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Question and Answer

With so many versions of the Bible, how do I know which is the right or best one?

The most important issue in choosing a translation of the Bible is to find the one you will enjoy reading and understanding. It may be helpful to know two basic approaches to translation. The first approach uses formal equivalence, translating in a word for word or literal way (New American Standard Version, English Standard Version). But since the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, this approach sometimes produces a clunky translation that doesn't always capture the correct meaning of ancient idioms.

The second approach is called dynamic equivalence (New Living Translation, New International Version), translating thought for thought, bringing figures of speech into modern language, and making the text clear and readable. The downside is that it may be more difficult to assess the original author’s meaning.

There is another method which tries to strike a middle road (Christian Standard Bible, Tree of Life Version). Such translations are generally more readable. For Bible study, I suggest using a formal equivalence translation; for fast reading, I would use dynamic equivalence. For my personal Bible reading and study, I find the combination of both approaches most helpful.

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible teacher on Moody Radio’s Open Line, answering listener Bible questions on over 200 stations nationwide across Moody Radio. The son of Holocaust survivors, he was raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a high school student, Michael became a follower of Jesus the Messiah and began teaching the Bible almost immediately. He is the author of Understanding the Arab Israeli Conflict and The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? He is the co-editor of the Moody Bible Commentary, a commentary on the whole Bible by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael is a regular contributor to the Day of Discovery television program and appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons who call and write all the time. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill., and enjoy leading study groups to Israel and hiking with their two collies.

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