ElShaddai Edwards and I have been conversing about the REB/NEB over at his blog at He is Sufficient. Our conversation has become an interesting conversation regarding the authority of bible translations.
ElShaddai said to me: “Thank you for using “authoritative” instead of “accurate”. It’s an interesting distinction and one that I’ve been thinking of exploring rather than needlessly continuing the translation philosophy wars.”
Then I responded by saying: “Yes, I do like the use of “authoritative” when I’m not talking about the formal-dynamic equivalency issues. This is a totally different issue when it comes to translations.”
I think the most authoritative translation today is still the NIV. Here’s my order of ranking:
1. NIV authority based on popular usage in all genres of publications, and usage in evangelical churches today
2. NKJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
3. KJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
4. NLT (authority based on huge growth in general popularity)
5. NRSV (authority based on usage in academic journals, reference books, and usage in mainline churches)
6. NAB(authority based on usage in Roman Catholic churches in the USA)
7. NASB (authority based on usage in Christian magazines and by pastors)
8. ESV (authority based on usage by pastors)
9. TNIV (authority based on usage in books)
10. Message (authority based on usage by pastors)
How often a translation is quoted by teachers, pastors and Christian publications of any sort (books, news magazines, ministry publications, academic journals, websites, etc.) are very important factors when we are considering whether a translation is authoritative, or not authoritative.
The authority of a translation is also dependent upon how accurate it is, and it is also less dependent upon whether it is a formal or dynamic translation. However, these factors are less important and are not the primary reasons for authority. In my opinion, the most important factor to what determines the authority of a translation is how often it is quoted.
You may disagree with my order of rankings and my reasons for them. Note that this ranking has nothing to do with which translation I think should be authoritative; rather, they are what I think are authoritative at this current moment in time.
Why did I pick the NIV as the most authoritative? Because it is still the most widely read and quoted translation today. Being the most read and quoted translation gives the NIV that authority.
Note that my rankings are unrelated to the CBA sales ranking because sales is only an indication of how popular a translation is at the current moment in time; however, it does not indicate how often it is quoted by authoritative figures and publications.
Which translations do you think are the most authoritative today? Share you order of translation ranking and state your reasons.
Update: ElShaddai at He is Sufficient has also posted on this topic of authority of bible translations.