I am interested in learning the true Bible story. Yet; there are so many different versions published. From general talk they all seem to have varied content and conflict with each other. Many are said to have removed verses. Other are said to have removed entire books. Which one should I read to understand the true Bible story?
Short answer: Because people can't agree on what the "true" version of the Bible is due to issues of translation, authority, and the existing copies of original texts that we have access to today, your best bet is to use the one your church or other religious authority recommends.
Long answer: By "beginner", I assume that you mean a person who is new to the Christian faith, rather than a beginning reader (there are a number of Bibles that use simpler language suitable for those just learning to read English).
By "true Bible story", I assume you mean the original, without alteration. You're not alone in wanting this. This article from The Washington Post says that
The proliferation of Bibles underscores the anxieties people have about whether or not they are reading the right Bible. Concerns over accuracy and interpretation are especially true among religious traditions that distrust secular scholarship on the Bible.
Additionally, I'm sure that you want a version that is understandable. The article says that
The robust market does not alleviate anxieties about the Bible’s accessibility, though. There are persistent concerns that despite being so widely available, people struggle to understand the Bible.
Unfortunately, people can't agree on what the "true Bible story" is. The reasoning is a bit complicated and comes down to how we go about translating Bibles. To help answer that, I'd like to go through a few questions you alluded to in your post.
Why are some books removed?
I assume that you are talking about the Apocrypha, which are books of the Old Testament that some groups, like Catholics, accept but others, like Protestants, do not. In that case, some would ask "why are some books added"?
There are lots of different reasons for this, but two common reasons are:
- These books should be included because they were accepted by some of the earliest Christians, such as St. Jerome in his Latin Bible in 405 AD (this argument is one of several used by Catholics)
- These books should not be included because they are not accepted by the vast majority of Jewish people, past or present (this argument is one of several used by Protestants)
Which one is "true"? Did these books come from God or from people? We don't know, and lacking God directly telling us, we can't know (consequently, there's the question of if somebody says that God told them, should we trust them?)
Why are some verses different?
To talk about this, let's talk about what a book says. Virtually all Christians would say that the gospel of Matthew is "true", meaning that Matthew wrote it with some level of inspiration from God. Unfortunately, the original pages that Matthew hand-wrote (or dictated, or whatever) have been lost, so all we have are copies that people have made throughout the centuries. The trouble is that sometimes these copies have differences, either through mistakes or potentially from deliberate changes.
Two of the earliest copies of the book of Matthew that we have access to today say different things in Matthew 1:21:
τεξεται δε σοι υιον αυτος γαρ σωσει τον κοσμον (Then she will bring forth to you a son for he will save the world)
τεξεται δε υιον αυτος γαρ σωσει τον λαον αυτου (Then she will bring forth a son for he will save his people)
Unfortunately, we have no idea which is "correct". We could guess that the older one is more correct, but what if the older one was done by a subpar copyist? Or maybe we don't know which one is older.
Some Bible translations would use the first and some would use the second. Without further scholarship, we don't know which is "true".
Why are some verses removed?
Again, some people would instead ask "why were some verses added?"
As we said above, different copies of the Bible say different things. Some copies have certain verses, but others don't. One big example of this is the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11). The trouble is, some of the earliest versions of the book of John don't include this passage, suggesting that it was added by someone later. Does that mean we should remove it from the Bible?
But if those verses should be removed, why do they have verse numbers at all? Bible chapter and verse numbers were not present in the early Greek and Hebrew versions and are a relatively new invention. The version we use today is from Robert Estienne, where he assigned verse numbers that were first printed for the New Testament in 1551 and 1571 for the Old Testament. Naturally, he did this for the version he had at the time, which included passages like what he called John 7:53-8:11.
Bibles that "remove" verses do so because they are looking at earlier copies of the Bible that lacked these verses. However, some people argue that the verses were what God intended to be there in the first place and should be kept.
So which version of the Bible should I read?
I know that it's difficult and not fun to have so many different Bibles to choose from. But in most cases, the differences between versions are minor. It is my opinion that beginners shouldn't worry too much about the differences, and that they should instead just read whichever one your church or other spiritual community uses or recommends.
For instance, most Catholic churches use the Revised Standard Edition, Catholic Edition.
The most read translation is the King James Version, which was completed in 1611. There are some churches that use that, but many modern readers find the language too archaic to understand, or prefer translations that use earlier versions of the original text that the translators of the King James Version didn't have access to.
When you are more familiar, you may try to read other versions of the Bible, that way you can get a different perspective.
The answer to this doesn't depend on weather you're new to Christianity or you've been Christian for a long time. It's a very important topic and if you want the answer first, It's the King James Version. Of course, there are disputations on weather or not it's the inspired infallible word of the living God. There are multiple beliefs on the topic
1) Find which Bible you're comfortable with, and use that one. 2) They were all lost in translation, go back to the Greek and the Hebrew 3) Read all types of different versions, and take what you can from them 4) The King James Only group
Well lets see what Bibles (in general) say about it.
(NIV) "And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times." (ESV) "The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over." (RSV) "The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." (KJV) "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." (nASB) "The words of the Lord are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times."
So it's clear that there is a perfect word of God, and we know it's still here by Mark 13:31 "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away"
God's words will not pass away, But he never said the language would never diminish! The King James uses words such as Shall, Contemn, Thus, Thine, Ye, Shalt, Lo, and so forth, and that's the 1769 version. The 1611 version is very archaic! I don't think there's a difference between the two other than spelling, but if any disputations happened I would stand with the 1611.
What reason do I have to say the King James Version is the correct one? Well, first of all we have to say, This wasn't the first perfect Bible, I think the "original Greek and Hebrew" were, but we don't have those anymore, I think God transferred them over, but maybe there still is a perfect one in those languages. The King James (Minus the Apocrypha) was translated from the Masoretic text, and the Textus Receptus. There may have been more perfect versions, but those are not here, I think God preserved his word through the King James.
Now, I'm going to show why it's Inerrant and Infallible, unlike all the other current translations. Mainly, a perfect word will not have any contradictions.
NIV 1 Samuel 7:50 "So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him." 2 Samuel 21:19 ""In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod." If you look it up, they've fixed it to say the brother of Goliath, but that was a pretty recent fix.
2 Samuel 10:18 "But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there." 1 Chronicles 19:18 "But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven thousand of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak the commander of their army." They were both talking about the same battle, and they had a vast difference of Charioteers killed. If you read the King James, you would see that they killed 7000 Charioteers, which was 700 Chariots. There were 10 charioteers per Chariot.
The Bible says to be like the Bereans and research into things before taking someone's word for it. There are some great resources like Chick publications on this topic ( http://www.chick.com/whykjv/ ) that has more info, but I urge you to look into the Bibles, and their history.
The love of money is the root of all evil, translations need a 10% change for the Copyright, the little C in a circle that means money ($). Satans first words were "Yea hath God said?"... He's trying to sow confusion on what God has said, and I firmly believe the Authorized King James Version is the Absolutely correct, infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God.
May the LORD bless you and guide you in your journey. Remember in whatever you do to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. And Romans 8:28 "...All things work together for good to them that Love the Lord, to Them who are the called according to his purpose"
Just keep reading the Bible and Praying, and if you love God, every mistake you've ever made, will be put together for your Good, and if you're saved, every sin you've ever committed will be wiped clear and made as if they never were.
God bless you brother.