Bibles-Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there so many translations of the Bible?

Since the English language continues to change, revisions of older translations and new translations are made continually so that people may read the Bible in contemporary language. Also, the translators strove to achieve different language styles in each translation. Although they all seek to convey the original meaning, the translations end up different due to unique styles.

  • Some are close to the original Hebrew and Greek.
  • Some are written in modern vernacular.
  • Some are very accurate to the text but phrased more lyrically.
  • Some are written in easily accessible language for lower reading levels or those with a limited English vocabulary.
  • Some use a thought-by-thought, or phrase-by-phrase, equivalent rather than word-for-word.

What is the difference between the King James and the New King James Bible?

The King James Version (KJV), authorized by King James I of England, was completed in 1611. It has long been loved for its poetic, literary style; beauty of language; and accuracy as a literal translation. For more than 400 years, it was the most universally accepted translation. Because of changes in the English language–spelling, grammar, word meanings, and the like–the original version has been revised from time to time. The KJV we read today is the fourth revision of the 1611 edition, completed in 1769.

The New King James Bible is in essence a fifth revision of the original text; it retains the beauty and accuracy of the KJV in contemporary, readable language. It is the only modern translation that keeps the Textus Receptus, the Greek text used in the KJV for the New Testament. 

What is the difference between the authorized King James Bible and the King James Bible

They are the same. King James I of England authorized this translation in 1611.

What is the difference in the New American Standard Bible and the New American Standard update?

The American Standard Bible was published in 1901. It is a word-for-word translation by an American committee that consulted the English Revised Version of 1885, a British revision of the King James Version. 

The New American Standard Bible (NASB), published in 1971, is a revision of the 1901 American Standard Bible. The publisher’s objective was to produce the most literal and accurate translation. With the NASB, readers have insight into what the original text really means word for word. With publication of the NASB Update (1995), the vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure have been carefully updated for greater understanding and smoother reading. It remains the most literal word-for-word and sentence structure translation of the Bible available in English. 

What is the difference between the Living Bible and the New Living Bible?

The Living Bible is a paraphrase based on the 1901 American Standard Bible. A paraphrase is a restatement of the message in the same language, but in different words than were used in the original text. Its purpose is to put the Bible into simplified language. 

The Living Bible (1971) paraphrase was made by Kenneth Taylor from the 1901 American Standard Bible. 

The New Living Bible (1996) is a dynamic equivalence translation. Ninety Bible scholars used the original languages to produce the closest natural equivalent, both in meaning and style, of the message in contemporary English. A dynamic equivalence translation converts the Greek and Hebrew into modern English meanings and concepts, placing more importance on the total meaning than on individual words. 

What are the most modern translations? 

  • Contemporary English–Completed 1995.
  • The Message–New Testament 1993, Old Testament July 2002.
  • New American Bible–Completed 1971. New Testament revised in 1995.
  • New American Standard–Updated 1995.
  • New Century Bible–1986.
  • New International Bible–New Testament 1973, Old Testament 1978.
  • New International Readers Version–1996.
  • New Jerusalem Bible–1985.
  • New King James Version–1982.
  • New Living Translation–1996.
  • New Revised Standard Version–1990.
  • Today’s English Version–1993.

What is a Red Letter edition?

This is a Bible that has words traditionally attributed to Christ printed in red rather than black lettering (like all the other verses in the Bible). A problem occasionally occurs with bleed-through on very thin paper, especially in large and giant print Bibles. Another problem is that the red color can cause blurring for some people with vision impairment.

Where can I find the Bible in translations other than English?

They easily can be accessed using ipage. To learn more about using the Bible Search function on ipage, refer to the Searching for a Bible on ipage section of the Bible Guide.

What is considered Large Print?

Some companies consider type size 10 point (pt.) as large print. However, most companies classify 11 pt.-13 pt. as large print. Giant print ranges from 13.5 pt.-15 pt., and super giant print is 15 pt.-24 pt., depending on the publisher. Note that other factors also increase readability of text, such as the space and distance between lines and words, font style, and paper brightness.

Why aren’t there many compact large print Bibles?

