Tag Archives: Jerusalem Bible

What Bible should I Buy

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.

1 Corinthians 15:33    Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Now from the NASB. 1 Corinthians 15:33 New American Standard Bible   33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Isn’t that what you just told your teenager?

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 you 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.

Romans 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death
NIV What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

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 you 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?

How to buy a Bible and which version?

It’s gift giving time. That cheap Bib le with the small print is no one’s favorite.  You can do better.

The most accurate translations according to many are those of the Lockman Foundation; they are the Amplified version and the New American Standard.  If you are going to pay $75.00 for a Bible you want one which will last.  Larger print is good for both tired eyes and wide margins for writing notes.  After all, you can expect God to speak to you when you read His word, and you’ll want to record that.

Another standard is the New King James which has all the old, familiar words but old fashioned words are eliminated, such as looketh, thee, thou, many words not currently in use.  Unfortunately that also means you may lose some of the meaning.  Thou means one person and thee means you’all, and sometimes that makes a difference in interpretation.

You can also find a dozen versions in many languages on Bible Gateway.com.  Of course you can’t write on it!  But you can print it out with fat margins and double space for more notes.

The Message is a very modern, almost ‘mod’ version but it is also clear and readable for teens.  The Jerusalem Bible is a translation for Catholics which is good too.  Many Bibles have footnotes which are helpful.  A red letter version, Jesus’ words are in red, is esp. good for new Bible readers.

There are many denominational versions popular with particular churches such as NIV, Dake’s Bible, you can check them all for size of type and notes.  The Phillip’s New Testament is popular; he died before finishing the Old Testament.

A concordance is a must and you will get maps too most of the time.  Israel is the size of tiny little New Jersey.  That makes the Middle East War more frightening.

A leather binding is expensive but it will last a very long time.  My leather cover bit the dust after about 36 years.  In addition a large book with a hard cover is hard to read; pages flip back together if you put it down and it is heavy to boot.  So the supple cover is better.

Finally several Bible societies also print inexpensive paperback bibles, occasionally just the New Testament, but be sure to look for Psalms and Proverbs since these are popular with everyone. And you can find many Bibles online at BibleGateway.com.

If the Bible scares you, read the Proverbs 1st, or the book of John, or any of the little John books to get your feet weet  Blessings will follow.