Another way of saying this is an "essentially literal" versus a "dynamic equivalence" translation. The ESV and NAS are an example of the first type while the NLT and NIV are closer to the second type. Both types of translations are helpful in their own way. Every translation presents the problem of a delicate balance between literal precision versus readability and formal equivalence in expression versus functional equivalence in communication. The following will help you see how one translator tries to capture the "word for word translation" and the others try to get a handle on the area of meaning or "thought for thought translation."
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (ESV- literal)
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” (New Living Translation - dynamic equivalence)
“Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.” (J B Phillips - dynamic equivalence)
**The danger of going beyond a word for word translation is that you have a tendency to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator(s) and the influences of contemporary culture.
Sixth Key: Genre (Narrative and poetry are the two main types.)
Numerous categories are clustered under each of these types. Narrative subtypes include hero story, gospel, tragedy, comedy… Poetry subtypes include lyric, praise psalm, imprecatory psalm, love poem, nature poem, etc. In addition to narrative and poetry we find prophecy, drama (Job), pastoral, satire, epistle, and many others. When studying different genres keep the following in mind:
1. When something is presented as historical fact accept it as fact (Genesis 1and 2).
2. When interpreting be on the watch for figures of speech and passages that take on weird meanings when understood literally. When the plain sense makes sense seek no other sense. But when a literal interpretation seems to obscure the text or contradict the clear teaching of other passages, it is time to consider a non-literal understanding of the passage.
*Clearly the seed in the Parable of the Sower is a metaphor for “the gospel of the kingdom.”and the soil represents different types of listeners (or the hearts of the different listeners) when the message is preached.
3. Sometimes the passage could be understood either literally or non-literally without creating significant problems.
6The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
*** Here the meaning could be nonliteral and the fierce animals could be images for large nations which will no longer hurt or destroy's God’s people in the future messianic age or he could refer to literal animals whose carnivorous nature will be changed in the new heavens and new earth.