The only, inspired version of the Holy Bible is the 1611 Authorized King James Version. End of post.
OK, maybe not (although that was what I was told growing up!). While this isn’t true, things would be a little easier if there WAS only one translation of the Bible; then we could just get to reading it.
Still, there are good reasons to know some of the different versions out there, and what you can expect from them.
- The King James Version (KJV) – This one is the “Gold Standard” of Bible versions, and in spite of my tongue in cheek comments to open this post, it’s still the most popular version out there. I guess there’s something to be said for the “Shakespearian” language and verse by verse format. There are millions that swear by this one (pun intended). But if you choose this route, you may want to have a computer handy for some help in defining different words. As Edmond Bergeron wrote on LinkedIn: “I use the KJV but I use Bible study tools at Crosswalk.com for all the commentaries, concordances and tools needed to get into great details of what certain words mean and the origin of it.”
- The New King James Version (NKJV) – This one is very popular, probably because it still holds much of the appeal of the King James Version, but removes some of the archaic language and pronunciations. If you want to go “old school” without going TOO old, this is the right choice for you. As my friend, Keith Loyd, put it: “(It) capitalizes personal pronouns of the LORD. (And) does away with old English, but retains the beauty.”
- New American Standard Bible (NASB) – The NASB has been very popular among theologians and scholars for decades now. It uses traditional, American English, but is considered extremely accurate and reliable, especially when it comes to the Old Testament. Carolyn Hyde (Messianic songwriter and worship leader in Israel) loves it! “It’s the closest translation to my Hebrew Bible.”
- English Standard Version (ESV) – This translation came out around a decade ago, and has quickly become one of the most popular, especially among pastors. It’s not hard to see why, when world-famous speakers and authors like Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and John Piper have all endorsed it. Jeff Stachmus, pastor of First Baptist Church of Garden Lakes in Phoenix, AZ uses it. “I researched many translations and found through multiple sources (not their publisher’s site) that (ESV) was a very scholarly work. It is a verbal plenary approach and I find it a good word for word translation. People question the footnotes modern translations have for verses that were not footnoted in previous version. But I understand that a scholarly approach is going to use a breadth of sources and not omit, but footnote, certain things. It does not remove the importance or authenticity of these passages. Besides all this, the ESV spoke to me when I picked it up. I could read it with ease and understanding, and I enjoy preaching from it.”
- New International Version (NIV) – This version has been the “go to” for the average Christian since the 1970’s. It really was the first to break through the KJV barrier. It’s a very easy to read translation, and while some feel it to be a poor translation (joking that it’s really the “Nearly Inspired Version”), it’s still widely loved, mostly because it’s accuracy combined with simplicity. Rachelle Louella Sparrow described it this way: “I feel it’s a happy medium between NKJV and the Message.”
But there are several others that are very popular. We’ll look at five more tomorrow, and add share some ideas about how you can find the one that’s right for you!