How to Choose the Right Bible: 5 Tips

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People died to put an English Bible in our hands.

It is up to us to read it.

Which Bible is the best Bible?

I heard an answer to that question once that stuck with me. It is the one you will read. I know that is not entirely helpful in answering the question as it stands but it is an important point to make up front. If you won’t read it then you don’t need to read the rest of this article.

If you are committed to reading the Bible or at least want to start then here are a few things you need to consider:

1 – Pick a good translation.

We have to define what we mean by “right.” I cannot tell you there is one translation to rule them all. I can tell you that there are a lot of great English translations that will help you in your walk and build your faith that contain the truth.

However, you also need to know that not all translations are created equal. They all intend to communicate the truth. They don’t all go about it the same way. There are many perfectly accurate translations but they don’t all have the same translations philosophy. Some try to give you thought for thought (New International Version). Others try to be more literal, word for word (New American Standard Bible). If you want a great Bible that is excellent and a bit easier to read, go with the New Living Translation. All of these are excellent choices. See the links at the bottom of the article.

2 – Get a hard copy

Screens and swiping have only been around for a decade. Hardcopies have been around thousands of years. You order pizza on your phone. You get an Uber on your phone. You text on your phone. I have no problem with you putting the Bible on your phone. In fact, I encourage it. But for really sitting down and studying I encourage you to get a hardcopy of the Bible.

Reading a hard copy improves your retention compared to reading a digital version. The digital version you need is one you flip the pages of with your fingers. Flipping the pages, reading ink on paper. It is so much more sensory and so much less backlit than reading on your phone.

This keeps us from seeing the Bible as something ordinary to be lumped in with everything else.

3 – Get a study Bible

The notes will be extremely helpful as will the articles. This is like having a whole Bible commentary at your fingertips. I recommend the New Oxford Annotated NRSV for its articles and study notes. Other than that get a study Bible in the version of your choice.

4 – Get a sturdy Bible

Don’t wimp out on paying some money. Get something that will last you a decade or more. You want this Bible to last a long while. You are going to pay a bit more for quality but that will also encourage you to read it when you paid something for it (another reason to not just run with a free app). The other way to make your Bible last is to not read it but that isn’t an option! You want to wear your Bible out but you want it to take a while for that to happen because you get familiar with your Bible and begin knowing where things are on the page. So spend some money and get one that will last.

5 – Get another Bible in another translation.

This one doesn’t have to be a study Bible. You already have notes in the first Bible. It should come from another translation philosophy than your main Bible. So if your main Bible is a NASB (more literal word for word) you want your second Bible to be something more thought for thought like an NIV. Then you read the verses you are studying in two different translations. You will be surprised at the “Aha’s” you can get studying this way.

Here are my suggestions for the primary study Bible:

New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (New – $35, Used – $22)

New American Standard Study Bible (New – $74, Used – $30)

NIV (Life Application) Study Bible (New – $45, Used – $34)

NLT (Life Application) Study Bible (New – $62, Used – $48)

Let us know what questions or suggestions you have in the comments.

4 Responses

    1. Same people that did Ryken’s Bible Handbook — which is an excellent resource for non-scholars. Also focuses on the Bible from a literary viewpoint.

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