Choosing a Bible can be overwhelming, especially if you consider that it is essentially an ancient library of books that were written across centuries of time and in a variety of languages. Therefore, selecting a trustworthy compilation and translation of those sacred writings is the utmost importance. If you walk into a bookstore (or search online) you will quickly find that there are countless English translations and/or editions of the Bible that range in their translation style from simple to scholarly. Narrowing your selection down to just one can be tough, especially without any preparation.
After doing some research, I’ve discovered that there are two major factors that will help you to determine which translation(s) of Scripture will help you maximize the time you spend reading it!
- LITERAL – Some translations are extremely precise and their translation team uses a process that carefully selects a formal “word for word” rendition of the text. While other translations work to translate the passages of Scripture “thought by thought” into modern English to make the translation more dynamic for the reader.
- READABLE – Since the level of comprehension of the reader varies from one person to another, so do the variety of Bible translations. After translating, many use language that would be suitable for someone with an expansive vocabulary and in-depth understanding of theological principals while others seek to retain a level of approachability for a new reader with clear and simple terminology.
Modern Bible scholars have taken the concepts of LITERAL and READABLE and used them to form a Matrix to place the most common translations into to give us this incredible visual aid:
After reviewing this chart, hopefully, you will identify with one of the following statements so I’ve attached a translation suggestion for each of them to help you finalize your choice.
- “I have always had a hard time reading/understanding the Bible, so I want a Bible that is REALLY easy to read!” suggested translation: The New Living Translation (NLT)
- “I’m a pretty strong reader so I want a Bible that is very accurate & trustworthy in its translation of the original languages.” suggested translation: The English Standard Version (ESV)
- “I’m a decent reader so I want a Bible that I can use for personal growth but also feel comfortable reading it out loud at my Small Group. suggested translation: The Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
- “I already have a Bible that I’ve been using for quite some time and really love it.” suggestion: KEEP USING IT.
Why am I sharing this?
Recently, I’ve noticed several of my friends asking questions on Social Media about the Bible. I thought it might be helpful to write a blog series and share some of the resources that I use as well as some of my favorites.
I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re using to engage with Scripture so that everyone can benefit from your breakthrough!