My church is planning on replacing our pew Bibles in the very near future. As one of the most highly trained in ancient languages, theology, etc., I have been asked to help them compare and analyze the NASB Update, ESV, and NIV, Bible translations. My church is basing its decision on two primary factors: readability (how it reads and sounds when read) and expository preaching (how accurate--notice I did not say literal or there would be no issue--is the translation to use for expository preaching?). These are the only three versions under consideration, so please do not suggest other Bible translations (e.g. TNIV). I am most interested in passages in which the translations differ and the theological implications of such differences. I have been doing some research with BibleWorks and have turned up some interesting results, but I would especially appreciate any input from any of you who might have more familiarity with the NASB Update or ESV--I am most familiar with the NIV. Thanks in advance for any input which you might have to offer. Blessings.
The topic might need to be moved to non-BW related issues . . . but here some thoughts:
I have used the NASB95 in pulpit and classroom settings and found it "wooden"; audiences had at times difficulty following the wording.
For sample reviews of the ESV, see
Not to incite a dynamic-equivalence vs. literal debate, I find the ESV or the NIV the better options for balance between public readability and accuracy, with the NIV leaning more to the dynamic-equivalency side. Apart from its manuscript base, the NKJV should be considered; it allows KJV folk to follow without completely losing a post-KJV generation.
Zondervan's website positions the reading level of the NIV at 7.8, the ESV at
8.0, and the NASB95 at 11.0. See http://www.zondervanbibles.com/translations.htm
I favor a dynamic-equivalent approach. In German, for example, the sentence "Ich heiße Ingo" requires a possessive pronoun with a noun and a verb of being: "My name is Ingo". A literal translation would not capture the sense of the phrase.
In a nutshell: As literal as possible, as dynamic as necessary.
In the end, the best Bible translation is the one we actually read.
Hope this helps some.
NASB versus NIV and ESV
The NIV is easier to read, but is now 25 years old and is unnecessarily masculine in places.
The NASB is hard to read. It is a good study bible, but not a great version for public reading.
The ESV is almost as easy as the NIV to read, and, unlike the NIV, does not use masculine language in English where there is none in the original languages. However, it does use masculine language where it is obvious that the original intends to be inclusive [eg Romans 1:13].
I think the ESV is the best of your 3.
For What it's Worth,
I've already judged between the NIV and the NASB (haven't bothered much with the ESV - perhaps I'll look some today).
I preach and teach from the NASB because in those (relatively few) instances where the message demands that I say "in the greek..." the NASB is normally on.
When I have passages where I feel readability is an issue I use variously the NLT, NIV, KJV and NET (Most frequently the NLT).
Summary: I preach from the NASB but when the "readable flow" of a passage is needed I normally head for the NLT.
Hope this helps.
I would say the NASB or ESV. I enjoy studying from the NASB, but when I'm just reading (like before I go to bed or in the morning) I use the ESV :)
The ESV I can read much more from (length of reading), NASB I can *get* more from.
Sorry if I posted in the wrong place, but thanks for your responses all the same. Special thanks to ingosorke for the references.