Which versions to select?
I would recommend you take a peek at Gordon Fee's 3rd Revision of New Testament Exegesis. He has an excellent section there on using different translations (whether one knows the original languages or not) and some practical steps to guide you in the process of discovering what the Bible means in context and how to apply that to us today.
He recommends you compare seven translations with one another.
Here are some of my notes and modifications from his stuff. He has a different list of versions. These are the ones I prefer.
By the way, his book gives some good advice on how to integrate diagramming (a new feature of BW) into your bible study habits. I recommend that as well. Here are my notes adapted from Fee.
From “NT Exegesis” pgs. 37 & 38
- For those without Greek (Those with Greek may find this very helpful also)
__ Read the paragraph through in several translations.
__ Secure at least five different translations (preferably NKJV, NASB, NRSV, NIV, NLT, NJB) ++
__ Make a photocopy or a word document you can edit with all the texts.
(use colored markers to identify differences in approach)
__ Determine the significant textual differences.
__ Try to determine whether the differences are from various original texts,
grammatical issues, or lexicography (word studies).
Fee says to read seven translations. Some of the ones he recommends are not in BW. Just substitute any good modern translation. Also with the text comparison feature that Joe mentions in this thread, you do not need to make photocopies of anything. You can do it all in BW, which is really slick.
I am pretty jazzed up about BW6.0. I think this company listens to customers and things that were suggested several years ago are now standard features in the product. It's very encouraging!
I hope this helps you out.
The NET bible is wonderful for understanding the translation process because of its copious notes that often go into great detail on textual, gramatical, exegetical, iodomatic and cultural issues that effect the translation, so even if you think their rendering of the main text is wrong, the notes shed light on the various alternatives more so than any other translation (or most commentaries for that matter).
TNIV compared with NIV
If you would like to compare the TNIV [Today's New International Version] with the NIV, you can now do so at www.tniv.info
You will immediately see how similar they are, especially in the Old Testament.
I used to joke about the ESV's similarity to the RSV, calling it the Extremely Similar Version.
But I can't find a decent acronym yet.