The Bible itself is actually a very good example of functional equivalence, or dynamic equivalence translation. In other words, it conveys its thought, not the same thing word for word, but it conveys its thought. It's talking about the same subject, but it's not going to talk about it in exactly the same way that the original author said it was, which would be word for word, but it will present it in a way that's more helpful. Now some people say the translation is good, but they don't like that, or some people say the translation is not so good, and they don't like that. Well, if you don't like the translation, there is a different translation. And so if you want to read the Bible in Greek, the New American Standard Bible is a good translation to read. If you want to read it in English, the New International Version is a good translation to read.
Now, another type of translation is what we call paraphrase. It's the interpretation of the Bible rather than the Bible itself. It basically means to interpret the Bible. Now it's a paraphrase, but it's not an interpretation. It's not a way of understanding what God said in the Bible, but instead it's a way of reading the Bible to find out what God is saying to us today. And again, it may be a paraphrase of the Bible, or it may be an interpretation of the Bible. For example, the Living Bible or Easy-to-understand Bible. And it doesn't necessarily cover the exact same area of the Bible that the original Bible does.
Generally speaking, it's good to interpret the Bible based upon two points. One, it's based on our knowledge, our faith, our understanding of God. In other words, we can't just read the Bible and tell God what he said because we don't know what he said. Second, it's based on God's Word. And it's based on God's Word because it's what God himself has said.
In a nutshell, if you want the plain text Bible that includes the full chronological study help, you would go with a Chronological NLT Bible. You can get the Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT here.
If you want a very bare-bones bible with no study help, you would go with a plain text Bible, but you would need the NLT English Standard Version (ESV) because it's the only one that's in a plain text format. Here, the ESV is kind of a plain text equivalent to the NIV.
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