Different Bible Versions

Do you ever wonder why we have different versions of the same Bible?  Here are some explanations:

A. Primary Source

More technical differences between versions are caused by the translators using different families or groups of Greek manuscripts as their primary source. For instance, differences can be seen in comparisons with the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV) of the passage 1 John 5:7-8 and their treatment of the ending of the Gospel of Mark.  Variation can be anywhere from extra words in a verse, to the actual meaning of the verse being changed.  With the help of proper interpretation, the fundamental doctrines of Christianity will not be negatively impacted.

B. Language 

Language is another factor.  Here the scholar translates from Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic to English.  Naturally, if you have 10 persons who would translate the Bible from English to Spanish today, none of the 10 translations would be the same word for word.  The same goes for the ancient Greek language to modern English which has hundreds of scholars involved.

C. Methodology

Another major reason for the differences is that the translators used varying methods or theories of Bible translation. Two major methods are formal and dynamic equivalence.

Formal translation is also called literal or word-for-word translation.  As the name suggests, it tries to keep the same words and word order used by the original manuscripts.

Dynamic equivalence translation is also called functional or thought for thought translation.  This method is more concerned with expressing the meaning of the original text to the modern reader rather than the the exact word that was used in the original.


Example: Genesis 31:35a

 NASB (formal translation) 

And she said to her father, "Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me." 

(dynamic equivalence); 

    Rachel said to her father, "Donít be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; Iím having my period."

Notice how the NIV changed the wording from the original but tried to show what it should mean to us today.  There is no exact line between these two methods of translation, rather we measure the degree of how much a particular version uses the methods.

Paraphrase, such as the Living Bible© is another method of translation, but I can consider this more closer to a commentary than a translation.