The Blue Letter Bible and Bible Translation

Those involved in creating the Blue Letter Bible study tool system believe the Christian scriptures to be the inspired Word of God in their original autographs (i.e., the original writings of the authors).

The Blue Letter Bible team does not believe that the Authorized Version (more commonly called the King James Version) is the only Bible translation that can or should be used. We do not believe that any particular translation of the Word of God is inspired and inerrant. The Blue Letter Bible team does believe the King James Version to be a good literal translation into 17th-century English based on the manuscripts available to translators at the time; however, if the difficulty of the language is a hindrance to reading the Bible, then we believe it best that a person use a good modern translation to read the Bible.

There are two basic methods in translating the original languages. The first is called formal equivalency. This is the method that provides as best as possible a literal word-by-word translation (we say "as best as possible" because a strictly literal translation would be generally unreadable). The second model is called dynamic equivalency. In this case, the idea is to provide as close as possible, the original meaning (giving consideration to the idiom of the time) translated in today's modern language.

The various Bible translations fall somewhere along the spectrum of formal equivalency and dynamic equivalency. No translation is an exact word-for-word, literal translation.

Towards the formal-equivalency end are the New American Standard Bible (generally considered the most literal English translation), and the King James and New King James Versions. From the dynamic-equivalency method we get the New International Version and the New Living Translation.

Both forms of translations have their strengths and their weaknesses. And many people will utilize one form for a certain type of use (e.g., the dynamic equivalency format for general reading) and the other for a different purpose (e.g., a formal equivalency for word studies).

We do not believe that there should be division in the English-speaking body of Christ over the issue of which English translation is the Right One. And for that reason we do not give any further arguments in favor of one side versus the other. The feeling of those of us here at Blue Letter Bible is that the best Bible translation of those mentioned here is the one that is read!

The Blue Letter Bible's Bible?

The Blue Letter Bible currently utilizes the King James Version of 1769 as its primary study text. Note that the King James Version went through many editions to correct wording of the 1611 text. These were not new translations, but corrections of the original. Such editions came out as early as 1612 and number at least a dozen. Unfortunately, some of the intermediate editions that corrected printing errors in earlier editions introduced in their own errors, mostly dealing with spelling and punctuation. Most of the King James Versions that you see today are the revision by Benjamin Blayney completed in 1769, which dealt with these issues, as well as added thousands of marginal references.

The King James Version?

The Blue Letter Bible utilizes the King James Version for several reasons. These reasons are primary:

  • The KJV is in the public domain (nearly all of the newer translations are under copyright), meaning there is no restriction upon our use of the text. Note that the KJV was originally protected similarly to contempory translations by the legal privileges of the time; the rights to publication were owned by the Crown of England and expired approximately 100 years after the English translation's initial printing.
  • Many of the public domain toolsets we offer are tied specially to the King James Version (as it was the available translation when the original tools were crafted).
  • The KJV is a fine translation and its formal equivalency is ideal for the kind word-study that the BLB promotes.
Other Translations?

Over the years, the stable of available translations utilized by the Blue Letter Bible has grown pleasantly. Many of the more popular translations of Scripture are now available for both search and comparison. It is our feeling that in seeing how a variety of translators treat a single text, the student of Scripture might be better prepared to understand nuances in a passage that a single translation's perspective might not illuminate.

The primary focus of the Blue Letter Bible team has been to provide biblical study tools, references, commentaries, etc. linked to Scripture. Over the years, we have had numerous requests to provide additional translations—a significant portion being to provide other foreign language translations (e.g., Spanish, Arabic, etc.). Many of these have indeed been added, yet there is always room to grow. Still, the Blue Letter Bible programming and design team consists of five people (none of who work full-time on the Blue Letter Bible). Therefore, we continually are seeking the Lord's guidance as to the best use of the limited time and resources available us.

Thank you for your interest in the Blue Letter Bible and we hope that God will grant you continual blessing in your studies.

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