THE MOST POPULAR BIBLE TRANSLATIONS

Did you know that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time and it continues to be the best-selling book of the year, every year. The CBA has released this month’s “Best Selling Translations” list. Does any of these surprise you?

  1. New International Version
  2. King James Version
  3. New Living Translation
  4. New King James Version
  5. English Standard Version
  6. The Message
  7. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  8. New American Standard Bible
  9. Today’s New International Version
  10. New Century Version

For years I’ve preferred the NIV. Seems like most of the people I preach to use the NIV as well. Lately I’ve been doing my daily reading from the NCV and the NLT. I’ve enjoyed both of these as well.

So what translation do you use? Is there a translation you don’t like? Do you know anyone who thinks the Bible translations they use is actually the only one God authorizes us to use?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
40 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Frank Bellizzi says:

    That NIV is number 1 is no surprise. I thought that TNIV might be higher on the list. But the fact that NIV and TNIV both make the top 10 is impressive. NIV is the new KJV.

    I think that the only reason KJV manages to finish 2nd is because it’s no longer under copyright protection, at least in the US. The cheap gift Bibles and “baby Bibles” are all in KJV for that very reason.

    I’m content that the NIV has, to a great extent, become what the KJV used to be. (I know, it’s a skewed comparison, like comparing The Beatles to U2). But my favorite is the old RSV.

  2. That Girl says:

    My very favorite is the Easy To Read. It is designed for the deaf who have a smaller vocabulary than hearing people. The words are simple and very easy to understand. I also like the TNIV and The Message.

  3. preacherman says:

    I use and preach from the NIV. I used the NIV Study Bible while at LCU and feel most comfortable with it. I do have some in the congregation who have the mindset that KJV is the true version but others that love the NIV and most relate to it. It is easiest for them to learn from. So, I study and preach from it. I also like the New America Standard as well.

    Great post. Hope you had a great trip and all is going well in Childress. Enjoying the rain we are getting down south? God bless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have a NIV/NASB parallel that I preach out of. I will refer to NASB during sermons and Bible class. our pew bible is NIV, which is in my top 3 so that’s cool. I really like NASB for study, and have been using ESV for my daily Bible reading and may someday switch to using it predominantly

    brian

  5. TREY MORGAN says:

    Frank – I find it interesting that the RSV and NRSV was popular 20 years ago but now isn’t even on the list.

    That Girl – I like the Easy to Read too. I’ve had a copy of that for a long time.

    Preacherman & Brian – The NAS has been a good reliable translation for years. Much easier to read than the old ASV.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I use the NKJV mostly but also use some of the others for study. I’m surprised that the ESV is above the NASB. We use the NASB as pew Bibles.
    -Paula

  7. Brandon says:

    I have just began using the English Standard Version. I have been raised on the NIV and so I am fighting the change, but I really wanted a more “word for word” translation to work from. I really get tired of studying with the NIV and finding out that “that line is really not what the original text says.”

    It breaks my heart that the TNIV is on the list – that butchers so much of what is meant to be there, from what I’ve read. I feel like it’s only on the list because they sell it in a cool cover.

    I tried to convince myself to use the NASB, but I hate the word “spittle.”

  8. Greg says:

    I’ve used NLT the last few years of my preaching and find that it “fits” me. The Message is good for devotional reading (for me) but I find it most inconvenient for study since it has no verses for quick reference. I, too, am surprised to see KJV on the list, but you asked if we knew of anyone who serioiusly believed the translationt they used was the only one God authorizes … obviously you’ve not been to the deep south very often or stayed very long! I can’t tell you the number of people I know who honestly believe (who taught them this?!?!?) the King James is the language God speaks and is the only true Bible for mankind. It never ceases to amaze me.

    Love your blog, brother!

  9. Jeff Slater says:

    I’m surprised that the KJV is #2. I feel that translation just needs to die a natural death (but that’s just my opinion).

    Two years ago I switched from the NIV to the TNIV, and I really like it. I need to get a TNIV Study Bible.

  10. TREY MORGAN says:

    Greg … I have met them too. I thought maybe I was the only person who knew they were out their.

    Brandon … when you find a word for word translation that’s readable then let me know. Most I’ve seen are hard to understand, which I don’t think that was what God intended with His word. NASB is about as close as I’ve seen, but I too have some problems with its “out of date” language.

    Jeff … may I simply say amen to the first comment and hope I don’t get raked over the coles for it.

  11. ben overby says:

    Trey,

    Like Brandon, I use the ESV. It is easy to read and an excellent study bible (among others, of course). I’ve never been much of a fan of the NIV or KJV. I do love the Message, though!

    Ben

  12. jel says:

    Well I’m One of them people that read the KJV, was brought up on it , and the only one that our pastor will use.

    can I ask without steping on any toes here, why so many diffent versions?

  13. Anonymous says:

    when I say NASB, I mean the updated version from 1995 that removed all the thees and thous, and made it a little easier to read
    so far in the ESV, it seems comparable to NASB and RSV and NIV in many ways.

