he wrote to a group of Christians whom he was guiding in the ways of Jesus Christ. For more than two years, Peterson devoted all his efforts to The Message New Testament. His primary goal was to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English.

Language changes. New words are formed. Old words take on new meaning. There is a need in every generation to keep the language of the gospel message current, fresh, and understandable—the way it was for its very first readers. That is what The Message seeks to accomplish for contemporary readers. It is a version for our time—designed to be read by contemporary people in the same way as the original. Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were savored by people thousands of years ago.

That's why NavPress felt the time was right for a new version. When we hear something over and over again in the same way, we can become so familiar with it that the text loses its impact. The Message strives to help readers hear the living Word of God—the Bible—in a way that engages and intrigues us right where we are.

Some people like to read the Bible in Elizabethan English. Others want to read a version that gives a close word-for-word correspondence between the original languages and English. Eugene Peterson recognized that the original sentence structure is very different from that of contemporary English. He decided to strive for the spirit of the original manuscripts—to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions; the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations.

The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather "a reading Bible." The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out of the print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.