Book Review: The Best of Books

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Although faith is required for a proper understanding of God’s Word, His mind has been revealed plainly enough that man is still responsible to heed it. The excuse that the Bible is “too hard to understand” is not justifiable. Mark Twain, the famous, unbelieving author, said: “Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand. As for me, I notice that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.”
Still, the many recent translations of the Bible testify to man’s continual efforts to make the Word of God more understandable. Among these are translations so well-known and so significant that we should be aware of them.
The King James Version (KJV, Authorized Version, AV) is most well-known. After almost four centuries of use, it is still the most-published and widely used translation in the world. It has been singularly and remarkably used by the Spirit of God to convey His truth, and for that reason alone it should not be despised. Virtually all of the best Bible expositions, commentaries and study helps in the English language are based on it, and quotes from it permeate even secular literature as well.
Children who learn to read it at home find that it provides advantages for learning in school. To many believers, it conveys a sense of authority which most modern translations seem to lack. Its most devoted publisher, the Trinitarian Bible Society, has included a glossary a list of words whose meanings have changed in most of their KJV editions. I would encourage you to check your understanding of terms with such a list. I believe that the KJV still the most universally accepted and used translation is the best for general public use.
The JND Translation (JND). I heartily recommend the use of this translation of the Scriptures to any who wish to make a serious study of the Word of God. In his preface, Mr. Darby said, “The purpose [of the translation] is to provide the simple reader with as exact a translation as possible.” Interest in it has been recently increasing, as more believers, disappointed with frivolous modern translations, discover and read it.
The New International Version (NIV) has become very popular. A great deal of literary talent and Christian scholarship was invested in its production. However, the principle of “dynamic equivalence” upon which the translation is based has introduced serious problems for Christians. One Biblical commentator has well said that “in too many instances” the NIV tries to get across the meaning of the author rather than giving a direct translation of the inspired writings. When this is done, the reader is dependent upon the meaning provided by the translator (which may or may not be accurate). This translation is not recommended as a principle source of Scripture reference, for its accuracy cannot be trusted.
The New American Standard Version Bible (NAS, NASB, NASV) is popular with many serious Christians. It has, however, been characterized as “a good translation of a bad text.” I regard it, at best, as a secondary reference source.
The New King James Version (NKJ, NKJV) is the best of recent translations. Its clear and simple language, patterned after the KJV, commends it to many. Its weaknesses (in particular, the distinction between the singular and plural such as thou and ye which is lost by the NKJV’s use of you) distress others. Some have found it useful in ministering to new or less literate believers and to children.
Of course, no translation will profit a soul unless it is read. May we earnestly seek that our lives express a living example of the Word of God. The world ought to see its divine truth lived out in believers’ lives.
“Ye are our epistle... known and read of all men... the epistle of Christ ministered by us... with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:23).
J. A. Kaiser