We would hope that every person on this planet would have an opportunity to read the Bible without anything coming between them and God's holy Word. Unfortunately, a lot of Bible versions today constitute a rehash of men's ideas because they are doctrinally modified to support the views or beliefs of certain organizations. So, often there can still be an invisible layer of man's religious pomposity coming between you and God's own words, depending upon what Bible version you use.
In 395 AD, the Bible translator Jerome was accused by a heretic of misrepresenting his thoughts through bad translation. In his response (known as Letter LVII: To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating), Jerome stated, "As, however the letter itself shews that no changes have been made in the sense, that nothing has been added, and that no doctrine has been foisted into it, 'obviously their object is understanding to understand nothing;' and while they desire to arraign another's want of skill, they betray their own."
These are the only criteria I have used for evaluating a verse of Scripture in this document: that no changes have been made in the sense, that nothing has been added, and that no doctrine has been foisted into it.
I have made no evaluation on the underlying text used, be it the Consensus Text, the Majority Text, or the Received Text. (I have however docked points in cases when an English translation is based on a non-Greek text, e.g. the Latin Vulgate, and the underlying text disagrees with the Greek.) Further, I have committed no prejudice against dynamic equivalency translation compared to formal equivalency translation. To my mind, these are matters of human opinion and I honestly cannot foist my views upon someone else or take them into account in this evaluation.
If you are interested in my views on these topics, I direct you to these articles:
Textual Choices and Bible Versions
Dynamic Equivalency Examined
I selected for comparison verses that are usually modified on the grounds of the personal theologies of the translators. I have attempted to leave my own theology entirely out of the comparisons. I am only comparing the text in the translation to the text in the original languages.
There are a few basic areas that are points of disagreement between denominations. Liberal theologians and Jehovah's Witnesses will often modify verses that would normally clearly support the doctrine of the Trinity. There is division concerning monergism and synergism, that is, whether a person cooperates in justification, or God alone chooses those saved. There is division over baptism and the Lord's Supper, which are considered "ordinances" (laws to follow) in some denominations, and "sacraments" (aspects of the gospel that convey spiritual benefits) in others.
Across all denominations there are people who oppose the Biblical doctrine of repentance and the Biblical order of repentance. The order is very plainly presented in Mark 1:15 ("repent and believe the gospel"). The early writings of many denominations supported this order but today we often see the order flipped (e.g. "faith and repentance") or we see repentance perverted into reforming yourself, or being removed entirely (e.g. "accept Christ").
I started with a rather large list of verses (over 70) used to support both sides of all of the above doctrines, and whittled it down to 25 verses where we actually see doctrinal modifications in a significant number of Bible versions.
The final verse list is Genesis 1:2, Isaiah 7:14, Zechariah 12:10, Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 1:4, Mark 1:15, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, John 6:65, John 14:26, Acts 2:38-39, Acts 5:31, Acts 16:14, Acts 22:16, Romans 2:4, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 5:26, 1 Timothy 4:16, 2 Timothy 2:25, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 3:21, and 2 Peter 3:9.
Because most of these translations are copyrighted, and this article can be perceived as being critical of these translations, we will not be fully quoting any of the Bibles reviewed except for the American Standard Version (the copyright for which is expired). You can look up the verses yourself on a site like www.thebiblegateway.com for the versions you are interested in, and for other versions not covered in this article. It is our hope that our analysis will help you perform your own analysis on versions we have not covered.
We will present the comparison results first, then use the American Standard Version to present a correct rendering of all of the verses, with some explanatory notes that you can use for your own comparisons.
