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If you read the Bible, what version?


sangtarah
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I grew up on KJV, my first Bible was NKJV, my middle/high school  Bibles were NIV, and my settled adult Bible is the NASB. 
Our former church used ESV exclusively, which I never liked. I’m very disillusioned with many evangelical churches from the past year - the pandemic policies, the race issues, politics, patriarchy, etc. I don’t know that I want to change my Bible version, but I have no idea what other churches/denominations use. 

So, if you read the Bible, what version do you prefer, and why? If you attend a church, what does your church use, and why? 

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Personally I prefer NASB.  Our family has settled on ESV because my husband prefers the "paragraph" form of it instead of every verse starting a new line

 

Our church uses a variety of versions for different purposes. I notice the pastor uses Holman Christian Standard Bible mostly. But I've seen others referenced as well.

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KJV is my preferred version. The ASV is another favorite, but it's harder to find a copy.  I know some have trouble with the KJV language, but I haven't found it a problem. Maybe because I've read it so much and the sound/words are familiar now? 

I've moved to a Bible app on my phone (MySword),  so I have the KJV, KJ2000, and the ASV versions on there.  Sometimes I check to see what else is available for a free download! 

Our preacher seems to prefer the ESV, but often the Scripture reader will use the KJV. 

Accuracy to the original text is important. 

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I read and use a variety of translation--most often the NRSV or NIV.  I like to compare the different translations.  Some depends upon why I am reading the Bible--study? meditation? proclamation?

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My Bible experience was like yours (KJV to NASB to church using ESV). I'm not a huge fan of the ESV, and the past few years I've been reading the NLT for myself. It has been WONDERFUL, because things make sense to me that never made sense before. And there are some really great One Year Bibles in the NLT. I've been alternating chronological one year and regular one year, both with wide margin. 

So maybe have a regular copy to take to church in whatever version your church uses and then do a One Year version for yourself in the version you want to try. Sometimes you can get these One Year bibles for as low as $17! It really makes them a low commitment kinda thing. 

https://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Bible-Expressions-Deluxe/dp/1496420152/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1626190238&sr=8-4  I just got my dd one of these.

https://www.amazon.com/Year-Chronological-Bible-Expressions-Deluxe/dp/1496420179/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=one+year+nlt+bible&qid=1626190238&sr=8-14  and chronological. 

https://www.amazon.com/One-Step-Closer-Bible-NLT/dp/1648701469/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=one+step+closer+bible+nlt&qid=1626190473&sr=8-3  Ooo, this looks nice! It's not a One Year Bible, but it has wide margins, 2 color text, etc. in the NLT. Apparently Candace Cameron Bure is a fan, lol. I had bought another one (NLT, wide margin) that had all these flowers and stuff, very pretty, but the font is so small I can hardly read it. And I bought it from CBD so it was going to cost me a $$ to return it, sigh.

Edited by PeterPan
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I read NASB for many years, then switched to ESV because our church at the time was using it.  I still like it, but have this year read about some of the translation decisions that were made for it, and it makes me less keen to continue.  Our current church uses CSB (formerly HCSB) and it's ok.  I don't love it.  I have a NET Bible I am reading now, because the print is a little easier on my eyes.  😄  It's a less common translation but I enjoy it right now as a change of pace.  I've thought about going back to NASB for my personal reading, but I need to find a copy with slightly larger print than the one with teeny-tiny print I used to read, back when I was a young 30-something whipper snapper. 

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I grew up with KVJ, but in college switched to NIV.  If I am reading my actual physical copy, I will use the NIV study bible my parents got me when I started Bible college.  If I am using my bible app I usually use NASB.

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I switch to a new one every time I finish reading it. I think KJV is best at making Old-Testament God feel more loving rather than just vengeful. I think Amplified is the best for deep study.  I liked what I read so far from Passion translation, but a lot of people hate it & say it isn’t a translation at all.  I connected best to The Message, but some of the analogies leave a bit to be desired (I think they used the term car in one of them!?!).  NASB wasn’t bad or memorable. NIV is super easy to memorize (but this may be because it’s what my church used when I was in middle school).

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I'm not sure what the "I'm very disillusioned with many evangelical churches" bit has to do with selecting a Bible version, so I feel like there may be some nuance to the question that I'm missing. Just saying that in case it influences how my response is received.

