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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Do You Choose a Bible?

I was in a Christian bookstore when I saw a lady staring at all the types of Bibles for sale. She wanted to get a Bible as a gift but was confused on which one to buy. It is no wonder that she is confused with the number of Bibles. Bibles are published with every sort of name and purpose. So many have been produced that I am surprised that someone hasn't published a "left-handed" Bible! How can anyone know which Bible to buy?

I think that trying to buy one Bible is a problem. Each of the published Bibles has a different purpose. They come in different versions. (A translation is done by one person. A version is done by a group.) The address different age groups. (There are children's Bibles, youth Bibles and adult Bibles.) They can address a different gender. (There is at least one women's Bible.) You need to think of what each Bible is for and buy a Bible for that purpose.

Bible versions are very different. Most come from a translation of the Hebrew and Greek. They do not all come from the same manuscripts of the Hebrew and Greek. It can make for slight differences in the translation. You will note that some people will have a different number quoted from their copy of the Bible when addressing troop strength in the Old Testament. This comes from using a different manuscript. It does not change the meaning but it will slightly change the translation.

Versions are also different in the way they are translated. Some versions try to give a word-for-word translation of the Hebrew and Greek. This is very difficult because the languages do not read like English. Therefore, several words may be necessary to give the translation of one word. These "literal" translations are not exactly literal but they try to give the closest word-for-word translation possible.

Other translations are more dynamic. They look at the entire sentence and paragraph before translation. They endeavor to give the meaning of the passage through each sentence translated. Naturally, they must contain some "commentary" in the middle of the translation. It is the interpretation of the translators which give you this version.

Finally, there are paraphrases. These are not translated from the Greek and Hebrew but take a previous English version and put the meaning in the vernacular of the English of a certain group or time.

Therefore, a Bible for study may not be the Bible you need for reading. If you are wanting to do serious study look for a static translation which has lots of notes throughout the Bible. Two examples of a static translation are the New American Standard Bible and the English Standard Bible. These are a little harder to read but give a more word-for-word translation.

A good reading Bible is the New International Version. I have one of these for reading. I do not have any commentary or helps in these Bibles. It is for reading; not serious study. Another good reading Bible would be the Living Bible. It is a paraphrase. It will give the general meaning of each passage. It is not a study Bible either.

You may need more than one of each of these Bibles. You may want to get the NIV Study Bible if you are not concerned with serious study but want to get a Bible that you can read which will give have some explanation of the meaning. However, no Bible is going to give you all the commentary or explanation that a Commentary Set or Bible Dictionary can give. If you are into serious study you should set aside a month's rent to buy a good set of commentaries. They are expensive but worth it if you are really serious.

Covers are another issue with Bibles. Genuine leather is different from bonded leather. Genuine leather is cut from one piece of leather to make the cover. Bonded leather is taken from small ground up pieces of leather that have been bonded together to form the cover. They may look the same but genuine leather will last much longer than bonded. There are also leather-like covers and hard bound covers. A hard bound cover is sufficient if you do not plan on carrying the Bible anywhere. I recommend a genuine leather cover for a Bible that makes a lot of trips.

You may ask what version of the Bible I use. That's easy. I use the LARGE PRINT version.

I hope this helps you find the Bible you need. Hide God's word in your heart. It will make a serious difference in your life.

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