This week, we are talking about different translations of the Bible. Specifically, I am covering the four translations I work with the most and explaining why.

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I couldn’t go through my series on Bible translations without covering one of the most unique translations out there: the NET Bible (NET).

Why the NET Bible?

The NET Bible is unlike any other Bible translation out there for several reasons:

  1. It’s free. Seriously. You can access it for free, download it for free, and print it for free. Every other translation out there is copyrighted by someone. That makes it so hard to reprint portions of it legally. We ran into this issue a number of years ago when we were doing a year long reading of the Bible at Riv. Inadvertently, we broke copyright law our first year and had to try to figure out what to do the second year. We contacted the guys over at NET Bible and they graciously (and excitedly) embraced our idea and gave us permission to reprint the Bible on our site. If you want an actual book version of the Bible you have to pay for it, but that’s just reasonable.
  2. It’s accurate. The team of translators worked really hard to make the NET Bible an accurate translation. It is a word for word translation, but it’s not terribly clunky. I don’t think it reads quite as well as the ESV, but largely I like the way if flows.
  3. It’s transparent. This is totally nerd-level crazy, but you can see why they translated each word the way they did because they tell you. There are over 60,000 translator notes included with this Bible! On some pages, there are more notes than verses. I love this because you feel like you are right in there with the translators figuring the passage out with them. In fact, the ESV translators used the NET Bible notes to help them in their translation.

How do I use the NET Bible?

I use the NET Bible for word study. The translation notes help me really understand what the passages I am studying mean. I have a book version of the NET Bible that I leave open as I am doing message prep and anytime I get stuck or want to dig deeper into a specific word, I look over to see what the translators have to say.

Why don’t I preach from the NET Bible?

It’s just a matter of taste. Every once in awhile, the NET seems clunky and the ESV is a bit more polished.

Who should use the NET Bible?

Anyone who wants a literal, readable, accurate translation of the Bible should give the NET Bible a spin. If you want to nerd out on the original languages without knowing them, even better. ¬†It’s particularly attractive to anyone who loves open source software and stuff like that. This is about as close as you are going to get to an Open Source Bible. Besides, I love that I have a Bible that has the word “Beta” on the cover. Ingenious.