What Your Bible Translation Tells Me about You

Some Random Thoughts On How I Judge People

Being that I was raised in a more traditional black Baptist church, but not really fundamentalist where we got obsessed with what version of the Bible we carried or what, I enjoy poking fun at those certain persons who seem to have more than just a small attachment to their preferred translation of the Bible. Inspired by this twitter conversation, here are my working conclusions so far.

New Living Translation: Indicates that you have been a part of the Bible Wars for years and you are looking for a way to escape the King James Version only crowd. It means you still hold on to your embedded conservative theology but are desiring to engage other Christians outside of the KJVO faith.

English Standard Version: If you love the ole ESV, that may mean you are either Reformed theologically or you are a moderate who is curious what an updated version of the RSV would look like.

Revised Standard Version: Still stuck in the 1950s, you believe that the RSV is all that is left between the world and knowing God’s will. The National Council of Churches was not as liberal back then, so it cannot be that bad.

New American Standard Version: You care more about accuracy, which makes you better than people attached to the NLT.  Theologically, you consider yourself a moderate, which usually means you are a progressive suffering from denial.

New Revised Standard Version: Usually over-educated and indoctrinated in a mainline church, the NRSV-onlyist crowd was once adverse to reading anything outside of the New International Version.  NRSV-onlyists are too smart for their own good and look down upon every other translation; that is why they are often mistaken for the KJVO.

The Message: This pretty much means you are changing religions. Seriously.

New International Version/Today’s NIV: Brought up in an evangelical church that holds firm to inerrancy and the Purpose Driven Life like the plague, the NIV came as a surprise to those who grew up familiar with the KJV. So God did not speak Shakespearean English? The NIV is more accessible to children but not really good for memorizing. Perhaps that is why the NIV reader becomes a lover of reading the Bible as story, like the……

The Voice: Defenders of the Voice are oh so obsessed with the narrative interpretation of Scripture.  The translators decide what the meta-narrative is and even get to add words to the Gospel to make it more relevant. Sort of like some other religions I know of.

King James Version: Either you are a sentimental progressive who doesn’t want to rock the boat at your church or you have made the KJV the 4th person of the Trinity, right behind God, Jesus, and John Calvin.

0 thoughts on “What Your Bible Translation Tells Me about You

  1. Bobby Grow

    What about the NKJV?

    I skip around, I’m reading the NASBU, right now; but also read NIV, KJV, ESV, (Koine Greek 😉 . . . which just makes me a snob). I can’t stand the NRSV, I’ve tried, but don’t like it.

    What translation do you prefer for reading/memorizing?

  2. Bobby Grow

    Honestly, when I first started reading the NRSV, I really did like the flow. There are just some translation philosophy moves I don’t appreciate (just like I don’t like the NIV’s translating of ‘sarx’ even if it does capture the intent).

  3. Dru

    Nice post. How do you profile the multi-translation user? I primarily use NRSV, NET, TNIV, & ESV. Although, I do reference others as well from time to time. My experience is that reading multiple translations is just as helpful as checking the Greek! That’s what I encourage others to do.

  4. Bobby Grow


    I’m there with you, I would call myself “multi-translation” as well. I think you highlight a really good point on using multiple translations as a substitute for non-Greek readers; in fact while taking Greek in my under-grad days, my prof said we should encourage exactly what you said from the pulpit (e.g. use multiple translations to get the sense of the original). Really good point (almost like you’re free-stlyin’ or something ;-).

  5. J. K. Gayle

    How wd u judge anybody who reads these?

    Greek-English New Testament, Nestle-Aland with RSV

    The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English by Sir Lancelot Brenton

    The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Thomas, Mary, and Judas by Willis Barnstone

    The Five Books of Moses by Everett Fox or by Robert Alter

  6. Rachel Nunnikhoven

    And what about the Amplified? I think I have used almost all of the ones you listed and have lately found a love for the Amplified, though I do go to the NKJV often for memorization…..

      1. Tim

        The New English Bible (1970) was the first translation I read as a teenager (I started reading the Bible seriously in 1972). A year or so later I switched to the Living Bible, then went through the standard translations (RSV, NIV, NRSV etc.). I got the Revised English Bible (1989 revision of the NEB) when it was published, but it suffered from being published the same year as the NRSV which had all the power of the mainline establishment behind it. I’ve recently gone back to the old NEB and have decided to read it through in 2011.

        I like the NEB/REB translations because they aren’t tied to the Tyndale/KJV phrasing but have the courage to use real English – and good quality English too. They do read British rather than American, but I was born in the UK so that’s fine by me. You can read a good review of the REB at http://homepage.mac.com/rmansfield/thislamp/files/071806_revised_english_bible.html

        By the way, I came here from the Nicodemist blog. He’s an old friend of mine.


Leave a Reply to Bobby Grow Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *