Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Acronyms Are Making My Head Hurt

Up until now, these posts I've been writing about all the different Bibles out there have been "for your information" kind of posts. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I wanted to share what I learned when I was deciding what kind of Bible to buy for my daughters. I hope the information has helped someone.

But now, I am going to delve into different territory. This post is about my own quest to find out "what version should I read?" Now, first I had to wonder if there is one version that is the right one. Or, is there just a "best" version? God's word is inerrant, but surely all these different translations or versions contain the errors of the men who did the work of translation. After all these years, some people argue, how could there possibly be any version that is still as it was originally intended to be?

In this study of mine, I was curious about these folks who have been labeled "KJV only." I had heard my mom say that my grandmother would read nothing except the King James Version of the Bible, but I just chalked it up to an old woman who was set in her ways. Through the internet, I have discovered that that was most likely not the case. I have read various arguments about why the KJV is the only, the very word of God to English speaking people. I have gained a great respect for the KJV through this research, but I'm not sold. Maybe it's because I've never had an opportunity to ask questions and actually talk to someone with this belief. I'm still thinking on everything I've read.

I was raised using mostly the New International Version (NIV). To be honest, S and I have lost some respect for this version through our research. It remains the most comfortable one for me to use right now because I am very familiar with it. But not to worry, there are many others I can try! For example, I could try the ASV, CEV, ESV, NASB, NCV, NIrV, NKJV, NLT, The Message, TNIV, and on and on and on and on. It it enough to make one's head hurt, isn't it?

I can only imagine the task of wading through this as a seeker or new Christian! May I encourage anyone who has not already done so, to look into the background of the Bible you are reading? Just so YOU will know? There are other ways to choose a Bible version:

1. Ask someone you admire what they read.
2. Pick the one your preacher uses during his sermons.
3. Use what the majority of your church uses, so you can "follow along" easier.
4. Go the bookstore and pick the one you like.
5. Use the one you were given as a gift.
6. Use the one you've always used.

I have done a few of the above myself. But now I want to know more. I usually hear people say, "I prefer..." just before they list the name of the Bible they read. I understand, I really do. But shouldn't it be about more than my preference?

Obviously my earlier research made me cautious. Then I became very leery of The Message being used as "just a different version of the Bible." Have you heard the background of that book? It is a book, by the way. It was written by one man. Sure, he looked back at the Greek text when writing it, but still. When The Message first came out, it was touted as a paraphrase. Many older folks compared it to The Living Bible in the 70's. (Holy cow! You mean The Living Bible was a paraphrase, not a translation? I had the children's version of that growing up!) People enjoyed reading it because it brought some freshness to the scripture. But as the years wore on, it began ranking right up there with any other translation on the market. It's just one of many, many choices.

After hearing The Message used in sermons, we purchased an NIV/The Message parallel Bible. This Bible has both "versions" side by side on each page for easier comparing. And a whole lot of the time, I find The Message to be WAY off. But it's fresh all right, if that's what you are looking for.

I've already told you that we own just about every Bible under the sun (well, they are all in English!). When studying scripture, we don't hesitate to crack out many different versions to look at. I do believe the KJV to be one of the best, most reliable translations we have found. It is so difficult to read that we sometimes use the New King James Version. I know there are many who would disagree with that move. I am reading a few different versions right now. Trying them out--if you will.

There is really nothing to do but study for myself, and pray. If God can use handwriting on a wall, and even a donkey to speak to people...then surely there is an answer to this dilemma. It's just that now that I know more about some of what's out there--I feel this is a more important decision than I once realized.


  1. I am interested to continue reading and learning more about your dicoveries on this journey.

    Isn't it funny how we do something for so long (like use a particular version) that we foregt why we do so (or if there was even a decision ever made!)?

    I also like to have a couple of versions for my studies, but my favorite is the Amplified because it breaks the language down to the greek it was originally written in. Very helpful for me in my study!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. This has been a fascinating excursion into the world of Bible translations. Some of what was shared I already knew, but I learned alot as well, especially as it pertains to choosing a Bible for kids. Thanks, again, Brenda for the heads up.

  3. Kelly, I am right there with you. We actually don't have the Amplified Bible, but we did buy a parallel that had NIV/KJV and the Greek all in it. We thought, "Boy, this will just fix everything! We'll go back to the original!" And then I read this article by Michael Pearl at No Greater Joy Ministries. He says during his journey after Bible college he discovered there are 24 versions of "the Greek"!!! AACK!
    You know, the bottom line is...God is bigger than all of this. I will still study and pray about it, but I will not be so paralyed that I end up not studying anything at all.
    Here's the article to cut and paste:

  4. BTW, Brenda, I forgot to mention how I came to use the Bible versions I use. Like you mentioned in your post, I use the NKJV because it's what our pastor uses when preaching sermons. As for home use, I chose the NLT because I do indeed prefer the language, but I first read a New Testament Books from the King James (the gold standard:)), and then read the NlT and felt that their meanings were identical and so I stuck with that version. Okay, I'm done. Have a great afternnon!

  5. I found you through a series of posts... and I would encourage you to continue to seek God on this! I have a very solid reason why I read what I read , but I , too went through the series of questions. With reference to understanding, I have the verse that helped me here. 1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)