How to find a Bible translation that “fits”

priscilla-du-preez-607171-unsplashChoosing 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

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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!

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How to choose a good NON-study Bible.

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Earlier in this series, I suggested that if you were going to get a new Bible in 2017, you should invest in a Study Bible. However, that might not be the best fit for you if you are looking for something lightweight or that contains no extra-biblical material such as commentary or study notes. In fact, we can read probably Scripture faster and more focused without all the supplemental material. If you are in the market for a streamlined edition of the Word for daily reading there are still a few “upgrades” worth investigating in before making your final selection.

My three favorite “extras” when selecting a Bible.

  1. A concordance. This is hands down, my favorite feature in my Bibles. If you are unsure what a concordance is, it is a section (usually located in the back) of many Bibles that contains important biblical words and where you can find them. Perhaps you can’t remember the location of a specific verse but you remember it contains a keyword such as “baptism” thus you can look in the concordance for a list of verses that contain that word. I have found that it also helps broaden my understanding of a word or concept to see it used in another context. The bigger the concordance the better!
  2. A wide margin. There are many Bibles that have ample space for writing in them. A few ways you can utilize that space: taking notes during a meaningful message at church, prayer journaling, scripture doodle, structural laws for inductive study, or anything else that you can think of!
  3. Center-column cross references. A cross reference is a verse that has a similar theme or topic as the verse that you are reading. It’s a helpful tool that can help you “connect the dots” across the pages of Scripture. I love to see when an Old Testament passage or prophecy is being quoted in the New Testament and reference its original location. Especially when Jesus is doing it!

 

Why am I sharing this?

The new year has begun and many of us have committed to reading through the entire Bible in 2017, so I thought it might be helpful to start a blog series and share some of the resources that I use and 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!

How to read the Bible when it’s hard to read.

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Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” and this weekend many of us have taken the first step! As with any journey, reading the entire Bible in a year will have long, difficult stretches. A little preparation & a lot of perseverance will ensure that we can reach our destination. 

Here are my three favorite ways to get through a hard portion of Scripture: 

  1. A dramatized audio Bible. A few years ago I discovered The Bible Experience and it was a game changer! There are times where I don’t feel like reading or where a passage of scripture itself is difficult to follow (i.e The Book of Leviticus) so I listen to it instead. I prefer to listen to a dramatized audio Bible because it includes sound effects, background music, and has different readers narrating the text with actual emphasis/inflection in their voice. Whereas an “audio Bible” typically has a single monotone reader simply narrating the text.
  2. Use an easier translation or paraphrase. I prefer to read the Bible in a modern yet accurate translation such as the ESV or NIV but certain books of the Bible (i.e The Book of Job) are much easier and more enjoyable to read in a version such as the New Living Translation or The Message.
  3. Find an outline or chart of the book. I have found it helpful to read through an overview of a book of the Bible before I set out to read it in an effort to understand the original author’s train of thought and the context in which it was written. This is particularly useful for some of Paul’s doctrinal works (i.e The Book of Romans) Many Bibles have outlines preceding each book, so slow down and explore yours or look online and you will find an array of supplemental materials to broaden your understanding.

 

Why am I sharing this?

The new year has begun and many of us have committed to reading through the entire Bible in 2017, so I thought it might be helpful to start 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!

If you’re going to get a new Bible, try a Study Bible.

Here are my three favorite study Bibles: 

  1. The New Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Very organized & helpful section at the bottom of every page that helps you understand the context and original language of Scripture. This Bible is full of life application, theologically accessible, and written from a  very balanced charismatic perspective. Easily my favorite Bible and the first one I would recommend to anyone, regardless of their level of biblical literacy.
  2. Archeological Study Bible. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the historical setting or geographic intricacies that seem to be presuppositional in Scripture, this is the Bible for you. It is also full of detailed maps, charts & diagrams, and full color photos of the Holy Land.
  3. Life Application Study Bible. It’s the number one selling Study Bible in the world and very approachable if you are a new believer or haven’t spent much time reading the Bible.

Why am I sharing this?

As we prepare to kick off a new year and go through the Bible together as a church, I’ve noticed several of my friends asking questions on Social Media about the Bible. I thought it might be helpful to start a blog series and share some of 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!