The NLT and me…
I’ve made my decision. Beginning with my next message series, I will be using the New Living Translation for preaching, most teaching, public, and personal reading. This was not any easy decision to make – I love my NASB! – but there were a variety of factors in my decision…
My goal as a speaker is to communicate truth in an understandable way. I’m not trying to impress people with my knowledge or soaring oratorical skills. No, really, I’m not… No, I swear! I’m trying to help ‘seekers’ turn into believers, believers turn into disciples, and disciples turn into disciple-makers. In order to do that, I need to use methods and resources that aid understanding and communication. I believe the NLT is well suited for the task.
Almost everybody reads, but at what level? Literacy rates in the U.S. are around 99%. Almost everybody can read – and that is great news. But studies conducted in the U.S. and Canada consistently indicate that the average grade reading level is 8th to 9th grade, and also that around 20% of adults read at a 5th grade level. Most newspapers in the U.S. are written at a 9th grade level. The novels of popular writers like John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, and Stephen King are written at a 7th grade level.
The NLT reads at a 6th grade level – meaning that the vast majority of those who would ever hear me preach and teach should be able to easily understand it. Here’s a handy chart at christianbook.com that shows the grade reading level of several translations.
The NLT has been updated and improved. When it came out in the mid 90′s, I bought the first hardback copy our local Christian bookstore had in stock… And I thought it was pretty lame. But the NLT translation committee has worked hard to address concerns and make improvements. The second edition substantially improves accuracy, while maintaining its easy-to-read quality. The improvements have helped the NLT become the third best-selling Bible, right behind the NIV and the King James. And as I have read it the past few months, it has really grown on me.
Nostalgia. The original Living Bible was the favorite Bible of my youth – Did anyone else have “The Way?” the version with all those groovy pictures? – and the first Bible I ever read from cover to cover. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a factor in choosing the NLT.
I’m going to keep comparing 3 or 4 versions when I study, and making good use of the tools that help me work through the original languages. With God’s help, I will always share the goal of every Bible teacher – clear and life changing communication of the Word.