8. Bible Comparison Exercise

Make a noteSelect a well known New Testament passage

Select one of more than ten verses and no more than a full chapter. Useful examples include the following (but if any of your preferred versions break the passage slightly differently by all means add or subtract a verse or two):

  • The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
  • The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31)
  • The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41)
  • Love (1 Corinthians 13)
  • God’s Victory (Revelation 19:1-10)
  • If you wish to pick your own please confirm your choice with the Module Tutor before proceeding.

Remember that the purpose of the exercise is to compare and contrast different English translations so do not get side-tracked into a detailed study of the passage.

Next pick four English Bibles to compare.

We have listed them in four broad categories (which cannot be considered watertight) so pick one from each, giving four in total. If you want to use another example in addition to the four from our list, that is acceptable. If you want to use a different example instead of one from our list then please discuss this with the Module Tutor first.  All are available at www.biblegateway.com/versions except for the three in parentheses, where I have given an alternative source. If you prefer to work from a hard copy you may need to consult with your mentor or tutor and if any of this causes problems please ask as we are sure we can work out something to help.

List A (Literal translations)
  • American Standard Version
  • King James Version
  • New King James Version
  • (Revised Version) 1
  • Revised Standard Version

List B (Thought for thought)
  • (New English Bible) 2
  • New International Version
  • (New Jerusalem Bible) 3


List C (Dynamic equivalence)
  • Contemporary English Version
  • Good News Translation
  • New Living Translation

List D (Paraphrase)
  • J. B. Phillips
  • The Living Bible
  • The Message


Write a brief introduction and description of each example.

Remember that this exercise is concerned with the art of translation and so it is the different versions we are examining rather than the passage in question. Your introduction should set the version in context (e.g., when was it made, was it made by a committee or an individual, etc.) and look for any preconceptions that might arise (e.g., is it knowingly following on from an earlier translation, does the translation follow a denominational party line, etc.).

Then look at how the passage is translated.

What level of English does it use (scholarly or easy-to-read)? How “religious” is the vocabulary? How have the translators tackled significant phrases and difficult words? And, finally, which do you prefer and why? Are there any that you would not recommend at all? Why not? Use these questions as triggers and if there is a different issue that interests you please pursue it – so long as your focus remains of Bible translation from Greek to English.

You may find it helpful to present some or all of your findings in the form of a chart, which makes it difficult to set a word or page limit. If you are writing everything then 200 or 300 words per translation will be sufficient, plus an introduction and conclusion. Please consult your tutor if you are struggling.

You should be able to get sufficient material to complete this assignment from the video presentations and supplementary notes but if you want to undertake additional research that is acceptable, so long as you remember to state your sources.

Post itIf you are completing this assignment as a British Bible School student, please present your work in a separate document and submit this by e-mail as either a Plain Text document or as a PDF to your Module Tutor . Instructions for submitting assignments can be found in the Module Introduction.

< Bibliography   Video Presentations > 


  1.  http://ebible.org/eng-rv 
  2.  http://www.onlinebiblepassages.com/?r=3&kw=new%20english%20bible%20on%20line 
  3. http://www.catholic.org/bible/