I personally like the ESV, and DH does too, so that's what we use at home and with our kids. Our church was using NASB for a long time and that's still what the pew Bibles are, but our pastor recently switched to NKJV. I think the plan is to replace the pew Bibles with that eventually (so that a person without his/her own Bible can read along and have it match what the pastor reads). I am not sold on NKJV, probably because certain people in my past argued for it with a very snooty attitude and I cannot get rid of that association in my mind. I'm sure there are very good reasons for using it, and I acknowledge that my bias against it is illogical. 😉 

Really though, I think all translations have their pros and cons. Pick one you like. 

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I posted this infographic in another thread:

image.thumb.png.3ea0d78d776b53b8715325a6ab42eeeb.png

For study, I prefer word-for-word translations. I tend to use the NASB, the KJV, and the NKJV most often. 

When preparing a Sunday School lesson for my early elementary kids, I like to use the ESV (which our Wesleyan church uses) or the ICB (International Children's Bible) for ease in understanding.

I don't even consider the MSG a translation. It's *one* man's retelling of the Scripture and seems to me to be wildly inaccurate in places. 

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I primarily use the New World Translation.  However, on my app, I have it set that I can see the KJV and American Standard versions also.  

My religion also primarily uses the NWT but you'll regularly see various other versions throughout our publications and website (JW.org)

 

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Just a note about the Message: Eugene Peterson was a pastor and taught in seminary.  He worked from Hebrew and Greek.

You can see that info here and also see the list of translation consultants:

 https://messagebible.com/about/

The Message can be really helpful but for some reason some can be quick to dismiss it.  I'd hate for the Message to be the best fit for someone but they miss out because they heard it wasn't accurate or something.

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1 hour ago, purpleowl said:

I'm not sure what the "I'm very disillusioned with many evangelical churches" bit has to do with selecting a Bible version, so I feel like there may be some nuance to the question that I'm missing. Just saying that in case it influences how my response is received.

 

The ESV seems to be translated in a way that supports a calvinist theology. In my personal studies, that is why I do not use it - we have attended some calvinist churches, but I am not personally aligned with the calvinistic view of the world.

I'm currently reading "The Making of Biblical Womanhood" by Barr, and she supports a theory that many modern translations are interpreted/written to match the reformed, the calvinist, and/or the complementarian viewpoints. It's a new area of study to me - and something I'd like to research further. With all that has happened in the last year, nationwide and personally in our church, I'm just not sure where I will settle on these things. That led me to be curious on different translations of Scripture. 

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1 hour ago, purpleowl said:

I'm not sure what the "I'm very disillusioned with many evangelical churches" bit has to do with selecting a Bible version, so I feel like there may be some nuance to the question that I'm missing. Just saying that in case it influences how my response is received.

 

For me it sometimes has to do with pronouns that can make women feel excluded or less than.  In the past, “he” could be used as a pronoun to mean any human. But that can absolutely 100% make it hard for people to get the sense that woman are as important as men. (At any rate, it’s hard for me to feel that women are as important as men, when the only pronouns listed are male.)

The first time I read a bible version that didn’t read, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears…”, but it read, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears…” I burst into tears. For the first time, I felt like God might knock on the door of *my heart and not just men’s. I mean, I know it wasn’t just for men, but there was always that pause…that beat…where I had to remember that “man” could include me as well. 

To be included right away without having to translate “man” to “oh, this means me, too,” was freeing. I think that was the first day I felt like God loved me…me…and not just some group of men that I tagged along behind.

Edited by Garga
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Currently - CSB. I grew up on KJV then switched to NIV for reading in middle/high school (with NASB for study). My current church uses ESV and I switched to that when we joined but I've never much liked it. So back in January, I started looking for a translation somewhere in between NIV and ESV. I looked up a chart similar to what's posted above and started checking out the translations. I liked CSB best and am still liking it.

The BibleGateway website was a huge help in choosing. I looked up both favorite and familiar passages and compared them.

I hope you find something you like. 🙂

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3 hours ago, SKL said:

NIV or ESV, I think.  So dumbed down I barely tolerate it.

Really, using a modern translation is dumb?? It's true, the grade level of the translation is lower on most modern translations (except the NASB which is right up there with the KJV). But that doesn't mean it's dumb to use a modern translation. It sounds different to your ears, but you should try it. Like try the NLT or the NASB. I remember a church I had gone to all through college that was rigidly on KJV decided to get out there and have all the elders read the NASB for a year. These experienced men (many of whom had phds or mdivs because it was a college town) said they were seeing things they had never realized in the scriptures, basics that you know in your head but miss when you're reading a translation that is 400 years old. 

The Bible was written in the vernacular, the everyday speech of the people, not in the high faluting educated languages of the day. It was meant to be understood. 

