Generally when we are looking at these copies of the ancient scripture, translation teams use many different copies they can find. If this is a topic that interests you, I’d recommend checking Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart’s book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth for further insight and guidance. Here is a brief excerpt on different sources for translation:
The external evidence has to do with the quality and age of the manuscripts that support a given variant. For the Old Testament this often amounts to a choice among the Hebrew manuscripts preserved in the Masoretic Text (MT), primarily medieval copies (based on a very careful copying tradition), earlier Hebrew manuscripts that have been preserved, in part, in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS; dated before the first Christian century), and manuscripts of ancient translations such as the Greek Septuagint (LXX; produced in Egypt around 250–150 BC). A well-preserved copy of Isaiah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls has demonstrated that the Masoretic tradition has carefully preserved a very ancient text; nonetheless, it often needs emendation from the Septuagint. Sometimes neither the Hebrew nor Greek yields a tolerable sense, at which times conjectures are necessary.
Unless we have a PHD in ancient Semitic languages and access to all those copies of copies of copies, you and I need to stand on the shoulders of giants who do the research. To that end, I’d say there is no one perfect translation. (Even the “best” occasionally requires a vote of a prayerful committee that determines how a translation is read in some parts.) Referencing Fee and Stuart again, it would be recommended to compare translations:
As we noted in the last chapter, the very fact that you are reading God’s Word in translation means that you are already involved in interpretation—and this is so whether one likes it or not. To read in translation is not a bad thing, of course; it is simply the only thing available and therefore the necessary thing. What this means further, however, is that, in a certain sense, the person who reads the Bible only in English is at the mercy of the translator( s), and translators have often had to make choices as to what in fact the original Hebrew or Greek author was really intending to express. The trouble, then, with using only one translation, be it ever so good, is that you are thereby committed to the particular exegetical choices of that translation as the Word of God. The translation you are using will, of course, be correct most of the time; but at times it also may not be.
When doing serious, in-depth Biblical research, you need good exegesis – systematic study of the text in its original context with its original intended meaning – and good hermeneutic – interpreting the relevance of the text for today’s contemporary church. To help, you could use different translations, along with commentaries and a Bible dictionary.
Most importantly, you need to prayerfully read the text for yourself and with the fellowship of other trusted believers. The Spirit will lead and we humbly need others in the church to strengthen one another. I’ve sat in Sunday school with the best commentator’s work in my hands, and despite the collective of PHDs in one book, I’ve been overjoyed by the clarity of the Spirit revealing God’s truth through the words of one of my faithful friends when I needed it most.
I hope this helps in some way, and I’m curious how this answer strikes you and how you might approach going deeper in the Word. Let me know if anything still stands out about translations or your search for good sources.
1. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 38.
2. Ibid., 36.