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Bible History and Versions
The English Bibles - From the Originals to the Various English Versions
In 1999, I published a public domain paper which represented about 4 years of personal research. It is rather dated now, but includes a lot of good content.
- The Original Authorships - Tables, (2 pgs)
- The Identification of Manuscripts - (5 pgs)
- The History of Early English Translations - (3 pgs)
- The English Versions Compared - 18 Versions investigated, (7 pgs)
DOWNLOAD "The English Bibles" (1999) - .pdf format.
Version Comparison Summary
My concluding opinions based on my 1999 study, are that both the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) are both excellent choices, the New King James (NKJV) is acceptable, and the original and various revisions of the NIV Bibles are to be avoided.
Updates Since 1999
A lot has changed since 1999!
Below are comments on a few specific versions.
English Standard Version (ESV) - The ESV seems to be of the hightest quality, and is very popular among conservative Christians. The version has sold 250 million copies as of 2021. ESV.org describes it's version as an "essentially literal translation of the Bible in contemporary English," but it is also described (more honestly) as a "Formal Equivalence" translation. For my personal evaluation, I have to say that I have found it slightly too interpretive for my taste, compared to the NASB, but I am still very comfortable with it.
New English Translation (NET) - The NET Bible is a product of amazing scholarship, primarily out of Dallas Theological Seminary. It is an excellent literal translation EXCEPT that it interpretively utilizes gender-neutral translation is some places. The NET Bible is extremely valuable, however, for it's incredibly extensive and useful translation notes. The extensiveness of these notes make this more of a translation reference than a Bible version - there actually seems to be more translation notes text than Bible text.
Today's New International Version (TNIV) and the latest revision to the New International Version, NIV (2011), are both worse than the 1984 NIV, now going to a fully gender-inclusive edit of God's Word. Verbal, plenary inspiration is out the window with gender inclusion, but many Christians are starting to respond now, including the rejection of both the TNIV and the NIV (2011) by the Southern Baptist Convention.
American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV) - I have come to a much greater appreciation of the ASV, since my initial review. The value of the ASV is that it is VERY literal in its text. Of special note is that this version appropriately translates YHWH as Jehovah (proper name of God, meaning I AM), instead of replacing YHWH with LORD (meaning Master), as dictated for verbal pronouciation by post-exilic Jews. This version is over 120 years old and is not for everyone, but it is quite valuable for those who appreciate the literal rendering.
Please note that these are my personal opinions, based on my own research and evaluations.