Read what you want, but it's not DUMB to want a modern translation. It's what should be happening and anyone who is saying the Bible for their church HAS to be the KJV (a 400 year old translation) is holding back the word of God himself from people like my ds with language issues, from new believers, from anyone who has no clue what those old old expressions and syntactical constructions mean. That's worse than dumb. That's rigid.

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1 hour ago, Pamela H in Texas said:

I primarily use the New World Translation.  However, on my app, I have it set that I can see the KJV and American Standard versions also.  

My religion also primarily uses the NWT but you'll regularly see various other versions throughout our publications and website (JW.org)

 

Ditto.  🙂

 

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32 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Really, using a modern translation is dumb?? It's true, the grade level of the translation is lower on most modern translations (except the NASB which is right up there with the KJV). But that doesn't mean it's dumb to use a modern translation. It sounds different to your ears, but you should try it. Like try the NLT or the NASB. I remember a church I had gone to all through college that was rigidly on KJV decided to get out there and have all the elders read the NASB for a year. These experienced men (many of whom had phds or mdivs because it was a college town) said they were seeing things they had never realized in the scriptures, basics that you know in your head but miss when you're reading a translation that is 400 years old. 

The Bible was written in the vernacular, the everyday speech of the people, not in the high faluting educated languages of the day. It was meant to be understood. 

Read what you want, but it's not DUMB to want a modern translation. It's what should be happening and anyone who is saying the Bible for their church HAS to be the KJV (a 400 year old translation) is holding back the word of God himself from people like my ds with language issues, from new believers, from anyone who has no clue what those old old expressions and syntactical constructions mean. That's worse than dumb. That's rigid.

I mean the translation is dumbed down as in simplified.  They actually leave out nuance that I think is important.

I had a Sunday School teacher (old guy) who used to bring various versions of the Bible and point out the differences.  Like it or not, the KJV is much, much richer, as well as more poetic, than the NIV.  In many cases, the NIV is actually misleading as to the meaning of the verse, whether they meant it to be or not.

I didn't say it's dumb to read the NIV.  But it doesn't give the full experience IMO.

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7 minutes ago, SKL said:

I mean the translation is dumbed down as in simplified.  They actually leave out nuance that I think is important.

I had a Sunday School teacher (old guy) who used to bring various versions of the Bible and point out the differences.  Like it or not, the KJV is much, much richer, as well as more poetic, than the NIV.  In many cases, the NIV is actually misleading as to the meaning of the verse, whether they meant it to be or not.

I didn't say it's dumb to read the NIV.  But it doesn't give the full experience IMO.

Translation is hard work, and these are languages often with zero end of sentence punctuation, etc. I'm not sure it's really accurate to say our theology has to ride on the reading level and sentence length of the translation or that a lower reading level translation (like the NIV) is somehow inaccurate. The flex was there in the original, and an excellent translation will sound like the vernacular of our day. It was meant to be in the vernacular, which means sounding the way the people talked. 

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-punctuation.html

Yes, the KJV is very poetic, beautiful language; we agree on that. :smile:

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Really, using a modern translation is dumb?? It's true, the grade level of the translation is lower on most modern translations (except the NASB which is right up there with the KJV). But that doesn't mean it's dumb to use a modern translation. It sounds different to your ears, but you should try it. Like try the NLT or the NASB. I remember a church I had gone to all through college that was rigidly on KJV decided to get out there and have all the elders read the NASB for a year. These experienced men (many of whom had phds or mdivs because it was a college town) said they were seeing things they had never realized in the scriptures, basics that you know in your head but miss when you're reading a translation that is 400 years old. 

The Bible was written in the vernacular, the everyday speech of the people, not in the high faluting educated languages of the day. It was meant to be understood. 

Read what you want, but it's not DUMB to want a modern translation. It's what should be happening and anyone who is saying the Bible for their church HAS to be the KJV (a 400 year old translation) is holding back the word of God himself from people like my ds with language issues, from new believers, from anyone who has no clue what those old old expressions and syntactical constructions mean. That's worse than dumb. That's rigid.

I liked both yours and @SKLposts because I can see both sides.  I grew up on KJV and have no problem understanding it but someone who didn't have exposure as a child probably does have trouble understanding it.  I have gone through phases of KJV, NASB, and NIV.  My favorite Bible was a parallel Bible that had KJV/NIV.  A few years ago we decided to go with ESV for our family.  One of the reasons I like it is that I find it very easy to memorize - the cadence seems similar enough to my KJV roots that it works in my brain 🙂

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Re: The Message. If people want to read it, they really need to view it as one man's commentary on the Scriptures. It is not a translation, because it leaves out words / phrases that are in the Greek AND adds words / phrases that are not in the Greek. That's very problematic. 

