Why Are There So Many Versions of the Bible?

Why are there so many versions of the Bible? This is a great question we have all probably asked before. It does make you wonder why isn't there just one version of the Bible in English instead of over one hundred. It sure would make it a lot less confusing when it came time to pick one.

The over one hundred English translations basically boil down to two main reasons. One is the evolution of language throughout the years and how it changes and the other is what the translators are trying to accomplish.

Since its creation, the English language has changed significantly. Old English reads and sounds completely different than modern English. So translators try to use modern language, people will understand, in their translations. For example, if we look at 1st Corinthians 13, in the KJV we see the word charity used instead of love.

Unlike the people in the 16th century, we now think more of the act of giving when we think of charity. This is why we see new versions like the ESV or NKJV that are trying to accomplish the same thing as the KJV but use more modern language. 

The second reason there are so many different translations is that translators chose different ways to translate the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic into English. We see this done mainly in two ways, word-for-word translations, and thought-for-thought translations.

Translators use the word-for-word method to try and get their version as close to a literal word-for-word as possible. But other translators think they might sacrifice the original thoughts the authors were trying to get across if they make a word-for-word version so they make a thought-for-thought version. 

Word-for-word translations consist of KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NASB. While your thought-for-thought translations are your NIV, NLT, and MSG.

So yeah that's why there are over one hundred versions of the English Bible.