    I have the message and consider good for a commentary or devotional reading but wouldn’t recommend using it for preaching or teaching or personal Bible study.

    brian

  14. TREY MORGAN says:

    Jel … here are a few links that might help you answer that question! The first one is excellent…

    http://www.marshillchurch.org/content/differentBibletranslations

    http://www.victorious.org/translat.htm

    http://my.homewithgod.com/mattperry/translations.html

  15. jel says:

    Thanks Trey!

    that help alot, and you were right the first one was the best!

  16. JP Manzi says:

    Honestly,

    I own at least 1 copy of all the known versions and by far I give the nod to the ESV. If you have not, Trey, studied scriptures with this…give it a go. You will be impressed. The more literal translation.

  17. Neva says:

    Okay—is the Message really a translation? I thought it was more of a commnentary—-the two are very different.
    I use NIV which my darling hub calls the Non Inspired Version and he of course uses the Almost Scriptural Version (ASV)—we have a mixed marriage. :)

    peace
    n

  18. Brandon says:

    I have also recently been exposed to the Holman Christan Bible and have a friend who is trying to convert the world on it. From what I’ve seen, it is very accurate and reads very informally, but in some cases – for me – it’s a little to informal. Sometimes it uses the words “guys” and once translated what other translations called a “belt” as “underwear.” It didn’t really have the same poetic ring.

  19. Neva says:

    I meant isn’t the Message a “paraphase” rather than a translation? Sorry–

    n

  20. TREY MORGAN says:

    Neva …. I understand exactly what you are saying. I think the message is excellent for reading, but not for detailed Bible study.

    As for the ESV … don’t know much about it but from the recommendations I might have to get me a copy.

  21. Anonymous says:

    the message, is a paraphrase and a single translator Bible, which doesn’t mean it is trash, but IMO lowers it behind many others.

    what concerns me is any person or group that teaches something and you have to use a certain translation of that verse for it to back up what they say, and if you read a couple of other translations to compare, you will be confused or lost.

    brother lucado has done this, quoting the Message, making a great point, but when I go to NIV, KJV, NLT, you can’t teach the same point from the same verse

    brian

  22. TREY MORGAN says:

    Brian … I agree 100%. Although the Message is excellent for reading and even using in sermons, you need to make sure that it doesn’t try and translate the text for you. As for Lucado and others … I’ve noticed it too.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I grew up using the niv and it’s the only version I have used. I like the Bold print mine comes with and it is easier to read. I guess it’s not the type of Bible you read its what meaning you get out of it that matters. Lately I must admit I have been using biblegateway.com more then the book. I have been adding daily messages to the forum and I use biblegateway.com to find versus to add. I hope all is going well Trey! and I am glad you are home sage and sound. ps. I don’t like the black background!

    Brandon Voss
    admin@cocnet.us
    http://www.cocnet.us
    http://www.cocnet.us/phpBB3

  24. Bob Bliss says:

    Trey, I use the NASB updated when preaching. When I start my study off for the week I get online to one of the Bible web sites with multiple translations. I make a table, usually three columns and two rows – top row has the translation name and bottom row has the text in that translation. I put in as many translations as possible. I enjoy seeing the sight variations between the translations. Plus sometimes the variations conjure up sermon ideas and points. I am doing my daily Bible reading with the ESV. I just received a NKJV and will probably use it for my daily Bible reading next year.

    New look for your blog is interesting.

  25. Bob Bliss says:

    Jel, if you want to read about translation theory, a good book is The Word of God in English by Leland Ryken. He was on the translating committee for the ESV. His presence was more as a literary consultant, I believe. It’s not a long book and it isn’t a difficult read. He writes to help educate we who are not familiar with the jargon and theories that go into translating. There are some other good books as well but it’s the one I know the best. I don’t think his book or any book will settle the debate over which translation theory is best but I think it brings up some important considerations in helping we “lay people” make up our minds about a translation.

  26. jel says:

    Thanks Bob,
    will check it out!

    like the guy”s name ( Leland )

    was my dad’s name! :)

  27. Jeff Foster says:

    I use the NRSV as my primary Bible, and have since a sophomore at LCU in 1989 (the year it was published). The NRSV does a great job on OT narrative.

    I use the NIV a lot, too, and have a NIV/NASB parallel that I find quite handy.

    I like the ESV, too.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Anyone going to join the forum?///

    Brandon Voss

  29. Matthew says:

    It amazes me how the ESV has grown.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  30. Baptist Man says:

    I’m not surprised that this post got this many comments.

    The ONLY translation I use for study and preaching is the KJV. I’m not sure why people would want it to die a “natural death.”

    I’ve heard the argument: It’s just so hard to understand! My response: QUIT WHINING! Oh my, you might have to increase your intelligence a little to understand God’s Word?! We wouldn’t want that to happen!

    But you’re right, I see how “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” would COMPLETELY throw off a reader. The “thou shalt” messes me up every time. Could you explain it to me?

