There are so many Bible choices out there-various authors, types and translations. So how do you know which will work best for you? Let me help you make that decision, based on some explanations and example texts from a few different translations.
First off, if you are looking for a Bible, there are many great places to go. Your local bookstore or Christian supply store will be good places to start, as well as a variety of on-line outlets. The key is to know what you are looking for your Bible to do and how “in-depth” you need it to be.
There are many different varieties in the type of Bible. Some of the many options include:
Traditional. Text only, not much else in the Bible. This is as simple as it gets.
Study Bible. Aka, Student Bible, these Bibles usually have footnotes and notes on the margins. They may also have commentary, maps or references to other areas in the Bible.
Reference Bible. Usually has a index, a concordance and maps. More detail than your standard study Bible.
Parallel Bible. Has multiple translations side by side to compare and contrast.
Chronological Bible. Bible in one continuous story. This Bible ignores the general structure of the traditional Bibles and makes them more of a story, concerned more with the flow and readability of it.
Life-Specific Bible. This Bible comes in a variety of specialty focuses, intended for a group of people in a certain interest/area in their lives. These might include Parents, Children, Singles, Sports Fans, Those with a recent loss, etc.
Also, when selecting a Bible, it is important to realize there are basically two different types of translations available. The first is literal word-for-word translations. These translations select every word and give the best word translation available form either the original Hebrew or Greek text. These Bibles are the more accurate, literal translations from what the original source intended us to understand. These types include King James Version, New King James Version, New American Standard, and English Standard. The negative side of these are that they can be more difficult to read, hard to understand at times for the casual reader. The positive is that they are more in-depth, study-friendly.
The second major choice is dynamic equivalent, thought-for-thought translations. These Bibles attempt to give the reader a more free-flowing, easier to understand version of the Bible. Some examples include New International, New Living Bible, Revised Standard, Good News Bible, and The Message. The negative side to these is the lack of understanding of the true, original text the authors wrote in, and a generalization of the message intended at times. The positives include an easier read, and a less threatening version for new or non-believers.
Some examples of the difference:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:1-17 New Living Translation
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do what I command you. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. “This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:1-17 New American Standard Bible
I hope this has been informative and helpful for you in your search for a Bible to guide you in your study of the Word. Good luck and God Bless!