Bible Interpretation Class – Hiawatha Bible Chapel

Bible Translations

Lesson 2 – March 24th, 2017


The Two Main Translation Philosophies of the Bible

  1. Literal Translation – Formal Equivalence Translations


  1. Paraphrased Translation – Dynamic Equivalence Translations

Problems With the Translation Philosophies

  1. Problems with Formal Equivalence Translations (“Literal” Translations)

  1. Literal Translations More Often Obscure the Meaning of the Text


  1. It is Impossible to be 100% Literal, Some Paraphrasing is Required in All Translations

  1. Problems with Dynamic Equivalence Translations (“Paraphrased” Translations)

  1. The main problem with DET’s is that by nature they tend to reflect the translator’s theology  and interpretation more than an FET. This philosophy involves rendering the text as interpreted by the translator (to try to make it clear), so it removes the reader one step back from doing the textual interpretation himself

Why Are Various Translations Needed?

  1. English has Changed

  1. Non-literal (paraphrased) Translations Have Merit

  1. Linguistic (Language) Advances

  1. Discovery of Poetry in the Bible

  1. The Availability of Better Texts and More Textual Criticism

The following table shows some of the various versions of the Bible, and where they fit on the spectrum between extremely literal and extremely paraphrased.

How Literal are Various Translations

Not a Translation


Considerable Paraphrase

Middle of the Road

Primarily Literal


Living Bible (paraphrased from the English Bible ASV)


Good News Bible (Today’s English Version)

New International Version

King James Version



Jerusalem Bible

Today’s New International Version (modern gender neutral update to the NIV)

New American Standard Bible

New Living Translation

New Jerusalem Bible

Holman Christian Standard Bible

New American Standard Bible Update

The Message (very loose paraphrase, not recommended by many Christians)

New English Bible

New Revised Standard Version

New King James

Revised English Bible

Tanakh (OT only)

Revised Standard Version

Modern Language Bible

Net Bible

American Standard (1901)

New American Bible (Catholic)

Revised Version

God’s Word

English Standard Version (leans a little more to the middle of the road)

Contemporary English Version

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