People ask me all the time what's my favorite Bible translation, or what's the best, or most faithful, Bible translation?
To that I say, first and foremost, the Bible is meant to be understood! When it's not understood, the devil marks you for prey! (Matt 13:19)
Here's my list of Bibles that I can recommend:
1. New King James Version
The NKJV is the absolute best Bible translation available today. The NKJV is the only modern Bible translation that uses the trustworthy Byzantine Manuscripts, and the TR (textus receptus).
2. King James Version
If you can understand the Elizabethan English, there's nothing more faithful to the original manuscripts than the 404 year old KJV.
3. The NIV of 1984
Not the updated version, which has gone over to the dark side, but the original NIV.
4. American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901
Other than changing the name LORD to Jehovah throughout the whole Bible, the ASV is a great, literal translation.
5. The New American Standard Version
From time to time this translation has infuriated me by the choices the translators made, but for the most part, the NASB is very literal to the original manuscripts, even if it's not smooth.
Bibles I do not recommend:
1. The Message Bible
Stay away from this paraphrase! It is NOT a translation of the Bible.
2.The English Standard Version (sorry)
I cannot recommend the ESV!
Main reasons: The do not italicize the words which they have added, like all other translations. This is a terrible mistake! You have no idea whose words you are reading--God's, or the translators!
Also, they have a misplaced, theological slant that has infected their translation. Daniel 9:24-27 is a horrendous translation, and is quite revealing as to the theological bent of the committee overseeing the ESV. And there are many, many others examples throughout the ESV, mostly regarding prophecy. Bear in mind that the ESV translators and committee do not believe in Bible prophecy, and their translation reflects that slant.
The reader of any translation should not be able to detect what "camp" its translators and overseers are in.