What is the Best Bible version available

“The best bible” is an arts/entertainment issue?
Who knew??

Do get the King James. I love the thing and I’m not even a Christian.

The King James Version may not be the most accurate translation, but it’s the one with all the many familiar quotations that have entered our language.

I think Diogenes said everything that I wanted to say, but I feel like echoing his statements just in case you think it’s just one opinion - the KJV is not the worst, but it’s not the best by any stretch if you’re looking for an accurate translation. Arguably it’s the most poetic, but that’s a personal matter.

The bottom line is that if she hasn’t picked up a Bible in a long time and you don’t know the difference, chances are that any theological differences in the Bible will go over your head anyway.

I think the best Big Picture quote about the Bible is by Mark Twain: “It is not the things I don’t understand about the Bible that bother me. It’s the things I do understand.” The Bible makes a lot of pretty bold claims (love your enemies even if they persecute you; give to all who ask; blessed are the poor, etc) that show up in every version. I say we leave the complex, disputed theological debates to the people who have mastered the direct, undisputed commands. :smiley:

Ah, the language in the KJV! Because it is a style of language that no one uses any more, it has come to feel like religious language to those who have become accustomed to it. Just the sound of it acts like a mantra to pull you into a feeling of spiritual receptiveness.

I remember flipping through the channels one night and pausing at the sound of religious language. I had been away from it for a fairly long while at that point, and it just felt good to sit and listen for a minute, even if the verse did seem to be from one of those smiting sections.

Then the language shifted, became contemporary. It was a documentary on migraine headaches. They had been reading a translation from cuneoform of the earliest known description of a migraine headache. The language had sounded very KJV, though, and it had pulled me toward a meditative state.

It is possible for people to be drawn to the bible for reasons other than an accurate presentation of information. If you’ve become imprinted on that language, so that you feel pulled toward God when you hear it, no contemporary translation is going to satisfy. They will all be missing that mystic feeling.

If you think that arguing over differences in translation is hair-splitting, done by people who fiddle with the words because they can’t feel God, you won’t feel that the increase in accuracy is any basic improvement.

And if your group, your family, your past has used the KJV, using another bible could feel like you’re turning your back on your group, your family, or your past.

See: LOLCat Bible Translation Project.

Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem…

There’s also the New King James Version which is basically the KJV with some of the phrasing and antiquated wording smoothed over for easier modern reading. On one hand, if someone is stuck on the KJV, it gives basically the same book but in a simplier format. On the other hand, if you don’t trust the KJV translation, you have the same basic translation but without even the benefit of the flowery prose.

For a “test drive” of the different versions, I recommend Bible Gateway which allows you to search passages and easily flip between different translations. Take something you probably know fairly well already such as the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the meek…”) in Matthew 5 and see which versions read best for you.

Granted, that doesn’t help if you’re primarily interested in literal accuracy and you decide you like how “The Word” reads.

My feedback: the KJV is a masterpiece of Jacobean English prose, probably one of the finest things ever written in English (so to speak – translated, of course, but by people with a great feel for both original text and English as it was then written). The annoying points are: as Diogenes noted, it’s using the Textus Receptus, which is laden with small but serious errors (according to all Bible scholars but a few tendentious ones devoted to the T.R.); for reading purposes, it’s 300 years out of date; it makes some assumptions not founded in the text or scholarship. For what it’s worth, there are translations called the New King James Version and the 21st Century King James Version. But (IMO) the problem with them is that for serious Bible study they. so to speak, threw out the baby and kept the bathwater.

I don’t know hat variety of Baptist your wife is; some more conservative Baptists are KJV Onlyists, meaning they think that translation and only that translation was inspired by God. :rolleyes: A good modern “conservative” translation is the New International Version, which others have recommended.

My personal taste is for the New Jerusalem Bible (which is a complete revision of the original Jerusalem Bible, not something to do with a “New Jerusalem”). It’s a Catholic translation, but one which is profusely annotated, accurate in its renderings of the original Hebrew and Greek, and generally smooth reading in as close to a good modern prose style as can be approximated while staying true to the original. You will, of course, find that it’s supplied with the deuterocanon (“Apocrypha”) in their traditional places in the Old Testament book arrangement, so be forewarned about that – some people want nothing to do with the deuterocanon, even though the whole church regarded it as Scripture for 1500 years. (Personally i don’t find a lot of use for it, but I get irked as Hell at people who complain about “Liberals picking and choosing Scripture” when they’re working with a Bible that dropped about 25% of the original already.)

