The Dallas Morning News has a brief story on Bible translation titled “Christian consumer’s guide to the Bible(s),” and they mistakenly categorize The Living Bible as a translation. It is not.
When a Bible is rendered from one language into another, we call it translation. Translation happens anytime a scholar or a group of scholars reads the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew originals and then translates them into a receptor language (like English in our case). There are two basic philosophies of Bible translation: (1) Formal Equivalence, which is a word-for-word approach to translating, and (2) Dynamic Equivalence, which is a thought-for-thought approach. All translations of the Scriptures fall somewhere on the spectrum between Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence.
But not all Bible versions are translations like the ones in the diagram above. Some versions are paraphrases, and they are off of the spectrum because they are not rendering the Bible from the original tongues into a receptor language. The Living Bible, for instance, is a paraphrase of another English versionâ€”the American Standard Version. Other paraphrases, like The Message, are so interpretive that the result sits very loose from the Greek and Hebrew that it renders.
So for those of you who may have read the piece in The Dallas Morning News and who might be looking for a Bible, remember that paraphrases like The Living Bible are not technically translations at all. Other paraphrases that do render the original text (like The Message and the New Living Translation) may have a place, but I would not recommend them for serious Bible study.
NASB = New American Standard Bible
ESV = English Standard Version
KJV/NKJV = King James Version / New King James Version
RSV/NRSV = Revised Standard Version /New Revised Standard Version
NIV = New International Version
TNIV = Today’s New International Version
NLT = New Living Translation
CEV = Contemporary English Version
GNB = Good News Bible
NTME = New Testament in Modern English
TLB = The Living Bible
TM = The Message
TSB = The Street Bible