Modern English Bible translations

Many attempts have been made to translate the Bible into modern English, which in this context is defined as the form of English in use after 1800 (different from the linguistic meaning of Modern English).

The New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars.[1] In the United States, 55% of survey respondents who read the Bible reported using the King James Version in 2014, followed by 19% for the New International Version, with other versions used by fewer than 10%.[2]

Development of Modern English Bible versions

The Wessex Gospels were the first translation of the four Gospels in English without accompanying Latin text.[3] The Authorized King James Version of 1611 was sporadically altered until 1769, but was not thoroughly updated until the creation of the Revised Version in 1885; it was not until the Revised Standard Version of 1952 (New Testament in 1948) that a rival to the KJV was composed, nearly 350 years after the KJV was first published. The RSV gained widespread adoption among the mainstream Protestant Churches in America and a Catholic Edition was released in 1962. It was updated as the New Revised Standard Version in 1989.

In the late twentieth century, Bibles increasingly appeared that were much less literal in their approach to translation. In 1946, the New English Bible was initiated in the United Kingdom, intended to enable readers to better understand the King James Bible. In 1958, J. B. Phillips (1906–1982) produced an edition of the New Testament letters in paraphrase, the Letters to Young Churches, so that members of his youth group could understand what the New Testament authors had written. In 1966, Good News for Modern Man, a non-literal translation of the New Testament, was released to wide acceptance. Others followed suit. The Living Bible, released in 1971, was published by its author Kenneth N. Taylor, based on the literal American Standard Version of 1901. Taylor had begun because of the trouble his children had in understanding the literal (and sometimes archaic) text of the King James Bible. His work was at first intended for children, but was later positioned for marketing to high school and college students, as well as adults wishing to better understand the Bible. Like Phillips' version, the Living Bible was a dramatic departure from the King James version.

Despite widespread criticism due to being a paraphrase rather than a translation, the popularity of The Living Bible created a demand for a new approach to translating the Bible into contemporary English called dynamic equivalence, which attempts to preserve the meaning of the original text in a readable way. Realizing the immense benefits of a Bible that was more easily accessible to the average reader, and responding to the criticisms of the Living Bible, the American Bible Society extended the Good News for Modern Man to the Good News Bible (1976) by adding the Old Testament, in this more readable style. This translation has gone on to become one of the best selling in history. In 1996, a new revision of Taylor's Living Bible was published. This New Living Translation is a full translation from the original languages rather than a paraphrase of the Bible.

Another project aimed to create something in between the very literal translation of the King James Bible and the more informal Good News Bible. The goal of this was to create a Bible that would be scholarly yet not overly formal. The result of this project was the New International Version (1978). This version became highly popular in Evangelical Protestant circles.

The debate between the formal equivalence and dynamic (or 'functional') equivalence translation styles has increased with the introduction of inclusive language versions. Various terms are employed to defend or attack this development, such as feminist, gender neutral, or gender accurate. New editions of some previous translations have been updated to take this change in language into account, including the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), the Revised English Bible (1989), and Today's New International Version (2005). Some translations have approached the issue more cautiously, such as the English Standard Version (2001).

A further process that has assisted in greatly increasing the number of English Bible versions is the use of the Internet in producing virtual bibles, of which a growing number are beginning to appear in print – especially given the development of "print on demand".

Today, there is a range of translations ranging from the most literal, such as the Young's Literal Translation to the most free such as The Message and The Word on the Street.

18th and 19th century translations

Challoner's revision of the Douay–Rheims Bible1752
John Wesley, Wesley's New Testament1755
F. S. Paris, Cambridge 'Standard' Edition [KJV]1762
Quaker Bible1764
Benjamin Blayney, Revised Standard Oxford Edition [KJV]1769
Gilbert Wakefield, A Translation of the New Testament[4]1791
Thomson's Translation1808
Alexander Campbell's The Living Oracles (New Testament)1826
Webster's Revision1833
Young's Literal Translation1862
Julia E. Smith Parker Translation1876
English Revised Version1885
Darby Bible1890

20th and 21st century translations

King James Version and derivatives

The King James Version of 1611 (in its 1769 amended Oxford edition) still has an immense following, and as such there have been a number of different attempts to update or improve upon it. The English Revised Version and its derivatives also stem from the King James Version.

