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BBL 1093: Honors New Testament Survey (Arrington)

English Translations for New Testament Exegesis

For a quick overview of many of the major English translations now available, you can consult this list from the American Bible Society:

Various scholars have their own preferences among the available English translations. Below are the recommendations of two respected exegetical scholars.

Gordon Fee's Recommendations

In the 2014 update to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (4th. ed., p. 56), Fee and Stuart recommend consulting the following translations for "the best possible start to an intelligent reading and study of the Bible":

In Fee's earlier (1993) guide to exegesis, he asserts: "The best way for you to become acquainted with the paragraph and to discover what in the paragraph needs special study is to read the paragraph through in at least seven translations." (New Testament Exegesis, Rev. Ed., p. 37, emphasis in the original.) In particular, Fee recommends English-language exegetes consult the following translations, with possible substitutions of other modern translations for the final three on the list. (Note: a number of now-popular translations or updates were not yet available at the time of this publication; the links below point to the most recent edition of each translation as of January 2024.)

Michael Gorman's Recommendations

Gorman is more cautious than Fee about the value of comparing English translations (particularly in an era when accessing multiple translations online is so easy that it can distract from other tasks in the exegetical process): "reading several translations can indeed provide useful insights, but this approach is somewhat overrated and can lead to erroneous conclusions. Each translation still represents exegetical judgments, and the similarities and differences should not be given undue weight." (Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers, 3rd ed., p. 49.) He recommends the following English translations as his preferred versions for exegesis, while acknowledging that other translations have strengths for other purposes:

For a deep dive into issues and options in selecting a Bible translation, you can consult this book:

Online Tools for Word Study

There are a number of excellent online portals that can be used for investigating the use and semantic range of biblical words. Here are links and tips for the use of a couple of the major options.

Using STEP Bible to find uses and definitions of biblical words

Using Bible Study Tools concordance and lexicon tools

1. Look up the Bible passage you are studying online with Strong's Exhaustive Concordance enabled using Use either the King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, or the Interlinear Bible to access the concordance. Look for the "Settings" icon:

Screenshot of Biblestudytools scripture entry highlighting the settings icon.

Under Settings, select the checkbox that says "Strongs Numbers," and every word that has a corresponding number in the concordance will now be highlighted in blue.

Screenshot of Biblestudytools Scripture Formatting dialog box showing Strong's Number option.

2. Select any word highlighted in blue to see the concordance entry. This will give you the Strong's Number, the original Hebrew/Greek term, a list of additional Bible verses that use this specific word in Greek or Hebrew, and some basic English language definitions from classic public domain reference works.

Screenshot of Biblestudytools concordance entry showing Strong's number.

Using Blue Letter Bible concordance and lexicon tools

1. Look up the Bible passage you are studying online using Select the NASB 95 as your translation to access the concordance.

2. Click the TOOLS button next to your verse to access the Interlinear display.

3. Click on the Strong's number for the word you are interested in to view the lexicon and concordance resources for your word.

4. If you already know the Strong's Number for the word you are interested in, you can also search for it directly in the lexicon search in Blue Letter Bible:

Screenshot of Blue Letter Bible Lexicon search.

The search results will include brief definitions of your term from the Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon (Hebrew) or Thayer's New Testament Lexicon (Greek). 

CREDIT: This guide is adapted from one created by Duke University Libraries. It is licensed for duplication, adaption and reuse with a CC BY-NC-SA license.

Reference Collection Tools for Word Studies

The lexicons in online Bible portals generally depend on public domain resources, which can be solid starting points for research, but may be missing the insights of recent decades of biblical scholarship. For in-depth discussions of the theological uses of New Testament vocabulary, you may wish to consult major reference works in the library. 

These reference works are generally organized in alphabetical order following the Greek alphabet. Even if you don't study Greek thoroughly enough to read it independently, you may find it useful to at least learn the alphabet in order to help you navigate reference tools for biblical studies. In some cases, they can be navigated using Strong's or G/K Numbers as described below.

The easiest way to find an entry for a particular word in TDNT if you don't know Greek is to look it up in the online lexica in either Bible Study Tools or Blue Letter Bible (see above). If TDNT has an entry for the word, it will show a citation giving first the volume number, then the page number for the beginning of entry. (You can disregard the number after the comma, which refers to the abridged version of TDNT.)

Screenshot of Biblestudytools concordance entry showing Strong's number.

The fully updated and expanded NIDNTTE can be cumbersome to navigate if you don't know Greek, but it can be done. 

  1. Use a concordance (online or print) to find the Strong's number for the word you wish to investigate. (If you use the NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance you can find the G/K number directly and skip step 2, but if you're using an online concordance or older reference work it's usually easier to find the Strong's number.)
  2. Use the Strong's to Goodrick-Kohlenberger number conversion chart in the Index Volume (Volume 5) of NIDNTTE to find the G/K number of your word.
  3. Use the G/K number to find your word in the Greek word index, also in Volume 5. 
  4. The Greek word index will lead you to the dictionary form of the word in question used in NIDNTTE and provide you with the G/K number for that form of the word.
  5. Use that G/K to find the entry for your word in volumes 1-4 of the dictionary. (The JBU copies have the G/K number range for each volume labelled on the spine.)