Recently my mom, asked me to a respond to an email from one of her friends about Bible translations. Her friend was asking specifically about The Message. I work in a Christian bookstore and also have a Master of Divinity. Well, anyway here is my answer. The Message is a paraphrase in modern language and not a translation. I prefer the New Living Translation (NLT) by Tyndale. Unlike the Living Bible of the 1970’s the NLT is a dynamic equivalent translation. That means the original language is translated into phrases that mean the same thing today i.e. heart is substituted for bowels as the center of emotions. The two thoughts on translation are literal word for word equivalence and dynamic equivalences. The New American (NASB) & the English Standard Version (ESV) are extremely literal with the ESV being more scholarly. Until recently the NASB was considered the closet English translation to the original language. The ESV has gained popularity because unlike the NASB it uses English grammar and not Greek, Hebrew or Arabic grammar making it a smoother read. The KJV & NJKV would fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between dynamic equivalence and literal. The NIV would be more dynamic and the NLT relies heavily on dynamic equivalent. For more about Bible translations see How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Gordon Fee.
For elementary and younger children I would recommend the following:
- New Living is one of the better modern translations
- Either the NrIV (New International Readers Version) or the New Century Version for children 3rd grade below or with reading difficulties. The NrIV is a better translation but the NCV is easier read.
- For study Bibles I would recommend the Adventure Bible they make several versions for different ages.
- The Comic Book Bible is a good way to get boys to read the Bible. It is more of a Bible story book than an actual Bible.
- If you want an easy to read modern translation that will get them interested try the New Living.
- For teens that have a solid walk with the Lord try the English Standard Version. It has a lot of interesting covers including many nice leather covers and a metal cover Bible.s
- For study Bible I would recommend the Life Application Bible. It is available in NLT, NIV, NASB, KJV & NKJV. I would recommend NLT.
- Fuel & Revolve are magazine format Bibles. Each issue features a different portion of the Bible. Teens will actually pick these up & read them for pleasure.
- I would recommend either the NLT or the ESV.
- For study Bibles I would recommend the Life Application Bible.
Personally, I use the ESV & the NLT. If I were going to use a study Bible it would be the Life Application. I simply don’t use study Bibles for daily use because I prefer a smaller Bible.