|Bible Version||Score||NT Textual Base|
|American King James Version (AKJV)||25/25, 100%||Textus Receptus|
|American Standard Version (ASV)||25/25, 100%||Westcott-Hort|
|English Revised Version (ERV)||25/25, 100%||Westcott-Hort & Tregelles|
|English Standard Version (ESV)||25/25, 100%||UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28|
|King James 2000 Bible (KJ2000)||25/25, 100%||Textus Receptus|
|King James Bible (KJB)||25/25, 100%||Textus Receptus|
|King James Version (KJV)||25/25, 100%||Textus Receptus|
|New Heart English Bible (NHEB)||25/25, 100%||UBS4|
|Webster's Bible Translation (WBT)||25/25, 100%||Textus Receptus|
|Berean Literal Bible (BLB)||24/25, 96%||Nestle 1904|
|Christian Standard Bible (CSB)||24/25, 96%||Nestle-Aland 28 & UBS5|
|Darby Bible Translation (Darby)||24/25, 96%||Unknown|
|World English Bible (WEB)||24/25, 96%||Majority Text|
|Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT)||23/25, 92%||Majority Text|
|Berean Study Bible (BSB)||23/25, 92%||Nestle 1904|
|Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)||23/25, 92%||Nestle-Aland 27 & UBS4|
|New King James Version (NKJV)||23/25, 92%||Textus Receptus|
|International Standard Version (ISV)||21/25, 84%||Nestle-Aland 27 & UBS4|
|Literal Version (LITV)||21/25, 84%||Textus Receptus|
|New American Bible (NAB)||21/25, 84%||UBS1|
|New American Standard Bible (NASB)||21/25, 84%||Nestle-Aland 26|
|NET Bible (NET)||20/25, 80%||Nestle-Aland 27|
|New International Version (NIV)||20/25, 80%||"Eclectic" based on Nestle-Aland/UBS|
|Jubilee 2000 Bible (Jubilee)||19/25, 76%||Juan Pérez de Pineda's Spanish translation|
|Weymouth New Testament (Weymouth)||19/25, 76%||The Resultant Greek Testament|
|Amplified Bible (AMP)||18/25, 72%||American Standard Version|
|Geneva Bible (GNV)||18/25, 72%||Textus Receptus|
|Young's Literal Translation (YLT)||18/25, 72%||Textus Receptus|
|New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)||16/25, 64%||UBS3|
|Aramaic Bible in Plain English (ABPE)||14/25, 56%||Syriac Peshitta|
|Douay-Rheims (D-R)||14/25, 56%||Clementine Vulgate|
|GOD'S WORD® Translation (GW)||12/25, 48%||Consensus Text, unspecified editions|
|New World Translation (NWT)||12/25, 48%||Westcott-Hort|
|New Living Translation (NLT)||10/25, 40%||Nestle-Aland (edition unknown)|
|Contemporary English Version (CEV)||7/25, 28%||UBS (edition unknown)|
|The Message (MSG)||6/25, 24%||Consensus Text, unspecified editions|
The scoring is the result of my analysis in the section Correct Translations of the Test Verses. I would highly recommend versions scoring 100%, and recommend versions scoring 90% up. I would have reservations about any versions scoring under 90% because there are such better options available in a variety of readability levels; and I would recommend strictly avoiding any version falling under 80%. I have tried to keep my personal theology out of the analysis; however, if you do not agree with my analysis of a version's translation, you may adjust your scores according to your personal preferences.
An explanation of the NT Textual Base column is included at the end of this article, after the section on the correct translations of the test verses.
In this section we will share the American Standard Version translation of each of the test verses, and note some ways that translators got them wrong.
Genesis 1:2, "And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
The versions failing in their translation of this verse are NIV, YLT, CEV, GNV, MSG, NAB, NRSV, and NWT. The NIV and GNV fail simply on the basis of unnecessarily sloppy translation; presumably for English style reasons, they didn't say darkness was on the "surface" of the deep although it is in the text. I failed YLT for a bizarre word choice of "fluttering" for the word often translated "moving", "moved upon", "hovered over." The CEV and MSG fail for a translation sort of unrecognizable from the original text; this is practically always the case with the Message. The NAB, NRSV and NWT refer to the Spirit as a "wind." This is a possible, almost obtusely literal translation of the word, it just isn't the way it has ever been translated in the history of the church.
Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
MSG, the NRSV, and the NWT fail on this verse. One may think I am being too strict here, again, in insisting on "virgin" as the correct translation over "maiden." The term being translated means a marriageable young woman, which, according to the moral standards of the Old Testament, means that young woman is a virgin (see Deuteronomy 22). It was translated "virgin" in the LXX (the Septuagint) as early as 250 BC, and the correctness of this translation is confirmed in the New Testament at Matthew 1:23, where it is quoted.
Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born."
GW, CEV, LITV, NAB, NRSV and NWT fail on this verse. What is spectacular about this verse is, the LORD is speaking, and He says of the crucifixion, "they will look unto me whom they have pierced." This Old Testament verse has all three persons of the Trinity displayed as "the spirit of grace and supplication" is poured out on them.
In the past I have been a little pickier with this verse than the Hebrew text really allows. I prefer the definite article for "the spirit", but the Hebrew text just doesn't have an article there, so I allow a pass if it says "a spirit." But I do not accept a translation that omits "on me." The English Standard Version has a somewhat weird translation in that it says at this point, "on me, on him who was pierced," but I accept that because this verse is quoted in John 19:37 as "they will look on him whom they pierced." I am okay with it as long as the "on me" is not lost in this verse.
Matthew 26:26-28, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins."
The versions failing on this passage are the Douay-Rheims, the New American Bible, and the New World Translation. The two Roman Catholic versions do not say "which is poured out" but "which shall be poured out". This I think may be in reference to their notion that the Mass is a renewal of the sacrifice of Christ. It's not in the Greek. The Vulgate has it, so perhaps it is actually an accurate translation in the case of the Douay-Rheims, but in this case the Vulgate is not accurate to the Greek either, so I'm counting it as an error. Richard Challoner compared the Greek to the Latin in his revision of the Douay-Rheims, and let this one go through.
In the case of the Jehovah's Witnesses, they are memorialists, and they translate Christ as saying "this represents my body" which again is not what the Greek says. I recognize that all evangelicals believe that is what Jesus meant by these words, but evangelicals don't find it necessary to modify the text of Scripture to bar any other interpretations.
Mark 1:4, "John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins."
NLT, Douay-Rheims, Weymouth, YLT, GNV, MSG, and NWT fail on this verse. NLT says that people are baptized to "show" that they had repented and been forgiven, a concept not present in the text. Douay-Rheims replaces the term "repentance" with "penance"; they are not the same thing. Weymouth similarly says that John came to baptize "the penitent," which would obviate the call to repentance (in other words, it would not be necessary to call people who were already penitent to repentance). YLT replaces "repentance" with "reformation." GNV replaces "repentance" with "amendment of life." MSG replaces "repentance" with "life change." NWT says "baptism [in symbol] of repentance", which again, evangelicals believe but don't see a need to change the Bible text to support it.
Mark 1:15, "and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel."
NLT, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, YLT, CEV, and MSG fail on this verse. NLT says "repent of your sins" which is close, but the text just says "repent;" it actually does better in the places where it says "turn from sin and turn to God." GW says, in place of "repent", "change the way you think and act", as if this was something you could do without God's help. YLT similarly tells the reader to "reform" rather than to "repent," and MSG tells the reader, "Change your life." The Aramaic Bible in Plain English has an entirely different problem, it says "time is coming to an end," when rather the text means something more like "the time has come."
Mark 14:22-24, "And as they were eating, he took bread, and when he had blessed, he brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take ye: this is my body. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."
The Douay-Rheims, the New American Bible, and the New World Translation all fail on this passage in the same way they failed on Matthew 26:26-28 above.
Luke 22:19-20, "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, [even] that which is poured out for you."
Even though this is the same topic as Mark 14:22-24 and Matthew 26:26-28, more Bible versions get this one wrong: the NLT, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Douay-Rheims, CEV, and NWT. The NLT adds the word "as a sacrifice" to the text, which isn't present and presents Christ's blood as if it were just another sacrifice. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English and Douay-Rheims both replace "is" in "is poured out" with "shall be." This may be too strict, but CEV says "eat this as a way of remembering me", which is different from "in remembrance of me." NWT consistently replaces "is" with "means" in passages concerning the Lord's Supper.
