In order to choose the right Bible, Christians need to have the different versions of the Bible explained to them. Our editors created this list to save you time.
If you are looking for a new Bible, you will find that there are many translations of God's Word. Let's face it – it can be downright overwhelming! You may be wondering what all these different translations are, and is one better than the other?
Every Christian needs the explanation of the different versions of the Bible. Because? Because it is important to be able to make an informed decision about which Bible to use on our spiritual journey. We will examine all the different major Bible translations so that you can have confidence in the Bible of your choice.
Different Versions of the Bible Explained
Before we dive into the details of each translation, we'll take a look at the three broad categories that each translation fits into. This will help you see the broader ideologies that inform different approaches to Bible translation.
word by word
Word-for-word translations are most closely based on the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts that Bible translators work with. In a word-for-word translation, word accuracy is paramount. Please note that the grammar difference between these ancient languages and ours is significant, so a 100% word-for-word translation is not entirely possible. But these versions of the Bible are working to produce a translation that is as close to that standard as possible. For this reason, our editors are happy to suggest word-for-word translations of the Bible as the primary version of the Bible.
meaning to meaning
Meaning-to-meaning translations focus on retaining the general idea or message behind the passage while achieving greater readability. These versions of the Bible are very popular because they flow a little more naturally for the modern reader. But care must be taken when reading a Bible from sense to sense, because when it is translated this way, the personal teaching of the translator more easily seeps through.
Paraphrased Bibles take the ideology of the meaning-to-meaning method to a new extreme. These Bibles offer the reader maximum accessibility and are easy for almost anyone to understand. In this way, they are profoundly important as they have the ability to reach so many. However, one must be even more careful with these translations, since the translator is allowed maximum poetic freedom in his work. These types of Bibles can be very helpful when trying to understand complex and intricate passages of the Bible.
Below is a table showing the different major Bible translations and which category each one fits into:
|word by word||meaning to meaning||paraphrased|
|King James Version (KJV)||New International Version (NIV)||The message|
|Neue King-James-Version (NKJV)||English Standard Version (ESV)||the expanded bible|
|New American Standard Bible (NASB)||CEV||the living bible|
|ASV||good news bible|
|Revised Standard Version (RSV)||TO BREAK|
|New Living Translation (NLT)|
Now we will look at the specific differences between each translation. This deeper understanding will help you to be as informed as possible about what makes each Bible translation what it is. Then you can come to a conclusion about which version of the Bible you should select for your personal use.
HeKing James versionhas stood the test of time and has established itself as the best-selling English Bible translation of all time. This is because it has incredible accuracy from the manuscripts from which it was translated and rich, vibrant language. The Complete King James Bible was originally published in 1611 after being commissioned by King James VI.
The historical significance of this Bible translation is so striking that it is credited with shaping much of the culture of the English-speaking world. Today, the King James Version still proves to be an effective and reliable translation, with the only caveat that the language in which it is written is not friendly to the average reader.
Our editorial team recommends thisHighest rated version of the King James version, which is alsoavailable in large printYgreat pressure.
The New King James Version (NKJV)
First published in 1982, theNeue King–James versionof the Bible is an update of the King James version produced by Thomas Nelson. This Bible translation was created to bring the accuracy and reliability of the original King James to a broader, more modern audience.
The New King James Version is an attractive Bible translation for those who appreciate the story, flow, and accuracy of the King James Version, but want to read a Bible in a more contemporary language. Critics of this Bible say that it is not as faithful to the original King James as it claims.
Our editorial team recommends thisHighest Rated Version of The New King James Version, which is alsoavailable in hardcover.
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
HeNew American Standard BibleIt is an interesting Bible because it is the most widely used literal and accurate Bible translation known in the 20th century.heCentury. First published in its entirety in 1971, the NASB aims to be faithful to the original languages of the Bible while also being understandable. This Bible translation arose out of the need for a contemporary word-for-word Bible translation that existed at the time.
The greatest characteristic of the NASB is its fidelity to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek from which it arose. It's impressive how you can combine that level of accuracy with readability accessible to most modern readers. Modern criticism cites that while it is easy to read and, more importantly, conforms to the best available manuscripts, it lacks the literary excellence and passion of the King James Version.
