I also posted this on the Japanese language site but I don’t feel like it fits very well in either category. If you can think of a better stack exchange site please let me know.

Some background: My grandmother was born in Japan just before WWII but married an American sailor in her youth and moved to the US, where she has lived for the past 60 years or so. She is a devout Protestant Christian, but as far as I know she converted when she moved to the US or shortly before then (I have never asked) and has therefore never seen the Bible in her native language. I want to get her one for Christmas, as I think that would be very special for her but I don’t know anything about Japanese translations of the Bible.

The problem: I’ve read that there are two main translations, the 新共同訳聖書 (NIT) and the 新改訳聖書 (NJB). The NJB is supposed to be more widely used among Protestants, but it’s also apparently a more literal translation and I don’t want to give her a Bible that’s clunky or obscures the meaning. I also don’t want to give her a Bible that is Protestant because of a bias in translation. On the other hand, I like the idea of a the NIT because it is more ecumenical, but not if it was made that way by deliberately translating it more ambiguously. I also know that translating to Japanese always requires some interpretation, so I like the idea of a less literal translation, but I don’t want to give her one like the Message which is very heavily interpreted to the point where it is more of a commentary.

What translation do you recommend for my specific situation? Thanks for your help.

  • I agree with @Codosaur on the 1987 NIT choice for your purpose because it is quite dynamic. This journal article has the technical details as well as the description of a newer 2018 translation (but more formal) by the same Japan Bible Society after their 8 year effort. The official name is Japan Bible Society Interconfessional Version (JIV). Dec 3, 2020 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


The most recent and most used translation in Japan is the 新共同訳聖書 Shin Kyōdō Yaku Seisho, both in Catholic and Protestant denominations in Japan.

Both the most recent version from 1987 and the older colloquial version (called 口語訳 – Kogoyaku) are also available and searchable online:


The most recent version doesn't have the (confusing) transliterations of persons mentioned in the bible.

For example, in the Kogoyaku, the word "Jesus" would be rendered into kana as ジーザズ (d͡ʑi-i-d͡za̠-su) to correspond with "Djeezas", as we would pronounce it, which kinda goes against how syllables can group in Japanese.

In the recent version, this is rendered closer to Japanese syllable & transcription rules, as ジーズー (d͡ʑi-i-su-u)

I would therefore recommend the 1987 edition.

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