Avoid “The Living Bible” and other free or paraphrase translations; IMO they’re people rewriting the Bible so it says what they believe, rather than working it the other way around, which is what they claim they’re doing. The “Good News Bible” (full OT+NT version of what “Good News for Modern Man” was the NT of) is not bad for a smoothly-rendered relatively free translation, but don’t rely on it for controversial passages – it shows its translators’ prejudices.

The New English Bible is an attempt (IMO a failure) at producing a 20th century equivalent to the KJV, “high” style and all. The New American Bible, on the other hand, is the English-language Catholic Bible these days – and it’s sometimes tendentiously Catholic in its choices.

The Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version seem to be very popular translations. Both are copyright (as are several of the other translations) and I personally don’t find them exceptional in any way.

I’ve tried to provide what I think might be useful for guidance without being too polemic in my comments; not sure I succeeded. Hope it was some help.

Personally, I feel like the New International Version that you sent back is the best compromise between clear, accurate language and preserving the poetry of the KJV. The Oxford Annotated is a pretty good bet if you want a very scholarly version with extensive footnotes and context, but not poetic at all.

Bart and Lisa are at the Flanders home:

Ned: Well, children, it’s Saturday night. So, what say we let our hair down and play “Bombardment”?
Bart+Lisa: Yay!
Ned: …of Bible questions!
Rod+Todd: Yay!
Ned: Which version shall it be?
Todd: St. James!
Rod: The Vulgate of St. Jerome!
Ned: [looks through the Bible bookcase] “Vulgate” it is.
Todd: [disappointed] Aw.

Another reason why I do more reading than posting. Polycarp beat me to everything I wanted to say. I will say, though, that the NIV and the New Jerusalem are two of the most readable versions I’ve run across, and they still give me the feel of seriousness that I like to have. Frivolous it might be, but I prefer my Bible to sound a bit solemn, rather than silly. I don’t need contemporary language, if that means it will be outdated in another two years.

Some things, though, I just can’t quote in anything but King James, the 23rd Psalm being one of them, the nativity story being another.

I’m glad that we as Christians have not agreed on one Bible. In a fairly large group Bible study, I personally like there to be a variety of Bibles. The King James is neat for the purpose of poetic or quotable verses, but bogs down a bit in reading. The New King James is just weird. The Message is nifty in small doses but sometimes silly–and I’d be a little afraid that the drive to make it contemporary obscures the original meaning sometimes. I personally own an NIV and an NRSV (and an RSV, but that’s just because that was the standard Bible given to 3rd graders at my church when I was in 3rd grade.)

But in a group, reading slightly different translations of the same verses can give one slightly different impressions of what is most important. And this can be a good starting place for discussion.

If there were a New King James with the deuterocanonical books, I’d totally cheer for that.

There is a great NRSV version- The HarperCollins Study Bible WITH Deuterocanonical books, INCLUDING several accepted by the Eastern Orthodox but rejected by Rome (II Esdras, III & IV Maccabees).

Isn’t the Vulgate in Latin? Always wondered about that when I watched that episode.

One thing to watch out for: Catholic Bibles include books/material that Protestants do not consider part of the Bible (they call it “the Apocrypha”). If you get one of the versions commonly used by non-Catholics (such as the King James Version, the New International Version, or the Revised Standard Version), these books probably won’t be included, or if they are, the cover will say, “…with the Apocrypha.”

If you want more info on the differences between what different religions consider canonical (i.e. The Bible), one place to start is this Staff Report.

The 1769 version of KJV imo is the best, although it isn’t perfect. At times, it can be a bit thick with the olde English. It has the most complete message of all the bibles though, and a good 95% of it you should be able to understand without doing any researches. The worst bible is the NIV, and the NRSV isn’t good either. Better off reading a new KJV. Even the NWT Jehovah’s Witness bible is better than these. ESV is pretty good as well, pretty easy readability

Thing is, the things that get left out in more modern translations can’t be found in the earliest copies we have. So there’s the argument it is more accurate to omit them.

However, as far as I know, every one of them still includes those extra bits. It’s just sometimes in the margins or set off in brackets.

What KJV has going for it, as far I am concerned, is that it was written to be read aloud, with this somewhat poetic structure. What I have against it isn’t so much “Ye Olde English” (though that can be a problem) but when words have different meanings than they do today. Also, a few odd translations.

That’s not to say you can’t have your personal preference. It’s probably a lot better for those who grew up on it, assuming they were taught about the words that have different meanings, or have a study bible that will put notes on such words.

Best bible


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What makes it the best, and what do you mean by “most complete message”?

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

New bibles kinda say different stuff at these parts. I don’t like the style of newer bibles, how they add these captions, and explanations before every part, or have these long ass run on paragraphs. It’s even easier reading KJV in some parts really