Let’s talk about Bibles. If you go to a local bookstore, then you’ll see a bookshelf or two of different Bibles. Then you head over to a Christian bookstore and you find entire bookshelves devoted to different types of Bibles, but no real explanation of what those letters mean. Before you head into Sunday School at church or a Bible study at home, take some time to learn about the different types of Bibles and find the right Bible for you.
There is no perfect Bible for everyone. Each person has their own needs and styles of reading. Also each person has their own doctrinal beliefs and some translations will affect what the verse says. To help in finding the right Bible for you, I’m going to cover some of the more common Bible translations.
Jeff pointed out to me as I read him the post that I need to explain a few terms.
(there are affiliate links in here)
Terms to know when finding the right Bible for you
- translation- a Bible that is taken straight from the Greek and Hebrew into the language you’re reading it in. This is usually done by a team of people
- paraphrase- a Bible that is taken from an English (or other langauge) translation to its own version
- word for word- the Greek or Hebrew is translated word for word to maintain original intent as close as possible
- thought for thought- the Greek or Hebrew is translated phrase by phrase to smooth out grammatical differences.
What are the most common translations on the market right now?
King James Bible
This is your Grandmother’s Bible. Authorized in 1611 by, you guessed it, King James, and has been in use for 400 years.
- reads like poetry and has a very majestic feel
- some phrases are very familiar because it’s crept into the vernacular
- older grammar and word choice could be a stumbling block
- archaic phrasings make it more of a struggle to understand
The most common Bible currently in use.
- easy readability
- very accurate translation, it uses a combination of thought for thought and word for word translation to make it more readable
- some Christians have doctrinal issues with the most current translation.
The scholar’s Bible, most commonly used for in-depth Bible studies.
- word for word translation is one of the most accurate translations available
- because it is a literal word for word translation there is less chance of the translator inputting their doctrinal views
- because it is word for word, it can be a little clunky to read
- wording can be awkward for some people
New kid on the block in the word for word translation
- combines the word for word translation with the readability of the NIV
- there are some times where sentence structure is a little clunky
“The Bible in modern English”
- it’s in common language of today
- easily readable
- not as accurate, it’s not thought for thought or word for word, but a looser translation
- it’s closer to a paraphrase than a translation
- there is more chance of the translator to put in his viewpoint
- because it is written in “common language” of the 90s, some of the phrasing has aged poorly
New Living Translation
a storyteller’s Bible
- easy readability
- like the more recent NIV translations, it has some doctrinal issues with its translation
- it’s a bit looser of a translation than NIV, not to the extreme of The Message, but it’s not as close of a translation.
So which Bible translation do I use?
I actually own all of these, and a few more esoteric translations. Currently, I use the ESV translation. I like the combination of the readability of the NIV and the accurate translation of the NASB. If I’m looking for a different viewpoint I’ll read the Message (future Ticia 2020 says not so much now because it’s starting to age poorly, and the pastor who translated it started to spout ideas that I wasn’t sure were too Biblical). Since it’s in modern vernacular it phrases verses in ways that get me thinking and brings up new ideas.
My best friend enjoys using the King James version because it’s poetic. Up until the update to the NIV, my church used NIV in services, but with the new translation, they’ve changed to HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible, which is now called Christian Standard Bible).
If you want to try reading some of these online or get more information I’d suggest going to Biblegateway.com, it holds most of the translations online that are well known and lets you get an idea of what fits you. I frequently go to this site when I’m working on Bible study at my computer. I enjoy being able to read different translations.
If you want a more thorough and professional analysis than mine with actual verse comparisons I”d suggest going to Mardel’s Bible comparison site.
You’ve picked a Bible translation, now what?
Now look at what you want the Bible for. Do you want something small and easy to carry around?
Check out a pocket Bible, they’ll have that super thin paper you’re used to thinking of as “Bible paper” and super small print.
Do you want a Bible you can take notes in? Then you should get a wide margins Bible like I did, I even got one that has suggestions on how to study each book of the Bible with some notes on historical context. Another variation is the journaling Bible, and these frequently have some fun coloring pages at the beginning of each book.
Study Bibles will have notes to help you understand the text. These will tend to interpret scripture, so it will have opinions included in the notes, but the publishers try to keep the notes fairly nondenominational (unless it’s geared for a specific thought process, like a Reformed Study Bible).
And finally, I’ll link to just one example out of the dozens I can pick, there are themed Bibles. You can find a women’s study Bible, or a Patriot’s Study Bible (I’m not a fan of this one because the Bible wasn’t written to the United States, but there are some neat ideas involved with where inspiration for some of the foundational documents of the United States came from). I don’t tend to like Bible’s like these because most of the additional stuff tends to be a little fluffy for my tastes.
I just remembered two more versions I do like/find intriguing:
Chronological Bible– this rearranges the Bible into chronological order. The one I linked to is a one year chronological Bible.
One Year Bible– if you’re trying to read through the Bible in a year, this splits up the Bible into daily reading chunks. It’s gimmicky, but my Mom swears by hers.
So what Bible translation do you use? Do you like it?
Now you want to see the super exciting part? Hop on over to iHomeschool Network and see the other bloggers in the Hopscotch.