Bible Translations : Dynamic Equivalence Vs. Formal Equivalence

Most laymen today think that a faithful translation of the Bible means a word-for-word translation. If the original has a noun, they expect a noun in the translation. If the original has sixteen words, they don't want to see seventeen words in the translation. We might call this translation "formal equivalence." The King James, old American Standard, and the New American Standard come closest to this ideal.

On the other end of the spectrum is a "phrase-for-phrase" translation, or a dynamic equivalence translation. It is not so concerned about the grammatical form of the original language as it is of the meaning of the original. A dynamic equivalence translation is more interpretive--but it is also easier to understand. The New International Version (in part) and the New English Bible follow this philosophy.

Excellent article on this by Dan Wallace