Our editorial team recommends thisHighest Rated Version of the New American Standard Bible, which is alsoavailable in large print.
American Standard Version (ASV)
work on itamerican standard versionBiblia began in 1870 with the goal of revising the 1611 King James Bible. The translation team that worked on this version of the Bible came from Baptist, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Unitarian backgrounds. The ASV intentionally withheld Elizabethan English from the King James Bible. Outside of prominent seminary usage, the ASV never achieved mainstream popularity, being seen as too literal. The King James Bible turned out to be the Bible of choice for the average Christian.
Our editors recommend this premium version of theamerican standard version.
The Revised Standard Version (RSV)
First published in 1952 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, theRevised Standard VersionThe Bible was created to be a readable but literal modern English translation. Interestingly, the Revised Standard Version was the first Bible to use the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll. In 1989 there was a revision of the Revised Standard Version, called the New Revised Standard Version or NRSV. Modern criticism of this Bible notes that liberal ideologies and theology figure prominently in the text.
Our editors recommend this premium version of theRevised Standard Version.
The New International Version (NIV)
HeNew international versionIt was created to meet the need for a modern English Bible using the highest quality, earliest available manuscripts. The translators also wanted to create a reading of God's Word that would be linguistically accessible to a wide audience. The NIV Bible was translated by a team of 15 Bible scholars representing many different evangelical denominations.
The New International Version was first published in its entirety in 1978 by Biblica, formerly known as the International Bible Society. Subsequent revisions were made in 1984 and 2011 in light of new manuscript discoveries. It has become one of the best-selling modern translations on the market today. Modern critics include those who find that the NIV significantly altered or simply omitted important passages present in the King James Version and other older literal translations.
Our editorial team recommends thisBest rated version of The New International Version, which is alsoavailable in large printYhardcover editionSpent.
English Standard Version (ESV)
Of the more modern sense-for-sense translated Bibles are theEnglish standard versionmost likely the line between literal, word-for-word translation and trying to convey the meaning above all else. The first complete ESV Bible was published by Crossway in 2001 as a revision of the Revised Standard Version. The team of more than 100 evangelical scholars and pastors had a unique philosophy in translating this Bible: "It emphasizes word-for-word accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning."
The ESV continues to be a popular option among evangelical churches. That's because of its unique ability to walk the line between honoring the literal translations that came before it (such as the RSV) while simultaneously conveying meaning and modern language in an accessible way. However, not everyone shares this view, as some believe that the translators made some serious theological mistakes in pursuing this goal.
Our editorial team recommends thisHighest rated version of The English Standard Version, which is alsoavailable in a compactedition.
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
HeContemporary English versionis a Sense by Sense Bible prepared by the American Bible Society as "The Bible for Today's Families." The translators focused on three principles when creating this Bible:
- The translation must be understood by people without stumbling in the language
- The translation should be understood by those who have little or no understanding of "biblical" language.
- The translation should be easy for everyone to understand.
The first complete CEV Bible was published in 1995. It has always been one of the easiest Bibles to read. With this reputation comes the belief that it is a "dumb" version of the Bible that misses much of the effect of more traditional translations.
Our editors recommend this premium version of theContemporary English version.
Good News Bible (BNT)
Hegood news bibleit is also known as Good News Translation (GNT). The reason for this name is that the American Bible Society wanted to correct the misconception that the Good News Bible was a paraphrase. This Bible is published by HaperCollins and is used by many different Protestant denominations.
The Good News Bible was first published in its entirety in 1976 and is intended to be a suitable Bible for children and learners of English. The name of the translation reflects the translators' desire that the Good News Bible make the Good News of Jesus available to everyone.
Our editors recommend this premium version of thegood news bible.
The New American Bible (NAB)
Henew american bibleit was first published in 1970. It is the only translation authorized for use at Masses in the Latin Rite Catholic Diocese of the United States and the Philippines. The New American Bible is also widely used by the Episcopal Church in the United States. The NAB Bible was translated by members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA). In this context, he is Catholic-minded in his translation, which earned him much criticism in Protestant circles.
Our editors recommend this premium version of thenew american bible.
