Manuscript Bible Study

Why we chose a the ESV–English Standard Version

Each Bible translation has it’s place. Some are more literal, making them better for study. Some more flowing, making them better for reading. We chose a more literal translation–the ESV (which is based on the RSV)–because our focus is on STUDYING. What follows is an article describing the differences.

How Do I Pick Out A Bible, Pastor Tom Brahears–June 29, 2011

If you’re like me and were raised with the King James Version you’d say “Now, that’s the Bible!” It’s what I’m used to. But that’s not the reason so select it. We need to take a balanced approach to this, understanding the nature of Biblical translations. All translations have certain characteristics that make them unique. Bible translations can be review in two primary ways:


1. What underlying Greek text does the translation use? Is it the “Majority” or “Received” text (a group of late Greek text that primarily comes from the Byzantine area) or the Eclectic/Critical text (mixture of different types of manuscripts, primarily using the earliest text). The KJV, NKJV, and many older translations used the former, while the newer and more up-to-date Bible’s such as the NAS, NIV, ESV, NLT, NET, etc. use the latter. It’s best to use the latter since most scholars believe that they represent the better manuscripts.

2. Each Bible has a different purpose but all are useful. Was it written for study or reading? Was it written for the seminary or the church? If you can, you should have a variety of translations for different purposes. I use the NASB for study but the NIV for classes I teach. I think it’s important for you to understand the differences. Here [also shown on the chart] are the three translation methods:

  • Formal Equivalence: These try to translate word for word (although this is quite difficult). Examples: NAS, KJV, ASV, ESV. Less readable, but better for study in contemporary languages. Why? Because they will usually attempt to make fewer interpretive decisions on any text that can be understood in many ways. This allows the reader to struggle through the options.
  • Dynamic Equivalence: Translations that seek to translate thought for thought. Examples: NIV, TNIV, NRSV, etc. Not quite as good for deep study, but usually better for reading and memorization. Dynamic equivalence translations make good pulpit or teaching Bibles.
  • Paraphrase: Translations that seek to use common language and idioms to get the basic point across in a very readable way. Examples: Message, Philip’s Translation, NLT, GNB, etc. While paraphrases are not good for study or memorization, they are very readable and cause you to read the text differently than you normally would. In this respect, they have great value.

>>For a more a more specific description of each transaltion and another chart, Click Here.