A few examples can be found here: https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2016/problem-passages-in-the-message

and there are many more to be found with a little googling. 

Eugene Peterson is on record saying that he wanted to be "playful" with his renderings and finished the Beatitudes in a mere 10 minutes. 

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4 hours ago, sangtarah said:

 

The ESV seems to be translated in a way that supports a calvinist theology. In my personal studies, that is why I do not use it - we have attended some calvinist churches, but I am not personally aligned with the calvinistic view of the world.

I'm currently reading "The Making of Biblical Womanhood" by Barr, and she supports a theory that many modern translations are interpreted/written to match the reformed, the calvinist, and/or the complementarian viewpoints. It's a new area of study to me - and something I'd like to research further. With all that has happened in the last year, nationwide and personally in our church, I'm just not sure where I will settle on these things. That led me to be curious on different translations of Scripture. 

Interesting. I was using ESV for years before I became Reformed/Calvinist, for the record, lol. And I've never attended a church that tried to dictate what translation people used; in fact most pastors I've listened to (Calvinist and not) use whatever their preferred version is, but also refer to other translations and to the Hebrew/Greek from time to time. So I guess it just threw me to read the "disillusioned with many churches" part in there, as I wasn't sure how that connected with choosing a translation.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying! 🙂 

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Our family Bible is a copy of the Jerusalem Bible that my mother gave my father as a wedding present in 1979.  If I read the Bible, that’s most often what I am reading.  It is a Catholic Bible (so it includes the seven deuterocanonical books) with extensive footnotes.  The Jerusalem Bible was first published in 1966.  The very old Jesuit priest who buried my mother saw it and exclaimed over it very approvingly.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Bible

Edited by LucyStoner
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4 hours ago, sangtarah said:

 

The ESV seems to be translated in a way that supports a calvinist theology. In my personal studies, that is why I do not use it - we have attended some calvinist churches, but I am not personally aligned with the calvinistic view of the world.

I'm currently reading "The Making of Biblical Womanhood" by Barr, and she supports a theory that many modern translations are interpreted/written to match the reformed, the calvinist, and/or the complementarian viewpoints. It's a new area of study to me - and something I'd like to research further. With all that has happened in the last year, nationwide and personally in our church, I'm just not sure where I will settle on these things. That led me to be curious on different translations of Scripture. 

Well I'm with you that I have a beef with ESV simply because Piper endorses it. I dislike Piper (for my own reasons) and for me that makes it very suspect. And when I would try to read it, I just kept having so many questions and distractions (is this accurate, was there a slant, etc.). I don't find it problematic in church. I usually take in an ipad where I've got 1 or 2 other versions going, never the ESV, so I hear the person reading from the ESV and see another translation, fine. They're usually very very similar. 

I think there were a few editorial/discretionary decisions with the ESV that I wouldn't have gone with (things about gender, etc.). I really don't engage with those debates. I threw out the baby (ESV) with the bathwater (Piper/reformed) and moved on. 

But with all that said, it might be interesting to see what happens if you read *other* modern translations that have no endorsements by the reformed movement. It wouldn't be hard to read a modern translation and get a couple points of your calvinism. Probably not all 5, but maybe 2 or 3. :biggrin: I mean, I'm trying to be tongue in cheek, but just going to a modern translation, ANY modern translation, could radically improve someone's understanding. 

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I grew up with KJV. Then when NIV came out, I used it for awhile, and have intermittently used it on occasion. But NASB is the one I use the most and always go back to, ever since I was in seminary. I could see that the renderings were practically word for word, and I liked that. Our last two churches have mostly used ESV from the pulpit, but I have never read through it, though dh uses it. I think I'd like to read through an RSV next time, but I don't have one. But I expect that afterward, I'll go back to my NASB.

Since I grew up with KJV, that is what I memorized verses from growing up. Ever since, it has been really difficult for me to memorize scripture, sadly. The old language made it easier for me to remember, and back then, since everybody used KJV (I'm old), the memorization was reinforced whenever the verses were read. When so many different translations began to be used, each one was just enough different to be confusing to me in memorizing.

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Usually ESV but sometimes others.  In my Calvinist Evangelical circles (Bible Churches, various Baptists, and non-denoms) people in all of those congregations used different ones: ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, and KJV. Biblegateway.com is a good place to go to easily compare all the translations if you're interested in reading parallel passages.

