Christian Bible Translations

Fast Facts: Christian Bible Translations
Faith(s) Christianity

Christian Bible translations are English-language versions of the Old Testament and New Testament. Bible translations may use different editions of Hebrew and Greek texts, target different readers, and aim for varying degrees of precision. Recent studies find that 55% of English Bible readers prefer the King James Version (KJV) while 19% favor the New International Version (NIV).1 Bible translations are often placed in one of three categories:

  1. "Dynamic equivalence" - this isn't the most precise translation, but it often produced the smoothest English reading. The translation philosophy is sometimes referred to as "thought-for-thought" or "phrase-for-phrase" or "sentence-for-sentence." (Examples: New International Version and New American Bible.)

  2. "Formal equivalence" - this translation philosophy is considered by many to produce the most precise English Bibles because it aims to render the original languages "word-for-word." This approach, however, often results in English readings that aren't as smooth because the priority is on retaining as close as possible the words, and the word order, of the original languages. (Examples: the King James Version and the New American Standard Bible.)

  3. "Paraphrase" - this translation philosophy seeks to restate the meaning of the original text, sometimes with modern English expressions. It does not prioritize the precise translation of the original languages. This results translations at reading levels as low as sixth grade. (Examples: The Message and the New Living Translation.)

1: "The Most Popular and Fastest Growing Bible Translation Isn't What You Think," Christianity Today (3/13/14)


Article Info

Title Christian Bible Translations
Last UpdatedMarch 12, 2021
MLA Citation “Christian Bible Translations.” 12 Mar. 2021. Web. Accessed 22 Jan. 2022. <>