The variety of readers we have participating in the Bible Reading challenge is incredible. From brand new Christians to 50 year veterans, we are covering all ages and stages of life. Isn’t that awesome?! I love the precious testimonies (at least two I’ve read) from those who have been brave enough to say: “I’ve been a Christian for years and years, but I’ve never read my Bible all the way through.” Well, you’re doing it! THIS YEAR! To help all make sure that we are getting the most out of the reading, let’s take a look at a few questions to help make the best decision for our personal, individual reading.
One of the questions I’ve been asked frequently since we began the Bible Reading Challenge is:
How do I know which Bible version to read?
Let me preface this entire post by stating that the purpose of this article is to be helpful to those seeking to read the Bible. This is not a historical lesson on the Bible and translations to the English language. That said, let’s go to class, shall we?
1. When you read the Bible, you should be able to comprehend it.
If you don’t understand what you are reading, then it’s going to be really tough to do it for a whole year, and then, what would you have gained? If the “thee’s” and “thou’s” throw you for a loop, then the English Standard Version, New King James Version or New International Version might be the solution for you.
2. If you are purchasing a new Bible, you should read various sample texts to determine if you can comprehend what you are reading.
Perhaps a parallel Bible would be a great solution. A parallel Bible is typically four different translations, correlated by page. For example, Matthew 4 would be in four columns, all the same verses, but each column would contain a different Bible translation. This could seem overwhelming, but it would give you the opportunity to read a few passages and determine which one is the best for your understanding. You don’t have to read all the translations each time you read;but it could be a way for you to begin to see which one is easiest to comprehend.
I found an awesome tool at Thomas Nelson Bibles that allows you to read a text in various translations and easily compare the verse side by side. Check it out here!
One more solution is using Bible apps- here are 4 fabulous Bible apps that I recommend.
For brand new readers, a good passage to read for this test would be I John 1.
3.You should understand the difference between a Bible translation and a Bible paraphrase.
Three popular Bible versions that are paraphrases are The Message, The Living Bible, and the Amplified Bible. These versions are not word for word translations of the original Hebrew and Greek texts- they are exactly what they say they are: paraphrases. This story form of reading God’s Word can be wonderful but should not be taken in a word for word context as they are not word for word translations of the original Word of God.
4. If you do not feel confident in your decision of which Bible to read, ask your Pastor, church leader, or experienced Christian.
Sometimes people don’t want to ask because they don’t want others to know how difficult it is for them to understand which version to read. You are not alone!! As I said, I’ve received emails, message, and comments about this topic. I hope the basic four points above will spur you on to either continue in the version you are reading because you feel confident of your decision OR take action to make a change so that your relationship with God grows strongly.
Which Bible version are you reading? I’d love to hear about it!