Dr. Swisher, What version of the Bible should a New Believer read?   Hallie/Holland, Ohio  

Hello Hallie thanks for this relevant and utilitarian question.   This type of “hands on” question helps a wide ranging audience of readers find helpful information they can apply to their lives.   We need to take a moment first to determine the purpose before recommending a version.  For example are you reading for a scholastic reason such as a research project or report for class?  Or are you reading to find an answer to a particular question, obstacle or opportunity you are facing?  Or perhaps you are reading strictly for devotional purposes.   

It wasn’t too many years ago that there was only one option for an English Bible namely the King James Version.  Fast forward to today and there are more options than there are in the toothpaste aisle at your local grocery store.  To complicate the issue a bit more not all versions are compiled in the same manner.   Some focus on a literal, word for word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew while others such as the Passion Translation and The Message translation focus more on meaning, current language and thought patterns.  

Here are a few options that I would personally recommend to you and others who are searching for a Bible:  

  1. New Living Bible….this is a version that is readable and uses verbiage that is commonly used and understandable.  While this may not be a literal word for word translation it does a good job Communicating the main thoughts of the original author.  
  2. Message version….this is a fun option to read as it conveys the broad themes of the story in an easy to read format.  It is not an academic translation but has the goal to reveal the tone and feel of the text.   
  3. New Revised Standard …does a great job of combining both literal translation and modern useage.   It was published in 1989 by the National Council of Churches.  It is intended to serve devotional, liturgical, and scholarly needs of the widest possible audience.   A large number of Churches across America use this version in Worship.  
  4. New American Standard… is one of the best translations you can use when it comes to inductive study on a passage.  This version is also described as one of the closest when it comes to direct word for word translation from the original language.  This would be the version to use if you are doing an in depth study for a graduate school assignment.  

These are just a few good options that I hope are helpful.   I invite you to Worship with us in person this weekend at Epworth United Methodist Church in any of our 5 worship services.  When you do be sure to ask one of our greeters or ushers and we will be happy to give you a Bible free of charge.   Just tell them I sent you.   We look forward to seeing you soon and Welcoming you home to Epworth UMC.