John 6:65, "And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father."
NIV, NET, GW, and CEV fail on this one. NIV says no one can come to the Father unless he "enables" them--which means it isn't "given", they're just enabled to come unto Him themselves. The NET says no one can come to the Father unless He "allows" them to come--once again, it is not "given". GW says people cannot come to Jesus unless "God provides the way." CEV says people cannot come to Jesus unless the Father "makes you want to."
John 14:26, "But the Comforter, [even] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you."
The Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Weymouth, AMP, CEV, and MSG fail on this one. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English refers to the Holy Spirit as the Redeemer of the Accursed (this is Jesus' job). Weymouth says the Father will send the Holy Spirit "at my request" rather than "in my name." AMP says the Holy Spirit will "help you remember," not "bring to your remembrance"; so in the AMP the Holy Spirit is only aiding human recollection. CEV says the Father will send the Holy Spirit "to take my place", which is modalism, a serious Christological heresy.
Acts 2:38-39, "And Peter [said] unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him."
NLT, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, Douay-Rheims, AMP, GNV, MSG, NRSV, and NWT all fail in their translation of these verses. NLT presents "repent" as "repent of your sins and turn to God", which has us ridding ourselves of our sins absent of God's power in the believer. The Aramaic Bible says "return to God" rather than "repent", and inserts the name Jehovah that isn't in the text. GW renders "repent" as "turn to God and change the way you think and act." Douay-Rheims says "do penance" instead of "repent." AMP says "Repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept and follow Jesus as the Messiah]" and also adds "all who are far away [including the Gentiles]," which was not yet revealed to Apostle Peter. GNV replaces "repent" with "amend your lives." MSG replaces "repent" with "change your life." NRSV tells us to repent and be baptized "so that your sins may be forgiven" (not certainly forgiven--they only "may be" forgiven). NWT inserts the name of Jehovah in Acts 2:39 where it does not appear in the original language text.
Acts 5:31, "Him did God exalt with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins."
GW, YLT, CEV, MSG, NRSV, and NWT fail on this verse. GW says Jesus will lead the people of Israel to change the way they think and act, which is different from giving them repentance. YLT recasts repentance to "reformation." CEV strangely says that giving Jesus this position would cause the Israelites to turn back to him. MSG recasts repentance as "a changed life." NRSV says that He "might" give repentance to Israel, which is not accurate to the text. The NWT changes "Prince" to "Chief Agent" without textual warrant.
Acts 16:14, "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul."
A lot of versions fail on this one: NIV, NLT, BSB, NASB, NET, GW, AMP, CEV, MSG, NRSV and NWT. The text says the Lord opened her heart to give heed or pay attention to Paul's message. It does not say the Lord opened her heart to respond to, to accept, to make her willing to pay attention, to give her a trusting heart, or to listen eagerly to Paul's message. The NWT fails because it inserts the name Jehovah without warrant from the original text; otherwise the NWT was correct.
Acts 22:16, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name."
NLT, HCSB, AMP, ALT, CEV, GNV, MSG and NWT all fail on this verse by inserting the word "by" before "calling on his name" without warrant from the original text. The term "wash" connects to "be baptized" (which is a washing), and the term "by" is inserted to force the interpretation that it is "calling on his name" that washes away the sins rather than the baptism. Interestingly the CSB, the update of the HCSB, corrects this error.
So in pointing out this error, am I supporting "ex opere operato" baptism, that is, a baptism that is effective regardless of the faith of the subject? No; what I am saying is you need a stronger argument than a doctrinally biased translation, because even a moderately educated opponent will be able to say the word "by" should not be there in this verse. Where I would go with this is to point out that Paul had obviously already repented, so he did not need to be told again to repent; so what Ananias said to Paul is really identical to what Peter told the crowd in Acts 2:38.
Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
NLT, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, Douay-Rheims, YLT, CEV, MSG, and NRSV fail on this verse. Some substitute other meanings in place of "repentance" (NLT, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, Douay-Rheims, MSG, YLT). The others tamper with "leadeth thee to repentance." CEV removes God's leading entirely, while NRSV says God's goodness is "meant to lead you" to repentance, in other words, it may or may not.
1Corinthians 6:9, "Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."
There are various ways versions miss the boat in translating this passage.
Using the a different term in place of "unrighteous" or "unjust", which is not precisely the same thing: NIV, NLT, CEV, NRSV.
Using incomplete definitions instead of the precise theological terms "sanctified" and "justified": NLT, CEV, GW. (Note: I have accepted NWT's "declared righteous" in place of "justified.")
Failing to distinguish practicing homosexuals from celibate homosexuals: BLB, NASB, ISV, GW, WEB, CEV, NKJV, LITV.
Using some word other than "washed", or explanatory text to eliminate baptism as an interpretation of "washed": AMP, ALT, CEV, NLT.
Weymouth translated the term for a practicing homosexual to "guilty of unnatural crime." The Message was sort of a babbling without much connection to the text.
I have accepted various translations for "effeminate" because it is something of a slang term in the Greek with an obscure meaning; "effeminate" itself is probably the best, but I have not objected when it has been lumped into practicing homosexuals.
1Corinthians 11:23-29, "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body."
This is another text about the Lord's Supper, and NLT, BSB, NASB, CSB, HCSB, ISV, NET, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, D-R, Weymouth, AMP, CEV, MSG and NWT all get some aspect of it wrong.
Several versions use some word other than "discern" in "discern not the body." NLT uses "honoring." NASB uses "judging." BSB, CSB, HCSB, ISV, GW, and AMP all use "recognizing" or "recognize." NET uses "careful regard." Aramaic Bible in Plain English uses "distinguishing." Weymouth uses "estimate".
CEV substitutes a different concept altogether: "if you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord." (I suspect this is also where NASB is going when it uses the word "judge.") MSG eliminates the concept from its rendering.
The Douay-Rheims again uses "shall be delivered for you" which I suspect is to support the idea of renewing the sacrifice of Christ in the Supper. NWT again uses "this means" rather than "this is."
Ephesians 1:13-14, "in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,-- in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of [God's] own possession, unto the praise of his glory."
NIV, NLT, NET, Douay-Rheims, and NRSV fail on this one. The translators of these versions don't like the term "sealed", because that implies excluding the possibility of reversal or loss. Instead it is portrayed as being just a marking, without the implication of protection and preservation. In essence you're only getting half of the meaning of the underlying word.
Ephesians 5:26, "that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word,"
NLT, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, YLT, CEV, LITV, NRSV and MSG fail on this one. NLT omits "water." Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, CEV, unnaturally separates "water" and "word." YLT obscures "word" by rendering it "saying." NRSV renders it "cleansing" as if it were an ongoing process rather than a finished action. LITV changes "with" to "in"; we accept "by" as a valid rendering of the underlying word. Why is it important for so many versions to alter this? It's because Augustine defined a "sacrament" as the Word of God coupled with an earthly element--water in baptism, bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. The concept is plainly seen in this verse, unless it is obscured in translation. The very concept is removed in the MSG rendering.
1Timothy 4:16, "Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee."
NLT, NASB, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Jubilee, Douay-Rheims, and The Message all fail on this one. The NLT changes "save" to "for the sake of your salvation." NASB changes "save" to "ensure salvation". Aramaic Bible in Plain English changes "save" to "bring life to your soul" (which is regeneration, something God does, not something we do). Jubilee replaces "continue" with "be diligent." Douay-Rheims changes "continue" to "be earnest." The MSG translation is hard to connect to the underlying text, which is often the case with it.
2Timothy 2:25, "in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth,"
NLT, ISV, NET, GW, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Jubilee, CEV, GNV, MSG, and NKJV fail on this verse. NLT replaces "give them repentance" with "change their hearts." ISV and GW say God will "allow" them to repent rather than "give" them repentance. CEV, NET, GNV, NKJV, Jubilee, and Aramaic Bible in Plain English obscure the fact that the repentance God gives leads them to the knowledge of the truth. The Message obscures all of these things.
