How to Choose a Bible Translation
Years ago I sought to grow closer to God. One way that I went about doing this was through bible study. Yet as I read scripture, I felt disconnected from what was being communicated on page.
Throughout my childhood I read the King James Version of the Bible. This habit carried over into my adulthood.
But during the transition that was occurring in my life over seven years ago, I felt the need to seek a variant of the King James Version.
Off I went to the bookstore. I spent at least an hour flipping through various translations and comparing verses to find a version that spoke to my heart – not just my head.
I left with the New Living Translation in hand. Presently, I alternate between the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), and King James Version (KJV).
With technological advancements, it is a lot easier to pull up electronic versions of the Bible online or through digital readers.
Whether you are more loyal to tangible or electronic books, I have come up with a few tips on how to choose a Bible translation that best fits you and where you presently stand in your spiritual journey.
Tips on How to Choose a Bible Translation
Blessings to you throughout this process.
PDF Version of this Tip Sheet
- 1. Determine Your Purpose for Reading the Bible
- When you know why you want to read the Bible, it narrows your options in choosing which translation to read.
Are you interested in personal Bible study or text for a class? Or, are you looking to conduct a group Bible study? Would you prefer to understand the historical context of scripture, or are you more focused on a literal translation of scripture?
- 2. Pray for Discernment
- I consider reading scripture to be similar to prayer.
It is a conversation with God. So you may want to pray for guidance to choose the translation that is the best fit for you.
- 3. Compare Verses
- If you have a favorite Bible verse, consider comparing different translations of that scripture.
One of my favorite sets of scriptures is Psalm 139:23-24. Here it is in three different translations:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (KJV)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (NLT)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (NIV)
You may want to ask yourself which one most speaks to your spirit, and then consider that as a factor when making your final decision on a translation.
- 4. Take a Leap of Faith
- Your choice does not have to be set in stone.
Know that whichever translation you choose you can always incorporate another translation at a future date in time. You might also choose to study from more than one translation at a time.
Either way, think of this as an adventurous process instead of a daunting task. Do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed by all of the options available to you.
Have faith that God will lead you to the version that meets you where you are in the present.
What is most important is that you diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
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