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What is the New Living Translation (NLT)?

New Living Translation, NLT audio

New Living Translation - History
The goal of the New Living Translation (NLT) is a translation of the Bible into a clear, readable form of modern English. The New Living Translation was completed and published by Tyndale House in 1996. Soon after the publication of the first edition, the NLT Bible Translation Committee began a further review and revision of the translation. Their goal was "to increase the level of precision without sacrificing the text’s easy-to-understand quality." The Second Edition of the NLT (also called the NLTse) was released in 2004. It reflects a translation style that is slightly less dynamic than the first edition in many places, yet it still retains natural contemporary English. The second edition also brought a poetic format to many passages, especially that of the prophetic writing in the Old Testament. Another minor revision was completed in 2007 with minor textual and footnote changes. For most of 2008 and 2009, the NLT has consistently averaged a 4th-spot ranking in Bible sales (based upon both unit sale and dollar sales) according to the Christian Booksellers Association. However, in July 2008, the NLT gained the #1 spot in unit sales, unseating the NIV for the first time in over two decades.

New Living Translation - Translation Method
Originally starting out as an effort to revise The Living Bible, a paraphrased version of the Bible, the project evolved into a new English translation from the best Hebrew and Greek texts. The New Living Translation is based on the most recent scholarship in the theory of translation. The challenge for the translators was to create a text that would make the same impact in the life of modern readers that the original text had for the original readers. In the New Living Translation, this is accomplished by translating entire thoughts (rather than just words) into natural, everyday English. The NLT follows a combination of formal equivalence (word-for-word) and dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought) methods of translation.

New Living Translation - Pros and Cons
The New Living Translation is easy to read and easy to understand. It is written in quality and contemporary English. However, when it goes more toward dynamic equivalence and less toward formal equivalence, the NLT sometimes goes astray, interpreting rather than translating.

New Living Translation - Sample verses
John 1:1,14 – “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Titus 2:13 – “while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.”

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What is the New Living Translation (NLT)?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022