A paraphrase bible is one that allows the greatest level of liberty in translation. In fact, translation is probably too strong a word for many of the paraphrase bibles out there. Among paraphrase bibles, I am most familiar with the Amplified Bible. I have called it the Multiple Choice Bible because it tends to give a string of synonymous words or phrases in order to give numerous ideas as to what the verse might be saying. Unfortunately, it tends to confuse the sincere Bible student by giving a myriad of choices. For the creative teacher who needs evidence for his own unique doctrine, this bible is a storehouse of choices. If you do not like what the Bible says or if you simply need proof for a particular point, this paraphrase will often give you just what you need. But in reality, it makes God sound like a wishy-washy deity who must leave the real meaning of truth up to each person's whim.
Other paraphrase bibles include Good News for Modern Man and the Living Bible. These bibles mold God's word into a contemporary fusion of hip and political correctness. The text is "translated" according to liberal interpretation and modern nonsense. The lost and the spiritually immature often love these versions because they are fun and easy to read. It does not matter that God never made His Bible fun and easy to read--at least not from cover to cover. There are simple portions and there are difficult portions. There are joyous sections and there are plenty of heavy portions of scripture. The paraphrase relegates God's holy words to an unimportant side-issue. How people feel when they read the version--that is the deciding factor for most modern paraphrases.
I am sure that there are many modern paraphrases with which I am not familiar. As men get bolder and bolder with manipulating the words of the holy God, more and more modern versions are truly paraphrases. The dynamic equivalency doctrine of many modern versions is just a fancy way of saying paraphrase. It means that the text should be translated in such a way as to have the same effect on modern readers of English as it had on ancient readers of Hebrew and Greek.
This sounds good, but it is a matter of interpretation. It means that translators must be confident that they know exactly what God was saying to the ancient recipients of the Bible text. The translators must also know exactly what effect these words had on them. Then, they must be able to determine what words will have the same effect on modern readers in another language and put the text in those words. This is not translation per se. It is interpretation. It means that the reader of these bibles must totally trust the "translators" to put the right spin on the text. I do not trust them and neither should others.
The Bible gives various warnings to those who would add to or subtract to the words of God. Perhaps it would be good to close with some of these scriptures.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Proverbs 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.