Translation Recommendations

Ed. F. Sanders

"variety of translations is profitable for finding out the sense of the Scriptures" (St. Augustine)

(Chart from

Translation Recommendations

Under each section heading our recommendations are in order of preference.

Most Literal (word or form-based translation, sometimes called 'literal, or formal equivalence')
1. English Standard Version (ESV) (see article1, article2, endorsements)
2. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)*
3. New American Standard Version (NASB, Updated Edition)
4. New King James Version (NKJV)

Most Readable (meaning-based translation, sometimes referred to as 'dynamic equivalence')
1. New International Version (NIV)
2. The Modern Language Bible, (MLB - Berkeley Version)
3. New English Translation (NET) []
4. New Living Translation (NLT Second Edition)

Paraphrase A paraphrase is not technically a translation but a rephrasing of the text, use with caution!
1. The Living Bible (TLB)
2. The Message (TM)
3. Contemporary English Version (CEV)
4. The New Testament in Modern English (J.B. Philips)
  1. Amplified Bible (AMP) [a literal translation with words added in brackets or parens to 'amplify' the meaning of the text]
Study Bibles
Not Recommended for reading and general study! see article and list

For Further Study:

Bruce, F.F., The English Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Fee, Gordon D., How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions, Zondervan, 2007
Ryken, Leland, Choosing a Bible: Understanding Bible Translation Differences, Crossway Books, 2005

Recent English Bible Versions Compared, article by Wayne Leman

Hawthorne, G.F., How To Choose A Bible. Christianity Today, Vol. 20, December 5, 1975, pp.7-10.

Translation Comparison (based on Romans 3:23-26)

Bible Translations Comparision (PDF file)

* The Holman CSB tries to bridge the gap between form-based and meaning-based translation, ie. literal where possible--expanded where necessary for meaning, and they have done an excellent job.