There are many different translations of the Bible available today. Just go in the bookstore and look at the shelves in the Religion section. It can seem overwhelming. Here are some general guidelines to the differences between some of the most popular ones.
The King James Version is filled with what I call “fancy language.” It was written during the same time as Mr. Shakespeare’s famous – and hard to read – works. Newer versions of the Bible have since been written to make it a little easier to understand. The New American Standard is one step closer to our own way of talking, but it still has a bit of the beautiful English flavor. The NIV, or the New International Version, uses a more current style and vocabulary for today and is very popular. The Good News Bible, or the Message Bible, uses an even easier vocabulary. These newer versions all tell the same thing in the same order. The chapter and verse divisions are the same from one Bible to the next. They just use different vocabulary words.
The important thing to remember is that you need to find one that works for you. There are times I use all of them for different reasons. I know people who really love the Shakespearean English of the King James Version and others who say the Message Bible is the only one they can understand. I like a middle-of-the-road approach. I like the NIV for daily reading. I do have other versions, though, that I often turn to for different reasons. If we go back to the original languages the Bible was written in, we’d have a much better understanding. But, I don’t speak Hebrew, Latin, or Greek, so I have to decide which translation makes the most sense to me. Here are a few of the more common English Bibles available today:
- The Authorized, or King James Version (AV or KJV)
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- New International Version (NIV)
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
- New King James Version (NKJV)
- New Century Version (NCV)
- New Living Translation (NLT)
- Today’s English Version (TEV)
- The Good News Bible (GNB)
- The Living Bible (TLB)
- The Message Bible (TMB)
There are several websites where you can read the Bible in different English translations or even in other languages. One that I use all the time is www.biblegateway.com. It’s neat to look up a familiar verse or story and read it in several different translations. Even though they all say the same thing, the way they say it can be VERY different!
Some other features you might see when you look for a Bible:
*Study Bibles – The top of every page is Scripture, the bottom of the page has notes meant to give you a little more information
*Red Letter Version – The words of Jesus are printed in red
*Concordance – There is a topical index in the back to help you find certain words or topics
*Paraphrased – Not a word-for-word translation, but an idea-by-idea translation
*Chronological Bible – Follows the events of the Bible chronologically, the Books are not it traditional order.