When purchasing something that is designed to feed your soul and spirit, in this case a Bible; or it is to feed someone’s soul and spirit you care about deeply, you want to make an intelligent and informed decision on that purchase. That being said, I can heartily recommend a New King James Version which is the Bible I preach out of each week. It is a faithful translation of the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts. I like this Bible personally as I grew up on the old King James version so it has that kind of feel but in a modern more readable language easy to understand. I would also have no problem recommending a New American Standard, Holman Christian Standard or English Standard version. I have copies of each of these and like each of them as they are faithful translations of the original languages. My personal devotions and Bible reading each morning is out of an ESV which I have grown to love.
The NIV Bible is published by Zondervan Publishers and while I have NIV Bibles, I’m hesitant to recommend it because a few years ago they came out with the so called “gender-neutral” Bible the TNIV. Bowing to the winds of political correctness, the publishers tried to neutralize clear references to either male or female under much criticism and controversy. They are set to come out with new version of the NIV in 2011 where they have tried to correct some definite problems from the TNIV. Sadly, there are apparently still issues with this new version so I would caution you to steer clear of this translation. Until Zondervan sorts through their translation philosophy and abandons the desire to be politically correct or overly culturally relevant; I would think the problems that spill over into their translations of the Bible will continue. In the mean time, you need Bible and you need to hear what God wants to communicate to you as He loves you whether you’re a male or a female and He needs no one to apologize for what He wants to say to you – stick with a Bible choice from the list above and you’ll be on solid ground. All you need to do is make time to actually read the Bible you purchase. If you’re interested in reading further about these concerns related to the NIV, you can check out this statement made by the “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”
There is much to understand about Bible translations and the philosophy behind that translation that I cannot go into here but inside each Bible should be a statement from the publisher about their process of translation. Books like “The Message” are not really Bibles but simply a paraphrase by one man who paraphrased what he thinks the Bible says. While it may make for interesting reading, it may not give you an accurate picture of what God said in His Word. With accurate translations that translate word for word from the original manuscripts readily available in readable and understandable English, you don’t need someone telling you what he thinks it says; you can read it for yourself. I hope this helps you make some educated choices as what you feed your spirit and those you love because this is of critical importance. Just a simple word of caution from my little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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