How To Pick The Best Bible Translation For You

Best Bible Translation

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What’s the big deal?

A bible is a bible … Does it make a difference which bible I choose?

Well, I can answer it with one word “Yes”, but I prefer a story, don’t you?

I had just finished teaching a bible study session in our assembly when one of my friends came up asking me for help.

Her problem? She wanted to read the bible, but it was a struggle!

So, I felt compelled to offer aid and the next day we went bible shopping.

Little did I know, it would be sooo tricky.

Walking into a Christian bookstore left me as confused and overwhelmed as she was. Which bible was the best Bible translation to meet her need?

Not only were there way too many Bible translations, but each translation had it's own bookshelf full of various versions to choose from.  I had absolutely no idea where to start!

This is common for lots of Christians.

Gladly, this post will help you overcome these problems; getting you one step closer to the best bible translation for you.

Four reasons bible translations matter

  1. The right tools makes any job easier: From my experience the King James Version is not all that reader friendly for newbies and searching through all these versions to find the best bible translation for you can be a whopper of a task.
  2. Everyone is different: Depending on your personal preferences, your current understanding of God's Word, and your individual learning style, the best Bible translation for you may not work for me, and vise versa.
  3. Understanding the bible is important for spiritual growth: If you don't understand what you read, you be able to apply the word to your life
  4. A good bible translation is a wonderful foundation for bible study: rightly dividing the word is a required and a good translation makes it easier to compare and align scriptures during bible study.

Calling The Best Bible Translation To the Stand: Judge Joan Presiding ...

It’s not difficult to find varying opinions on the Internet:

Some say the King James Version is the closest translation to the original text and others say burnt at the stake, and use the New International Version.

Let's take a look at some of the best bible translation out there and their unique benefits. Then, you can decide which one you believe will work best for you!

Meet The Big Boys: For Reading and In-depth Studies

King James Version (KJV)

The KJV is one of the earliest translations ( 1611) and what is commonly read in the bible-sphere.  It is quite close to the exact word for word bible translation of the original Hebrew and Greek text.

  • It is a ‘Word for Word’ bible translation
  • Because it was written in Old English many have found it very hard to read
  • Although it is one of the most accurate bible translation, if you choose this one, ensure to look out for Old English terms like ‘manner of conversation’ ( 1 Peter 1: 15) which actually speaks more about attitude than speech.

New King James Version (NKJV)

This is the King James Version with a modern haircut. It was first published in 1982.

  • It is still considered word for word translation but without the Old English, and much easier to read and understand

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

There has been a long fight between the New American Standard Bible and the King James Bible, for first place in accuracy.  It is was first published in 1971.

    It is a word for word translation, often times maintaining the original grammatical structure of the text.  
  • Some scholars say that this Bible reflects the Hebrew and Greek understanding best.

  • In 1995, an updated version was published that was much easier to read, that the earlier version that was considered quite complex.

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now let’s ‘AMP’ it up a little ( pun intended) . The AMP translation pops the hood and reveals the various layers of meaning in God's Word.  It was first published in 1965.

  • This bible is where in depth bible study-ers ( like myself) go to binge :)
  • Because a large amount of Hebrew and Greek words are complex, and do not have exact English translations, this bible gives you numerous English expressions to lend clarity and greater understanding.
  • It might get a little weird or tricky using this AMP when reading, due to the many brackets and layers of meanings injected into the scriptures, along with supporting footnotes. It is safe to say that this bible is not for the faint at heart.
  • However it is quite interesting having this bible along for your bible study-ing ride. It adds so much more levels, and in depth understanding that it is insane ( in a good way :)! Wait until I show you how to study with it!

The Strong Contenders: The Easiest Bible Translation to Understand and Read

New International Version (NIV)

The NIV version of the Bible is currently the most widely read English translation.

  • The NIV is translated thought for thought, instead of word for word, which can either be viewed as a good or bad thing, based on your needs at this point. The translation is not as literal as the KJV
  • Truthfully, this bible is a widely loved bible. It has grown rapidly in popularity because it makes the bible really easy to understand. It was first published in 1978, but, scripture can appear a bit diluted.
  • I recommend this bible if you are really having difficulty understanding the Word for Word bibles but I would suggest to read it  in a parallel bible, along side the King James Versions, for this main reason:
  • Many persons are concerned with the fact that the NIV omitted some scriptures that other translations have not. For example:  Matthew 18: 11 “For the son of man came to save that which was lost” has been omitted. And more.

English Standard Version ( ESV)

The ESV is one of the newest translation of the Bible ( 2001) but has become a strong contender very quickly.

  • The ESV is translated thought for thought, instead for word for word and was first published in 2001 resulting from the RSV ( Revised Standard Version)
  • The joy of the ESV is being able to sit and read through a passage of scripture without any hiccups..
  • Although it is easy to read and understand, it has a similar problem of the NIV, in that some of the scripture seem to be a watered down version of the original text

Compare The Scriptures, Then Pick One That Meets Your Need

First, determine what will be the main purpose for this the bible. Will it be for reading, studying or both?

Let’s see how a few translations read  before making your decision.

Genesis 1: 2

King James Version (KJV)

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

New King James Version (NKJV)

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was [moving over the surface of the waters ( additional footnotes removed)

Amplified Bible (AMP)

The earth was formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters

New International Version (NIV)

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

English Standard Version ( ESV)

 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Do You Have Other Bible Versions to Compare? Look Up Multiply Bible Translations Using Bible Gateway ( Last updated 2018)

A screen will open displaying the passage in the selected bible version for comparison. Hope you enjoy.

My Choices For Best Bible Translation & Final Suggestions

You know already that I love the King James Version, so personally if I had to choose one, this will always be my first choice. My second would be the Amplified Bible for in depth studies. Over the years, I have enjoyed the new revelations that I receive reading the AMP and when you begin studying the word, you will too.

I would probably never settle on one best bible translation, for myself. Seeing that I am a reader, bible study-er, teacher, speaker, and preacher of the Word of God, I find that every translation can be beneficial based on its purpose.

If you are new to bible studies, studying with multiple translations of a scripture can be a great way to begin to wet your toes. In my own study time, I have found that to be invaluable.

Although there are free bible comparison tools online, if you are anything like myself, I prefer holding a book in my hand and flipping through the pages. A Comparative Study Bible that includes several translations in one can help you take your studying to the new level.  In fact, the various translations are even on the same page, allowing you to study scriptures in the different versions all at the same time.  

I hope this bible comparison has helped you discover what is the best bible translation for you. There might still be some questions that I might be able to lend you a helping hand; so don’t be shy, leave them below. You are also free to chime in and leave your views and suggestions for the best bible translation below.

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