Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

I recently received a review copy of Which Bible Translation Should I Use?: A Comparison of 4 Major Recent Versions, edited by Andreas Köstenberger and David Croteau. Having just finished it, I wanted to write out some thoughts here for those who are interested in the topic. I will write a more thorough review for our theological journal, Bibliotheca Sacra, that will be published in the near future.

The book seeks to give advocates for four modern English translations of the Bible a forum for highlighting their translation's distinctives and benefits. Wayne Grudem writes on behalf of the English Standard Version (ESV), Douglas Moo for the New International Version (NIV), Ray Clendenen for the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and Philip Comfort for the New Living Translation (NLT). The editors include a short but helpful history of Bible translation to set the stage for the four advocates. In the major chapters each advocate explains their translation philosophy in general, and then by means of the same group of Bible passages shows how their translation works. Having each author address the same Bible passages is very helpful, as it enables the reader to compare apples to apples in a sense as they see how each translation handled a particular passage, some of which like Psalm 1 are very well known and beloved.

On the whole this is a fairly helpful work in that it shows some key differences in philosophy between the versions discussed. Readers who are not familiar with the problems that face Bible translators will get a good education on the pitfalls of this important task. At the same time, I did not come away thinking that any one author made a better case than another for their particular version. In the end, even though there are important distinctions between each version, they are all quality translations which can be spiritually edifying. The benefit of this book is in explaining how those distinctions in translation arise and in giving the reader a better background so they can be a more informed reader.