This bundle of Formal (Word-for-Word) Translation English Bibles brings together the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). Though formal translations tend to read more “wooden” for the modern reader, they honor the line between translation and commentary. They hold firm to the conviction that the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts but the very words of Scripture. Therefore, they are accurate inasmuch as English has an exact equivalent for each Hebrew or Greek word.
The conviction that the words of the Bible are the very words of God is the driving force behind the translation of the English Standard Version Bible. The ESV does not try to “improve” on the original text in light of today’s culture or by using trendy language. Instead, translators have taken utmost care to express God’s Word in English that most closely captures the meaning of the original, with understandability, beauty, and impact.
The New King James Version is a total update of the 1611 King James Version (KJV), also known as the "Authorized Version." Every attempt has been made to maintain the beauty of the original version of the KJV Bible, while updating the English grammar to contemporary style and usage. The result is much better "readability." It is noteworthy that the NKJV is one of the few modern translations still based on the "Western" or "Byzantine" manuscript tradition. This makes the New King James Version an invaluable aid to comparative English Bible study.
Using multiple translations while you study will give you a well-rounded understanding of the text at hand. Though it’s good to have a primary version for memorization and meditation, reading from different translations demonstrates sound scholarship and can help you better understand a passage by seeing what the biblical author meant in new ways.
The goal of every Bible translation is to balance faithfulness to the wording of the original language with readability in everyday English. Typically, each translation will lean more toward faithfulness to the wording or readability. Translations that prioritize mimicking the original forms—word choice, word order, grammatical category—or the Hebrew and Greek are known as “formal equivalence” translations (also known as “word-for-word” translations).
Because these more literal translations generally attempt to choose one English word for each original-language word, and because they try to keep the order of words as close to the original as possible, they tend to be more “wooden” for the modern reader.