A really good conversation about translations happened recently in a group I am in, and it made me want to check where my translations I use most fall. A few (I think) important thoughts came to mind, so I thought I would share, especially if anyone is considering gifting a Bible.
1. Don't assume anyone not raised in the church has any idea what any of this means. I have had conversations with SEVERAL people who did not grow up in church who did not know why some Bibles sounded different than others. Also, don't assume someone knows how to look up a verse. What is second nature to those of us who have always done it is brand new to someone who never has opened a Bible. That was something my naive self never considered until someone asked me what I meant when I referenced a scripture "address" as I call it. Be able to explain this stuff humbly with love, and some excitement. The teacher in me got real happy when I got to walk someone through all this the first time <3
2. Be prepared. People raised in certain environments are very set in their ways when it comes to translations. Be able to recognize who is willing to learn, willing to discuss, and not willing to budge. Know when to knock the dirt off your shoes and let it go. Any Bible is better than no Bible, even if you don't like their translation. If it works for them, let it. I have, however, encouraged people to do side by side comparisons when they read something they don't understand. If they are open to it, that's going to be a game changer.
3. Which brings me to "what translation do you use?" I have been asked that a ton of times, and I use as bunch. I cross reference. In this house, I have two personal Bibles I use regularly, one NASB Study Bible and one NLT. Joey's Bible is NKJV. I also really like ESV, and sometimes I do like the heart of The Passion Translation (not listed, but falls likely in the paraphrase category). There is not a thing wrong with KJV, I just don't care for it for me because I feel like I am back in high school studying Shakespeare; I spend more time trying to figure out what it says than understanding the context and reason for the words.
4. Something important to think about if you are gifting a Bible is the reading level of the person who will be reading it. Do you want to create a beautiful keepsake for them that will only be for display, or a beloved treasure that will be used and used and used until it starts to fall apart and they need a new one? (sidenote: that is why I have two. My NASB was falling apart from heavy use so Joey got me a NLT coloring Bible with a hard cover). If you want to give them the word to really chew on, make sure they have the right teeth for it.
5. Practice discernment. Cross reference. If something feels off, check it. Take nothing at face value. Listen to your gut/spirit. In my heart I believe all these translations were made with the greatest of intent, they just have different purposes. It does not negate the Truth, it is just different ways to say the same thing. Whether you want to study the history or get the gist of the heart, whether you read at a 3rd or 12th grade level, read it. Soak in it. Let God explain it to you. Have healthy conversations with people you trust about it. At their core, they say the same thing. God created you. God loves you. People messed up. God came as man to fix it. Now He wants to have a relationship with you and He wants you to tell others about it. You never have to be alone.
For reference, I am going to add the same scripture in each of the translations I use so you can see the difference if you have never done a side by side comparison :)
New International Version
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
New Living Translation
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
English Standard Version
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
New American Standard Bible
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
New King James Version
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
King James Bible
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The Passion Translation
And so the Living Expression became a man and lived among us! And we gazed upon the splendor of his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father overflowing with tender mercy and truth!