WebsterWebster's Revision of the King James Version1830
(Johannes Lauritzen)1920
CKJVChildren's King James Version Jay P. Green1960
KJ IIKing James II Version of the Bible Jay P. Green1971
KJ3/LITVKing James 3 Version of the Holy Bible (by Jay P. Green)1985
KJV20King James Version—Twentieth Century Edition Jay P. Green
NKJVNew King James Version1982
KJ2121st Century King James Version1994
TMBThird Millennium Bible1998
MKJVModern King James Version1999
AKJVAmerican King James Version[5]1999
KJV2000King James 2000 Version[6]2000
UKJVUpdated King James Version[7]2000
KJVERKing James Version Easy Reading[8]2001
HSEHoly Scriptures in English[9]2001
CKJVComfort-able King James Version[10]2003
NCPBNew Cambridge Paragraph Bible[11]2005
AV7AV7 (New Authorized Version)2006
AVUAuthorized Version Update[12]2006
KJV-CEKing James Version—Corrected Edition[13]
DNKJBDivine Name King James Bible[14]2011
MEVModern English Version[15]2014

English Revised Version and derivatives

The English Revised Version was the first official attempt to update the King James Version of 1769. This was adapted in the United States as the American Standard Version. The translations and versions that stem from them are shown in date order:

RVEnglish Revised Version1881, 1885, 1894
ASVAmerican Standard Version1901
RSVRevised Standard Version1952, 1971
NASBNew American Standard Bible1971, 1995
NRSVNew Revised Standard Version1989
WEBWorld English Bible2000
ESVEnglish Standard Version2001
UASV Updated American Standard Version[16] 2016 In Progress

New International Version and derivatives

The popular New International Version has appeared in a number of editions.

NIVNew International Version1978, 1984, 2011[17]
NIrVNew International Reader's Version1996
NIVINew International Version Inclusive Language Edition (discontinued)1996-unknown
TNIVToday's New International Version (discontinued)2005-2011

Dynamic translations and paraphrases

A significant aspect in translations from the latter half of the 20th century was much greater use of the principles of dynamic equivalence.

TLBThe Living Bible1971
GNT/GNB/TEVGood News Translation/Good News Bible/Today's English Version1976, 1992
The Clear Word (paraphrase, non-official Seventh-day Adventist)1994
CEVContemporary English Version1995
GWGod's Word1995
NLTNew Living Translation1996, 2004, 2007, 2015
MSGThe Message2002
RNTRestored New Testament2009

Internet-based translations

The New English Translation (or NET Bible) is a project to publish a translation of the Bible using the Internet. It is freely available and accompanied by extensive translator's notes. Another is The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible, which uses a collaborative MediaWiki website that interlinks the words of the Bible to articles and image galleries about the topic. The Open English Bible aims to create the first modern public domain English translation of the Bible, using an open-source process for corrections and modernizing verses.

NETNew English Translation2005
OEBOpen English BibleIn progress.[18]
LEB Lexham English Bible[19] 2011

Messianic translations

Some Bible translations find popular use in, or were prepared especially for, the Messianic Judaism movement.

AENTRoth, Andrew, Aramaic English New Testament 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
TSThe Scriptures 1993, 1998, 2009
HRVHebraic Roots Version 2004
CJBStern, David H, Complete Jewish Bible 1998, 2017
CNTCassirer, Heinz, God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation AKA Cassirer New Testament 1989
OJBGoble, Phillip E, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2002
TLVTree of Life Bible2014

New English Bible and derivatives

The initiative to create the New English Bible began in 1946, in an attempt to make an entirely new translation of the Bible in modern English.

