One man’s advice on finding a Bible that speaks to you.
By Ben Irwin
I grew up in a Christian home surrounded by Bibles—all 400-year-old King James Versions. One day, someone gave me one in a language I could understand, and it transformed my life. I went to seminary, worked as a youth pastor for little while, and then worked for Christ Bible Publishers, where I edited Christian literature—which I love. Because of my experience, I’m passionate about helping people engage the Bible—for the first time or all over again in a fresh way.
Many small groups members want to go deeper, but after looking at shelves upon shelves of Bibles, are unsure of what translation to choose. Unlike a paraphrase Bible, which is written by one or a few, a translation is edited by a committee of scholars. Both have tremendous value to the church.
Several translations are available today, which include fantastic resources. The New International Version is clear and accurate, while the New Living is readable, using language similar to ours today. The New American Standard provides detailed word study, while the New King James is an updated version of the cadence and tradition people love.
Eugene Peterson wrote a paraphrase, called the Message, which is greatly popular because it speaks in our everyday language. The Good News Bible is a version that’s between a translation and paraphrase, and is great for ESL students.
To choose the one that’s right for you, ask your pastors what they use, look into small group members’ Bibles, or go to the bookstore and leaf through as many versions as possible to see which resonates with you. Be sure to choose a Bible that helps you understand life, explains meaning, and makes you want to go for more.
Once you have your Bible, let it come to life. Live in the text and talk about it, especially the difficult parts. Ask what makes sense and what doesn’t. Remember, comparing different translations in the context of community makes Scripture come to life.