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Which version of the Bible do you recommend?


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Hi all!

 

We happen to be secular homeschoolers, but I'm very interested in reading the Bible as an adult, in the interest of my own self-education. (That is, I'm interested in reading and exploring the Bible primarily as a literary text, to help deepen my study/understanding of history and literature, in particular.) The problem is that I'm not sure where to start, as there are so many different versions of the Bible available. If anyone could direct me to a specific version of the Bible that you think would be most useful in the sort of study I just mentioned, I would greatly appreciate the help! Thank you! (Likewise, if there are any references you know of that briefly explain the differences between various Bibles, that would be helpful, too!) 

 

P.S. Please know I am approaching my study with a deep degree of reverence, respect, and curiosity, even though I don't personally identify as Christian. (I was raised very loosely Catholic, but no longer participate in any religious practice, so I'm pretty much starting from scratch.) I do hope my questions here don't inadvertently offend anyone; this is a sincere project. Thanks, friends!

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I would choose the version that is required in universities today which is the New Revised Standard Version. The NIV, ESV or the NAS are also good. Avoid translations earlier than the past 30 years or so, as these don't use the earliest manuscripts and latest translation technology.That's if you want a historical, theological study.

 

If you want more of a literary study, then the Elizabethan KJV, but this version isn't accepted in theology faculties as there are translation issues. 

 

Use an online bible study guide for anything that sounds confusing. I'm not sure which guide is best ... perhaps soemone else could offer that suggestion.

 

 

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ESV, NKJV, NIV and NASB are very readable for  native American English speakers.  I recommend a Chronological Bible for kids and newbies.  Those of us with a lot of Bible background have a timeline and context in our heads to plug into, but newbies may find one arranged chronologically easier to follow.  Parallel passages from different books in both the Old Testament and the New Testament are arranged right next to each other.  For example, when you read about Kind David's reign in Chronicles and Samuel you also get his writings in the Psalms.   Most Chronological Bibles are arranged in 365 sections so you can get through it in a year if you like.

I'm not Roman Catholic so my Bible translation recommendations don't include some of the writings in the Bible RCs use, so if those writings are of interest to you keep an eye out for a RC's recommendation.

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There have been controversies over the years in regards to Bible translation, and one pretty recently over a revision of the NIV.  However, I would still recommend the NIV for readability.  The New American Standard Bible is probably the best word for word English translation, but wow is it wordy with little poetic flow.  Many former NIV readers have switched to the ESV, which I'd recommend too.

 

After studying a translation, you might want to give a paraphrase a try and the best one, in my opinion, is The Message.  

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I would recommend the King James.  It is the translation that my family uses and that my church deems to be the most accurate English translation.  (This is a topic that is often up for debate -- I'm don't want a debate; I'm just giving my recommendation.)

 

Some people say that the language is too difficult to understand.  Maybe so.  I don't find it as difficult as Shakespeare, which was written in about the same time period.

 

I have a 1611 KJV, mostly because I'm a lit geek.   :)  My dh got it for me for my birthday years ago.

 

 

ETA:  links

 

This link shows where the different translations fall as far as direct translation vs. paraphrase  http://blindbeggar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/types-of-bible-translations.jpg

 

This link shows 16 different versions of John 3:16 http://www.chapelworshipcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Scripture-Comparison-John-3-16-550x263.png

 

 

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I study with the NIV or the ESV, and have recently started enjoying the NKJV.

 

If you just want to have a lot of fun, read Eugene Peterson's The Message.  Not a primary text for study by any means, but just so pleasurable to read!!

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The NIV is a pretty thought-for-thought translation, and the ESV is a more literal word-for-word translation.  I use both for study, but I actually prefer reading the NKJV for the poetic use of language.  If you're very new to the Bible, I would recommend the NIV along with the commentaries you can get for free on Bible Gateway and such.  

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My high schoolers use the ESV. I use the ESV or NKJV myself. The high schooler going for a real Bible credit is also working through Encountering the New Testament and Encountering the Old Testament. 

 

www.blueletterbible.org will let you flip through the various translations and see which is most readable to you. The free You Version app would do the same.

 

I do like the recommendation for using a chronological Bible for the timeline's sake, but you could easily search up a timeline and keep it handy as you read.

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I grew up using the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  We got our kids the New Living Translation (NLT), which has a more modern American sound, especially when reading it aloud.  King James (KJV) is lovely for reading the Psalms and Proverbs.  

 

I have also really liked the online features at Bible Gateway.  You can choose from a load of different translations, including in other languages.  If you look for the icon that looks like a couple of columns, that lets you set up parallel readings from the translations of your choice.  