I'm fed up with Evangelicalism too, so I  watched a Presbyterian church online during the pandemic, then one locally for 6 weeks, and I've been attending that local one in person for  2 months. It's a pretty good fit on most secondary doctrinal issues and a good fit on primary doctrinal issues. Unless something weird rears its ugly head, I think there's a good chance end up there long term. The only red flag (all white attendees) is a demographic/subcultural  issue in this part of the country as far as I can tell, not a racist attitude toward minorities issues. It's still going to take a lot of getting used to- I don't usually enjoy monocultural environments. 

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NASB and sometimes NIV. I am changing churches and not sure where I'll land. Most churches I have been in haven't been rigid about which translation.

I cannot warm up to the ESV. 

10 hours ago, kirstenhill said:

I read NASB for many years, then switched to ESV because our church at the time was using it.  I still like it, but have this year read about some of the translation decisions that were made for it, and it makes me less keen to continue.   

I have been hearing these things too--I have heard that they've revised it a lot and even done custom translations (for the Gideons). 

8 hours ago, sangtarah said:

The ESV seems to be translated in a way that supports a calvinist theology. In my personal studies, that is why I do not use it - we have attended some calvinist churches, but I am not personally aligned with the calvinistic view of the world.

I'm currently reading "The Making of Biblical Womanhood" by Barr, and she supports a theory that many modern translations are interpreted/written to match the reformed, the calvinist, and/or the complementarian viewpoints. It's a new area of study to me - and something I'd like to research further. With all that has happened in the last year, nationwide and personally in our church, I'm just not sure where I will settle on these things. That led me to be curious on different translations of Scripture. 

I am curious what you find out. 🙂 I am definitely revisiting a lot of these things myself.

3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Well I'm with you that I have a beef with ESV simply because Piper endorses it.

LOL!!! I tend to have that reaction to Piper stuff myself. 

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I use the KJV, as does my church.  I can't imagine that I'll ever switch to a newer translation.  I'm kind of an old-school kind of girl about a lot of things (y'all should see my phone).  Also, I was an English major and enjoy reading literature.  I even have a (reprinted) 1611 version of the KJV.

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We have a few different versions of the Bible but just bought another from Word on Fire. It is NIRV-CE and includes commentary and explanations from a variety of scholars which I’m finding helpful.

 

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On 7/13/2021 at 9:42 PM, Jaybee said:

 

Since I grew up with KJV, that is what I memorized verses from growing up. Ever since, it has been really difficult for me to memorize scripture, sadly. The old language made it easier for me to remember, and back then, since everybody used KJV (I'm old), the memorization was reinforced whenever the verses were read. When so many different translations began to be used, each one was just enough different to be confusing to me in memorizing.

This is my problem, too! I’ve wondered how church leaders are handling this—if they’re bothering to encourage people to memorize scripture.

I like to read non-KJV bibles for understanding, but all of the scripture I’ve memorized is KJV.  And a lot of the songs I grew up with were little choruses that had KJV scriptures in them, so I remember a lot of scriptures because there were songs based on it. I don’t seem to see that as much in modern church songs. (At least, not the ones I know.)

 

Edited by Garga
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43 minutes ago, Garga said:

This is my problem, too! I’ve wondered how church leaders are handling this—if they’re bothering to encourage people to memorize scripture.

I like to read non-KJV bibles for understanding, but all of the scripture I’ve memorized is KJV.  And a lot of the songs I grew up with with little choruses that had KJV scriptures in them, so I remember a lot of scriptures because there were songs based on it. I don’t seem to see that as much in modern church songs. (At least, not the ones I know.)

 

I agree with this!

We use the KJV at our church, and it's just so much more poetic and beautiful and I think the old fashioned language lends itself better to an attitude of reverence when I read it. But I use lots of different translations when I want to study something in depth, and I think most of them add a meaningful dimension. But I agree with @MercyA that the MSG doesn't count as a translation 🙂

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For study and contemplation, I like Contemporary English Version. It's a translation, not paraphrase, but in contemporary language. I like how it reads

.For scripture memory I use NIV, because that's what I memorized as a teen.

 

(I have NRSV and the Message (which I like sometimes too--it gets a bad rap, but has some strengths) handy as well). 

Edited by sbgrace
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At home we rotate from NIV and ESV 

DS has a memory book he is working through from our home church back in the States in ESV. So we have been doing a lot with that recently. Some of our school work has KJV. I don't like to have so much different, but DS seems to handle it fine. 

I grew up with the NIV. That is what I memorized with growing up. 

We have a bunch of Bibles at home KJV, ESV, NIV, NASB, NLT. 

 

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