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Comments on Bible Versions

Below are assorted, short e-mails I received in 2004 on the items listed at Bible Versions Controversy and my book Differences Between Bible Versions. The e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Hello Gary,

I have seen and bought the newest repackaging of the "GNB" [Good News Bible, a.k.a. Today's English Version] I like it. I have read the GNB years ago and it is OK if you are just starting out in the Christian faith. But I looked though your site and you have no write up on it, or do you?

I will be the first to say the GNB is not the best or the strongest translation you can read, but if you want to get the big picture of the Bible, this would be the one you can read. So what is your opinion on the GNB?

Thank you for your time,

I discuss the GNB in chapter three of my Differences Between Bible Versions book. Basically, you are correct that it is "not the strongest translation." The problem is, many of its "translations" are more interpretations. So you're basically getting a commentary more than a translation. I detail some examples of this in my book.

That said, the GNB is a very easy to read Bible version. And for getting the "big picture" of the Bible, it could be worthwhile. Just be sure to have a more literal version on hand to compare verses before basing too much on how something is worded in the GNB.

>I need your advice. I have studied the Majority text and Revised text and know some Greek. But I recently read that the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament is not as accurate as the Septuagint. And this article says Jesus and the Apostles used the Septuagint. It was the Greek-Hebrew Text there is no doubt. They give several Scriptures that say the opposite of the Septuagint Version. One is Ps 22:16.

Are there quite a few words in the Septuagint that are more accurate. The masorettes did their copy about 700-1000 AD. The Septuagint from 265 BC on past the 1st Century. Which translation is more correct??


It is true that some of the quotes in the NT are from the Septuagint (LXX), but many others are from the Hebrew text. If you look for the "LXX" notation in the Scripture references in my Analytical-Literal Translation, these indicate where the apostles are quoting from the LXX when it differs from the Hebrew.

As for the accuracy of the LXX, it is a translation, so it suffers from the same possible defects as any translation. The Torah books are relatively literal and accurate, but much of the rest of the OT is less literal and accurate.

As for the Masoretic Text, it is true the oldest manuscripts we have are from 700-1000 AD. However, discoveries of older Hebrew manuscripts, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, show that these are very accurate. Meanwhile, note that the LXX was translated in the second century BC, but the oldest manuscripts we have are far more recent (I'm not sure of the exact date). So not only do you have the translation errors to deal with, but also possible copyist errors, just as with the Hebrew texts.

>Subject: Seeking advice


I'm one who believes in interlinear/strictly literal approach of translation. As such, I have a very favorable opinion toward your ALT.

I believe you said you've been using NKJV as your primary Bible and LITV as your secondary Bible (correct me if I'm wrong). Currently I have 4 translations - NKJV, REB, NIV, GNB—and I read NKJV and REB the most. Of these two, I read NKJV much more often. Naturally I spend much more time on it that REB, so what will be my 'main' Bible is an important question to me. Now, I take it that you are very much for NKJV. I am, too. What I'm not sure is that whether it is truly enough to be my main Bible. In other words, do you think I should change my main Bible to a more literal one and use NKJV as a complement to aid in my understanding, like I'm now using REB for? Also, I'm curious whether you still keep using NKJV as your main Bible.

By the way, I'm just a lay reader.

Thank you,



First off, I really like your first name!

That said, my newest book, God-given Foods Eating Plan, is a good example of my version usage. I quote almost exclusively from the NKJV for the OT, but for the NT I use my own Analytical-Literal Translation. I also quote once from the NASB. Otherwise, I will refer to the LITV at times, along with all of the versions I have installed for my BibleWorks program. Along with the NKJV and NASB, these would be the KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, the old Geneva Bible, Young's Literal Translation, and Brenton's translation of the Septuagint.

So I compare a lot of versions as need be, especially now that I am working on updating the ALT for the Third Edition. I also use my NKJV Interlinear, again especially when I am working on the ALT. It has a both a very literal interlinear translation, along with a somewhat freer translation. This freer translation, along with the freer renderings of the NIV and NLT, I refer mainly to for ideas for the figurative, bracketed renderings in the ALT. But for ideas for the actual literal text and my own Bible study, I stick with the more literal versions.

But to answer your question simply, my main versions are my ALT for the NT and the NKJV or NASB for the OT.

Note: The NKJV Interlinear is without a doubt my favorite interlinear. It is utilizes Hodges and Farstad's Majority Greek Text. This differs slightly from the Byzantine Majority Text my ALT is based on, but it is so close that the interlinear has proven invaluable in working on the ALT. It had been out-of-print for some time, but Thomas Nelson recently re-released it and re-titled it The Majority Text Interlinear. So if the reader is looking for an interlinear, I would highly recommend this new edition.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Bible Versions Controversy: Yearly Comments
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