The Bible, Which Version is Best?

Recently I have read some posts on friends blogs asking questions like “What is your favorite Bible and why”, What version do you preach and teach from and which do you use fore personal study and devotions? I answered New King James Version to both questions. A few years ago I switched from the trusted KJV to the NKJV because the archaic words frequent in the KJV are changed to contemporary language.

Most of my friends at church I believe use the NIV. I do have a copy but have never really liked it very much. It is very readible but in my view strays too far from the original documents and even omits some phrases or verses. And now I have made what for me is a new discovery, the English Standard Version.

I was reading a sermon on-line and saw references to “ESV” and became curious. I Googled “ESV” and after some research ordered an English Standard Version from Amazon. (On another blog a brother was chastised because he bought from Amazon rather than from a “Christian” bookstore….Oh boy!)

I encourage my friends and even those who are unfriendly to consider buying an ESV Bible. It was translated with great fidelity to the original manuscripsts with a “word for word” theory of translation. I recommend you read for yourself about this Bible. Also you can compare it to the version you are using now here. I believe the comparisons are thoughtful and fair. I was especially impressed with an article entitled “Translation Philosophy“.

I am interested in what you think of the ESV?

His Peace,
Royce Ogle

14 comments on “The Bible, Which Version is Best?

  1. Heya Royce. The NIV is an excellent translation, although I am sure you’ve done plenty of reading and I couldn’t tell you something you don’t already know about it. Some of the “left out” stuff was likely never there… especially if compared to the KJV, a revision itself… and that based upon later manuscripts (NKJV does a good job of noting the various manuscripts, but defers to the KJV too much). Be that as it may…

    The ESV is wonderful for study … not as even reading as the NIV … but I love it. Great choice! Maybe I’ll get mine out again this week and renew my interest in reading. I preached from it for a year … not long after it came out. Like you, I’m impressed with their translation philosophy.

    Love ya!

  2. I like the ESV. I still use the NIV more because that’s what people tend to have in their hands.

    I use Accordance Bible software, and my usual workset has 5 versions: the NIV, the ESV, KJV with Strong’s (helps me know which Greek or Hebrew word was used in a particular instance), and 2 versions in Spanish.

  3. I’ve been preaching from the ESV off and on since 2002. I prefer the NASB, but the ESV is nevertheless far superior to the NIV or NKJV and actually has a reasonable chance of making inroads into NIV and NKJV readership. The congregation where I preach is primarily reading NIV and ESV. I encourage members looking for a new Bible to switch to the ESV.

  4. Royce,

    Just got my first ESV. Looking forward to spending some time in it. I do still like my NIV, because it seems to be what most have. But I’m sure willing to look over the ESV. As for the Message, it’s sure nice to read, but biblical translation it’s not. I’m also not much for other translations that are out of date (language wise).

  5. Trey,

    You might be surprised to know that the Message is technically a translation. It was done based on the original languages. It just happens to be on the far extreme of the dynamic equivalence end of the spectrum.

  6. Matt,

    I’ll take your word for it. However,I doubt that it will ever be the book of choice for many serious Bible students, teachers, and preachers.


    Thanks for checking in. I concur!


    Its been too long! Thanks for your comments. I hope you are right!


    Thanks for the info. Trust me on this one, I am sure the NIV is lacking compared to some of its cousins. ‘Nuf said.


    Thanks for your visit and comment. You might like the “Linked Word Project” from Bob Jones University. ( ) . It is a wonderful, easy to use resource.


    Love you Bro’, hope you are doing well and the health is improving. Thanks for your fine example to the rest of us. I admire you very much.


    You are correct but even if you are not comparing it to the KJV (which I was not) is still is lacking comapred to 2 or 3 other versions in my view.


    You are the man, so tell them to get what you tell them to read and to follow along or your will report them! LOL


  7. Trey and Matt, maybe we should say of the Message, “STANDARD translation it’s not.”

    What the Message sets out to do it does very well. However, it doesn’t belong in the pulpit as the basic text of the preacher.

    Using the NIV in preaching and teaching still makes the most sense. It is a standard translation, and in our church circles is more likely to be brought to worship than any other.

    I haven’t spent much time with the ESV. It certainly has a lot of educated fans.

    I know this will make me seem more hopelessly old than I am, but if stuck on the proverbial island, I’d want my RSV.

  8. Frank,

    I don’t like the Message at all. I am just pointing out that technically it is considered a translation.


    All translations are lacking.

    True. Nothing is as pure as the original manuscripts freshly penned. But we don’t have them so the best we do have are those few that take a word for word and literal approach.

    After John penned the gospel that bears his name the very first scribe or group of scribes that copied what he had written could have made some slight error in punctuation or added some word he thought would make John’s intent easier to understand.

    Pretty amazing that we have stuff as good as we do given the time and distance from the original authors. One thing is for sure, we all have quite enough to discern the will of God and to embrace the Lamb of God who alone takes away sin.


  9. I am getting in late on this discussion, but I have recently been reading the ESV and I think it will become my next teaching text. I have also be telling others to check it out.

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