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Best Study Bible

Which is the best study Bible? Or Which study Bible is best according to college and seminary?

Best Bible Study Translations

Among the numerous Bible translations to choose from, the five mentioned below are the most popular in the USA.   Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. The King James Authorized is the standard translation. All others are compared to the King James.  It’s weakness is the use of old English words that are either not commonly used today or when used have a different meaning than in the 1600’s. 

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Each Bible is based on different primary texts and has a different method of translation – either word by word or phrase by phrase.  For example an English translator might not want to translate a popular phrase like “it takes one to know one” into another language word by word but rather to translate the meaning of the phrase.

Actually none of the translations are rigidly one way or another.  The King James and New King James are closer to the original words with some phrases translated while the NIV and NLT are more of a phrase by phrase translation. 

Here’s a history of each translation as well as it’s popularity.

New International Version [NIV]. The New International Version topped the most popular Bible version for the Christian Booksellers Association during the years 2007 and 2011. It is also included in the top ten top selling Bible versions in the USA during the year 2009 according to Amazon. 


NIV is an English Christian Bible translated by the New York Bible Society which is presently known as Biblica. The translation was initiated by Howard Long. It took ten years for the group of 100 scholars led by the 15 Biblical scholars to finish the translation project. The Zondervan published it in the US while in the UK it was published by Hodder and Stoughton. The New Testament was first released to the public in 1973 and released the entire Bible five years later. It underwent some revisions in 1983.

The Today’s New International Version, a revised NIV released its New Testament in 2002 and its entire Bible in 2005. Additional changes brought a  new edition in 2011.

New King James Version [NKJV]. The New King James Version is a Bible translation published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. It was the second most popular Bible version of 2007 according to the Christian Booksellers Association and the third in 2011.

The translation project started from the ideas of Arthur Farstad. Originally called the Revised Authorized Version, the translation took seven years to finish. It intended to keep the original thoughts of the 1611 King James Version in contemporary English.

With the cooperation of 130 translators, it released its New Testament in 1979, its Psalms in 1980, and its entire Bible in 1982. It is the translation used by the Gideons International, the ones who supply Bibles in hotels and hospitals. It also released an Audiobook entitled The Word of Promise Audio Bible.

King James Version [KJV]. More popularly known as the King James Version, the Authorized Version started its English translation in 1604. The project that finished in 1611 was commissioned by the Church of England and was first published by the King’s Printer Robert Barker.

The 47 scholars that finished the translation project aimed to pattern the translation to the teachings of the Church of England. It was the Bible version used by the Anglicans and Protestants during the earlier 18th century.

It was the third most popular Bible translation of 2007 and the second in 2011 for the Christian Booksellers Association. It was also among the top ten most saleable Bible in the USA in 2009 according to Amazon.

English Standard Version [ESV]. English Standard Version is an English Bible revision of the Revised Standard Version or RSV 1971 edition. Translated by a team of more than a hundred scholars, it was first released to the public by the Crossway Bibles in 2001 with an updated version released in 2007.

New Living Translation [NLT]. New Living Translation is a contemporary English translation of the Bible which started out with the aim of revising the Living Bible.

It was a translation project of 90 translators from different groups. It was translated to reflect complete thoughts rather than a word by word translation. It was first released in 1996 and underwent some revisions in 2004 and 2007.

It was the top-selling Bible version in 2008, was one of the top ten most popular Bible versions of Amazon in 2009, and the third best-selling Bible as of July 2011 in the US.

How to decide which to use?

A recommended way of making your personal choice is to compare several translations of your favorite verses side by side.

Go to and choose your favorite verse or chapter.  Search for it and then click on the “compare translations” link below the verses.

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4 thoughts on “Best Study Bible

  1. I have found that the Amplified Bible is the best for study and understanding the various synonyms for the original word.

  2. Many consider the King James Version (KJV) the “official” word of God. However, the KJV is in perhaps 70% from William Tyndale’s translation. The KJV uses many words that are either no longer in common use (obscure meaning) or in some cases completely opposite the original meaning. For example the word “let” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The words “let” and “letteth” actually mean hinder or hindered. In tennis a “let” ball is a hindered ball.

    Among many mistranslations in the KJV, two texts are regrettable and have caused some theological confusion over the centuries.
    1. “Mercy Seat” – This is a Tyndale translation from Luther’s German translation. The Hebrew original is “kapporeth” from the Masoretic text, and Greek “hilasterion” in the Septuagint. Luther interpreted the words “kapporeth” and “hilasterion” as “Gnadenstuhl,” literally meaning seat of grace. Tyndale took the meaning and translated it into English as “Mercy Seat”. The additional meaning of “seat” has nuanced the original meaning of “cover” to mean something that was not intended.
    2. The KJV translation of 1 John 3:4 is, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” The actual Greek word means “lawlessness”. So it should actually be translated as, “…sin is lawlessness.” This is an emphasis on an inner mental attitude towards instruction, instead of the breaking of a rule or commandment. It has to be conceded that Lucifer did not have the 10 Commandments to look at or break, but there is no doubt that Lucifer had an attitude of lawlessness and rebellion toward God and God’s method of ruling the universe.

    1. Very nice! Thank you for sharing all that!

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