2.21.2011

Which Bible version should I use?

Sometimes, I hear people say something like this: “I need to buy a bible. But there are just so many translations. Which version of the Bible should I use?” This question arises also because more people are reading the Bible, in their own electric gadget such as Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone. What kind of version of the Bible would you use for your gadget?

Of course, my recommendation is this: make sure to read it whatever version you may have. But still, I would like to suggest some versions, too. I would like to introduce three versions: NRSV, The Message, and NIV. Let me give you a brief introduction to each of them.

NRSV (New Revised Standard Version):
Most Presbyterian churches use this version for their pew bible. This is somewhat scholarly translation of the Bible. So, sometimes, its English is not as smooth as some other modern translation, because it tries to be faithful to the original grammar of Hebrew and Greek Bible and to the original meaning of Hebrew and Greek. It, sometimes, uses some English words that are not often used in our day-to-day life. But being a scholarly version, it tries to use inclusive language.

The Message:
This version uses colloquial English. Hooray! It is easy to read and understand. Since Eugene Peterson, the translator, who also knows well of Hebrew and Greek, is not shy away from making the original meaning into a colloquial term. Bono of the group U2 also has been promoting this version of the Bible. I recommend this version for those who are not familiar with the Bible or for those who want to understand more clearly and plainly what the Bible is really saying.

NIV (New International Version):
I think this is one of the most popular versions of the Bible. It uses easier and smoother English than NRSV. It reads well. If you like NIV, I recommend their 2010 year version. This new version use more inclusive language than its previous year version. This version or TNIV (Today’s New International Version) can be a safe choice, for young people.

Now, let’s say you bought whatever version of the Bible. Now you want to read. I suggest that you read the Gospels first: The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. (Hint: Gospel of John is easier than others.) Sometimes, it is a good idea to read out loud, as if you are preaching it. Or you may try to memorize some verses that are meaningful to you. In this way, you can “experience” the spirituality of the Bible.

If you read a lot in one sitting, you may feel how the whole story goes. But you may not be able to think through some of its meaning. So, if you read a bit, you may be able to think through what it means. And this “thinking through” is important because then you can “digest” some of what you read.

Also, for the beginner, I suggest that you try to read a little bit every day, even if it is only a sentence per day.

Lastly, if you are advance reader of the Bible, I would like to remind you of the words of John Calvin: “The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never reach the knowledge of the truth.”

Happy reading everyone!

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