Which Bible Translation Should I Read?

One of the first questions folks ask when preparing to begin a Bible study is, "Which translation should I read?"  While we won't presume to tell you which translation you should read, we will offer some suggestions:

ESV - English Standard Version

The ESV is a relatively new translation, having been first published in 2001. It is by-and-large highly regarded for its accuracy and readability.  While not a true literal translation, it is considered to be as close to a literal translation as possible while maintaining a relatively comfortable level of readability.  The publishers of the ESV call it an "essentially literal" translation.

The ESV is the translation our class uses for the bulk of our study, and it is the translation we would recommend to someone who is not already  "attached" to another translation.

NASB - New American Standard Bible

The NASB is considered to be the only truly literal English translation of the Bible.  It sometimes contains awkward wording and sentence structure that can make it more difficult to read in a group setting.  However, due to its adherence to maintaining a strictly literal translation and accurate rendering of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into English, it can be a tremendous resource for your personal study.

KJV / NKJV - King James Version / New King James Version

The King James Version is, for many, the iron-clad traditional English translation that they and their families have read and studied for generations.  Many consider the KJV to have a dignity and a character that is absent in other translations.  Some consider the KJV to be the only English translation of the Bible that should be studied.

While we do not hold such a strict view on the KJV, it is certainly a highly-regarded and much-beloved translation that can serve a tremendous role in your Bible study.

The New King James Version is a revised translation with a more contemporary rendering that is considered easier for our modern English brains to study.

Other Translations

Some other translations you may like to consider include the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the New International Version (NIV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).