I've not read the Bible yet but I'm planning on purchasing the KJV Bible, once I've got the money. But I've came across a book called The Street Bible: would reading this first help me to understand KJV Bible? How different are these versions?

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    Welcome Lee! As originally written, your question isn't particularly well-suited for our format, since advice questions don't work well here. I've edited your question to focus on the part of the question that we can address. I hope it is still helpful to you, but if you'd like to make further edits please feel free to do so. If you haven't already done so, I hope you'll take a minute to take the tour and learn how this site is different from others. Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:33
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    If you can't afford a Bible, and don't know anyone who would give you one, there are websites that offer to post one to you for free. I haven't used any so I can't vouch for them, but here's one I found on Google. And many of these sites have the much easier to read NIV translation! Unless you're 400 years old, a KJV is not a very good option for your first Bible.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 15:19
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    Definitely don't spend money on a Bible, unless you are looking for a specific kind of thing, like a nice study Bible or something. If you just want to be able to read it, you can get free ones just about any where. Just google search. KJV is in public domain, so you can even find it for very cheap at local stores. biblegateway.com has many translations online for free. KJV and NIV included.
    – user3961
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 23:03
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    I agree with the previous posters that you can get a bible for free. If you do decide that it is too difficult to have one sent to you for some reason, because of where you live or difficulties with post, then go ahead and buy one- it will be a treasure to you. "The Kindgom of Heaven is like a man who found a treasure hidden in a field. After he found it he hid it again, and in his joy, he went and sold all of his possessions and bought the field."
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 0:50
  • I think some people would find it easier to read Elizabethan English than modern slang!
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 2:37

2 Answers 2


First of all, these two translations are extremely different. Here's Genesis 1:1 in The Street Bible:

First off, nothing. No light, no time, no substance, no matter. Second off, God starts it all off and WHAP! Stuff everywhere!

And in the KJV:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

There's obviously a significant difference between these two in both translation philosophy and style. The Street Bible is a paraphrase that attempts to use "the language of the modern urban reader." On the other hand, the KJV is a fairly literal translation that uses Elizabethan English, which can be practically incomprehensible to some modern-day readers.

That said, though the language is very different, The Street Bible tells the same stories as the KJV and other Bibles. Reading it will therefore increase your understanding of the Bible, and allow you to make connections to the stories in the KJV or other translations.

Ultimately, however, the best approach is to compare a variety of translations and choose the one that is most comfortable for you. BibleGateway.com does not include The Street Bible, but it does allow side-by-side comparison between dozens of popular bible translations, such as more readable ones like the NLT and NIV and more literal ones like the NKJV and ESV.


Before selecting a translation of the Bible for reading or study, it is helpful to understand the goals of the various translations available and how they relate to what you're trying to accomplish by reading the Bible.

The way this is commonly categorized is "word for word" translations vs. "thought for thought" translations. Word for word translations seek to provide the best translation possible, so that the English word chosen for the translation best represents the exact meaning of the word used in Hebrew or Greek. Thought for thought translations seek to capture the overall meaning of the text, so that the concept remains the same, even though a certain English phrase might better capture the original meaning for an intended reader. Usually the goal of thought for thought translations is to get the meaning of the text across using modern, English vocabulary.

Most translations are a mix of the two types, and some lean closer to one side. Here is a visual chart to help you see how some popular translations fall on the scale:

enter image description here

As you can see, translations such as The Message and the "Street Bible" you mentioned would fall all the way to the right in the "Thought for Thought" category. That's because while they are easy to read and are translated into very modern English vocabulary (and sometimes slang, in the case of the Street Bible), quite a bit of liberty is taken in order to promote readability over translation accuracy. The NASB, on the other hand, falls far left on the scale, choosing translation word-for-word accuracy over readability. All of these translations have intended audiences and goals, and that's OK, but it's important to know the difference between each.

In your case, if you have never read the Bible before and want a good starting place, the KJV is not the translation for you. As you can see in the chart, the KJV is an accurate translation, but since it was published in 1611, the English vocabulary used is outdated and can be confusing to many modern readers. This doesn't make it any less legitimate as a translation, but since the goal of Bible reading is often clarity and application, it can be tough to achieve that when you have to essentially translate the words again into modern language.

On the other hand, choosing something like the Street Bible is also not that great an option, because so much liberty has been taken in the translation to make it readable, a lot of the original meaning of the text may become lost, especially within more conceptually complex passages. Essentially you would be reading a man's word instead of God's word.


I would suggest starting with a translation that is closer to the word-for-word side, but with moderate readability. This will allow you to get an accurate translation, but in easy-to-understand modern English. I personally love the ESV translation, and it is freely available at http://www.esvbible.org/. It is easy to read, easy to understand, but accurate in its translation. It is also supported and taught by many well-respected Biblical scholars and teachers.

The NIV is another good choice, and is quite popular and available. As you can see in the chart, the NIV is a little closer to the thought-for-thought side of things. This will make it slightly easier to understand for beginners, but also provides a high level of translation accuracy. This translation is also widely supported and taught by many scholars and teachers all around the world.

I hope this clears things up for you and helps make your choice easier!

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Thanks also for offering a helpful answer here. For some further tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? And for more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. I hope you'll stick around! Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 0:58
  • Could you provide a source for the image? I'm curious whether the colors (green/orange) and their placement above or below the line is supposed to indicate something. The copy of it with the most other graphics I've found so far is openbible.info/blog/2010/12 (which suggests that the image here is Zondervan's). In some of the other charts there, the author described the colors as "somewhat arbitrary groups", but those aren't the same colors as in the Zondervan chart. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:08
  • I think I originally found this graphic on the logos community forums here: community.logos.com/forums/t/45770.aspx -- as you can see, there are several other versions of the same chart posted to that thread. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:11

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