The New Living Translation (NLT)
HeBible New Living Translationwas created by Tyndale House Publishers in an effort to create a genuine translation of the Bible, not a personal paraphrase, that honors the legacy of The Living Bible. The New Living Bible was first published in its entirety in 1996 and was translated by leading scholars using the oldest and best manuscript evidence available at the time. With this in mind, it has proven to be one of the most trusted and popular meaning translations out there. However, because it is not a literal translation, this Bible is more suited to devotional use than serious Bible study.
Our editorial team recommends thishighest rated version of The New Living Translation, which is alsoavailable in giant printedition.
The Message (MSG)
The messageit was translated from the original languages by Pastor Eugene H. Peterson between 1992 and 2002. This paraphrase of the Bible is one of the most extreme examples of the attempt to convey a modern and radically accessible reading of the biblical text to a contemporary audience.
While that goal is admirable, and much of the translation work is done impressively by one person, the reader must recognize the limitations of such a Bible. With a paraphrase it is impossible to completely eliminate the translator's own personal theology. While Eugene Peterson's use and knowledge of Biblical languages is profound and inspiring in many passages in The Message, this is a Bible to be used with caution and in conjunction with a more literal translation.
Our editorial team recommends thisBest rated version of The Message, which is alsoavailable in large printedition.
The Expanded Bible (AMP)
the expanded biblewas produced as a collaborative effort by Zondervan (the English-language publisher of the NIV Bible) and The Lockman Foundation (a non-denominational, non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to the translation, publication, and distribution of the NASB and the Amplified Bible). The first edition of the Amplified Bible was published in 1965, primarily as a revision of the 1901 ASV Bible.
The goal of this paraphrase is to "strengthen" the text of the Bible by using additional words along with a punctuation system and other typographical features that give the Bible a clearer meaning. Where Greek and Hebrew words have multiple words that are translated into English, they all exist. The Amplified Bible also emphasizes words with different meanings. These qualities make it a unique Bible choice. There was a later revision in 2015.
Our editorial team recommends thishighest-rated hardcover version of The Amplified Bible, which is alsoavailable in paperbackedition.
the living bible
the living bibleis a paraphrase of Kenneth N. Taylor. It was first published in 1971 and used the 1901 ASV as its base text. Taylor expressed that the roots of the translation actually come from his family's dedication period. He quickly noticed that his children found it difficult to understand and apply the Bible passages and stories they read together. He knew his family couldn't be the only one facing the same challenges. So he started working on The Living Bible.
The Living Bible has enjoyed great popularity among evangelical Protestant Christians since its publication. Despite this, it is not held in very high regard in academic circles, being simply a personal paraphrase made by a single person based on another translation and not on early manuscripts.
Our editorial team recommends thishighest rated version of The Living Bible, which is alsoavailable in large printedition.
With all the different Bible translations available today, we need the different versions of the Bible explained to us. Our editors pray that this is a resource that gives you a deeper look at all of these different Bible translations and why they exist. We also hope this knowledge will help you make an informed decision about which Bible (or Bibles!) will best serve you on your spiritual journey.
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What are different versions of the Bible? ›
|Christian Standard Bible||CSB||Modern English|
|Clear Word Bible||Modern English|
|Common English Bible||CEB||Modern English|
|Complete Jewish Bible||CJB||Modern English|
As of September 2022 all of the Bible has been translated into 724 languages, the New Testament has been translated into an additional 1,617 languages, and smaller portions of the Bible have been translated into 1,248 other languages according to Wycliffe Global Alliance.What is the best version of the Bible to read and understand? ›
The New International Reader's Version (NIrV)
It uses easier words than the NIV. It also explains harder words. This makes it a good beginner Bible for adults who find reading hard. You can read the NIrV online at biblegateway.com and on the Youversion Bible app.
But why do we have variants at all? There are essentially two answers to this question. The first answer is historical and tends to be one that Bible translators need to think the most about. The second is theological and tends to be one that regular Bible readers are most interested in.What is the easiest to understand version of the Bible? ›
The Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an English translation of the Bible compiled by the World Bible Translation Center. It was originally published as the English Version for the Deaf (EVD) by BakerBooks. God made the sky and earth.Which Bible version is most used? ›
- New International Version.
- English Standard Version.
- New Living Translation.
- Christian Standard Bible.
- King James Version.
