Bible Versions

I frequently get asked what Bible version I recommend or what translation I prefer. The truth is, it’s a rather tricky question to answer because one’s personal preference plays a huge part in the choice. Many simply prefer the tried-and-true standard, the King James (KJV), because it is the most common and easiest to memorize. Others like the ESV, the NKJV, or the NASB because they are easier to read than the old English of the KJV or ASV. Still others like a simple, paraphrased-type Bible. Even trying to classify Bible types is not an easy task, as indicated in the graphic below, which attempts to demonstrate the spectrum of Bible translations. As you can see, there is a wide variety of options. I recommend looking at a few different versions before deciding on one. Read several familiar passages in each one and note how the translators deal with the text. In reality, there is also nothing wrong with owning multiple versions (I have about 20 different versions in my office library and 25 on my phone).

I have also heard several people mention they wanted a Bible that is a “literal translation.” The only problem with such a desire is that if we were to actually translate every single word of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts directly into English, in a literal word-for-word order, it would be nearly impossible to understand. This is because other languages have different word orders and grammatical structures vastly different from English. To see what I mean, pick up an Interlinear Bible, which translates the text in an almost entirely literal format, and you will see just how difficult it is to read and understand the English portion. That said, several versions are available that strive to be as “literal” as possible, but still have to make exceptions for the sake of coherency in translation.

The bottom line is, there is no perfect Bible version. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Each deals with the text a little differently and none get it 100% right. So, the best advice is, pick a version that you will read! Then, when you have questions about a particular verse, compare it with a few other versions.