How does one go about choosing a Bible? We English-speakers are blessed with so many different translations and editions of the Scripture into our language that choosing “the one” can be miserably frustrating. Among the options one must select are:
- Design & Layout
Which English translation is the one for you? That depends on your desire. Do you want one that is translated more word-for-word (formal equivalency), or thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalency)? Will you use it for study only, reading only, or some study and some reading? Will you be marking and writing in your Bible or not? I have only considered some of the most popular editions sold in the U.S. because there are so many, and I have divided these translations into three basic categories:
- Word-for-Word Translations – Translators using the formal-equivalence philosophy of translation attempt to translate the Scriptures from their original languages as word-for-word as possible, yet remain readable.
- Interlinear – A special printing of the Scripture in the original language (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) with the corresponding English words printed above or below the original language words. These are usually multi-volume and useful only for serious Bible study. Reading is difficult because the sentence structure of the ancient languages is quite different from modern English.
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- English Standard Version (ESV)
- Authorized Version or King James Version (KJV)
- New King James Version (NKJV)
- Thought-for-Thought Translations
- Paraphrases – I only mention these to suggest how different they are from translations. I personally do not use a paraphrase for reading, and they have little to no value for serious Bible study.
- Text Bibles
- Reference Bibles
- Study Bibles
Design & Layout
- Paragraph Layout
- Verse Layout
- Double-Column Layout
- Single-Column Layout
- Wide-Margin Layout