The Bible is so long that the print size can no longer be large when reduced to a compact size. However, there are a number of styles of giant print Bibles available in a size comparable to other standard-sized Bibles. These usually are referred to as handy size, hand size, or personal size giant print Bibles. 

What is the difference between an Interlinear Bible, a Parallel Bible, and a Bilingual Bible?An interlinear Bible is a Greek New Testament or Hebrew Old Testament with a literal English translation for each word or phrase.A parallel Bible has the text of two or more translations printed side by side. These can be multilingual or contain multiple versions.A bilingual Bible has the text of two languages printed side by side. 

Can I find Bibles on audio or software?

Yes. An extensive listing of audio Bibles plus software materials and electronic Bibles can be found on ipage.

What is the difference in a Study Bible and a Reference Bible?

A Study Bible has many features to help readers understand the Bible. These usually include resources like a dictionary, concordance, references, maps, and detailed study notes. A Reference Bible contains cross-references to related Scripture passages either in the column with the text, in footnotes, or within the verses.

What is the difference between a bonded leather Bible and a genuine leather Bible?

Bonded leather is a high-quality material made of leather fibers bonded with latex. A genuine leather Bible is made from one solid piece of leather. This may be pigskin, calfskin, cowhide, Berkshire (a high-quality pigskin), or Morocco (goatskin). Genuine leather Bibles also cost more.

What is an inclusive language Bible?

These translations adjust pronouns and other gender references to include women. This may be referred to as an inclusive-language version or a gender-neutral version. These translations use language that replaces gender-specific implications–such as the term “man,” “mankind,” and the pronouns “he” and “him”–with gender-neutral terms, such as “person,” “woman/man,” or “humankind.” Also, sometimes “they” or “them” replace a singular gender-specific pronoun; this does alter the meaning of that particular text. 

Versions of the traditional stance are the King James Version, New American Standard Bible, Revised Standard Version, New American Bible, and the New International Version.

The inclusive, or at least gender neutral, versions are the New Revised Standard Version, New Jerusalem Bible, Today’s English Version, The Message, the New Living Translation and the Inclusive Bible: New Testament. Usually in the prefaces of these translations are notes showing what principles were used in the translators’ decisions about when to retain and when to change masculine references.

What is the Jewish Bible?

The Jewish Bible consists of the Five Books of Moses, or the Torah; the Prophets; and the Writings. Non-Jews refer to the Jewish Bible as the Old Testament, and Jews call it the Tanach or Tanakh. Both Jews and non-Jews use the word Scripture, but bear in mind that the New Testament is not part of the Jewish Scripture.

Which books are included in the Hebrew Bible?

  • Torah: Books of Genesis (B’reishis), Exodus (Sh’mos), Leviticus (Vayikra), Numbers (Bamidbar), and Deuteronomy (D’varim).
  • Neviim (Prophets): Books of Joshua, Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habukkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. 
  • Ketuvim (Writings): Books of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel (although not all of this book is included in the Christian Canon), Ezra and Nehemiah, I Chronicles, and II Chronicles. 

Which are the English translations of the Tanach, or Hebrew Bible?

The most popular are the Stone edition of Tanach, published by ArtScroll/Mesorah, and the Tanakh, published by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS).

What is the difference between the two most popular Hebrew Bible translations?

Orthodox (more traditional) scholars produced the ArtScroll’s Stone Edition. It relies entirely on traditional Talmudic and classical Rabbinic interpretations and commentaries. The English is contemporary, but it is also faithful to the literal Hebrew, unless the English word choice needs slight changes. It has brief introductions to the books and a brief commentary on some concepts and passages.

Reform and conservative scholars primarily produced the JPS Tanakh, making it more liberal in its scholarship. The language of the translation reproduces the Hebrew idiomatically and emphasizes understanding and correctness. It does not include introductions or comments, but notes difficulties in the Hebrew and suggests alterations of the text by modern scholars.

What Bible translations are available in Spanish?

The most popular Spanish Bible is The Reina Valera published in 1909 and comparable to the King James Version in English. It has been updated twice, once in 1960 and again in 1995. The 1960 version remains the most popular among older Latino Christians. 

The newest one is the Nueva Version Internacional (NVI) released in 1999. This translation seeks to capture the poetry of books like Psalms and Proverbs while retaining the readability of conversational Spanish.