NEBNew English Bible1970
REBRevised English Bible1989

Public domain translations

OEBOpen English BibleIn progress
WEBWorld English BibleIn Progress

Catholic translations

WVSSWestminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures1913–19351
SPCSpencer New Testament1941
CCDConfraternity Bible19412
KnoxKnox Bible1950
KLNTKleist-Lilly New Testament19563
JBJerusalem Bible1966
RSV-CERevised Standard Version Catholic Edition1965–664
NABNew American Bible1970
TLB-CEThe Living Bible Catholic Edition1971
NJBNew Jerusalem Bible1985
CCBChristian Community Bible1986
NRSV-CENew Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition1989
GNT-CEGood News Bible Catholic Edition2001
RSV-2CERevised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition2006
NABRENew American Bible Revised Edition2011/1986 (Old Testament and Psalms)/New Testament

1Released in parts between 1913–1935 with copious study and textual notes. The New Testament with condensed notes was released in 1936 as one volume.
2NT released in 1941. The OT contained material from the Challoner Revision until the entire OT was completed in 1969. This Old Testament went on to be the base for the 1970 NAB
3New Testament only; Gospels by James Kleist, rest by Joseph Lilly.
4Second Catholic Edition released 2006.

In addition to the above Catholic English Bibles, all of which have an imprimatur granted by a Catholic bishop, the authors of the Catholic Public Domain Version[20] of 2009 and the 2013 translation from the Septuagint by Jesuit priest Nicholas King[21] refer to them as Catholic Bibles. These versions have not been granted an imprimatur, but do include the Catholic biblical canon of 73 books.

Sacred Name translations

These Sacred Name Bibles were all done with the specific aim of carrying into English the actual Name of God as they were in the originals. Most have been done by people from the Sacred Name Movement. They are distinguished by their policy of transliterating Hebrew-based forms for sacred names, such as "Yahweh", "YHWH", etc.

SNBRestoration of Original Sacred Name Bible1976
HNBHoly Name Bible1963
SSBESacred Scriptures Bethel Edition1981
SN-KJSacred Name King James Bible2005
SSFOYSacred Scriptures, Family of Yah Edition2000
TWOYThe Word of Yahweh2003
TSThe Scriptures (ISR)1993, 1998, 2009
HRVHebraic-Roots Version2004
TBETransparent English BibleIn progress
NOGNames of God Bible (Available in 2 editions, GW or KJV)2011, 2014

Masoretic Text / Jewish translations

Jewish translations follow the Masoretic Text, and are usually published in bilingual editions with the Hebrew text facing the English translation. The translations often reflect traditional Jewish exegesis of the bible. As translations of the Masoretic bible, Jewish translations contain neither the apocrypha nor the Christian New Testament.

JPSJewish Publication Society of America Version[22]1917
Judaica Press[23]1963
Koren Jerusalem Bible[24] based on a translation by Harold Fisch1962
Kaplan, Aryeh, The Living Torah [25]
Elman, Yaakov, The Living Nach 
NJPSNew Jewish Publication Society of America Version1985
ArtscrollStone Edition (Artscroll)1996
The Holy Scriptures, Hebrew Publishing Company, revised by Alexander Harkavy1936,1951

Septuagint translations

Charles Thomson's The Holy Bible, Containing The Old And New Covenant, Commonly Called The Old And New Testament: Translated From The Greek1808
Brenton's English Translation of the Septuagint1851
ABPApostolic Bible Polyglot2003
ABThe Apostles' Bible [26]2007
OSBOrthodox Study Bible2007
NETSNew English Translation of the Septuagint2007
LESLexham English Septuagint2013
EOBEastern / Greek Orthodox BibleIn progress

Simplified English Bibles

There have been a number of attempts to produce a Bible that greatly simplifies the English. (Some of these versions are also listed in other categories: for example, the NIrV is also found under the NIV section). These are translations that are not necessarily a very dynamic translation, but go beyond simply everyday English into a restricted vocabulary set, often aimed at non-native speakers of English.

