While the Bible is the Bible, there are now numerous interpretations available. NASB, KJV, NIV, ESV, and many more. If you are wondering what all this means, these acronyms all stand for various versions of the Bible. Each version varies based on how certain Hebrew and Greek words were translated, what exact documents were utilized, and if the translators were trying to translate word for word or thought for thought.
Some versions are translated straight word for word from the original text, while others are translated thought for thought. When translating thought for thought, the interpreters were trying to capture the thought that the original author was trying to convey with what was written. Beyond a simple word for word, or thought for thought there is a whole slew of Bibles in the middle range that try to combine word for word and thought for thought.
Even beyond these various versions there are study Bibles, apologetics (defense of Christianity) Bibles, multiple version Bibles, and specialty Bibles for kids, teens, men or women.
So, how do you know which bible version to pick?!
Well, that completely depends on what you are looking for, and honestly what your reading level is. If you are looking for a Bible to utilize for in depth study, I would not recommend the Message version, as it is only a paraphrase of the texts. (And, in my personal opinion has many textual errors and leaves things out. Personal opinion though.) But if you would like an easy version to read and are not worried about an in depth study, you might look into the Message version (MSG), the New Living Translation (NLT), or even the New International Version (NIV).
Bible Versions I have used and currently use
I personally utilized the NIV for many years, which is probably one of the most common versions people will utilize today. To put it simply, it is the King James Version (KJV) without all the thou’s, thee’s and so forth. I then utilized an NLT Study Bible for a short time for the purpose of studying a different translation. While I enjoyed the simplicity of the language used, I then wanted something for even deeper study. I then moved into my current Bible which is a New American Standard Bible (NASB), which is the most word for word translation. When looking for my newest Bible I considered many factors, and also looked into the Holman Christian Standard Bible, specifically the HCSB Study Bible because it utilizes many study notes including some greek word study notes. I have still looked into purchasing a copy of this version just for variation. I personally currently utilize the NASB MacArthur Study Bible. I really enjoy this Bible, but I will give you a heads up, the study notes do have a bend towards Calvinism though.
You may also consider a chronological study Bible, which as a side note, the New Testament makes a lot more sense when you actually understand the order of the texts. In present day Bibles, the books are actually printed in order from longest to shortest, with the exception to Revelation, instead of chronological order. This disordering of the texts is a common contributor to present day misinterpretation. 2 chronological study Bibles I have looked into are the Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT by Tyndale and The Chronological Study Bible: NKJV by Thomas Nelson. I personally have not utilized either of these but have looked into purchasing one of them.
Whatever version you choose, find one that suites you and what your goal is in reading the word. I have attached a Bible Version Chart that explains and shows the varying version based on Word for word translation to the thought for thought translations. This chart is used from the Lifeway Christian Book Stores Website.
On top of a good Bible I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy of The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. This is an invaluable resource that will help provide clarity on words and their background, so that you can have a better understanding of what a scripture actually means.
Also, if you have a smart phone and/or a tablet, I would encourage you to download a copy of the Blue Letter Bible, or the E-Sword Bible. These are great resources to have on hand when you don’t want to or can’t carry around a full size study bible. I personally have both on my phone, but mainly utilize the Blue Letter Bible.
I hope this has been a useful article and will help you in your endeavors to study God’s word.