Information About Bible Translations
Translational Philosophies & Representative Translations
By Alan Bonifay

Generally, there are three Translational Philosophies employed in rendering the original languages of the Bible into English:   Formal Equivalence;  Dynamic Equivalence;  and Free Translation.

Formally Equivalent  Translations

Translators attempt to preserve the form of the original text as far as possible. They are concerned that the finished translation match as closely as possible the elements of the original text paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence, clause to clause, phrase to phrase, word to word. The translators attempt to say what the original text says by retaining how it says it (as far as English grammar allows). The formal equivalence method attempts to transfer (as far as possible) the structural information of the message as well as the general idea or meaning of the words.

Formally Equivalent Translations:

KJV (Strong's) ASV RSV


Dynamically  Equivalent  Translations

Translators focus attention not so much on the form of the original text as on the response of the modern reader. Such translations are based on the principle of equivalent effect rather than on the principle of formal linguistic equivalence. Equivalent effect means the translators first try to discern what the impact of the original text would have been on the original readers. Then they try to use the English (receptor language) style and idiom which will make a similar (if not identical) impact on the modern reader. The main concern of dynamic equivalence is not formal linguistic correspondence but correspondence of thought or idea.

Dynamically Equivalent Translations:

NIV Good News Bible New English Bible


Free  Translations  (Paraphrases)

To an even greater degree than dynamic equivalence, free translations attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the original. The translators attempt to tell the reader what the author meant to say by what he said. Free translations obviously function more as commentaries than do either formally equivalent or dynamically equivalent translations.

Free Translations:

Amplified Bible

Other Types of Translations ~ Translations Produced by One Man

Regardless of the translational philosophy employed, the translator is likely to introduce personal religious bias into the text. This bias is more likely to occur in a one-man translation than in those translations produced by the check and balance systems of committee translations.

One-man Translations:

Green's Literal Translation Webster's
Green's Modern KJV (MKJV) Webster's (Revised 1833)
Living Oracles Weymouth
Young's Literal Translation


Literal Translations

Literal Translations:

Analytical Literal Translation

Others: [translational philosophies unknown]

KJ21 Bible in Basic English World English Bible


We offer the following comparison of scriptures in five different translations to demonstrate their function as a study tool designed to aid the reader in determining with exactitude the wording of the Bible. We have grouped them above according to the basic translational philosophy used in each. Our recommendation is that formally equivalent translations come the nearest to achieving complete accuracy in English. However, we remind each reader of his personal responsibility to determine the truth of any particular passage. We do not recommend the wording of any translation (in whole or in part) that does not accurately reflect the wording of the inspired text in its original language. It is our prayer that by diligent study and comparison all students of the Bible will come to a knowledge of the truth and that all will submit in obedience to the will of God expressed in His precious Word.

Click Here For Comparison Demo

For Additional Information, Bible Study, Spiritual Counseling, Comments, etc.,
1st option:   Please respond to the contact person/s listed on the back cover of this CD's carrying case
2nd option:  Email:

Return To:   Table of Contents


Hit Counter