BBEBible in Basic English1949
BWEBible in Worldwide English [New Testament only]1969
NLVNew Life Version (Gleason Ledyard)1986
SEBSimple English Bible (Dr Stanley Morris)1980
ERVEasy-to-Read Version (previously English Version for the Deaf)1989
NCVNew Century Version1991
NIrVNew International Reader's Version1998
MSGThe Message (Eugene H. Peterson)2002

Translations exclusively published by Jehovah's Witnesses

DiaglottThe Emphatic Diaglott (Benjamin Wilson)1864, 1942
NWTNew World Translation of the Holy Scriptures1950 (NT only), 1961, 1981, 1984, 2013
ByThe Bible in Living English (Steven T. Byington)1972

Translations exclusively published by the Latter Day Saints movement

JSTJoseph Smith Translation of the Bible1830

Adaptive retellings

Some versions have been labelled "adaptive retelling"[27] as they take many liberties with the form of the text.

Black Bible Chronicles1993, 1994
CPGCotton Patch Gospel[28] by Clarence Jordan1968–1973 (4 vols)
The Aussie Bible; also More Aussie Bible[29] by Kel Richards2003

Other translations

ERBRotherham's Emphasized Bible1902
FentonThe Holy Bible In Modern English (by Ferrar Fenton)1903
MNTA New Translation (by James Moffatt)1926
LamsaLamsa Bible (by George Lamsa)1933
AATAn American Translation (by Smith and Goodspeed)1935
BVBerkeley Version (by Gerrit Verkuyl)1958
AMPAmplified Bible1965
KnochConcordant Literal Version (by Adolph Ernst Knoch)1966
MLBThe Modern Language Bible (New Berkeley Version)1969
TSBThe Story Bible1971
BECKAn American Translation (by William F. Beck)1976
TMBThird Millennium Bible1998
RcVRecovery Version (Living Stream Ministry)1999
PurifiedThe Holy Bible: A Purified Translation (The New Testament)2000
ABPApostolic Bible Polyglot2003
HCSBHolman Christian Standard Bible2004
DTEThe Writ, Dabhar Translation[30] (by Fritz Henning Baader)2005
The Literary Bible (by David Rosenberg)(Old Testament Only)2009
CEBCommon English Bible2011
CSBChristian Standard Bible2017

Partial translations

New Testament

DiaglottEmphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson1864
 Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, by Thomas Jefferson1895
 The Epistles of Paul in Modern English (includes Hebrews), by George Barker Stevens1898
 The Twentieth Century New Testament1902
 Weymouth New Testament (New Testament in Modern Speech)1903
 Centenary New Testament (by Helen Barrett Montgomery)1924
 The Four Gospels, by E. V. Rieu, Penguin1952
 The Authentic New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield1955
Phi / PMEPhillips New Testament in Modern English and Four Prophets (by J. B. Phillips)1958
 The Simplified New Testament, by Olaf M. Norlie1961
WETWuest Expanded Translation (by Kenneth Wuest)1961
 The New Testament: a New Translation, by William Barclay1968
 TransLine, by Michael Magill2002
 The Four Gospels, by Norman Marrow, ISBN 0-9505565-0-51977
 The Original New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield, ISBN 0-947752-20-X1985
int-EThe Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society1969,1985
McCord's New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel by Hugo McCord1988
A Fresh Parenthetical Version of the New Testament[31] by B. E. Junkins ISBN 0-7618-2397-22002
God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation by Heinz Cassirer, ISBN 0-8028-3673-91989
 Jewish New Testament, by David H. Stern1989
GausThe Unvarnished New Testament[32] by Andy Gaus1991
Christian BibleThe Christian Bible: Its New Contract Writings Portion (Christian Bible Society, Mammoth Springs, AR)1991
 The New Testament, by Richmond Lattimore, ISBN 0-460-87953-71996
TCEThe Common Edition New Testament[33]1999
COMThe Comprehensive New Testament[34]2008
ALTAnalytical-Literal Translation1999?
A New Accurate Translation of the Greek New Testament, by Julian G. Anderson ISBN 0-9602128-4-11984
The Voice ISBN 1-4185-3439-02008
MLVModern Literal Version2012
JNTJewish New Testament by David H. Stern1989
The Source New Testament With Extensive Notes on Greek Word Meaning, by Dr A. Nyland ISBN 0-9804430-0-82004
The Last Days New Testament, Ray W. Johnson1999
NTEThe Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (U.K. title: The New Testament for Everyone), N T Wright [35][36]2011
The Wilton Translation of the New Testament, Clyde C. Wilton1999, 2010
The Original Aramaic Bible in Plain English with Psalms & Proverbs, David Bauscher2010
MEV The New Testament, Modern Evangelical Version, by Robert Thomas Helm ISBN 1479774197 2013, 2016
EHV The Evangelical Heritage Version 2017

