Last Sunday Josh spoke to us about translations, and how complicated translating the Bible can be. As you decide which translation is going to be your go-to, we just want to offer a quick summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each one. To do so, we'll also be showing how each translation approaches John 1:1-5.
The New American Standard Version (NASB)
Tim Mackie, creator of 'The Bible Project' calls the NASB "English like it's never been spoken before." The NASB is like the ESV on steroids. Rather than giving space for linguisitc trivialities like comprehensability, it is a cold hard word-for-word translation from the original languages. If you don't know Greek or Hebrew, but would like to read as literal of a translation as possible, this is for you.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. 5 And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.
The English Standard Version (ESV)
The ESV is an elegant, coherent, and straightforward translation. As I mentioned on Sunday, this can create a danger; no translation is sufficient for deep reading by itself. However, this danger exists because the ESV is such a high quality word-for-word translation of the original greek and Hebrew.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The New International Version (NIV)
The NIV is an “accurate, beautiful, clear, and dignified translation suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use.” It was designed to be a thought-for-thought translation rather than a word for word one, so you will notice that it has a much smoother flow. All in all this is a very similar translation to the ESV.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The New Living Translation (NLT)
The NLT sounds better than the other two translations, and that is on purpose. The translators of the NLT focused far more on creating a "dynamic equivalence" translation that emphasizes getting the thoughts of the original text across. The reason for this kind of translating is that a word-for-word translation can oftentimes be difficult to understand, or ever downright misleading as to the meaning of the passage.
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
The Message (MSG)
Bible Gateway summarizes the translation philosophy of the Message like this: "Language changes. New words are formed. Old words take on new meaning. There is a need in every generation to keep the language of the gospel message current, fresh, and understandable—the way it was for its very first readers. That is what The Message seeks to accomplish for contemporary readers. It is a version for our time—designed to be read by contemporary people in the same way as the original koin Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were savored by people thousands of years ago." In other words, this is a translation for devotional Bible reading only, not deeper study. If you're not studying the Bible, it is still very useful for things like understanding the narrative or doing devotions with.
1-2 The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
3-5 Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.