That is the question.
There are so many Bibles and translations and so many opinions about each and every one.
The answer is simple really.
The Bible you should read is the one you will read.
I’ll say it again. The Bible you should read is the one you will read.
If you are trying to figure out which Bible translation or Bible to choose, you probably have a lot of noise in your head from the opinions of people you know, your pastor, your church, the internet, bloggers, me, etc. Shut it out. Shut us all out (after you read my advice of course).
I have friends who have very strong opinions about their Bible translations. I have very strong opinions about some myself, but the truth is, God wants you to read His Word to know Him and understand Him better. He cares more about you seeking Him in His Word than in which translation. He will meet you in any and every translation. Which translation will help you do that? Only you can figure that out.
Here’s a simple way to go about it. If you don’t already have it, get the free YouVersion app. Pray for God to show you which translation is right for you. Then, try reading a chapter in various translations. See which one resonates with you. Repeatedly ask God for wisdom in this decision. You can even have the app read the chapter to you in multiple translations. Try them until you find the one.
Another option is to go to a Christian bookstore and flip through different Bibles. Open up multiple together and compare. You should do that anyway to compare features and see what you feel would benefit you or what is excessive that you won’t use. For example, if you don’t think you’d read study notes, don’t get a study Bible. If you think you would, consider one.
I have read the Bible in 4 translations at this point. I started with the New Living Translation (NLT) because it is easy to read. Depending on who you ask, it’s a paraphrase or a commentary version. I consider it a paraphrase which basically means ideas were translated rather than word for word. As language person, I appreciate the flow as word to word translation does not always make sense across languages.
I next read The Message. The Message is considered a commentary. Many consider the Message to be the easiest read. I found the NLT easier. However, that’s my opinion, and it should not impact your choice.
After The Message, I read the New International Version (NIV). This is the translation I had the most experience with so reading it was familiar. It is one of the most commonly used translations and is also a paraphrase like the NLT.
Finally. I ready the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). The CSB is a literal translation which makes it somewhat more difficult than the NIV and NLT. Nevertheless, it’s still reachable and understandable.
While I’ve read the entire text of those 4 Bibles, I currently mostly use the English Standard Version (ESV). I am taking my time with it and savoring it. While I have my favorites, I don’t think I could today decide to only read one translation. I have some passages I love in the Message, I have many in the NLT, NIV, CSB and ESV. I also have grand plans to read the Bible all the way through in as many translations as I can in my lifetime. While I have my faves now, they certainly might change as I read more.
I want you who are looking for a Bible to know that you can’t go wrong in your choice. God has placed this desire on your heart, and He will help you find the Bible translation and specific Bible for you. I know this to be true. You will find people who only read one translation that they deem as the best. What God has shown me is that what’s best for me is probably not best for everyone and vice versa. It’s not a competition among Bible translations. It’s a blessing that God has provided so many options that more people can connect to Him in His word.
Glory to God in the highest!