    Does that kind of thinking sound stupid to anyone else?

    Do I HATE other versions? No. Are there other versions I think are okay to use if you want to? I’m not sure. Haven’t studied it out enough. I’ve been spending all this time on trying to figure out “thou shalt.” 😉

    I’m “King James Only” and perfectly at peace with it. I hope you’re at peace with that too.

  31. KJKEB says:

    I use the NIV, ASV, NLT and NCV.

    And the tragedy is that I have way more Bibles than I need while so many around the world have none.

    Each of those versions speak to me about those less fortunate than me. As usual, my obedience does not reach the level of my understanding.

  32. Matt says:

    I thought the Purpose Driven Life was the best selling! :)

  33. Anonymous says:

    I grew up with the KJV, but never believed it was the only one authorized by God. I now use the NKJV because it is easier to read, and now I can read without the “thees” and thous”. I have used the NIV and like it because of the more modern language, too. My husband mostly uses the NAS, but uses many translations in preparation for sermons and Bible lessons.

    That Girl – I was the typist for the original work on the book of Luke for the Easy to Read Version while living in Massachusetts. The original translator visited many deaf schools and communities gathering their unique coloquialisms, which the hearing community might not be aware of. Our congregation at that time (about 1973/74)sponsored him and the man who started the translation work that later was moved to Arlington, TX. I was privileged to be a small part of that beginning.
    Jeanne M.

  34. The Preacher's Household: says:

    I’m a NIV and NASB myself, although I enjoy the tilt the Message puts on it.

    For youreth informationith, I shalt not dwellth on expanding my brain by learning an old dead language, but by exercising it on the concepts of the living Word.

    Also, kjkeb, I too have thought about how many Bibles we have laying around. Maybe a good policy would be to give a Bible to someone else that doesn’t have one for every Bible we buy for ourselves.

    Kathy

  35. The Preacher's Household: says:

    There are so many good translations. I mostly use the NIV in part because that is what I got used to. I have a text that has many notes in it. I have read it through many times. I like it so much I purchased a new copy of the same style a couple of years ago. That style probably part of why I like this NIV. It has a single column and not stuff to clutter the page.

    I too have a NASV/NIV it also has a Greek text. It is probably one of my favorites and I study with it a lot. The message is good for its’ purposes. The fact it was written by only one person is not the limitation. It is a paraphrase. The Phillips and Moffat are both good one man translations.

    I don’t own and have only recently learned anything of the NLTV. I can tell you one of the translators is an excellent scholars and happens to be one of my professors.

    On the KJV, as was pointed out, you can buy a copy for 99 cents and so it sells alot. The thees and thous are not the problem. It has other problems which include a limited number of transcripts some of which are not as old. I am aware of those who are highly suspicious of anything but KJV. They are wrong as far as I can see. There are problems with all translations but as was pointed out we need to watch out for those that emasculate God.

    James

  36. Ted M. Gossard says:

    I prefer the TNIV over the NIV because it actually reads better while it is overall more accurate than the NIV. The TNIV incorporates some changes that the translators wanted to make after second thoughts on some NIV renderings. And the TNIV incorporates some of the newer discoveries with reference to manuscripts.

    I like the NRSV though at spots I find its renderings or words used odd. And I like the Message rendering of Scripture. NLT second edition is also good, though I don’t use it. I also am coming to like the Contemporary English Version, though rarely use it.

    I do like to go back to my Greek NT and would like to get more into that, and even into the Hebrew Bible again, though I never excelled at either- though I don’t think either is all that hard if you work at it over time.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I was born in Russia and am a native Russian speaker; still I do believe that the center of the Evangelical Christianity has long ago moved to the Anglo-Saxon world, and the Lord blessed me with the knowledge of English. Guys, do you ever realize how blessed you are? You have so many healthy Evangelical churches of all kinds – we don’t, you have dozens of Bible translations – we only have one, of the late 19th century, you have so many commentaries, spiritual books – all we have was translated from English.
    Of course, when I read the Bible for myself, not for preaching, I do it in English. Years ago I started with the NIV and still use it. When I need to find out the exact meaning of the word, I can use the NASB (or a Greek interlinear). I wish I could read the KJV (thou’s and thee’s do not confuse me at all), but so many words have completely changed their meaning (and the stile itself doesn’t seem natural) that it is almost unreadable without special dictionaries.
    Igor

  38. TREY MORGAN says:

    Igor,

    Thank you for stopping by and thank you for reminding us how blessed we are. :)

    Please stop back by when you have time.

  39. LameLameLame says:

    NWT, anything less is a disservice to God. Don’t take my word for it, “Truth in Translation”, which is not even remotely affiliated with it, ranked it the most accurate translation on the planet. How can anyone use a bible that doesn’t even use God’s name??

  40. Anonymous says:

    Hi ya,all -It warms my heart to see that you, regard God's Word the way you do — Ah, yes, I remember it well, Praise God.
    — Roy

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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