How to Choose a Good Bible Translation

Need a good Bible?  There are lots of choices, perhaps a few too many in fact. The Bible has been translated so many times into English that we can easily get confused.

When choosing a Bible for your reading program, there are two things you’ll need to consider: accuracy and readability.

Translators who stress accuracy want to come as close as possible to a literal translation of the original languages.  Generally speaking, the most accurate translations are also the most difficult to read.

Translators who stress readability are less concerned about word for word accuracy.  They want to interpret the meaning of the original text in an easy to read format.

I’ll go for accuracy over interpretation always, always, always.

The easiest Bibles to read are what we call paraphrases.  The authors of paraphrases use their own words to make the text relevant to our times.  Two of the most popular paraphrases today are the New Living Translation and The MessageThe Passion Translation is also gaining popularity.

I never recommend paraphrases for the serious Bible reader.

What do I recommend?

After doing a lot of research and a lot of Bible reading, I’m offering this list of my favorite translations.

    • King James Version
    • New King James Version
    • New American Standard Version
    • English Standard Version

I’ve read all of these from Genesis to Revelation and I am very comfortable recommending them.

What is my opinion of the very popular New International Version?  I’ve read it in its entirety, and it is not a bad translation.  It’s not on my list of favorites because it is a bit more interpretive than my personal preference allows.  Still, it is a highly respected translation, and if you want to use it, you have my blessing.

You also have my blessing if you use the King James Version which I (and thousands of others) continue to love.  King James is difficult to read because it was published a little over 400 years ago.

Nevertheless, the King James Version is always acceptable for the serious Bible reader.