Pastor’s Ponderings

Which Is The Best Bible
One of the questions I get asked as a pastor is which Bible should I use? Now this is not an easy question to answer because depending on how you use your Bible will influence which Bible is best for you. As a pastor, I have favorite’s translations, but I have learned the value of using a number of different Bibles translations depending on a number of different criteria for what I am doing.

Many of us think of the King James Version when we think and speak about the Bible. The King James Version is very beautiful to read yet it is difficult for us to decipher for it was written in 1611, and our English language today has substantially changed from four centuries ago making it somewhat difficult to understand. Since the time of the creation of the King James Bible, we have had many different translations of Scripture from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic text. Bibles are usually written at a reading level between the 3rd grade and 12th grade reading level. Shorter sentences, smaller word pool and avoiding uncommon words bring us the most basic translations that most of us can begin to understand.

There are more than 60 accepted English language versions of the Bible available to us today. They fall into three broad types: word for word, meaning to meaning (which is also called thought for thought) and paraphrase. Word for word versions most accurately follow the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek text. The King James Bible is the most popular version of word for word translations. Meaning for meaning versions can be valuable in putting the Scripture into more understandable wording and are based on the original textual writings. Examples of meaning for meaning Bibles are the New International Version (NIV), Revised English Bible (REB) and the New Revise Standard Version (NRSV) which was first published in 1989 and has become the preferred Bible to be use by the United Methodist Church. Paraphrase Bibles, such as the Living Bible or the Message can also be very useful in our understanding of scripture. Their goal is to make the Bible even easier to read in modern language. Paraphrase versions can be read to better grasp the story flow but at times possibly broaden the meaning of a particular text.  I find it very helpful to use a parallel Bible which contains two or more versions side-by-side on the same pages to be helpful. Indeed, when studying Scripture it is beneficial in looking at a multitude of versions of Scripture, but one will most likely be your primary version which best fits you personally.

Regardless of the Bible version you choose, the most important factor is that you actually use it. The Bible should be considered an investment in which a little more expense up front will pay off in the long run. Things to take in consideration when purchasing a Bible are you going to use it for study or will it primarily be used to take to church to read along with others. Wider margins will allow you to add notes from your personal study over the years. Leather bound Bibles will last longer than hardbound or paperback volumes. Reference Bibles are very good at helping you look at other Scripture texts related to the text you’re reading. Study Bibles have notes contained usually on the lower section that are commentaries on the Scripture. Some Bibles highlight the actual words of Jesus and usually are in red type. Other Bibles contain a large section of maps and extensive introduction to the different books of the Bible so that you get a flavor for who each book was written to and why.

We are blessed today because many versions of the Bible are now available as part of software packages either purchased as programs or for viewing on the Internet. I am finding an additional blessing and beginning to use it more and more when I pull out my smart phone and open up my Bible app at any time and any place as the Holy Spirit works in me. I know why they call it a “Smart Phone”.

I will be very glad to assist you and give direction to determine Bibles for you as we continue to journey in exploring God’s Word in Holy Scripture. The best Bible is the Bible that you read and Use!

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