A Bible these days is a major expense, unless you want one with such tiny typeface one can barely read it. Over the past 50 years I collected a whole book case shelf of them and I can give you some experienced advice. If you are serious about Bible study you will eventually want more than one.
King James Version: There is a good reason people fall back on this translation in spite of the “thees and thous and hath and believeth” and other old-timey words. King James followed the turbulent times of Queen Elizabeth and there was wrangling among the religious groups about which Bible was the real word of God. The King brought together all the leaders of these factions and said, translate this Bible and we will make it the law of the land as far as religious reading is concerned. The result was that, for its generation, it is accurate. It is the most quoted for the following 400 years, for example Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address.
Amplified Version: The Lockman Foundation printed this many years ago and it makes a good study Bible. It is much larger because each line contains synonyms for many of the key words. For example,
Matthew 6:33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
Passages fleshed out like this make for good places to meditate on his word. Because it is so much larger you should consider a leather binding because the hardcover makes it bulky to handle. The same is true of The Message.
New American Standard Bible: This version too is from the Lockman Foundation and is my Go-To version. For example, consider this verse from the King James.
The Message: This is a modern translation by Eugene Peterson, who translated the American Bible society version that limits the English language to a high school educated person. Given its use of slang, people think it is a paraphrase. It is not. I prefer it myself for all the historical parts of the old Testament. Here is an example.
Matthew 6:33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
This is like having the Lord sitting at your side in an easy chair and speaking to your directly. This Bible too should have a leather cover as it is heavy.
New International Version: This is popular in some places. I put it last because I found some areas where it is not translated from the Greek as closely or as properly as I would prefer.
This passage in Romans is mistranslated in the NIV.
In the King James the adjectives properly modify the nouns; in the NIV they do not. (I am pretty good with Greek.) But that is personal and it is after all God’s word. If someone gave your that version do not throw it out.
JB Phillips New Testament translation: Phillips was a contemporary of both JRR Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Bible students together. JB is down to earth.
Here is an example from the King James, Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
JB said: No man can justify himself before God by a perfect performance of the Law’s demands—indeed it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.
Phillip died before finishing his translation of the Old Testament. Wags at the time referred to it as “Phillips’ 66.”
Jerusalem Bible: This is a Catholic edition. I especially like its version of Deuteronomy which as you know is not light reading.
Common English Bible: This is in wide use because it is plain, clear and not far from the King James. The New King James Bible modernizes the words and is also in wide use. As you might suspect the Jewish Bible is a version translated by a Messianic Jewish believer and is appropriate to that audience. With so many foreigners coming to the faith, it is an option for many people, especially Muslims who will appreciate the history.
The point of having a Bible for your children is this – will they read it If it is too arcane or difficult of course they won’t. A Bible purchase should be appropriate to the age and background of the reader. As we change, so should our Bible reading habits.
Getting through the Bible in one year is approximately three chapters day. Now that’s not all that hard, is it?