Fun with Bible Translations

With the recent controversy over the NIV and TNIV translations (if you don’t know, don’t ask), Scot McKnight decided to match translations to types of Christians.

NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
TNIV for egalitarians;
NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.

What about the —

ASV (19th Century American Standard Version still used in some Churches of Christ)?


The Living Bible?

The NETBible?

Phillips translation?


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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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14 Responses to Fun with Bible Translations

  1. Roger C. says:

    The Living Bible: Same as The Message, but for Baby Boomers instead of Gen X.

    ASV: For those who wish to harmonize singing, "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!" with the Bible.

    RSV: Because art is to be hung on walls, and it's not a state of being.

    NETBible: Hey, it worked for Wikipedia!

    Phillips translation: Just like the Living Bible and the Message, but before the long-haired hippie freaks got a hold of it.

  2. nick gill says:

    LOL this is excellent!

    I'd say that the NETBible is for New Perspective on Tom Wright evangelicals!

    And the NRSV one made me crack up, because that's what everyone thinks when they see me with one!

  3. cordobatim says:

    How about:
    The Nestle-Aland 27th edition: For those who want to pretend to be able to read the original Greek
    Young's Literal Translation: For those who admit they can't read the original Greek, but want something just as hard to understand

    One favorite story from when I was in school: One grad student, wanting to show scholarly disdain for unworthy works, he laughingly said to Dr. Neil Lightfoot, "Hey, Dr. Lightfoot? Have you seen the new Children's NIV [which I think later became the NIrV]? What do you think of that?" Dr. Lightfoot replied, "Well, when we were doing that translation…" Oops! (I think the guy still passed the course, because Dr. Lightfoot is an exceedingly gracious man)

  4. ASV – for Americans who like to say "thee" and "thou" one day a week

    By the way, it is almost impossible to find ASV Bibles except in used book stores and web sites.

  5. "Young’s Literal Translation: For those who admit they can’t read the original Greek, but want something just as hard to understand" – This one is my favorite so far, cordobatim!

    Truth be told, I like Edward Fudge's "The Standard Version" – but I've only read the book of Hebrews in it, since – as far as I know! – that's the only epistle he has rendered it in.

    So, in honor of Ed:

    "SV – for Ed Fudge fans and fanatics"

  6. Zach Price says:

    we use NRSV for classes (public university) so it must be for liberals. is it bad that i judge translations based on how Jesus talking about the holy spirit is translated i.e. friend, comforter, advocate?

  7. Rich says:

    If you want to have some fun with college age folks, read James 2:2 out loud from the KJV. You will get snickers, perplexity and perhaps some shock. I did so recently and most didn't know the old meaning of a particular word. My, how the English language has changed.

  8. Jack Exum Jr says:

    Hey guys,
    What about the Charlie Brown Bible? Didn't that one get the "annathema" put on it? Who knows…

  9. Jack Exum Jr says:

    I have really gotten into the NET Bible… I use this one regularly now. Man, that Bible is hard to find. Anyway, I use that with the NKJV, and NIV (occasionally).

  10. truthseeker says:

    Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers at least revere the word of God unlike corrupt-but-older-manuscript-tree-huggers.

  11. George says:

    hmm personally I happen to be a Greek and just go ahead and read the Greek NT (and Septugiant for OT). If you have a good greek educational background reading in Greek you can read this older Greek because remember modern Greek is not like Latin-to Spanish but a much more linear developement. Its like a modern English reader reading Shakespeare. The more you read the more you get hooked on it and understand it to (thats shakespear and the bible both).

    For nonGreek speakers I recomened learning Greek (just kidding its a hellenic thing we'd love for the whole world to speak Greek lol). Actually NASB plus Amplified will do fine together (not either or) for you if you read only English. For serious bible study I would add interlinear Greek/english texts but its not necessary. God is not a God of confusion and many Greek speakers will tell you the NASB plus Amplified taken together are just fine.
    blessings in Christ,
    a brother from the old Greek church.

    PS kjv/nkjv plus amlified also a good alternative.

    PPS any byzantine tree huggers always welcome in my home for tea.

  12. George says:

    forgot to mention: I highly recommend site for your serious study. If you feel the need to look up the original greek or hebrew it offers you that option PLUS the chance to see the line of text in many different version at the touch of a button. When you click on the direct translation button and get the original greek or hebrew you can then click in it in turn and see its occurence in ALL the other verses in the bible which is very helpful in understanding how a specific word was used elsewhere in the scriptures.

    (its all free)

  13. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for the tips — although I have to say that I find the Amplified Bible annoying (bothersome, distracting) because (for the reason stated) it repeats (reiterates) so much (many times) without (absent) analysis (explanation).

    I'll definitely keep the BlueBible in mind.

  14. George says:

    lol! I hear you!

    I understand exactly what you mean but I have been impresssed that alot of their reiterations actually do get you closer to the Greek (and I don't work for the Amplified people honest) . Greek is a very compact language in many ways and I find English simpler in that the words sometimes don't always have a further linguistic depth to them–not to disparage English this is one of its greatest strengths (which is why its the international language of business).

    PS Ive added your site to my christian bookmarks –love the careful and obviously well thought out work you put on here. Its a treausure!


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