Over the years, I have been asked which is my favorite Bible. Usually the person asking means which translation but sometimes they mean a specific study Bible. Beyond a few Bibles which I value not for use but for history (I have my great-great grandmother’s Bible for instance) this is how I rack and stack ’em:
1. RSV: This remains my favorite. It has a good balance of what is literally there and the meaning behind it.
2. NRSV: Improved the RSV in using gender inclusive terminology when the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic was speaking of humanity versus a specific gender. Nevertheless, there are other points where the translators seemed to not be as precise as the RSV.
3. The Message: An incredibly great rendering of the original ideas in today’s language. I believe though that as time passes, and language useage changes, it will seem dated.
4. The ASV: If you want to know what is literally there, and don’t speak Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic – this is where to go. But don’t expect to find a smooth reading translation. Good for research – not for the bedside table.
5. KJV: No translation flows with the Queen’s English more (I guess I should say King’s!). I love the KJV but it is dated and I do not agree with folks who think this is the only proper translation to use.
1. My favorite Bible has not been on the market in 60 years. It is a study Bible that was presented to my father. He still uses it and when living in Fort Worth, I found another in a used bookstore. It is the best “all in one” Bible you can imagine with everything from dictionaries, to maps, to concordances, to individual book outlines and summaries. The translation is KJV. I’ll post the name of it in a future blog.
2. The New King James Study Bible: So many Bibles produced for mainline denominations start with scholarship that is not helpful in proclamation. For example, a New Testament scholar with open with “Well you know Matthew probably never wrote the Gospel of Matthew..” Ok, I can accept that. But how is that helpful to me to proclaim the Good News? Does it really matter if Matthew himself or someone who followed Matthew actually put pen to paper? This Bible, by contrast, ties in the passage with the other stories in the book and the rest of the books of the Bible.
3. The Renouvare Spiritual Formation Bible (NRSV): Excellent Bible to turn the spotlight outward. What do these passages mean to us today? How can they help us grow? It contains much food for thought.
4. The Blackaby Study Bible (NKJV): A super little Bible packed with stories that are very useful to pastors. They tie in Biblical stories with more contemporary men and women in church history. You’ll learn how pasages inspired the Reformers, early hymn writers, and other key Christians since Biblical times.
5. The Bible Squared (TNIV): This is literally a square Bible instead of a rectangular one. The purpose? With the extra space on each page, you can take notes. I have seen so many Bibles over the years where people have written their thoughts but there is hardly the room. I am hoping this is one I can pass on to one of my children and they can see what their papa thought years ago when they read those passages.
Really this just scratches the surface of my Bible collection. I believe each translation, like each person in the church, brings something new and interesting to the table. In my overall collection I have twenty five translations and eighty four different Bibles. I guess it is a bit of a hobby of mine.
Why did you choose the Bible you use? Was it originally a gift or did you buy it? Why is it your favorite? What is the number one thing you look for in a Biblical translation? Which one speaks to you?
All the best and In Christ,