New Living Translation

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The New Living Translation (NLT) is a translation of the Bible into modern English. Originally starting out as an effort to revise The Living Bible, the project evolved into a new English translation from the critical Hebrew and Greek texts. Some stylistic influences of The Living Bible remained in the first edition (1996), but these are less evident in the second edition (2004, 2007).


Translation Philosophy

This translation follows a combination of formal equivalence (or word-for-word) and dynamic equivalence (or thought-for-thought) methods of translation. The translators set out to render the meaning and style of the original texts in contemporary English. If the literal approach resulted in a translation that was hard to understand or was misleading, a more dynamic approach was used. Metaphors are translated literally if the natural meaning is communicated clearly in English. But metaphors and other figures of speech are rendered more dynamically if necessary to ensure clear transmission of the original meaning. From the NLT introduction: "[The translators'] goal was to be both faithful to the ancient texts and eminently readable. The result is a translation that is both exegetically accurate and idiomatically powerful."

Textual Basis

The Old Testament translation was based on the Masoretic Text (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) and was further compared to other sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, Greek manuscripts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Syriac Peshitta, and Latin Vulgate. The New Testament translation was based on the two standard editions of the Greek New Testament ( the UBS 4th revised edition and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition).

Translation History

Following the success of The Living Bible (40 million copies sold over 30 years), a decision for revision was made that began in 1989 with ninety translators. The New Living Translation was completed and published seven years later 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 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.

First and second edition text may be identified by looking at the dates on the copyright page or simply by reference to the NLT logo. A square logo indicates a first edition (1996) text, while a diamond logo indicates a second edition (2004 or 2007) text.

Translation Properties

Vocabulary was carefully chosen to reflect modern English. The translators have sought to create a translation that bridges the gap between the ancient world and modern readers of English. Therefore, the NLT employs the following means to communicate the Biblical texts in a contemporary manner:

  • Ancient weights and measure are converted to modern equivalents. A literal translation, along with metric equivalent, is provided in the footnotes.
  • Ancient monetary values that often have little meaning to the modern reader are translated with common terms. For example, "ten shekels of silver" becomes "ten pieces of silver." A "denarius" is translated as "a normal daily wage." A literal translation is supplied in the footnotes.
  • Since the Hebrew lunar calendar has little meaning for most modern readers, modern equivalents are supplied, especially for known dates. For example, Ezra 6:15 reads "The Temple was completed on March 12, during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign." A footnote is included that states, "Aramaic on the third day of the month Adar, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. A number of events in Ezra can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Persian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. This day was March 12, 515 B.C."
  • Modern time equivalents are used with original wording supplied in the notes.
  • Cultural phrases such as "they beat their breasts" (Luke 23:48) are translated to their modern meanings. Luke 23:48 in the NLT reads "They went home in deep sorrow" with a note offering a more literal rendering.
  • In the New Testament, specifically in the Gospel of John, the context of οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι (hoi Ioudaioi / "the Jews") is considered and often translated as either "the people" or "the religious leaders" where appropriate with a footnote indicating "the Jewish people."
  • Where context dictates that both sexes are being referred to, gender-inclusive language is employed. For instance ἀδελφοί / adelphoi is translated "brothers and sisters" in Rom 1:13, "I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you... ." All references to God retain masculine forms (Father, Son, he).

Comparison with the KJV

The New Living Translation, compared with the King James:

  • Matthew 17:21 - entire verse omitted
  • Matthew 18:11 - entire verse omitted
  • Matthew 19:9 - half of the verse is omitted
  • Matthew 23:14 - entire verse omitted
  • Mark 6:11 - half of the verse is omitted
  • Mark 7:16 - entire verse omitted
  • Mark 9:44, 46 - entire verses omitted
  • Mark 11:26 - entire verse omitted
  • Mark 15:28 - entire verse omitted
  • Mark 16:9-20 - entire passage is questioned by a footnote that says, "The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark at verse 8"
  • Luke 4:8 - "get thee behind me Satan" is omitted
  • Luke 17:36 - entire verse omitted
  • Luke 23:17 - entire verse omitted
  • John 1:10 - says God created everything "through" Jesus instead of "by" Jesus as the KJB teaches
  • John 1:41 - The NLT leaves out the phrase, "Which is by interpretation, a stone." Hence, the critical distinction between Peter as "the stone" (Petros), and Jesus as "The Rock" (Petra) is obscured. This was no doubt deliberate to pleases Catholics who falsely teach that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. The Bible states in no uncertain terms, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1st Corinthians 3:11).
  • John 3:16 - the all important word "begotten" is omitted, thus denying the deity of Christ
  • John 3:13 - "which is in heaven" is omitted
  • John 5:4 - entire verse omitted
  • John 7:53 - 8:11 -- entire passage is questioned in a note which says, "The most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include John 7:53 - 8:11"
  • Acts 8:37 - entire verse omitted
  • Acts 12:4 - changes "Easter" to the incorrect "Passover"
  • Acts 17:29 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  • Acts 28:29 - entire verse omitted
  • Romans 1:20 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  • Romans 16:24 - entire verse omitted
  • Philippians 2:6 -removes the word "equal," thus denying Christ's deity
  • Colossians 1:16 - says God created everything "through" Jesus instead of "by" Jesus as the KJB teaches
  • Colossians 2:9 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  • 1 Timothy 3:16 - "God" is omitted, says "Christ appeared in the flesh, thus denying the deity of Christ
  • 1 Timothy 6:5 - "from such withdraw thyself" is omitted
  • Hebrews 1:3 - the all-important words "by himself" are omitted
  • 1 Peter 4:1 - "for us" is omitted
  • 1 Peter 4:14 - half of the verse is omitted
  • 1 John 3:16 -completely removes "the love of God"
  • 1 John 4:3 - the all-important words "Christ is come in the flesh" are omitted 1 John 5:7-8 -- Trinitarian clause omitted
  • 1 John 5:7 - half of the verse is omitted, thus denying the Godhead
  • 1 John 5:13 - half of the verse is omitted
  • Revelation 1:11 - first half of the verse is omitted
  • Revelation 5:14 - "him that liveth forever and ever" is omitted


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.

There is a Catholic edition of the NLT with the Deuterocanon, but this edition has not been granted an imprimatur by Catholic authorities, and so the NLT is not officially approved by the Roman Catholic church for either private study or use in church services. ISBN 0842354891.

The NLT is available in numerous editions as well as three study Bible editions: The Life Application Study Bible, The Discover God Study Bible, and The NLT Study Bible. The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary series uses the second edition NLT text as its base.


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