List of Modern English Bible Versions
04 Mar 2016
*King James Version (1611, KJV) revised in 1769
In 1603, James I, the king of England authorized the Bible to be translated. This became known as the authorized KJV. For more about this translation see our article entitled: Guide to Bible Translations – Part One. It is a literal/formal translation type using the “Textus Receptus” manuscript. The KJV has a beauty of style that is rarely matched. Its strength is also its weakness in the archaic out-of-date language it uses. The many revisions to the authorized KJV became standardized in 1769. This revised version is know as the standard KJV.
American Standard Version (1901, ASV)
The American revision of the KJV is a literal/formal translation type using the Westcott-Hort and Textus Receptus manuscripts. Its weakness and lack of popularity came from the inattention of style and rhythm in the language as compared with the KJV. It was a more scholarly work than the KJV, with the translators having a better grasp of the Hebrew and a more accurate Greek text.
Twentieth Century New Testament (1901, TCNT) revised in 1904
A private group used Westcott and Hort’s edition of the Greek new testament from 1881 to provide a plain English version suitable for young people.
*The New Testament in Modern Speech (1903, NTMS)
This was translated by a Greek scholar named Richard F. Weymouth. The Weymouth version was known for its contemporary English usage and attention to accuracy of the original biblical Greek language (definite article and verb tenses).
The Worrell New Testament (1904)
A moderate revision of the ASV by A. S. Worrell. Verbs and participles are rendered more literally by Worrell.
*Thompson Chain Reference Bible (1908)
A study Bible with a chain linking system of topics by Frank C. Thompson. The Thompson Bible has over 4000 chains to reference, as well as, comprehensive Bible helps. Over 4 million Thompson Bibles have been sold.
*The Scofield Study Bible (1909) revised 1917
An annotated Bible by Cyrus Scofield. A Bible with a commentary around the text instead of in a separate volume and a unique cross-referencing system.
A New Translation of the Bible (1928, MNT)
Moffatt’s New Translation started with the new testament in 1913 and added the old testament in 1924. James Moffatt shocked some with his unique expressions but delivered the meaning with great clarity. Moffatt took great liberties as a translator, but produced one of the lasting versions for readability.
The Bible: An American Translation (1935, AAT)
In 1923 Edgar J. Goodspeed of the University of Chicago Translated the new testament in a work called The New Testament: An American Translation. He tried to provide a version free of British English and expressions. In 1927, The Old Testament: An American Translation was added and in 1938 the work was completed by adding the Apocrypha.
The New Testament in the Language of the People (1937, NTLP)
Charles B. Williams produced an amplified wording new testament. He gave more fuller meaning to the delicate shades of the Greek verb tenses.
Knox Bible (1949, KNOX)
Ronald Knox was an English priest commissioned in 1940 to translate a new version for Catholic readers. At the time, all Catholic versions had to be based on the Latin Vulgate. But Knox paid attention to the Hebrew and Greek as well. He finished the new testament in 1945, followed by the old testament in 1949. A new edition of the Knox version should be completed in 2010.
Revised Standard Version (1952, RSV)
The Revised Standard Version came about as a revision to the KJV, the RV, and the ASV. It was widely accepted by the English-speaking world and adopted by Protestants, Roman Catholics, and the Greek Orthodox Church. It is more formal in translation type using the 17th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text and the Masoretic Hebrew. In 1966 the RSV – Catholic edition Bible was printed.
*The Daily Study Bible (1954)
William Barclay, a professor at the University of Glasgow, wanted to make the best Biblical scholarship available to the average reader. The result was a set of 17 commentaries and Barclay’s own translation of the Bible.
*The New Testament in Modern English (1958, NTME)
The Phillips New Testament is an excellent paraphrase version by J. B. Phillips. A revised edition was released in 1972, but many prefer the original version.
*Wuest Expanded Translation of the New Testament (1959, WET)
Kenneth S. Wuest was a professor of new testament Greek at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. From 1956 thru 1959, he translated an amplified version. Unlike Williams’ NTLP, Wuest expanded the meaning of all parts of speech from the original Greek. This is an excellent resource, and one that I recommend.
The Berkeley Version in Modern English (1959, BV)
A version for our people today in the language they think and live.
Dake Annotated Reference Bible (1963)
A study Bible by the controversial Finis J. Dake. The Dake Bible took seven years to complete with over 35,000 personal commentary and notes.
*The Amplified Bible (1965, AMP)
The Amplified Bible includes additional words in the text that would normally be found in margins or footnotes. It attempts to add meaning by expanding the text. This is a good resource.
