Most accurate version
Wayne,Thank you for your question. It is an appropriate one to ask since accuracy is the most important thing to look for in a Bible version. Many have the same question that you do.
In your humble opinion which version of the Bible is the most accurate? I currently enjoy the English Standard Version. I enjoy your blog and look forward to sharing it with others.
I have been studying English Bible versions for many years. I study them because I love God's Word and I enjoy seeing how different Bible version teams word their translations.
Biblical scholarship has continued to advance through the centuries. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, additional New Testament Greek manuscripts, and better insights into the lexicography (vocabulary study) and syntax of the biblical languages have all improved our understanding of what the original (through the copies available) biblical texts meant. There have been advances in biblical exegesis and literary criticism of the Bible so that we have better tools for getting a more accurate understanding of the biblical text.
This is a wonderful time to be alive and studying God's Word. There are probably more well qualified biblical scholars alive and doing good quality research and publication than at any other time in history. Several of the most recent Bible versions have benefitted from such research.
So, which is the most accurate English Bible version today? I don't think we can answer that question by listing just one single version. The NET Bible may word a some passage(s) more accurately than any other version. The ESV team may have given us the most accurate wording in some other passage(s). The HCSB team focused on accuracy and probably has worded some passages in a way that may be more accurate than wordings in some other versions. The NRSV is highly regarded by many biblical scholars as an accurate version good for serious Bible study. There is an objective accuracy that pervades that version. There could be some passages in the NRSV which some could consider more accurate than wordings in other versions. I have found some of the wordings in the ISV (International Standard Version) to highlight "tenses" of Greek verbs so well, that the ISV may be more accurate in that area, and even others, than some other versions.
The truth is that we probably have the greatest number of accurate English versions available today than at any other time in the history of the English Bible.
I don't think any exhaustive objective (well, as objective as one can be when evaluating accuracy, which can be a subjective enterprise since exegetes often do not agree on the meaning of a passage) study has been made ranking current English versions in terms of accuracy. I did some small studies like this, trying to evaluate accuracy in the main English versions as objectively as I could. The results are posted on my webpage Studies evaluating English Bible versions. Click on the link from the title of the webpage, and then study the files in the Accuracy section. Be aware that I often define accuracy in terms of whether or not the readers of a version can get the accurate meaning from the translation wording. I call this communicative accuracy. Some only define accuracy from the viewpoint of the exegetes and translators. So not everyone will agree with my conclusions in my accuracy studies.
This is starting to get wordy, as many of my posts do, and I have just gotten the breakfast call, so I must end this post. I must, in conclusion, assure you that if you find a Bible version that you like, you will probably also be finding an accurate version, unless your preference is for a paraphrase such as the stimulating, but sometimes inaccurate, paraphrase called The Message.
Feel free to ask any followup questions you need to either by posting them in the comments to this blog (you can sign in an "anonymous" if you do not wish others to know your name or email address) or, again, by email.
Categories: Bible translation, translation accuracy