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There are so many different Bibles available in the market today. They have a plethora of features unavailable just a few year ago. There's a whole gamut of things to choose from that dear Grandmother never dreamed would be featured!

So what facts should be sought out and considered before investing in a personal Bible?

{This is not asking for "the best translation" since that involves academic propensities and opinions that may apply to only certain believers.}

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What general guidelines should be considered when obtaining a personal Bible?

That would depend on the usage of the bible in question and in accordance to the particular denomination’s authorized versions permitted within that particular denomination.

  • Best to get a Bible that follows the norms of your particular denomination. For example Catholics are encouraged to read only certain authorized translations. This is equally true of some other denominations also.

  • An interlinear Bible is a good consideration for those with a certain amount of linguistic knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek and perhaps Latin if one is Catholic.

  • Biblical Concordances in Bibles is helpful to many, especially those seriously studying Sacred Scriptures or doing Biblical studies of one sort or another.

  • Bibles with historical maps are very useful for those interested in Biblical Archeology or travelling in the Holy Land or the countries of the Holy Patriarchs.

  • Waterproof Bibles exist for outdoor enthusiasts like me. I can be in the wild for a week at a time isolated from others and able to contemplate God through Scripture, nature and the the universe he created!

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  • Large Print Bibles exist for the elderly or those suffering from visions impairments.

  • Paperback Bibles are good options. They are necessary if you send them to inmates at a high security level, for various reasons. This is a basic requirement for inmates in super max prison facilities (death row).

There are many, many faucets to be taken into consideration when obtaining a Bible for oneself or anther. With this in mind, please allow me to offer the following to be a helpful way of furthering our love for reading Sacred Scripture:

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  • Waterproof Bible. Wow, that's a first for me (didn't know such feature exists). @raygrant is right. Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 21:26
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Personal Bible The purchase, or gift, of a Bible is a very important matter for the believer! The Bible my mother purchased for my High School graduation gift stayed with me through the ups and downs of life as a constant Companion--until the binding was totally worn out! (And there was no more room to write notes in the margins and fly leaves.)

The Bible is a Light, Bread, Guidance...and the still, small Voice of God in a noisy, cluttered up world. So the following facts should be considered in order to make an informed decision when getting a Bible:

  1. Consider whether you want a Genuine Leather, Hardback, or Paperback edition. Leather insures a long lifetime; hardback is good for in depth study, with the pages easy to turn; and a paperback is also easy to look up scriptures quickly.
  2. Decide which level of grammar is easiest to understand. There are Bibles in "basic English" or ones on a collegiate level use of vocabulary. Some like the Cotton Patch, or the Precious Moments Bibles would appeal to younger believers. (Other examples are the Living Translation, or NLT, and the Message.)
  3. A Red Letter Edition has the words of Jesus printed in red to distinguish them from the rest of the narratives. But many New Testaments do not have this feature.
  4. Some Bibles have a lot of pictures in them to help illustrate the Bible times and customs. Others have no pictures at all.
  5. One also has a choice between a Plain or a Study Bible. The Study Bible usually has charts, lists, maps, and introductions in the front of each book giving the author, date, and place of writing. Many contain other bits of biblical information as well. (Examples are the Nave's Study Bible and the Thompson Chain Reference Bible)
  6. Also, the inclusion of Footnotes must be considered. Several denominations, or schools of thought print Bible promoting their beliefs, so a wise choice must be made in this regard. (Examples are the Geneva Bible, the Holy Spirit Bible.)
  7. Another fact of bibliology is the consideration of Age in translating. Many believers retain usage of the King James Version of 1611 because it has been used for memorizing verses a lot (although it has been revised several times since then.) Others prefer a more modern translation since it has the advantage of recent manuscript discoveries, etc. (Examples are NIV, NASV, ESV)
  8. Some Bibles are translated in a stiff, literal, true-to-the-original wording; and these are used for intense study or research. Other Bibles are "paraphrases" expressing the intent and thought of the author. They make for easier reading and devotional Bibles. Some are a happy medium in between.
  9. Another fact to keep in mind when picking out a Bible is Who did the translating: a single scholar expert in original languages such as Moffat, Philips, Berkeley; or a translating committee, made up of a number of scholars from different denominations working together.
  10. The size of a Bible is a fact worth considering. In the olden days each family had a huge, large Family Bible for the coffee table or mantlepiece. It was over a foot long and up to a half foot deep! But it contained a lot of pictures and lists of information! (And eventually, a lot of ribbons, baby hair, and momentos!) For personal use your Bible could/should be much smaller and easier to carry. In fact some are small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, or glove compartment of a car.
  11. Along with the Text of the Bible, many Bibles have a Concordance in the back which is a "type of dictionary" with references for quickly looking up verses. Some are extensive, others are minimal, just referencing important theological, or common words.
  12. Tabulated or plain. Some new Believers who have not yet memorized the books of the Bible, find it helpful to have a Bible that has indented tabs on the outer edge of the Bible so they can find the location of a book quickly. Other Bibles usually just have a gilded edging, or plain edge.
  13. The Cost is another consideration, but not a big concern, because with the modern printing technology and digital inventions, Bibles are printed easily at minimal cost---although a person can spend more for more features. If a person is desperate to obtain one, there are Bibles available free because of orgs like the Gideons, American Bible Society, Cru, Salvation Army, or your local church.
  14. And finally, a fact that should not be overlooked is the usage of a particular Bible in the congregation one belongs to. During Sunday morning meetings, the congregation may be asked to recite scriptures, and the whole congregation would read from the same translation. A believer may consider obtaining a Bible that is the same as the one recited in Church. Or own two Bibles: one for church, and one for home personal study and devotions with all the features desired.

It would not take long to rummage through these Facts concerning a Bible, and then venturing out to purchase one that will become your constant Companion. In the long run this survey will prove to be a blessing in you deciding. For reading (studying) the Bible is not just a good thing, it's a God thing!

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There are two factors to consider when choosing a bible:

  • Translation
  • Format

Translation: There are countries that still don't have a bible translated into their own language. In English, we are at the point that that we almost cannot keep track anymore. In sorting out what translation to use/read, I suggest reading the Preface (the fancy word is the "skopos") of the Bible you are wanting to buy. In the preface they will outline their approach to translation (formal vs. functional; treatment of names; etc.). In help sorting out the translation issues, I suggest this book as a basic starting point in choosing a translation:

Format: There is almost too many options to work with here. The main question to ask is "where and how will you use this bible?" If you are planning on taking notes or highlighting, get a wide margin bible. If you're planning on hiking and want to read on the side of creek or mountain, plan accordingly. Study bibles are a great tool, unless, of course, you spend more time reading the study notes than actually reading the Bible. Also, I caution against niche bibles (e.g. "the first bible for firemen" etc.) They quickly become dated. Look for a printing that has a little larger type than you might want (if below the age of 40). For that 10pt font looks great in your 20's, but can become unreadable later on.

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