Choosing a Bible

Choose a Bible


Tips on Choosing a Bible

The Bible was originally written in three languages: Hebrew, Koine Greek and Aramaic.  What we have available for us today are a variety of English translations of these original languages.  Like any translation from one language to another, there are certain interpretive challenges and variations.  The major versions in English can be put in three categories: Literal translations, Readable translations and Paraphrases.


Literal translations

are not as concerned with the readability of the text as much as they are concerned with the accuracy of the text.  These translations take a more literal approach to translating words and phrases and attempt to keep these words and phrases in the same sentence structure as the original languages.  This commitment to accuracy may tend to make these versions more difficult to read.  These versions are useful for one who is studying the Bible.


Readable translations

attempt to keep the accuracy of the original languages, however, they also want to make their translation more readable.  So at the expense of being literal, they may take some liberties to allow ease of reading.  These translations are fine for regular reading, but refer to the literal translations when studying the Bible.



are the final category and they cannot be strictly defined as a translation, but are more like a bible commentary.  Paraphrases are high on readability, but not as concerned with literal accuracy.  As such, they are not recommended for study of the Bible, but may be useful for devotional type reading.


Literal Translations:

New American Standard Bible

New King James Version

New Revised Standard Version

English Standard Version

Readable Translations:

New International Version

New Living Translation


Contemporary English Version

The Living Bible


Study Bibles

are also helpful resources for cross-referencing, introductions to books and short commentary.  The MacArthur Study Bible and the NIV Study Bible are some examples of helpful study Bibles.