Hebrews 10:22, "let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water,"
NLT, Jubilee, CEV, GNV and MSG fail on this verse. NLT changes "draw near" to going "right into the presence of God." Jubilee changes "sprinkled" to "purified" and loses the Old Testament parallels. CEV's translation here is egregiously bad. Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having our body washed with pure water (baptism) are passive things to us; they are not our work, but God's work. CEV manages to turn both into our work, with "let's keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water." GNV simply says "our hearts pure from an evil conscience," omitting the sprinkling and the washing. MSG seemingly eliminates this entire verse.
1Peter 1:5, "who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
NLT, ISV, GW, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Jubilee, Weymouth, CEV, and MSG fail on this verse. NLT changes "revealed" to "for all to see" and changes "last time" to "last day." ISV and Weymouth change "last time" to "end of this era"; GW similarly changes it to "the end of time." Aramaic Bible in Plain English separates the power of God and faith, which removes the concept that God preserves faith. Jubilee has a very strange translation that removes God's power and changes "salvation" into "saving health." CEV's translation is sort of a scrambling of the word order, changing "last time" to "last day", and introducing "just as he always planned to do" rather randomly with no textual support in this verse. MSG is only tenously connected to this text at all.
1Peter 3:21, "which also after a true likeness doth now save you, [even] baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;"
Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Jubilee, Douay-Rheims, Darby, Weymouth, AMP, CEV, GNV, LITV, and MSG all fail on this verse. "Interrogation" here in the ASV translates a word that means "an inquiry." We've accepted "answer" here as well, because the inquiry is answered. We are not accepting wildly different translations, though. Aramaic Bible in Plain English changes it to "confess God with a good conscience." Jubilee changes it to "giving testimony of a good conscience toward God". Douay-Rheims changes it to "examination of a good conscience toward God"; Darby changes it to a "demand" of a good conscience; Weymouth changes it to "craving" a good conscience; GNV changes it to "confidently demanding" and messes severely with the word order of the verse; CEV and MSG remove the inquiry from the text. AMP redefines baptism as "an expression of a believer's new life in Christ", a concept found nowhere in Scripture. LITV gives "antitype" the definition of "type", so baptism is presented as a figure rather than the fulfillment of the figure of the flood from the previous verse.
2Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Aramaic Bible in Plain English, GW, Douay-Rheims, YLT, CEV, MSG and NWT all fail on this verse. Aramaic Bible in Plain English inserts the name "Jehovah" where it does not exist in the text, and changes "repentance" to "conversion." GW adds the word "opportunity" and changes "repentance" to "turn to him and change the way they think and act." Douay-Rheims changes "repentance" to "penance." YLT changes "repentance" to "reformation." CEV changes "repentance" to "turn from sin" which is closer but still incomplete. MSG speaks of "giving everyone space and time to change" rather than repentance.
For some people the text the New Testament was translated from is a very important criterion in selecting their Bibles. Here is a brief description of each text noted above as an NT Textual Base.
The majority of Bibles today are based on the most recent editions of Nestle-Aland and UBS (United Bible Society) texts. The primary difference between the Nestle-Aland and UBS is that the UBS is aimed at translators, focusing on variants that are important for the meaning, while the Nestle-Aland includes more variants for textual criticism (the science of determining the reading that is most accurate to the original writing).
The Nestle-Aland and UBS texts are what is meant if you encounter the term "consensus text". Every manuscript discovered is considered by the editors of these texts, so they are informed by all known Greek manuscripts. These are not "competing texts", they are essentially the same text with different emphases for different purposes. To illustrate this, the Aland in Nestle-Aland is Kurt Aland, who has been on the UBS committee from the first edition in 1966 all the way to the current fifth edition, published in 2014.
Some Bible translators above do not specify what editions of these texts they have used other than to say "best modern texts"; I have written "Consensus text, unspecified editions" in those cases, but they would be some combination of Nestle-Aland and/or UBS editions.