The New American Standard Bible is a literal translation from the original texts, well suited to study because of its accurate rendering of the source texts. It follows the style of the King James Version but uses modern English for words that have fallen out of use or changed their meanings.How many versions of the King James Bible have there been? ›
There were almost 1000 editions printed from 1611 to 1769, all with minor corrections. No comprehensive revision of the King James Version was undertaken again until the middle of the 19th century.Is the King James Bible the most accurate? ›
Published in 1611, the King James Bible spread quickly throughout Europe. Because of the wealth of resources devoted to the project, it was the most faithful and scholarly translation to date—not to mention the most accessible.What is the best two ways to read and understand the Bible? ›
- Pray before starting. This simple thing is a game-changer. ...
- Meditate on single verses or small passages. The next few points concern ways to read the text itself. ...
- Read whole chapters at a time. ...
- Read whole books. ...
- Use a study Bible. ...
- Try different translations. ...
- Use a Bible App and listen to the Bible. ...
- Get a Bible In One Year.
What is the oldest version of the Bible that you can read? ›
Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus, Oxford.Who destroyed the original Bible? ›
In A.D. 301-304, the Roman Emperor Diocletian burned thousands of copies of the Bible, commanded that all Bibles be destroyed and decreed that any home with a Bible in it should be burned. In fact, he even built a monument over what he thought was the last surviving Bible.How many times the Bible has been changed? ›
Over 30,000 changes were made, of which more than 5,000 represent differences between the Greek text used for the Revised Version and that used as the basis of the King James Version. Most of the other changes were made in the interest of consistency or modernization.What is the world's most accurate Bible translation? ›
BeDuhn said that the New World Translation was "not bias free", adding that whilst the general public and various biblical scholars might assume that the differences in the New World Translation are the result of religious bias, he considered it to be "the most accurate of the translations compared", and a "remarkably ...How do I choose a version of the Bible? ›
Instead of trying to find the best translation, choose one that aligns with how you plan to use it. If you need a Study Bible, choose a translation that is good for study. If you would like to read devotionally, then choose a translation for devotional reading.What is the difference between the NIV and ESV Bible? ›
The ESV employs an “essentially literal” translation philosophy. The NIV, by contrast, has a less literal “dynamic equivalence” philosophy (though it is probably the most literal of the dynamic equivalent translations).What kind of Bible should a beginner get? ›
We will recommend the popular Amplified, ESV, NIV, and NLT translations for our list of best Bibles for beginners. As you grow in your faith, it is good to avoid relying solely on just one translation. Cross-comparisons of versions will reveal even more biblical nuances.What version of the Bible does the church use? ›
The New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) is a Bible translation approved for use by the Catholic Church, receiving the imprimatur of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991.What is the number one selling Bible translation? ›
The American Standard Version (ASV), officially Revised Version, Standard American Edition, is a Bible translation into English that was completed in 1901 with the publication of the revision of the Old Testament. The revised New Testament had been released in 1900.
Is the New King James Version of the Bible accurate? ›
The NKJV is described by Thomas Nelson as being "scrupulously faithful to the original, yet truly updated to enhance its clarity and readability."What is the difference between the Living Bible and the New Living Bible? ›
The New Living Translation is considered a paraphrase, but does not vary wildly like The Message and its mother, The Living Bible. It is recommended for those looking for a fairly accurate translation in the most modern English possible. The NLT gets a score of 6.3 for reading difficulty.What version of the Bible was the first version? ›
Gutenberg Bible, also called 42-line Bible or Mazarin Bible, the first complete book extant in the West and one of the earliest printed from movable type, so called after its printer, Johannes Gutenberg, who completed it about 1455 working at Mainz, Germany.Why do some people only use KJV? ›
This group simply regards the KJV as a very good translation and prefers it over other translations because the church which they attend uses it, has always used it, or prefers its style, or the individual person uses it, or has always used it, or prefers its style.What version of the Bible was used before KJV? ›
The Geneva Bible is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into English, preceding the King James Version by 51 years. It was the primary Bible of 16th-century English Protestantism and was used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Donne, and others.How many times has the Catholic Bible been changed? ›
Catholic bibles, however, have not varied since the original canon was approved at the Council of Hippo in 397 AD. The Catholic Church re-affirmed this canon at the Council of Trent in 1546 (in defense against Luther's cries to reorganize the Bible) and it has not varied since.What did King James removed from the Bible? ›
Since that time most modern editions of the Bible and reprintings of the King James Bible omit the Apocrypha section.What Bible translation did Billy Graham use? ›
Review of the Billy Graham Training Center Bible: The text is the New King James Version, and is a red letter edition (words of the Lord Jesus in red letters).What Bible did King James use? ›
King James Version (KJV), also called Authorized Version or King James Bible, English translation of the Bible, published in 1611 under the auspices of King James I of England.What are the two main things we must consider when interpreting the Bible? ›
- Identify the kind of literature your text is for insight into its meaning. ...
