What is the Best Bible version available

Many years ago, I received a Bible as a gift from my mother. I had it for about 20 years and recently moved and of course, it is no where to be found.

Trying to replace it is the problem. I see, the King James, the New International and the Revised this and and approved that. All incredibly confusing. Why all the various version of God’s word(The Bible)?

God is a good and smart person but he can’t speak English worth a damn. The books of the Bible have been translated and re-translated all over the place from the original languages they were written in. You can’t do a word for word translation of anything even for a simple text in modern Spanish to English. It all requires interpretation and reconstructing whole paragraphs instead of single words. There are plenty of people that believe that the King James version of the Bible is the original one and anything else is heresy. In reality, different versions of the Bible try to serve different purposes. The versions in modern English language are just as authentic as any of the rest and convey the same message verse by verse. Other versions have tried to translate the original texts straight into English.

There is no “best” one. They say the same thing but the more modern translations are easier for most people to read. Many people find that the King James version is more flowery and beautiful however but that adds nothing to the scholarship.

You haven’t really explained what you mean by the “best” vesrion. Are you looking for the most accurate translation?

The reasons for so many different versions of the Bible have to do with variations in translation (some of which is theologically biased) as well as with differences in the source materials. While textual critics and NT scholars prefer the Alexandrian texts for the NT, for instance, a number of traditionalists still prefer (largely for doctrinal reasons) the later, more interpolated and less reliable Byzantine texts which comprise the Textus Receptus, which was long the standard compilation of Greek text sources and which is the source text for the KJV among others.

There are also degrees of translation, which go from being as slavishly literal as possible (YLT), to highly interpretive and tendentious “paraphrased” versions like “The Word.”

If you want a reasonably accurate, objective well-annotated study version, I would suggest the New Oxford Annotated version, which is the standard academic version.

This isn’t true. Some versions are objectively more accurately translated than others. The “Contemporary English,” paraphrased versions tend to be the worst and the most heavily biased interpretively.

Yes please. The most accurate, closests to the original without a lot of additions from politically correct views of our times. I grew up Catholic and now married to a Baptist who thinks anything Catholic stinks. I used to have the Douay version. Thank you.

She seems to think that the King James is the one that I should replace it with even though she hasn’t picked up one in years. I picked up a New International Version which she considers sacrilege, so it’s going back.

Your wife will love this one. :wink:

The Revised Standard Version is a good one.

I no longer read Greek, but when I did, the RSV was usually as nearly word for word as possible. It’s copyrighted, so I don’t believe there are online versions, but the New Revised Standard version is available.

The King James version is beautiful, poetic, and a major influence on the English language. It is indispensible in the study of Western literature and language. It is also a much less accurate translation of the source documents, and uses an outmoded dialect that no one speaks nowadays. The New King James (IMO) incorporates all the drawbacks of the KJV with none of its advantages.

There are several translations at http://www.biblegateway.com/, and lots of online Bible study sites.


How would your wife feel about the New King James? Some KVJ adherants are okay with it, and most people find it easier to understand.

On the Biblical Archaeology Society website they have a link to an article that was published in Bible Review. This PDF article compares many different types of Bibles, in a relatively neutral way. Bible Review Article

The KJV actually has a lot inaccuracies and some outright tampering in it but there a number of Protestant Evangelicals who are convinced it is the “One True Bible,” and that other, more critical and more accurate versions are heretical. Without going into details, the reasons are that more accurate renderings alter some theological assumptions about the text (assumptions that OT passages were intended to refer to Jesus, for instance).

You’re the one who has to live with your wife, but the KJV is not the most reliable translation. It’s not the worst, but you can definitely do better.

If you’re talking about the language used, I assume you mean various contemporary English attempts. If so, I don’t see how those are “politically corect.” If you mean translations that, for example, use gender-neutral pronouns for God, I understand what you’re talking about. My experience of bible shopping is that a lot interject what i’d consider politically incorrect material that isn’t in the original (such as adding, “such as homosexuality” to a list of sins which does not include homosexuality in the original text).

Wow, thank you all especially Diogenes and Outpits for the links and explanations. The Bible Review Article is terrific. It’d be nice if us Christians would just agree to one Bible but what to do. Thank you.

I recommend the New International Version if you are looking for a Protestant Bible.
The language is clear and modern. The translation is accurate. You will also find many study guides and accessories such as a concordance for this particular translation. The less widely distributed a translation is, the fewer accoutrements you will find for that particular translation.
In the end, it’s personal preference.

I wouldn’t really worry about “accuracy.” The gist is there for any translation, and if you begin to nitpick over particular phrases or words you are going to want a host of parallel translations anyway.

Also consider parallell translations grouped together or electronic equivalents; many of these will pull up the Greek and Hebrew versions as well.

Finally you might consider paraphrased Bibles if you just want something for total readability. An extreme example of this would be The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel by Walt Wangerin. and a free plug here for The Book of the Dun Cow

Hope this helps.

Whoa, what Bibles do that and where?

I like the fact that there is a wide variety of translations available. I like several of them, from the KJV to the Amplified. But my favorite of all time was Good News for Modern Man. I don’t even know if it’s still available, but I what I liked most about it was that it used a simple vocabulary, designed for English as a second language. Very easy to read and understand.

Well, if you like to go by Amazon’s listing of bibles, sorted by approximate sales rank [lower numbers are better, scale goes from 1 to 6-million-ish] start here, top is best-selling:

So, at the time of this posting the listing goes:

  1. Holy Bible, Giant Print Presentation Edition: King James Version
  2. Holy Bible: Contemporary English Version
  3. The Holy Bible King James Version: King James Version Economy
  4. Holy Bible: New International Version, Black/Gray, Italian Duo-tone, Compact Thinline
  5. etc…

Now if you’re looking for ‘best’ as in most useful, I’d suggest a study bible, or perhaps a side-by-side.
For study bibles, I’d suggest the Ryrie Study Bible with a nice leather binding, available in a variety of colors and in your choice of translation. You can get a Ryrie in a number of colors, and King James, NIV, or New American standard.
Also available are bibles with King James on the left side and NIV on the right, which might be a way for the OP to sidestep the issue entirely.

Moved from General Questions to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

For contemporary language with as little bias as possible I second, third, or whatever, the nomination of the New Revised Standard Version. The Oxford Annotated Study Edition includes some other material as well, maps, a concordance, pronunciation guide, and historical information before many of the books.

If only!