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Bible versions

What is available; how they differ.

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What translations are available?

There is a bewildering array of Bibles available. Many conservative Christians are passionately attached to the King James Version. The New International Version is the most popular version among evangelicals. The New Revised Standard Version is popular among mainline/liberal/progressive Christians. There are lots of others on sale.

If you are interested in learning more about any of these translations, we recommend that you follow one of the following hyperlinks to the Amazon.com online bookstore. There, you can read detailed reviews and order a copy if you wish. Please note that if you use one of these hyperlinks to eventually buy something from Amazon.com, then our agency will receive a small commission on the sale. If you find this idea revolting, you might prefer to go directly to Amazon.com and bypass the hyperlinks below.

There are many differences among the Bible versions:

bulletThe King James Version and some other translations are attempts to translate the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into English on a word-for-word basis.
bulletOthers, like the New Living Translation, paraphrase the original text; they attempt to preserve the original meaning without necessarily translating each word of the original.
bulletFinally, there are some versions in which the translators attempt to compromise between the word-for-word approach and the meaning-preservation approach.
bulletMost Bibles have been translated by experts from a single or narrow range of denominations. Their theological beliefs inevitably affect the translation. 
bulletSome translations print the words that the Gospel writers believe that Jesus said in red, for easy reading.
bulletTranslations are available with special features. Some have: 
bulletLarge print to make it easier for those with less than keen vision to read the Bible.
bulletA plan for reading through the Bible in one year.
bulletMaps of Palestine.
bulletAbbreviated concordances included.

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Comparisons of versions:

Version Theology Date Priority Features
Amplified Bible Evangelical to mainline 1987 Word translation

The meanings of passages are expanded with brief in-line notes. Large print available.

Clear Word Bible Seventh Day Adventist 1994 Simplified Paraphrase Major portions of the translation are material added by the translator/author. 1
Conservative Bible Project Fundamentalist 2009 Word Being written, largely by amateurs, to counter what they regard as liberal distortions of the Bible.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) Evangelical to mainline 1995 Meaning Written in basic English, for young readers or adults with restricted reading skills. Reads well out loud.
English Standard Version Evangelical 2001 Word Stresses "accuracy, simplicity, dignity and beauty of language..."
Good News Translation (GNT) General 1976 Meaning Revised 1990. a.k.a. Today's English Version and Good News Bible. Simple to read. Uses a limited vocabulary. Has many illustrations.
God's Word Bible Evangelical, Lutheran 1995 Meaning Uses contemporary English expressions. Large, diverse group of translators.
The Holy Bible in its Original Order Evangelical 2008 Meaning Restores the order of the books to their original sequence, before they were changed in the 4th century. Based on the Stephens Greek text of 1550 CE
King James Version (KJV) Evangelical, Episcopal 1611 Word translation Second most popular version for pastors. Language may be difficult to follow for some.
New American Bible (NAB) Roman Catholic 1970 Word Written in basic English. Includes Apocrypha books. Available in large print.
New American Standard (NASB) Evangelical 1995 Word Update of the American Standard Version; Formal translation; "Accurate"
New Century Version (NCV) Evangelical 1987 Meaning Some paraphrasing used. "Easy to understand." Jesus' words in red.
New English Translation (NET) Evangelical 2001 Meaning Available in printed form and online. Can be downloaded free. See:  http://www.bible.org/ Has extensive notes.
New International Version Evangelical 1978 Word & Meaning Most popular version. "Smooth reading." "Reliable and responsible translation"
New Jerusalem Bible Roman Catholic 1986 Word & Meaning First modern Catholic translation. Includes Apocrypha books. "Accessible language."
New King James Version (NKJV) Evangelical 1982 Word The KJV, but with modern words substituted where the original words have changed meaning.
New Living Translation (NLT) Evangelical 1996 Meaning Updated version of the paraphrasing Living Bible. Words of Jesus in red. Available in large print. "Wonderful flow"
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Mainline 1990 Word and Meaning Modern version of the KJV. Dignified language. Includes the Apocrypha 
The Message Evangelical 1995 Meaning New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. "Earthy," "Vivid idiom"
Today's English Version (TEV)       Renamed Good News Translation.
Today's  New International Version (TNIV) Evangelical 2002-APR Word & Meaning An update to the New International Version. About 7% of the text is changed. *
Transparent English Version General Not yet released Word A translation that tries to allow the reader to "peer through" the English translation and to "see, hear and even feel the dynamics of the original text" 2 Online at:

* The publishers advertise this as a "gender accurate" version. Critics call it a "gender neutral" version, and have criticized it as being politically correct. "Sons of God" has become "children of God." "A man" became "a person." "Brothers" has become "brothers and sisters." The translation also reduces the level of hatred in the Gospels' anti-semitic passages: "The Jews" has become "The Jews there." Unfortunately, what results is not an accurate translation of the biblical Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, but an alteration to remove some of the more sexist and racist parts of the Bible.


  1. "Clear Word Bible: exceptional, but...," TAGNet Services, at: http://www.tagnet.org/
  2. "An introduction to the Transparent English version (TEV)," Original Bible Project (OBP), at: http://www.centuryone.org/IntroOBP.pdf The OBP home page is at: http://www.originalbible.com/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-NOV-2
Latest update: 2009-JUN-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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