How do I pick a Bible?


If you feel a bit overwhelmed about picking a Bible, you are not alone. There are literally hundreds of Bibles on the market. There are study Bibles, reference Bibles, cross-reference Bibles, application Bibles, teen Bibles….

Stack-of-BiblesOn the good side, publishers are trying to reach the needs of the millions of Bible readers. On the pessimistic side, since the Bible is the number one selling book of all time, publishers are attempting to capitalize on people seeking to know Jesus. So how do you wade through the oceans of Bible options?


I wish I could just recommend a single Bible and that would be the end of the post. However, that would be a bit simplistic. Different Bibles have different uses. (You can skip to the bottom to get my recommendations.)


Before we go any further,  I should note that not all versions of the Bibles are not the same. Maybe you have noticed this already. Bibles basically break down into two categories: translations and paraphrases. Translations are versions of the Bible that seek to give the reader the closest version to the original Greek and Hebrew text. Examples include:

  • King James Version (KJV) this is the one with the thee’s and thou’s.
  • New International Version (NIV) this is the most popular translation in the USA and the one we read in church most of the time.
  • English Standard Version (ESV) this is good translation, but the wording feels strange at times to me.

The Second category includes paraphrases. Obviously, to have a version of the Bible called a “paraphrase” does not sound very good. However, the point of the paraphrase is to help the reader understand what the Bible means by conveying the idea of the text rather than a word-for-word rendering. Basically, this means an individual is doing some of the interpretation of the text for you.  This is good and bad. The good is that it is often easier to understand. The bad is that you could be missing something from the original.

For example, I am sure you recognize this line from Shakespeare,”O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” A paraphrase may instead say something like, “Where are you, Romeo?”  Both phrases mean basically the same thing, but one is more understandable.  I have both paraphrases and translations in my Bible collection. The two most popular paraphrases include:

  • The Message-this is popular and makes the Bible sound like contemporary writing. I enjoy reading a passage or two from the message (especially the Epistle letters like 1 Corinthians), but I prefer not to read it in larger chunks.
  • The New Living Translation-(NLT) This version is closer to a translation and makes reading the Bible a little easier.

 RECOMMENDATIONS according to how you will may use them

  • Mobile-AcroBible NIV-I know there are free versions, but I like the AcroBible because I don’t need a WiFi/Data connection to read. You can find a link to the various device versions here. 
  • General Reading and Study-NIV 2011 or NIV 1984 Study Bible with notes by CPH. The choice of which NIV Bible you chose comes down to preference.  I have Bibles that range in size from pocket size to a few different study Bibles.
  • Audio BibleInspired By…The Bible Experience. This version has a variety of performers. It is hardly perfect, but it is pretty easy to listen to and uses the Today’s NIV version.  The link is to the New Testament.  Generally, I have trouble staying focused to just the audio.  I prefer to listen and follow along in the Bible.

Honorable Mention:

  • Bibliotheca Project-As of this writing, I have mine on preorder and can’t wait to use it for my morning reading!
  • Archaeological Study Bible-This version has interesting notes, but way too big to transport.
  • The Story-This is an abridged version of the Bible in chronological order. It was designed to be about the length of a novel, so it is only about 300 pages or so.  It also has nice transitions that let you know what happened in between the Bible sections.  They have books for kids, teens and adults.

QUESTION? -What is your favorite Bible?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s