English Bible Translation Comparison
chart, after years of tweaking, continues to be a work in
progress. Due to much request, I revisited it to add...
5: NIV 2011 and NET (New English Translation) Bible
6: CEB (Common English Bible) and The Voice
7: ERV (Easy to Read Version) and ISV (International Standard
8: MEV (Modern English Version) and LEB (Lexham English Bible)
addition, responding to new information and new translation
revisions, changes have been made in some translation grade level
rankings, plus adjustments in positioning of some versions. Note that
NASU and NASB now appear separately. While earlier versions of
the chart will (sadly) live forever on the Internet, I recommend only
using the two newest charts (version 7 or 8). Scholarly and
documented constructive criticism, along with specific requests for
additions, are welcome and help to make the chart continuously better.
Purpose of the
English Bible Translation Comparison chart
visually shows the style of each English Bible translation, utilizing
a spectrum ranging from word-for-word, to thought-for-thought
(dynamic equivalence) and paraphrase.
abbreviations for many popular English Bible translations
The numeric value
in parenthesis following each translation name is the grade level of readability.
Notes whether the
apocrypha is included or available for each translation. Be aware
that some translations include the apocrypha as part of God's Word
(e.g. NAB), while others included it for historical significance
(e.g. KJV) or make it available for research purposes (e.g. ESV).
Makes note of
translations that are employing gender neutral language. (Consider
this article: What's
Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bible Translations? by Wayne Grudem)
Notes translations entirely
or primarily utilizing the old manuscript set known as the Textus
Receptus and Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic text. Alternatively,
a majority of modern translators now utilize critical texts,
featuring revisions and updates based on more recent manuscripts
finds including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The most popular critical
texts are: Nestle-Aland text (NA), currently in its 28th revision,
and the Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies (UBS).
Others include: The Hebrew text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
and the The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT), a new edition
produced by Michael W. Holmes in conjunction with the Society of
Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software.
English Bible Translation Comparison
chart doesn't do
This chart makes
no assessment as to the quality of each translation and, in fact,
includes some translations with strong Roman Catholic bias (e.g. NAB).
It does not cover
every English translation, choosing to focus on a majority of modern
We are not the
final word on readability level or style. While tests exist to help
determine these, conflicting results often arise requiring a
subjective determination and subsequent designation. Publishers often
make claims regarding readability of their translations, some which
we have agreed with, others have required revision. Ongoing
reevaluation has prompted us to make changes in our assessments,
resulting in small changes from earlier versions of this chart.
I am curious as to
where the Douay Rheims translation fits into the English Bible
Translation Comparison chart?
The Douay Rheims
translation doesn't really have a good spot to appear on my
chart. Here's why...
Like the King
James translation, most today are not using the original. By
itself this would not keep me from placing it on the chart. (In fact,
in putting the King James version on the chart I assume the 1769
Oxford edition which is commonly the text still provided under the
original name). The Challoner revisions (by Bishop Richard
Challoner) of the mid 1700's are what most people are referring to
under the retained name of the Douay-Rheims (which was originally
created in 1582 NT/1609-1610 OT). Challoner used a lot of
renderings from the King James text of his day (pre-1769 Oxford
edition, likely one of the 1629 or 1638 Cambridge editions), so some
of the ranking of the King James would certainly apply to Challoner's
The primary reason
the original Douay-Rheims doesn't fit well on the chart is that it is
not a translation (or paraphrase) from the original languages (Greek,
Aramaic and Hebrew). The original Douay-Rheims was a
word-for-word translation from another translation, namely the Latin
Vulgate. Even with the later version (or revision), Challoner
"corrected" the King James renderings he adopted by
referring to the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate (created
under Pope Clement VIII in 1592 and revised in 1593 & 1598).
In effect, Challoner was still emphasizing word-for-word with the
Latin Vulgate, especially in regards to key terms and concepts.
In summary, with
an understanding that the Douay-Rheims is primarily a Latin to
English secondary translation, it is strongly a word-for-word
edition. Due to archaic terms and phrasing, its reading level
is, like the King James, would also rate a 13 (meaning college or
higher to understand).
Doesn't the ISV
(International Standard Version) claim to be much further towards the
word-for-word side of the thought-for-thought spectrum?
The ISV was very
difficult to place on this chart. Many specific passages would
have been ranked near the HCSB or even over to the ESV. On the
other hand, their goal of retaining poetical form for many passages
took some of those passages way over towards a paraphrase. Our
final positioning attempts to average this unique
disparity. We're open to input as to how others may
assess this and suggestions to any better way to show it on our chart.
Isn't the MEV (Modern
English Version) easier to read than the KJV (King James Version),
which both appear at the same high grade level (13)?
The MEV was
difficult to assess. While they did update many archaic terms
and phrases found in the KJV, they also embraced a more literal
rendering of the sentence structure found in the original languages.
In one sampled NT verse, this made it an excessively long sentence comprised
of numerous thoughts. Using standard tools of evaluating grade
level of readability such a verse exceeded grade 23 (if such existed). Fortunately
the reading level of other verses is significantly better drawing
the overall average downward. Functionally, we have chosen to
use grade 13 as the upward limit of this chart. At grade 13 it
means that at least some (and perhaps a lot of) college education
would be necessary to read and understand the texts so designated.