“Can We Trust Any of Our Translations of the Bible?” – an Excerpt from Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg

The following is an excerpt from “Can We Trust Any of Our Translations of the Bible?”, chapter 3 from Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions by Craig L. Blomberg.


With so much misinformation and faulty logic about Bible translations being disseminated, is it any wonder that unbelievers, and even some Christians, are convinced that one simply can’t trust Bibles written in modern languages?

Should it cause surprise when individuals who once claimed to be evangelical Christians adopt another version of Christianity or abandon their professions of faith altogether and give as a primary reason for doing so the translation wars among Christians?

Those who relentlessly engage in these wars, maligning certain major versions of the Bible as unreliable in order to support their own theological and political agendas, would do well to ponder such outcomes.

All the major, nonsectarian Bible translations are more than adequate for teaching God’s people everything God wants them to know that really matters. The KJV, despite its slightly faulty textual base, is a highly reliable, formally equivalent translation, made intelligible to modern people by the NKJV. The NASB is outstanding even if often somewhat woodenly literal. The RSV never deserved the broadsides it received: it was a very good translation. And both the NRSV and ESV are excellent revisions of it, even if they disagree on how often to use inclusive language for humanity.

The NLT has brought countless first-time Bible readers to faith in Christ or to a deepened faith and a love of Bible reading that they did not previously have or might never have had. The HCSB is an excellent optimally equivalent translation that deserves more attention than it has received and a broader share of the Bible “market.” The updated NIV may have attained the best combination of accuracy and clarity of all the translations.

If gender-inclusiveness is going to be used anywhere (which even the ESV and HCSB employ in hundreds of texts), the updated NIV is probably the most balanced and nuanced in communicating the biblical authors’ intentions about whether just men or both men and women were in view in a given passage.

Many other good yet less commonly used translations could be added to this litany of praise. And of course there is plenty of room for successive revisions of all translations to improve even on the existing versions.

©2014 by Craig L. Blomberg. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.