The Jerusalem Bible (1966, JB)
The Jerusalem Bible was originally a French translation of the Bible. In 1966 it was developed into an English version. During translation the Hebrew and Greek texts were used not the Latin Vulgate. But, the French version was consulted also. The JB is a Catholic version containing some rather opinionated notes. However, it is a scholarly production with a high degree of literary skill.
New American Bible (1970, NAB)
The NAB was a revision of the Douay Bible for American Catholic readers. It used the Latin Vulgate, Hebrew and Greek texts for translation.
New English Bible (1970, NEB)
The NEB is a British translation intended to be a thought-for-thought translation that borderlines a paraphrase version in places. The translators sometimes rendered the same Hebrew or Greek word with different English words. This causes difficulty in detailed word studies for those who cannot use the Hebrew or Greek texts. An example is the NEB using one word, “devil or devils,” in translating the word satan, as well as, the word demons. These are clearly two different words in the Greek text.
*New American Standard Bible (1971, NASB or NAS)
The New American Standard Bible is the most literal, word-for-word translation to date and my preferred version. The NAS is highly accurate to the original languages especially considering some of the more modern free translations or paraphrases such as the Living Bible. The NAS was translated by a group of 54 scholars over an eleven year period using the most dependable Hebrew and Greek texts available.
The Living Bible (1971, TLB)
The Living Bible is a paraphrase of the ASV by Kenneth N. Taylor. He wanted to put the Bible in a language his children could understand. It is one of the most readable contemporary interpretations and very popular. It has sold more than 40 million copies with all the proceeds going to charity.
The Good News Bible (1976, GNB or GNT)
The Good News Bible is a thought-for-thought translation by the American Bible Society. It is widely used by children and those new to the English language. It employs a free style often at the expense of accuracy to the original languages. The GNB is written in a simple, everyday language style with the focus on ease of reading.
The New International Version (1978, NIV)
The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation. It is one of the top ten selling Bibles. Perhaps it is one of the better free style translation types.
New King James Version (1982, NKJV)
Over 130 Bible scholars worked on translating the NKJV. It is a literal translation type and a formal revision of the KJV. The translators sought to replace archaic words and grammar with more contemporary language while maintaining that lyrical quality and majestic style which is so highly regarded in the KJV. However, the translators did not take advantage of the more accurate manuscripts and documents that were not available during the time of King James.
*The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible (1984)
Spiros Zodhiates, a biblical language scholar, developed this study Bible. It contains footnotes, grammatical notations, Lexical aids, and the complete Strong’s concordance with reference numbers. It is a valuable tool for one wanting to delve into the original biblical languages. If I could only have one Bible it would be the Hebrew-Greek Key study Bible in the NAS version.
Revised English Bible (1989, REB)
A free translation type with revisions of the NEB of 1970. The translators were very liberal with the text. The REB is primarily a British version.
New Revised Standard Version (1990, NRSV)
The NRSV wanted to take advantage of newer discoveries in the original language manuscripts. They also eliminated archaic language from the text and developed a gender-neutral approach where possible replacing the masculine-gender.
21st Century King James Version (1994, KJ21)
This version is a formal, literal translation type. It is a minor update of the KJV and does not alter the language significantly like the NKJV. It does replace some of the vocabulary that would not make sense to a modern reader.
Contemporary English Version (1995, CEV)
The CEV is a new translation published by the American Bible Society. It is a plain English version designed for a lower reading level.
New Living Translation (1996, NLT) revised 2004
The NLT started out as a revision of the TLB. It soon became a new translation using the Hebrew and Greek texts. It has a free but functional translation style, trying to be faithful to the original texts, but readable too.
*English Standard Version (2001, ESV)
The ESV is a revision of the 1971 RSV. The ESV is a more literal translation than the NIV but not quite like the NASB.
The Message (2002, MSG)
The Message bible is a paraphrase version by Eugene H. Peterson. It was developed over a period of nine years. Although inspiring, it is not a scholarly work and perhaps should be used as a companion with a more formal, literal translation.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004, HCSB)
The translators of the HCSB sought an optimal balance between the thought-for-thought and word-for-word translations. The ancient texts were exhaustively scrutinized at every level (word, phrase, clause, sentence) to determine its original meaning and intention. Then, using the best language tools available, they translated this into as readable a text as possible. The HCSB uses the most accurate manuscripts available. The HCSB is an accurate modern style version.
Today’s New International Version (2005, TNIV)
TNIV is a free style but functional revision of the NIV. It moves toward a more literal version than the NIV. It took ten years to complete the translation by a team of 53 scholars.
*New English Translation (2005, NET)
The NET Bible is a new translation with a formal, literal translation style. The project was conceived to provide a digital copy of an English version on the internet or CD-Rom without cost to the user. The NET Bible has an immense number of footnotes and is available as a free download on the internet, or in a printed edition as well.