Hebrew Bible

The Wisdom Books in Modern Speech (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Song of Songs), John Edgar McFadyen1917
Four Prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah), J.B. Phillips1963
Job Speaks (Job), David Rosenberg1977
The Book of J (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg1990
A Poet's Bible (Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Maccabees, Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Jonah, Ruth, Esther, Judith, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah), David Rosenberg1991
The Book of Job, Stephen Mitchell1992
The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox1995
The Lost Book of Paradise: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis and related apocrypha), David Rosenberg1995
Genesis, Stephen Mitchell1996
The Book of David (2 Samuel), David Rosenberg1998
Give us a King! (1, 2 Samuel), Everett Fox1999
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible,[37] Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich1999
The David Story (1, 2 Samuel), Robert Alter2000
The Five Books of Moses, Robert Alter2004
The Bible with Sources Revealed, Richard Elliott Friedman2005
The Book of Psalms, Robert Alter2007
The Wisdom Books, Robert Alter2010
Ancient Israel (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings), Robert Alter2013
The Psalms Translated and Explained, Joseph Addison Alexander1850

See also


  1. A Discussion of Bible Translations and Biblical Scholarship Archived 2016-09-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. The Bible in American Life
  3. G. W. Bromiley, D. M. Beegle, and W. M. Smith, “English Versions,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 83.
  4. Wakefield, Gilbert (1820). A Translation of the New Testament
  5. American King James Version
  6. King James 2000 Version
  7. Updated King James Version
  8. King James Bibles
  9. The Holy Scriptures. Rabon Vincent Jr., translator. Victoria: Trafford, 2001. ISBN 1-55369-199-7
  10. The Evidence Bible
  11. New Cambridge Paragraph Bible
  12. (Broken link)
  13. King James Version - Corrected Edition
  16. "Updated American Standard Version". Updated American Standard Version. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  17. "About the New International Version". Electronic version available; print version available March 2011.
  18. OEB
  19. "The Lexham English Bible is a new translation of the Bible into English". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  20. Catholic Public Domain Version
  22. The Hebrew Bible in English, Mechom Mamre.
  23. The Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi, Chabad
  24. Jerusalem Bible (Koren), UK: CAM.
  25. The Living Torah, ORT
  26. Esposito, Paul W., The Apostles Bible, based on Brenton's translation
  27. Boswell, Freddy. 2006. Classifying "Cotton Patch Version" and similar renderings as adaptive retelling rather than translation (La clasificación de la "cotton patch version" y de otros tipos de versiones más como reescrituras adaptadoras más traducciones)." Hermēneus, Vol. 8: 45–66.
  28. The Cotton Patch Version
  29. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2009-07-05.
  30. The Writ, Dabhar Translation
  31. Review
  34. SPCK Shop, The New Testament for Everyone
  35. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible
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