Why I Prefer The New Living Translation (NLT) Bible!

by | May 27, 2014 | Life Principles

Those who have been following my posts and sermons/podcasts for a while would have, by now, noticed that I follow and use scriptures from the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible. I have been trying out different translations for a long time now. The one translation that has caught my heart is New Living Translation.

Here’s a little information about NLT Bible I found out, just to give you the background.

In 1989, ninety evangelical scholars from various theological backgrounds and denominations were commissioned to revise the Living Bible. The project began with the purpose of merely correcting parts of the Living Bible. However, as the 100 scholars began to work, the decision was made to complete an entirely new translation.

Taylor, the original author of the Living Bible, approved this decision, and plans were made for Tyndale Publishing House to print the New Living Translation. The purpose of the New Living Translation (NLT) was to make a translation that is accurate with the original languages, yet lively and dynamic. Bergen and the other translators worked independently to correct the Living Bible or produce new translations, then worked together to produce a joint translation. Every book of the New Living Translation was reviewed by three or four people, then rated in the areas of accuracy and clarity. The scholars would debate their opinions, informally vote on the best wording, and the editorial board would decide the final translation.

Each work of translation went through the channels of critique: the individual, a book committee, a general reviewer committee, and back to the individual. In 1994, the translators gathered again to make the revisions determined by the reviewers. Due to the extensive efforts put in by world-class Bible scholars, the New Living Translation is the most expensive translation project in the history of Bible translation.

Can I please highlight the few reasons for why I have stuck to NLT?

1. The Simplicity of Language

While I still prefer translations like ESV, AMP, KJV for the more crucial words that cannot be done away with, NLT has a way of explaining them in a way that would convey the exact, or closer to the exact, emotion. For instance, consider Romans 5:1 from the KJV and NLT Versions

KJV: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

NLT: Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

Notice here, the explanation for the term ‘justified through faith’ as ‘made right in God’s sight by faith’. That is the tone and methodology adopted throughout the NLT Bible. Since, most attendees in my church, BRC are young, are new believers or are still seekers, a translation like the NLT helps facilitate the same.

2. The Dynamic Translation

The NLT Bible’s predecessor is the Living Bible, which was more of a paraphrased version.

There are two types of Bible translations, one is word to word translation, like the KJV and the ESV, the other is paraphrased or the Dynamic translation, like the NIV or the NLT.

In such translations, the text is translated phrase to phrase instead of word to word, to try and maintain the intent of the original text. The dynamic equivalence in NLT is splendid. Although, not perfect, NLT is nearly as accurate as a paraphrased version can get. Other dynamic translations like NIV and Message, although widely used, are very different from NLT. The reason being that though NLT uses our everyday English language, it doesn’t go to the extreme of paraphrasing the entire passage, like the message bible does.

3. The Richness of the Text

Most preachers won’t agree with me on this, and wouldn’t want to refer to NLT especially for teaching or preaching purposes. I can completely understand the same, since the word to word translation are better for more revelation based sermons. NLT is extremely helpful, when it comes to doing a lot of practical teaching, because it translates into our every day spoken English language.

Some argue, that CEV is a much better version when it comes to the richness of the text. I wouldn’t argue against it. I’d leave that up to you to read and decide as to which suits your taste and language better.

Here’s an example:
Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT
[17] Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, [18] yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

4. Gender Neutrality & Synchronization of Dates

Check out the screeshots below:

NLT Screenshot 1NLT Screenshot 2

That’s what NLT does throughout the Bible. The translation neutralizes the gender, and also tells us the dates in a language that we can understand. Gender neutralizing is seen by some as addition to the scripture, but I don’t see that as a valid argument. Because all of scriptures are equally addressed to both brothers and sisters. Because, the apostles addressed the brothers as was appropriate in their times and context, it can surely be appropriately addressed to both brothers and sisters in our day and age.

5. Where to get one?

Are you wondering where to get an NLT Bible? If you have never tried NLT, then first give it a try using the online version on Tecarta Bible or YouVersion Bible app on your phones or tablets. If you like it, you can surely purchase a downloadable version on Tecarta or if you need a print version, then on Flipkart or Amazon.

Do let me know, if this post helped you in your hunt or desire for an apt Bible translation for your personal or group usage. At our church and home groups, NLT is the Bible translation we adopt and use. Look forward to hearing from you!

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