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Choosing a Bible

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The Bible was written in the common language of each generation— Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. God intended it to be accessible to all people regardless of their background or social status. Since the age of Greek civilization, translations were made in other languages.

During the Dark Ages, the Bible was commonly available only in Latin and only the clergy had access to the limited, handwritten copies. It was considered a sin for the man on the street to read or try to understand it for himself. Satan had seemingly succeeded in hiding God’s Word behind a clergyman’s robe.

Then in the early 1500 ’s, William Tyndale committed himself to putting the Bible into the everyday language of the English-speaking people. It is said that at one time he told a clergyman,

“If God spare my life, ere many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou doest.”

Tyndale was harshly opposed in his task by both the clergy and the political powers of that day. Suffering shipwreck, loss of manuscripts, pursuit by secret agents, and betrayal by friends, he succeeded in translating the Bible into English at the expense of his own life. Captured, imprisoned, sentenced, then strangled and burned—his last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

Today, the English language offers a plethora of translations—many with varying degrees of supplementary Bible helps. In choosing a Bible, remember two things:

1. Whatever English Bible you buy, it is a translation of the original languages. Any time you translate a message from one language to another, the accuracy, the readability—the entire production—will have its strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, the translation of the Bible into English has usually been done with meticulous care, so that what we have today is very accurate. There are, however, both good and not-so good translations of the Bible. Each translation finds a different compromise between readability and being a literal translation. The more literal the translation, the more challenging it may be to read. I strongly suggest you aim to get the most precise translation you can, but in so doing, still remember it is a translation. I say this, not depreciating one iota the power of the Bible’s message in another tongue.

2. Get a translation that is simple for you to read. Remember, Tyndale gave his life to make the Bible readable to the common man. He wanted people to understand it easily, and not feel like they were reading a foreign language.

To help explain the Bible in greater detail, many versions come with cross-references, notes on customs, maps, and so forth. These can indeed be helpful, but remember, they are nothing more than man’s comments on the Bible text, and are not the Scriptures themselves. In obtaining a Bible, you may wish to have a small one that can be carried with you, and a larger one that you can leave at home for greater in-depth study.

 

Translation School Grade Leve l
New American Standard Version - NASB 11
English Standard Version - ESV 10
King James Version - KJV 12
New King James Version - NKJV 7
Christian Standard Bible - CSB 7
New International Version - NIV 7-8
New Living Translation - NLT 6
   
   

 

 

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Sample passages

Amplified NASB ESV KJV NKJV CSB NIV NLT

2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (AMPC)
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (NASB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work 2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (CSB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (NASB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3 : 16-17 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Colossians 3 : 1-2 (AMPC)
IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

 

Colossians 3 : 1-2 (NASB)
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (ESV)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (KJV)
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (NKJV)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (CSB)
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (NIV)
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3 : 1-2 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Psalms 1 : 1-3 (AMPC) BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.
2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.
3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity].

 

Psalms 1 : 1-3 (NASB) How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (KJV) Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners,
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (CSB) How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams
that bears its fruit in its season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
Psalms 1 : 1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not

follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (AMPC) Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

 

 

Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (NASB) Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (KJV) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (CSB) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways know him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3 : 5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

John 3 : 16-17 (AMPC) For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

 

John 3 : 16-17 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3 : 16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3 : 16-17 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3 : 16-17 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3 : 16-17 (CSB) For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3 : 16-17 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3 : 16-17 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
More info on AMPC More info on NASB More info on ESV More info on KJV More info on NKJV More info on CSB More info on NIV More info on NLT

GotQuestions.org description

Amplified Bible - Pro’s and Con’s
The Amplified Bible can be a valuable study tool, as the different “alternate” renderings can give additional insight into the meaning of a text. The problem is the words the AMP gives alternate renderings for CAN mean those things, but do not mean ALL of those things. The fact that a word can have different meanings does not mean that every possible meaning is a valid rendering each time the word occurs. Also, it being based on the American Standard Version results in some of its wordings sounding archaic.

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New American Standard Bible - Pro’s and Con’s
Probably the greatest strength of the New American Standard Bible is its literalness. More so than any other English Bible translation, the NASB seeks to take what was originally said in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and say the same thing in English. The primary downside to this method is that it sometimes results in the English not being as smooth and free-flowing as it could be. Overall, though, the New American Standard Bible is an excellent Bible translation.

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English Standard Version – Pro’s and Con’s
The English Standard Version receives complaints from both sides. Some say it is too literal. Others say it is too dynamic. Often, criticism from both sides of an argument indicates that something has achieved a good balance between the two.

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King James Version - Pro’s and Con’s
For nearly 400 years, and through several revisions of the original, the King James Version has been deeply revered by English-speaking peoples worldwide, not only for the precision of the translation from the original languages, but for the beauty and majesty of the style, which has greatly influenced literature for centuries.

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New King James Version - Pro’s and Con’s
The strength of the New King James Version is in how it updates the archaic language of the KJV while maintaining much of its beauty and eloquence. The New King James Version is very literal in its rendering, resulting in a very good “word-for-word” translation. The weaknesses of the New King James Version are ( 1 ) its use of the Textus Receptus instead of more modern manuscript compilations and ( 2 ) its commitment to “complete equivalence,” which can sometimes result in the concepts behind the literal words not being communicated adequately.

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Christian Standard Bible — Pro’s and Con’s
Some claim the Christian Standard Bible is too literal (formal equivalence), and some say it is too free (dynamic equivalence). This likely means that, for the most part, the translators of the CSB succeeded in their goal of optimal equivalence. In a handful of instances, the CSB has opted for a more gender-neutral rendering of some biblical wording (e.g., replacing man with everyone in Romans 3:4 ).

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New International Version - Pro’s and Con’s
Probably the greatest strength of the New International Version is its readability. The NIV is rendered in smoothly flowing and easy-to-read English. One weakness of the NIV is that it occasionally delves into interpretation rather than strict translation. In the NIV, some passages are translated with more of a “this is what the translator thinks the text means” instead of “this is what the text says.” In many instances, the NIV likely has a correct “interpretation” but that misses the point. A Bible translation should take what the Bible says in the original languages and say the same thing in the new language, leaving the interpretation to the reader with the aid of the Holy Spirit. The greatest ‘con’ of the 2011 NIV, of course, is the inclusion of gender-neutral language and the necessity of interpreting rather than translating in order to present a more culturally sensitive or politically correct version.

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New Living Translation - Pro’s and con’s
The New Living Translation is easy to read and easy to understand. It is written in quality and contemporary English. However, when it goes more toward dynamic equivalence and less toward formal equivalence, the NLT sometimes goes astray, interpreting rather than translating.

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