As you may know, there are many Bible translations out there, and every church and denomination has a strong opinion of which are the best easy-to-read Bible translations and why.
I was raised reading The New King James Bible. Since that is the case, it’s still what I read today because I am so familiar with the wording.
But, there are many Bible translations out there, and it’s important to know the differences between them, and which ones are easiest for people to read.
Easy to read Bible translations
3 Different Types of Bible Translations
1. Literal Translation
Also referred to as a word-for-word translation, the goal of this type of translation is to stay as close as possible to the words and phrases used in the original language. Where possible, this translation will attempt to find a single English word to use for each Hebrew or Greek word in the original (earliest available) manuscripts. This kind of translation keeps the historical distance at a minimum, and it keeps the translator’s opinion at a minimum.
However, these kinds of translations can sometimes be more difficult to read. Often a word-for-word translation is not as smooth and fails to communicate fuller concepts and ideas where there is no exact one-for-one exchange of terminology.
2. Dynamic Equivalent
Also referred to as a thought-for-thought translation, the goal of this type of translation is to find precise equivalents for words, idioms, and grammatical constructions from the original languages.
It attempts to keep historical and factual matters intact while updating language, grammar, and style to improve the communication of ideas into something easier to read and understand by the modern reader.
3. Free Translation
Also referred to as a paraphrase, the goal of this type of translation is to communicate ideas from one language to another without trying to maintain the exact structure and word use.
This form of translation intentionally increases the historical distance as a way to bring the ideas closer to us as it relates to cultural relevance.
They tend to be among the easiest translations to read and understand.
The downside of this type of translation is a greater opportunity for the translator’s opinion to creep in and present factual and historical differences from the original intent.
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The Best 5 easy to read Bible translations
1. The New Living Translation
The New Living Translation (NLT) uses normal modern English, making it an easy-to-understand version.
The New Living Translation is a text that tries to make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The end result is a translation that is easy to read and understand and that accurately communicates the meaning of the original text.
2. New International Revised Version
The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) is a Bible version based on the New International Version (NIV). The NIV is easy to understand and very clear. More people read the NIV than any other English Bible. The NIrV is even easier to read and understand. Translators tried to use the words of the NIV when possible and sometimes used shorter words. They also made the sentences shorter.
We did some other things to make the NIrV a helpful Bible version for you. For example, sometimes a Bible verse quotes from another place in the Bible. When that happens, we put the other Bible book’s name, chapter and verse right there. We separated each chapter into shorter sections. We gave a title to almost every chapter. Sometimes we even gave a title to the shorter sections. That will help you understand what each chapter or section is all about.
The NIrV says just what the first writers of the Bible said. Translators used the best and oldest copies of Hebrew and Greek.
3. The English Standard Version
When referring to the best Bible to read and understand, The English Standard Version is good to use.
It is an essentially literal translation of the Bible in contemporary English written by a team of 95 best scholars and writers, it has become a standard for Bible readers and translators.
The ESV Bible emphasizes word-for-word accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning. Its best characteristics are accurate, reliable, clear, and biblical truth without losing the original sense of the passages.
4. The Message:
The Message New Testament was written to capture the tone of the text and the original conversational feel of the Greek, in contemporary English.
The Message was designed to be read by contemporary people and strives to help readers hear the living Word of God—the Bible—in a way that engages and intrigues us right where we are.
The message is not a word-for-word translation but tries to express the rhythm of the voices, and share the idea or feeling a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.
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.
5. New International Version (NIV)
The New International Version is easy to read and understand, and it is widely accepted in Christian denominations worldwide.
The New International Version (NIV) is a completely original translation of the Bible developed by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.
From the very start, the NIV sought to bring modern Bible readers as close as possible to the experience of the very first Bible readers: providing the best possible blend of transparency to the original documents and comprehension of the original meaning in every verse.
The NIV appeals to people looking for a trustworthy, conventional, and easy-to-read text. The NIV Study Bibles are best for those who prefer a less literal translation.
Which Translation is the “Right” Translation?
Considering the strengths and weaknesses of each type of Bible translation, I believe that the right one is to read a variety of versions!
Each different Bible translation adds its own value to understanding the original, plain meaning of the Biblical texts.
I grew up reading The New King James Bible, and that is the one I am most comfortable is. So, when I’m studying The Bible, that’s the one I use the most.
But, when I come to a verse, or passage that I can’t understand, I compare the verse in a variety of versions.
Doing this, it helps get a clear picture of the passage.
Choosing a version is a personal choice. To pick one, make sure you fully understand the strengths and limitations of whichever translation you are reading.
It’s important to note, that a FREE translation like The Message, should not be used to build a theological belief. But, it can be used to improve your understanding of a passage that you are studying.
Remember, whichever version you choose- make sure to remember the purpose of reading The Bible, which is to know God more and grow in your faith and understanding.
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In the comments, tell me what Bible version you read and what you like about it.