I am going to do a readability study of 5 versions using the first nine verses of Mark 10. The five versions are the New Internation Version, the New Living Translation, the Message, the New American Standard Version, and the English Standard Version. I chose this passage because it appeared today in my daily NRSV bible reading email. I am not going to be engaging in textual-critical matters except where I must, but I will be concerned with accuracy as well, relying on formal translations (NASB/NKJV/NET) primarily to determine this.
Today I start with verse 1.
NIV: Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
NLT: Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.
MSG: From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them.
NASB: Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.
ESV: And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
"there"(MSG, NASB, ESV)/"that place"(NIV) or "Capernaum"(NLT):
Capernaum adds clarity here.
+1 NLT: "Then Jesus left Capernaum..."
Adds clarity here as regards direction.
+1 NLT: "...and went down..."
"area"(MSG) or "region"(all others):
"area" is the more familiar word, but...
One area "region of Judea across Jordan" (MSG) or two "Judea and..." (All others)?
Unless I am mistaken, Judea is west of Jordan. Crossing Jordan coming from Capernaum would put you east of it. Clearly Christ visited two areas. The MSG doesn't appear accurate. On the other hand, the NLT clarifies by adding that it was "east."
-1 MSG: Inaccurate!
+1 NLT: "...the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan..."
Just in case you didn't know Jordan was a river, the NLT lets you know, but the way I see it, it isn't really necessary.
+0 NLT: 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of another...
I don't see the purpose of this additional word in the NLT. I am disappointed.
-1 NLT: Wordy!
"Gathered"(NLT, NASB, ESV) or "Came"(NIV, MSG):
"Gathered" draws the picture much better than "came" and has the support of formal versions.
+1 NLT: "...crowds gathered around him..."
+1 NASB: "...crowds gathered around Him..."
+1 ESV: "...crowds gathered to him..."
"Usual"(NLT) or "custom"/"accustomed"(NIV, NASB, ESV) or "as he so often did"(MSG):
"Usual" is the more familiar word. "As he so often did" is wordy.
+1 NLT: "...and as usual he was teaching them."
-1 MSG: Wordy!
Verse 1 winner: NLT.
In looking at the question of whether Jesus went into one region or two I took a look at the old KJV. It reads:
"And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again."
Hmmm. "Coasts" of Judea! So Christ went to one destination, the east side of Jordan on the "coast" of Judea.
The problem here is that "coasts" is an archaic way of saying region or area- it isn't referring to the waterside. If all you had was the KJV, you might get the wrong idea.
Even knowing that, you might still be tempted to stick with a such a conclusion based on the presence of the word "by." If He came near to Judea "by" the "farther side of Jordan," he would be approaching it at its coast.
Again, "by" is used in an archaic sense; John Gill in his commentary indicates that this is best understood as "to." So in today's language, the KJV is to be understood as saying, "and cometh into the region of Judaea to the farther side of Jordan" which would reflect what really happened: Jesus traveled from Capernaum through Judea and crossed Jordan.
This illustrates why I do not believe the KJV is good for casual/daily/devotional reading.