For example, Psalm 23 in King James, New American Standard and New Living Version.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2023&version=KJV;NASB;NLT

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If you are interested in reading the Bible in a literary context I recommend the ESV. There is an ESV study Bible called The Literary Study Bible which is excellent in helping you approach the text in a literary fashion. The text is in regular paragraph form instead of columns which is easier to read and there are book and chapter introductions that explain what kind of literature the book is and what to look for in terms of structure and elements.

 

I think you can get one on Amazon for a good price.

 

ETA: The ESV is essentially the updated edition of the KJV. It retains the structure and form of the KJV without the archaic language.

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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These look fantastic, thanks!!

 

Although I think Yale is very generous in making such courses available to the public for free, I personally wouldn't recommend them for someone wanting to read through the Bible for the first time.  My first thought is that the lectures would mean an additional 25 hours of time spent not actually reading the Bible.  And I think the problem most folks have with reading the Bible is that it's so long and takes a lot of time.  Second, the course is not an overview of the Bible, at least the New Testament one; I haven't listened to the OT one yet, but most such courses are not meant to help you through the Bible for the first time. The NT course is an introduction to a method of "historical critical" interpretation of the Bible.  He spends the majority of time critiquing traditional authorship of books of the NT, which I don't think matches your goal of reading through the actual Bible.

 

Anyways, two versions I didn't see mentioned above:

 

1. The NIrV is the entire NIV but with smaller words and sentences, meant for children or new English speakers.  NIrV isn't for digging deep into theology, but it can be a good one for quickly getting the whole picture, the first time through.

 

2. A "study Bible" (I haven't seen the ESV one need2read mentioned) -- my study Bible is the same as other Bibles in the same version, but just has tons of footnotes available.  They may tell me what a cubit is or where I heard this phrase before or what scholars think something means.  Helpful clarification without stalling from moving forward.

 

 

And online helps I like:

 

1. BibleHub.com can show you lots of English versions, all on one page (type in a chapter and click on "parallel" -- for example  http://biblehub.com/hebrews/12-1.htm).  And while you're reading, you can look up the original Hebrew/Greek (type in a chapter and click on "interlinear" -- for example http://biblehub.com/interlinear/hebrews/1-1.htm ).

 

2. BibleGateway.com, like others mentioned, is a huge resource.  As you're reading, it's great for trying to find a word or phrase you remember hearing before.

 

3. And just using a search engine like Google can give you lots of thoughts on any questions you have along the way, rather than reading about questions that someone else has :)

 

HTH,

Julie

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If you want it just for literary use, then The King James Bible. It was what Shakespear used. 

 

If you want scholarly and up to date based on the most recent scholarship, then the nRSV, which is what my secular college had us use for religion classes. 

 

If you just want an easier to read version to get the gist of the stories, I'd say NIV or even a children's bible. 

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As a no-longer-a-Christian, I recommend the New American Standard. It is the best translation to modern English. Supposedly the KJV is better, but since it is to a dialect of English we no longer speak, I believe the NAS is the best version for study, particularly if you are secular and not familiar with church traditions around particular words. In particular, from what I understand and learned in Greek class, the NAS / RV were particular with verb tense which is very important in theology.

 

While the KJV is quoted and interesting for cultural reasons, such as the fact that it's the version used by Shakespeare, as a stand-alone for understanding early, middle and late Christianity and theological debates which were mostly made by people reading the Bible in Greek and Latin, I'd do the NAS.

 

 

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We happen to be secular homeschoolers, but I'm very interested in reading the Bible as an adult, in the interest of my own self-education.

 

 

A couple of older threads that might be of interest.

 

Just sharing a good article discussing secular Bible studies

http://forums.welltr...s/#entry5734594

 

 

and

 

Looking for a course that does Literature study from the Bible

http://forums.welltr...e/#entry1557899

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Two ways to look at this come to mind.  1), read it with a mainstream Christian translation as Christianity is the main religion in this country and has had a profound impact on the world in general, and/or 2) knowing that the Hebrew Bible was originally a Jewish text, written by Jews for Jews (with a specific culture and mindset) I would read it from a Jewish translation, such as the Stone's Edition Tanach.  Granted, it is just the OT and most of the verses will read pretty much the same, but some of the differences in the translations can be quite astounding.  Then pick any standard translation to read the NT.  My family did this plus we learned Hebrew and dug into history, which sounds like that would beyond the scope of your study.  It knocked our socks off.  We were going to learn Greek next but didn't get to it.  It is just really hard for me to say what I want to say here because I want to be sensitive, but you have the mainstream idea of what the literary text means, and then you have the Jewish lens of what the authors meant when they wrote it.  Sometimes they mesh, sometimes they don't.

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