I came across this forum while doing a little bit of research. I just want to say first I do not consider myself Christian. I was raised Christian but always felt it forced on me. I have not been to a church service for 10 years and have no interest in going right now.

That being said, I want to get a bible and read it so I can make an informed decision on what I should believe.

I am looking At purchasing a bible but don’t know what version would be best for me. I want a version that is easy to read but at the same time not an interpretation and as close to a original translation as possible.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Side note: I went to a Lutheran church for the majority of my childhood. My mother still goes to the same church. My dad is a Christian but goes to a different denomination of church. I don’t know what kind.

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    All translation is interpretative. That's just the nature of translation (and reading in general!) You're really spoilt for choice in English, there are lots of good translations. NIV is always a safe choice. – curiousdannii Apr 25 '20 at 4:39
  • RSV was the Bible I grew up reading; it and the New American Bible are both easy to read. I suggest an annotated edition. – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '20 at 15:16

The major translations of the Bible are the King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard (NAS), the New King James Version (NKJV), the English Standard Version (ESV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).

The KJV and NAS attempt to take the underlying Hebrew and Greek words and translate them into the closest corresponding English words as possible (word for word), while the NIV and NLT attempt to take the original thought that was being presented in Greek and Hebrew and then express that thought in English (thought for thought). There are pros and cons to each type - the article will help to explain.

You may find this article helpful - it gives insights into these different translations. https://www.gotquestions.org/most-accurate-Bible-translation.html

For more detailed information into the history of how the Bible has been translated, and what those translations are, please refer to this article: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-versions.html

I realise this presents you with more information than you might need, but, if you are to make an informed decision as to which Bible to buy, then this is a good way to go about it. One thing I would recommend is that you buy a Bible which contains cross-references, maps, a concordance and so much more to make the Bible come alive and to answer questions that will undoubtedly arise as to start to read.

  • "I would recommend...a Study Bible" - are you sure? There are good Study Bibles and Study Bibles which are not good, but lead the reader off the track with special pleading for sectarian opinions. E.g. the Schofield Study Bible I would never recommend, and I dare say it's fans would never recommend an amillennial Study Bible. But I do agree with the comment on the value of cross-references, maps, etc. – Andrew Shanks Apr 25 '20 at 9:47
  • @Andrew Shanks - Yes, I recommend a Study Bible but choosing a good Bible translation is key. I have the KJV, the NIV, the NLT and the ESV and use all four to draw comparisons. I find the ESV Study Bible comments and notes are the most informative and detailed, as well as possibly being the most up to date. Like you, I would not recommend the Schofield Study Bible, nor some of the newer Bible translations, but that has to be a personal and informed choice. For the OP the priority is to find a Bible and to start reading it. Perhaps a Study Bible will come later? I hope so. – Lesley Apr 25 '20 at 9:55
  • @curiousdannii - Really? I find Study Bibles an invaluable aid to research. But then, I'm just an ordinary lay-person who has no theological qualification nor any grasp of Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic and just have to muddle along as best I can with English. – Lesley Apr 25 '20 at 10:54
  • @Lesley We all need resources to help us, that's not what I mean. I think study Bibles are problematic because they're too frictionless, they don't require you to stop and switch contexts. Without study notes on the page if there's something unclear you'll probably reread the passage, try to think about it more deeply, and if you can't work it out, then go look up something to help. With notes on the page you jump to getting help far earlier before engaging your brain to do the active reading it's already capable of. – curiousdannii Apr 25 '20 at 10:58
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    Sorry, I think this was all me misunderstanding what you were referring to! – curiousdannii Apr 25 '20 at 11:08

In addition to Lesley's excellent answer, I recommend to FIRST check out BibleGateway.com which offers customizable parallel translation of dozens of English translation such as Psalm 91 in NLT,NIV,ESV so you can have a preview. Make sure too choose passages that have archaic sounding language; Psalms, Proverbs, and prophetic books (like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) are good ones to compare. Once you decide on a translation, you can focus on choosing the binding (leather, paperback, etc.), the print (small, normal, large), and the extra features (maps, concordance, dictionary, articles, notes).

The website bible-researcher.com offers many objective resources to evaluate translations, including a convenient "one stop shop" to read each translation's Preface where the translation committee describes in great detail the translation principle used. You can find reviews and prefaces of common translations suggested by Lesley here:

Finally, some popular translations such as NIV and NLT have gone through different editions, so pay attention to the year of translation as well, which affect inclusive language (NIV after 1984 experimented with this, backtracking some in the 2011 edition), or on the other hand more neutral translation (such as the 2004 (2nd) and later editions of the NLT). Great index of all those years:

Which translation is today's best seller? See the April 2020 CBA Bible translation list.

  • BibleGateway.com is an excellent resource and recommendation. As an on-line resource for comparing passage translations, it is invaluable. In addition to the translations listed, the New Revised Standard Version should also be considered, as it is preferred in many settings for scholarly study, including seminaries. The American Bible Society offers descriptions of popular translations. bibleresources.americanbible.org/resource/… – BalooRM Apr 25 '20 at 19:32

For Bible Study and research digital bibles with links, and references can be very helpful. There is an nice App for Android "MySword - Free Android Bible" where you can compare many different versions of the bible. It has the KJV linked with Strong's Concordance.

For Bible reading, i personally recommend a paper bible. One of my favorites is the New Jerusalem Bible.

  • It is easy read.
  • It uses Yahweh in stead of LORD

This bible is not so common in the online bible portals because the copyright is still active. But there are digital and online versions to try it.


No other translation measures up to the King James.

The modern versions are based on very different texts that fundamentally change doctrine, and omit words. (The NIV is about 36k words shorter than the King James Bible.)

The chapters, words, letters and verse numbers have precise meanings that are lost when the text is changed.

For example one of the most loved verses is:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The word "begotten" qualifies Jesus as the only one born of God so allows other sons, which is a marvellous thing, since:

John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

which instructs us that we can become sons of God.

This is butchered in e.g. the ESV which has:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

When Christ speaks to his disciples in Matthew 5-7, it is precisely stated:

Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 5:2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

The NIV paraphrase for verse 2 is:

"and he began to teach them."

This omits the word "mouth" so losing the connection with the quote from Deuteronomy in the previous chapter (Matthew 4:4).

You will hear arguments against the King James Bible mostly using outside sources, but its own words remain a consistent witness to the truth.

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    The KJV is a great translation for anyone who is 500 years old. If you're not that old then it's a dangerous translation because of language change. So many words have changed their meaning but the verses still make sense with the new meanings so that we're not even aware we're not getting the meaning the translators intended. – curiousdannii Apr 26 '20 at 0:22
  • @curiousdannii are you able to give an example? – David Apr 26 '20 at 2:35
  • Sure, I wrote more about the KJV here: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/29943/6071 – curiousdannii Apr 26 '20 at 3:02
  • None of your examples hold water for me. But indeed it is a problem that words change their meaning. A problem remedied by prayer, and meditation (Psalm 1). But if you change the words as well as their meanings then you have lost precision and meaning. – David Apr 26 '20 at 4:09
  • So you already knew that "conversation" had changed its meaning? Or, can you tell me what "appearance" meant in the time of the KJV? Are you going to check an early modern English dictionary constantly so that you can be sure the meanings haven't changed? That's the only way you can safely read the KJV. – curiousdannii Apr 26 '20 at 4:14

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