The Westcott-Hort text used in a few of these Bibles is a predecessor to the Nestle-Aland and UBS texts. It is basically a compilation of only two major manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Siniaticus, with a small number of other manuscripts compared. The Darby Bible was completed before the Westcott-Hort text, but judging from his writings, was probably based on his personal comparisons of the same two main manuscripts.
Eberhard Nestle was a pioneer in doing the work that is now done by Nestle-Aland, establishing a main text and a textual apparatus for recording alternate readings and the source manuscripts. He began with the texts of Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, and Weymouth. (Weymouth's text, "The Resultant Greek Testament", underlies his "Weymouth's New Testament", scored above.) Nestle dropped this text from his apparatus in 1901 and replaced it with the text of Bernhard Weiss. The makers of the Berean Bibles (peculiarly, in my opinion) selected Nestle's 1904 edition as the most accurate Greek text, eschewing his later editions which were more scientifically advanced as his methods improved.
Some of the Bibles on this list pre-date all of these modern critical texts. Other modern Bible translators prefer earlier texts either for sentimental reasons, theological reasons concerning God's providential preservation of the text, or because of a distrust or rejection of the techniques used in making the modern Consensus text.
The Majority Text is a modern example of this. Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad believed that, because the vast majority of Greek manuscripts exhibit a Byzantine text type, that these represented the best, providentially preserved witness to the originals. (By contrast the Consensus text is distinctly Alexandrian, because the oldest known manuscripts are of the Alexandrian type. For a more full discussion of this topic, please see Textual Choices and Bible Versions).
The oldest text used in the Bible versions listed above is the Textus Receptus, or in English, the Received Text, originally compiled by the Catholic theologian Erasmus in 1516, then later maintained by Robert Estienne (also known as "Stephanus"), then Theodore Beza. There are later editors of the text, but the King James Version is based on selections from these three editors, and most versions using this text today are based on the King James Version.
The Textus Receptus was based on a small number of manuscripts; Erasmus used 6, and Estienne used 15. For a time, Estienne also maintained the Latin Vulgate. Later in life, Estienne converted to Reformed Protestantism and his last edition of the Textus Receptus, in 1551, was made in Geneva. (In this edition, Estienne introduced our modern chapter and verse divisions.)
The Textus Receptus was used to translate the Luther Bible (1534), the Tyndale Bible (1534), the Coverdale Bible (1535), Matthew's Bible (1537), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), and the King James Version (1611 and 1769). Therefore many people consider it to be the text of the Reformation, but the Reformation would have happened regardless of whether the Greek text used had a Byzantine character (like the Textus Receptus) or an Alexandrian character.
Jerome, the original translator of the Vulgate, was aware of the Byzantine and Alexandrian text types, even in the 300's, and interestingly, his preference was for Byzantine readings. A later editor of the Vulgate preferred Alexandrian readings and as a result, the Vulgate (and the English translations based on it) have been sort of a slightly Byzantine-leaning hybrid of the two text types.
A few of the above Bible versions are translations of translations and not directly from an original Greek text. The Douay-Rheims is one example. It is based on the Clementine Vulgate, which is actually newer than the Textus Receptus. It is a post-Reformation version of the text. During the Reformation, Pope Pius IV started a revision of the Vulgate, which was later botched by Pope Sixtus V when he took over for the translators. The Sistine Vulgate was found to have egregious errors, and Pope Clement VIII created a project to quickly repair it. The result was the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate, sometimes called the Clementine Vulgate.
The other ones reviewed that are translations of translations are the Amplified Bible (an expansion on the American Standard Version that sadly destroys the ASV's legendary accuracy), the Jubilee 200 Bible, a translation of a Spanish translation for which I do not know the underlying text, and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English which is based on the Syriac Peshitta. It is often impossible for me to determine if these translations are true to their underlying text, so I have evaluated these ones according to the American Standard Version.Comparing Bible Versions is Copyright © 1999, 2007, 2013, 2017 by Compass Distributors