How to Choose a Bible
By Bryan Rollins
“Hey, I want to get a new Bible, but I don’t know which one to get. My mom reads NIV, but my Dad studies with ESV. There are so many types of Bibles, how do I choose the one that is best for me?”
Working with teenagers, I get asked this question a lot. They are trying to find something that better suits them than their children’s Bible. Picking out a new Bible can be an overwhelming task, but finding a Bible that best fits your needs will help you as you grow in Christ.
Types of Bibles
When looking for the right Bible, think about how you are going to use it. There are several different types of Bibles to consider:
· Devotional Bibles are great for daily reading and are filled with application points throughout. Some devotional Bibles have 365 daily reading plans that will help you read the whole Bible in a year.
· Study Bibles are filled with notes, commentaries, cross references, concordances as well as historical and cultural tidbits that will help you get deeper in the text. This is a good option for people who want to study the scripture in more detail during daily reading or when they do a Bible study.
· Journaling Bibles have risen in popularity in the last couple of years. These Bibles have extra wide margins for jotting down notes during your time with God. They also are often used in praying through God’s word.
Tips for picking a translation
Certain types of Bibles work better with different types of translations. This is where the search can get a little overwhelming, but let’s keep it simple: Pick the translation that you read most comfortably.
There are two different types of translations, formal, or word for word, and functional, or thought for thought.
Thought-for-thought translations will give you a smoother reading of the text. Some examples include the New Living Translation (NLT) and The Message. These translations are favored by those who like devotional Bibles.
Word-for-word translations get you closer to how the original text was written, but they can be a little more difficult to read. Study Bibles usually use formal translations. Some examples include the English Standard Version (ESV), the New King James Version (NKJV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
Recently, a high schooler and I sat down to figure out what kind of translation best suited him. After he told me what he wanted to use his Bible for, we went to a Bible website—biblegateway.com is a great site—and I had him type in his favorite Bible passage. Next, he just switched through different translations until he found one he liked. Then we ordered him a new Bible!
Bryan Rollins lives in Bluffton with his wife Erica and their two dogs, Mia and Gracie. He serves on LCC’s middle school team as a 6th grade small group leader and on the Sunday morning greeting team.
Duvall, J. Scott and Hays, J. Daniel. Grasping God’s Word. 3rd Edition. Zondervan 2012