Is the Lamsa Bible the best? Then which?

In a pointless thread in the Pit, Adam/Arg220 wrote:

Stoidela responded:

For a very cogent prestentation of how the Lamsa Bible is a poor translation and mainly used by the fringes of Christianity, check out this website:

The Lamsa bible short story: The ‘Old Testament’ was written in Hebrew, the ‘New’ in Greek. The Aramaic version is a translation from the originals (which makes it less accurate), and the English version is a translation of the Aramaic translation. Not a good source.

For a good rundown of English translations, check out:

Short story: Unless you think that the King James Version was inspired as a matter of blind faith, go with either the New International Version; New Revised Standard Version; or the Revised New American Bible. These are the top three for a good, modern, scholarly translation of the original ‘critical’ texts.


We were assigned copies of the New Revised English version in my old Bible as Literature class in college. In the book of Job, portions of chapter were flipped to make it “read easier”. As in you’d read chapters 16, 17, 19, 20, 18, 21, 22… etc. I told my teacher, I’d stick with my NIV. Not because I was/am a fundamentalist Christian or anything, but simply because I’d like my translation to at least be in the right order.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

or, if an accurate understanding is really important to you, you could try and actually learn the original languages yourself! Or, if fluency is really beyond one’s abilities, at least learn the original languages enough to be able to use a dictionary and compare the translations yourself, rather than rely on someone else.

By the way, a couple of books in the Jewish Bible are originally (and still) written in Aramaic. Namely, the book of Daniel, and one or two others, I forget which.

Akiva Miller

Speaking as a non-religious person, I can’t help but see that even if it’s not so accurate a translation as some of the others, King James is so much better written. Try reading some of the more familiar passages aloud from various versions.

Maybe it’s because, IIRC, James hired poets as well as scholars to do the work.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

The King James version is my favorite, not because I think it’s the best (most accurate) Bible, but because I think it’s the best-written Bible, with beautiful and stately language. For me, it’s like reading Shakespeare. I just wince when I hear wonderful language like “Be not afraid!” translated to “Don’t be scared!” Yes, I know they mean the same things, but the majesty of it is lost. That said, for Bible study, its NIV all the way.

King James for beauty, poetry, and encouragement. NIV, NRSV, or NRAV for study.
The KJ doesn’t present itself well for study for most people because of the same reason you need someone to tell you what ‘ods-bodkins’ is in Shakespeare. Antiquated english. Still, beauty is beauty.

Moriah started this thread by saying:

"In a pointless thread in the Pit, Adam/Arg220 wrote:


I have used the KJ, and NIV version, and I think the NIV is vastly superior. But I’d never say that there’s nothing better than it, and I also think the KJ is still God’s Holy Word. I just think the NIV is a more precise translation, and it’s a lot easier to read.

I responded in that “pointless thread” as follows:

"ARG, the NIV is a much more “readable” version of the scriptures. Personally, I prefer it over any other version for day to day, multi-purpose use.

But as for translation precision, its not necessarily any better than KJV. I know just enough about the bible’s original languages to be dangerous, and often find myself using the Greek or Hebrew Lexicon to look up the precise meaning of a scriptural phrase. I have discovered on a word-by-word basis, there is no english translation of the bible that is a more faithful renering of the literal meaning of the original texts than the KJV. It might turn out cumbersome. It might miss some of the subtle meanings lost in idioms which are not easily translated. But its the most literal version I’ve ever come across."

I agree with Bunnygirl and the others who view the KJV as a work of art in and of itself. I just prefer a more modern transaltion for my own use.

I also used to like the New American Standard Bible for translation accuracy (its not as readable as the NIV, but its a good translation, nonetheless).

I also enjoy using the Amplified Bible (which gets into more of the subtety of the original texts, particularly in the poetic sections of the old testament and the epistles in the new testament).

The paraphrases are also quite useful. That old standby, the Living Bible, is still on my desk for plain old reading purposes. There is a new paraphrase called “The Message” (only N.T, Psalms and Proverbs are available now), but it purports to use more of the subtle meaning of the original language while still using a paraphrased tranlation in modern english. I don’t have a copy here to quote from, but it does take some liberties in amplifying the text, but its basically true to the meaning of the original language.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”