choosing a bible

  as promised in my talk yesterday, i want to give you some thoughts on how to choose a bible if you have recently decided to buy one. there are two main things to look for in a bible: translation and features. you’ll want to consider them in that order. let’s take a quick look at each…

1. translation. this is also sometimes known as ‘version,’ as in “what version of the bible are you using?” originally, the bible was written in two ancient languages. the old testament was written in hebrew and the new testament was written in greek. obviously these two need to be translated into english if you and i are gonna understand anything. this requires the work of translators – people smarter than me who take the hebrew and greek and translate it into english. in recent decades, more and more groups of translators have been at work, offering english-speaking people more translations or version than ever before in history.
when you go to a bookstore, you will have your choice of 10 or more translations. some will be very literal, a real word-for-word translation. others will be a little freer with their translating, more of a thought-for-thought translation, which will make for easier reading. more literal translations tend to have longer sentences which often require reading more than once in order to fully comprehend their meaning. less literal translations read easier, but may not be as accurate in conveying precisely what was meant. so there’s a trade-off, and you need to decide which you prefer.
my advice would be to go to a website like, and take a look at some bible passages in several different versions. this will help you decide which you enjoy the most. if it’s not readable, you aren’t gonna read it. for the record, i teach from the new living translation on sundays at threshold.
2. features. there are a variety of types of bibles on the market. some are daily bibles, assigning you several chapters a day for those who want to read through the bible in a year. if the bible is pretty new to you, i would not recommend one of these. there are other good bibles out there that have a daily reading schedule on the back if you decide to tackle this at some point. there are devotional bibles, which will tuck daily devotional readings among the pages of the bible, and tell you which passage of scripture to read along with the devotion. not a bad place to start. there are plain old text bibles, with no bells and whistles. you simply get the text of the bible with no book intros, study notes, helps, etc.  again, if you’re sorta new, you’ll want more. i like to recommend a study bible to most people who are looking to get serious about reading and studying the bible. my favorite, one i have used for many years, is the Life Application Study Bible.  it is filled with all kinds of things to help you understand what you are reading: book intros, book outlines, themes, timelines, maps, charts, and explanations to help you both understand and be challenged by what God’s word has to say. the LASB is available in a handful of different translations, so after you decide which version you want, you can look for that version in the LASB.
once you’ve decided on translation (version) and features, the last thing to decide is what look you want. they come in paper, hardback, leather-like, and leather. black, burgundy, brown, blue, etc…
so… if you’re looking for a bible, good luck. if i can help you decide or answer more questions, leave a comment with your email, or email me direct through the threshold site, and i’ll be in touch.
whichever bible you choose, be assured that reading it regularly will net awesome things in your life. so get out there!
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