Seven months ago I posted my top Bible translations that I use. You can read that list and my reasons behind the list here. But my order has changed and I have added a few translations to the list. This list not only reflects my current translation taste, but also which translations I am using the most in my studies, personal reading, and preaching.
1. English Standard Version (ESV). The ESV is still the translation that I use the most. In the previous post I wrote why I like the ESV. I have come to the conclusion that a major factor that determines my translation choice is the editions available for the translation. I love the Single Column Reference Bible and the Personal Size Reference Bible. The ESV Study Bible is a nice tool also. I also have a Thinline Reference edition for travel. If other translations had comparable editions, I think I would use them more.
2. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The HCSB still sits at #2, but I think it will be falling down soon. In November, the revisions to the HCSB are planned to be released. So far, I am not thrilled by the revisions, finding some of the changes to be for the worse rather than for the better. I will have to wait until its release to be fair, but I am concerned that the changes will cause me to use the HCSB less.
3. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Still holding at #3, but its place is weakening also. It still has some superior readings over the ESV, but also some strange readings that keep here at #3. If there were more editions of the NRSV, I think I would use it more. But the choices are slim.
4. NET Bible. This is a new entry into the list. I purchased the first edition and the compact edition last year. I have found the readings to be very good. Further, I love the translation notes in the first edition. The first edition is a monster in its size and the “leather” is terrible. But the translation is good. It is a readable, accurate translation that does not receive enough attention.
5. New Living Translation (NLT). The NLT is growing and growing on me. The 2007 revisions have made this a translation that I can use. With the 1996 edition, I found more readings that I disliked than liked. Now I find more renderings that I like than dislike. That is not to say that there are places that I do not think are problematic. But the more I read from the NLT, the more I am building a trust in the translation. I am even preaching from it from time to time, which is a big step for this “word-for-word” translation guy.
6. Today’s New International Version (TNIV). This is another translation that I purchased at the end of last year and have been trying out. It is superior to the NIV, fixing a number of translation problems the NIV had. It still has some of the readings from the NIV that I do not care for. But it is better than the NIV and I wish Zondervan would put out more editions of this translation so that more would try it. I am afraid it will go down the road of the NRSV and never gain acceptance or broad usage.
7. New King James Version (NKJV). It has been nearly 30 years since its arrival, but it still produces some great readings. I recently enjoyed the NKJV reading of Galatians 5:12. In talking about circumcision, I think the NKJV catches the point the best in its reading.
8. New American Standard Bible (NASB). It has some good translation choices, but I think the ESV and NRSV are far better options over the NASB. I typically only check the NASB when studying, but never teach or preach from it.
9. Spoken English New Testament (SENT). This is a brand new translation produced by Webb Mealy. It is very readable and surprisingly quite accurate in its translation, while using only words common to the English language. I hope he is able to get some publicity for this translation. I plan to do a review of SENT in a future post.
10. New International Version (NIV). Like the NASB, the NIV has seen its day. There are better translations available. The NIV was a breakthrough 25 years ago. But now we have many more readable, accurate options for translations. I rarely use this translation now.