Philip W. Comfort, Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.

This is a simple little book by an editor of the New Living Translation (also published by Tyndale House) which offers to "guide you in your selection of Bible versions and give you direction in using each one" (p. vii). The first half of the book discusses manuscripts and textual criticism, followed by a chapter on "the theory and practice of Bible translation," and then a series of short articles on different Bible versions.

The first half, dealing with manuscripts, is a competent and lucid survey. Comfort has previously published books on this subject, and he knows it well. But after this the book goes quickly downhill. The chapter on theory and practice of translation is very superficial and serves only to promote the paraphrastic "dynamic equivalence" method used in the New Living Translation, without taking serious account of its problems. Gender-neutral language is also promoted as if it were unproblematic. The discussion of English versions also leaves much to be desired. Apparently the author has not actually examined all the versions he is writing about, because he wrongly states that the God's Word translation (1995) is the same version as the New Evangelical Translation (1992) under a new name. He praises and warmly recommends the New Living Translation, but does not disclose the fact that he was the coordinating editor of its New Testament. The literal New American Standard Bible, which is a version widely respected in conservative churches, gets sharp criticism from Comfort; but he defends the liberal Revised Standard Version against what he considers to be unreasonable conservative criticism, and laments that the worthy version "was disregarded by many Christians."

Comfort's "Guide to Bible Versions" will not serve its stated purpose, because it leaves the evangelical reader without a clue as to why certain versions are preferred over others in conservative churches.