Are you confused as to what are the best Bibles for new believers?
I get it. I remember standing in a Christian bookstore back when bookstores were big and thinking, “There are so many Bibles to choose from. How in the world will I know which one to purchase?”
At least in a bookstore you can hold different Bibles in your hands and make some visual comparisons. But if you are purchasing a Bible online, you can only go by the photos they provide in the listing.
I want to take the mystery out of Bible shopping. Here is your guide to the best Bibles for new believers.
Why are there so many translations of the Bible?
There are over 450 English translations of the Bible so no wonder it is confusing when it comes to narrowing down your options for the best Bibles for new believers.
It is important to know that the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. It also was not written all at once. While God is the ultimate author, He used many different men to do the writing.
In order to create an all-in-one manuscript like we have today, there were many different groups that over time worked on the translations because the English language has been evolving. What could be understood in the 1300s was hard to read in the 1500s or 1800s. Even the King James Version has many English words that we no longer use today.
Additionally, the approach to translations has been varied.
- Word-for-word translations
- Meaning-for-meaning translations
- Thought-for-thought translations
Which Bible version is the most accurate and easy to understand?
Accuracy is important in Bible translations for anyone and especially for new believers. Otherwise, we can get wrong perceptions of what God is trying to tell us.
Which are the most accurate Bibles?
The most accurate translations of the Bible are word-for-word translations. However, they are not the easiest to read. These include:
- New American Standard Bible
- English Standard Version
- New English Translation
- King James Version
- New King James Version
These are excellent translations but maybe not the best Bibles for new believers.
What are the easiest Bibles for beginners to read?
Generally, the paraphrased versions of the Bible are the easiest to understand for beginners.
But here is a WORD OF CAUTION. Bible paraphrases tend to be the least accurate.
So which Bibles are paraphrases?
- New International Reader’s Version
- The Message
- Good News Translation
These would be some of my last choices for the best Bibles for new believers.
What kind of Bible should a beginner get?
So if word-for-word translations are harder to read but the paraphrases are not as accurate, it stands to reason that something in between would be the best.
Best Bibles for new believers
The Bibles that remain very close to the original manuscripts yet are fairly easy to read are the the ones that translate by phrases by their thoughts or meaning.
- New International Version
- God’s Word Translation
- Christian Standard Bible
- New Living Translation (not NLB)
Other factors in choosing the best Bibles for new believers
In choosing the best Bible for a new believer you will want to also think about their personality.
- What is their educational level?
- Do they tend to be scholarly and want to know the who, what, when, where, and why of things?
- Are they an individual who wants to know how facts apply to life?
Besides choosing reading Bibles, there are also study Bibles, notetaking Bibles, and journaling Bibles.
Those who are scholarly will appreciate a Study Bible. These usually have a lot of notes in them as to who wrote each book and why, customs at that time, what different authors believe certain passages mean, etc.
Notetaking Bibles have wide margins for a person to write things they want to remember from a sermon or their own personal devotions.
Journaling Bibles also have wide margins for notes, but often have prompts to help a person apply what they are reading to their own lives.
What are NOT the best Bibles for new believers? (or anyone)
Most Bible translations were done by committees who thought long and hard about their work so as to preserve the original meaning.
But there is a long list of Bibles that were translated by individuals. These can be biased on certain teachings and that is why committees guarantee a better and more accurate translation. This is only a partial list of Bibles to avoid.
- The Living Bible (Kenneth N. Taylor 1971)
- J.B. Phillips Translation (1958)
- The Bible in Living English (Stephen T. Byington 1972)
- Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation (1985)
- American King James Version (Michael Engelbrite 1999)
- The Message (Eugene H. Peterson 2002)
The full list is available from Wikipedia under “Individual translations”.
Final thoughts on best Bibles for new believers
In choosing a Bible for a new believer, you don’t want it to be so difficult to understand that they give up and decide Bible reading is not for them. But you also have to take into consideration the accuracy of the translation as well as the new believer’s personality.
Reading the Bible is one of the most important things we can do. It leads us to God and helps shape us into the person He created us to be. This is why it is important to find the best Bibles for new believers.
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