- Consider the context of the passage for a better understanding of its meaning. ...
- Read the text for its plain and obvious meaning. ...
- Try to discern the writer's intentions when he wrote the text.
What is the first part of the Bible I should read? ›
The Book of Genesis is the First Book of the Bible
There are many references to the book of Genesis all through the rest of the Bible. Reading the book of Genesis will give you context to many of the New Testament concepts.
Almost all of the Hebrew Bible is represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls include fragments from every book of the Old Testament except for the Book of Esther.Who was killed for translating the Bible into English? ›
In May 1536, Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was convicted of adultery and beheaded. Five months later, accused heretic and English Bible translator William Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake.Why isn't the Gospel of Philip in the Bible? ›
The Gospel of Philip is a non-canonical Gnostic Gospel dated to around the 3rd century but lost in medieval times until rediscovered by accident, buried with other texts near Nag Hammadi in Egypt, in 1945.Which president rewrote the Bible? ›
Thomas Jefferson was known as an inventor and tinkerer. But this time he was tinkering with something held sacred by hundreds of millions of people: the Bible. Using his clippings, the aging third president created a New Testament of his own—one that most Christians would hardly recognize.How do we know the Bible is true? ›
We have copies of the manuscripts and throughout history these copies show that the Bible has been transmitted accurately. Despite common skeptical claims that the Bible has often been changed through the centuries, the physical evidence tells another story. The New Testament records are incredibly accurate.Who removed the books from the Bible? ›
However, in the 16th century, Martin Luther argued that many of the received texts of the New Testament lacked the authority of the Gospels, and therefore proposed removing a number of books from the New Testament, including Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.What is a real name of Jesus? ›
Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.What are the 45 missing books of the Bible? ›
This book contains: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, The Book of Tobit, The Book of Susanna, Additions to Esther, The Book of Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, The Epistle of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azariah, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Gospel of ...How many years after Jesus died was the Bible written? ›
A period of forty years separates the death of Jesus from the writing of the first gospel.
Why is the Jehovah Witness Bible different? ›
Witnesses view the Old and New Testaments as "God's inspired message to humans." But they don't take every word literally. Instead they believe that parts of the Bible are written in "figurative or symbolic language."Who created Jehovah Witness? ›
The Jehovah's Witnesses are an outgrowth of the International Bible Students Association, which was founded in 1872 in Pittsburgh by Charles Taze Russell.What version of the Bible is the easiest to understand? ›
The Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an English translation of the Bible compiled by the World Bible Translation Center. It was originally published as the English Version for the Deaf (EVD) by BakerBooks.What is the most relevant Bible version? ›
- New International Version.
- English Standard Version.
- New Living Translation.
- Christian Standard Bible.
- King James Version.
|New International Version|
|Copyright||The Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.|
These Books are divided into 4 general catagories: Books of Law called the Pentateuch or Torah, the Historical Books, the Poetic Books, and the Prophetic Books.Which version of the Bible should I read? ›
A more literal Bible translation is not necessarily more accurate, especially if it's difficult to understand, leading modern readers to misinterpret it. For daily reading and Bible study, we recommend using a Bible translation that emphasizes the importance of being both literal and readable, such as the CSB or NIV.Which version of the Bible is closest to the original Hebrew? ›
The Geneva Bible was the first English version to be translated entirely from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.How many times has the Bible been changed? ›
Over 30,000 changes were made, of which more than 5,000 represent differences between the Greek text used for the Revised Version and that used as the basis of the King James Version. Most of the other changes were made in the interest of consistency or modernization.Why the KJV is superior? ›
Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and ...