Desert Rose asked (with some background):
I just found your website so this question has probably been covered and recovered but I think when it comes to questions about Bible translation I think it could still be asked.
I don’t think we can conclusively say that there is just one perfect translation. But I think that there are many who would stand by their translation as not only the best but the only translation especially the KJV-only group.
My question is: can you give a good analysis of why one might choose (specifically) the NIV, NKJV or HCSB over against the others?
When I was saved I only was given the KJV but then was given a NIV and used it exclusively until about 10 years ago when I started to use the ESV. I have since gone back to the NIV but have been using the NLT and the HCSB more as supplements.
Now I have joined a new church and the pastor is decidedly NKJV and somewhat tolerates my reading from these other versions.
I’m not trying to oppose him but I feel that he (and others in the congregation) hold to this KJV/NKJV mostly out of tradition and not true scholarships. They certainly do not see how hard it is for new people (the few there are) to read and comprehend the KJV or even the NKJV when it is read.
Would you say that the NKJV is a good translation to use? Does it really matter that it’s base document was the Textus Receptus and not the one’s used for the other modern translations?
Can you offer any thoughts comments on this?
Yes, I agree with you on the points you raised. No translation is perfect. Some people prefer a very literal translation like the NKJV, ESV or HCSB. They probably do that because they think these are the most accurate translations, because they are close to the grammar and structure of the original text in Hebrew or Greek. The downside of this feature is that they are not using normal English and therefore can be difficult to understand, especially in the New Testament Letters. People may also prefer these translations if they grew up with a literal version. Familiarity is important for some people because it gives a sense of security. However, familiarity with a text does not mean that one necessarily understands it.
Other people prefer a translation that is readable and understandable. This kind of translation has many names. They may be called dynamic equivalent, idiomatic, meaning-based or communicative. The difference is that this kind of translation will focus on bringing the meaning across in a new language and not necessarily follow the form. Examples in English are the New Living Translation, Good News Bible, Contemporary English Version, New Century Version, and God’s Word. The NIV is somewhere in the middle, but closer to the literal side than the meaning-based side.
Much work has been done in the last 60 years in linguistics, communication and translation studies. Professional translators today all produce meaning-based translations, but some Bible translators and many pastors still prefer the literal type, partly because of tradition, partly because these translators and pastors seldom have training in linguistics and translation principles. Another aspect is what the majority will pay money for.
My evaluation as someone who has worked for the last 30+ years with meaning-based translations of the Bible is that the NLT is the most accurate translation of the Bible in English today (even though it is not perfect). When I say accurate, I mean in terms of communicating the intended meaning to a modern audience. The literal versions like NKJV put a smoke screen over the original text and thereby lose too much of the intended meaning.
That the KJV and NKJV is based on a slightly different Greek text is not nearly as significant as the different approaches to translation used by the KJV (NKJV) and, say, the NLT and GW.
Maybe others would like to comment or add their perspective?