9. Selecting a Bible

For the serious Bible student (or anyone who wants to become a serious Bible student), there are only a few Bible versions that deserve consideration:

1. The King James Version (also known as the Authorized Version) is still much used, and even revered, in Christadelphian circles — although its inadequacies (due primarily to its age) are known and understood. Much of the best Bible study material is based on the KJV, as are the good analytical concordances and lexicons. Many believers, not quite able to tear themselves away from it for more modern (and possibly more accurate) versions, nevertheless supplement their KJV reading and study with occasional reference to good modern versions.

A good study Bible still available within the Brotherhood is the “Interlinear” (KJV and English Revised Version side by side), but beware! It requires some practice to read it smoothly.

2. The Revised Standard Version (RSV, 1952) is the earliest of the modern translations still being used in significant numbers. It was intended as a further revision of the KJV and English RV, and is generally respected for its scholarship.

3. The New International Version (NIV, 1978) is perhaps the best translation in American English today. It is close to the Hebrew and Greek text while at the same time reproducing our language as it is spoken today. As an advertisement for the NIV says, “If King James were alive today, he’d be reading the NIV!” (In the New Testament, the NIV does have some unfortunate choices, from more obscure ancient manuscripts, that reflect a “trinitarian” bias on the part of the translators. These erroneous translations should be noted and replaced, in most cases, with the alternative renderings from the margin.)

4. The New American Standard Bible (NASB, 1960) is the most literal, word-for-word translation on the market today — which is not to say it is necessarily the best. Many feel its extreme literalness makes it a poor translation, because its English is consequently choppy and decidedly poor. As a study Bible, however, if not as a reading Bible, it has some appeal among Christadelphians.

And there, probably, the list of recommended versions should end. Other possible versions range from the mediocre at best (New English Bible, Good News Bible, or Today’s English Version) to the very poor (Living Bible, and the various “special sect” translations — like the J.W.’s “New World Translation”).

Many of the versions are available in expensive “study editions”, with extensive marginal notes. These notes, while sometimes containing valuable material, can often be very biassed and misleading. It would be far better to get a good wide-margin Bible with marginal references, but no notes. These types of Bibles, seen commonly among Christadelphians, are available from various sources in all four recommended translations. Make up your mind to produce your own marginal notes as you study, a practice infinitely better for personal development than relying on the notes of “orthodox” commentators.