I’m sure you know that the Bible is the best selling book ever, but did you know that the Bible is also the world’s most shoplifted book. “King John” Dobbs has been talking about Bible translations this week and it got me thinking about, “What’s my favorite translation?”

According to Bible sales, the top selling bible translations look like this …

  1. New International Version
  2. New King James Version
  3. King James Version
  4. New Living Translation
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
  7. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  8. New American Standard Bible
  9. The Message
  10. International Children’s Bible

I like preaching from the NIV because that’s what most people here use, but much of my personal reading is done from the NLT. I still have and use my old “wide margin” Bible with all my notes in it. One thing I have still yet to purchase a ESV which many of my preaching friends love. If it were up to me to say what is the best Bible translation ever? I’d say it would have to be the one you’d read!

“Did you know that the Bible is also the world’s most shoplifted book?”

Speaking of Bibles, you might find these interesting …

I’m sure you have a hand full of Bibles, so tell me about your favorite?

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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
22 Comments Post a Comment
  1. preacherman says:

    I am really enjoying the Message now. The way he puts things in contemporary language is so great.

    I want to thank you brother for you blog and the difference that your posts have made in my life. I pray you have a wonderful weekend brother.
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  2. Royce Ogle says:


    My choice is the New King James hands down. It retains the beauty and accuracy of the KJV of 1611 but updates the archiac language to today’s.

    I am uncomfortable with the liberties the editors of the NIV took. Many verses are simply left out.

    What can I say? I’m an old “seasoned citizen”. It took me several years to accept front wheel drive cars and I was one of the last humans on earth to get a cell phone.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  3. That Girl says:

    My favorite is the Easy To Read version. It is a translation for the deaf. Beacause the deaf don’t have a large vocabulary, this version is written on about a 3rd grade level. It is written very simply and I like it although most people are using another version and don’t like when I read aloud from my Bible.

  4. Jeff Foster says:

    My personal favorite is the NRSV. I’ve used it for most of my study and a lot of my preaching and teaching since my college days. If not the NRSV, I use the NIV. In my PowerPoints, I will usually use NIV. I have an ESV and like it.

  5. Jeff Slater says:

    I use the TNIV for preaching and study. I like the gender-inclusive language (which is more true to the original intent IMO), and it has corrected some of the problems with the original NIV.

    I like The Message or the NLT for personal reading.

    I can’t believe the KJV is still that high on the list. I know many people still like it, but I always cringe when I hear someone reading from it.

  6. Tim Archer says:

    I’m interested to see the ranking of the Spanish RV1960. I do a Spanish radio program on Bible reading and am talking about versions this week.

    Good reminder that we can’t neglect the Spanish-speaking portion of our population.

    Grace and peace,

  7. preacherman says:

    I wonder if the Eugene H. Peterson will become our King James? :-)

  8. johndobbs says:

    Hey Trey…with the new look of your blog, you are setting the bar mighty high friend. Excellent!

    As for versions, everyone’s got opinions. I liked ESV very much and used it for a year or so, but most have NIVs and it reads significantly different … enough to go back to using NIV in preaching…and most of my reading. The only good thing about the NKJV is the way they have been so specific in the footnotes – but that is only significant if you are aware of the various greek manuscripts. Otherwise it is a monument to a book that is often treated as an idol: the KJV (a revision itself – though many staunch defenders seem not to know this!). The Message is good reading but is not a translation. The liberties are many, but I think the readings can be helpful. One paraphrase that got lots of ugly reviews was THE WORD ON THE STREET by Rob Lacey. You can pick it up at CBD for five bucks or so – it was not well received … but once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The Christian Standard Bible is receiving a lot of acceptance among evangelicals … I haven’t noticed that it is a great improvement on the NIV – which is (to me) the most accurate. Thanks to the NIV translators we are now aware that some of our big key texts may not be actually a part of the original text. Good to know. So I think Royce, Preacherman, and I should have a no holds barred cage match. I wrote this to illustrate that we do have different opinions about things…but your point was supreme: the one you read is a great one. Thanks…sorry for the long post.

  9. nick gill says:


    I don’t want to be pedantic or sound defensive, but you might want to read “Eat This Book” by Eugene Peterson.

    He says several times in several different places that The Message IS his own translation, not a paraphrase. The last third of the book is the story of the translation process.

    That being said, my favorites are:
    for study – NRSV;
    for story (personal reading) – NLT;
    for silence (lectio) – The Message

    Other than these, I have on my shelves the ubiquitous KJV (so that I can use my Strong’s), NKJV (Thompson Chain), RSV (old red-covered worn down thing that I rescued from a trash bin), NIV, ESV, NASU (maybe my least favorite), New Century Version (from Wal-Mart on a whim).

    Somewhere at the beginning of The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard mentions that the average Christian owns nine Bibles and hardly reads any of them. Clearly we hunger for God’s Word, but we’re afraid to do something about it.

  10. blogprophet says:

    i want tickets to the cage match!

    the first time I read the NT all the way was KJV, can’t believe I did that. It wasn’t til I went to college that I bought an NIV. glad I did. I have done most of my preaching and teaching, studying, reading, meditating with NIV, so it is in my head.

    but I have also used the NASU and I like it alot. some things about NIV do bother me since I had a greek class.

    I have really enjoyed the ESV, and prefer it and NASU when teaching a Bible class, and maybe NIV when preaching.

    also, that one that’s supposed to be written on our hearts is pretty good, too.

  11. Stephanie says:

    wow… very interesting ….I didn’t know that about the bible…I hope you have a good weekend…see ya soon…steph

  12. Wade says:

    Hey Trey,

    Your mentioning that bibles are often stolen reminded me of how we handed out bibles in Burlgaria while knowing full well that they would ultimately end up being sold on the black market.

    Although it was surprising to hear that was even a black market for bibles, we joyfully handed them out anyway because (1) black market bible salesmen need The Word too and (2) the bibles ultimately ended up in the hands of those seeking God.

    How’s that for absolutely-useless-yet-slightly-interesting information?

    Your NIV-lovin’ blog friend,


  13. Terry says:

    I like this post and the comments from your readers, Trey.
    I have 2 sentimental favorites:
    1. NIV—I was a young teenager of 14 or 15 when I discovered the NIV (in about 1983). It was the first Bible that I understood. I did not even know that anything but the KJV existed before that time. I must give some credit to the NIV for bringing me to Christ, because I had never understood the message of the Bible until I read it from the NIV. It remains my favorite.

    2. NKJV—It was the first Bible that I read from cover to cover. I still love its language, but I rarely use it to teach.

    I also like a couple of study Bibles: the Life Application Study Bible (I have it in the NIV and the NASB) and the Faith in Action Study Bible (NIV). Keep up the good work!

  14. Haley says:

    I’m a New American Standard Bible kinda girl! The one I use in particular was the one I received after I was baptized, it no longer has it’s leather cover, and a few of the front pages (not Genesis, don’t worry!) and maps have fallen off, but for some reason I don’t feel like I’ve really gotten a good study in unless I use that one. I switch bibles every now and again, but I don’t get the same feeling! I’m also getting into the message as a good reference and a different perspective when I’m reading my NASB.

    Also, gotta give you props on the new layout, very nice!

  15. Greg says:

    The last few years I preached, I used the NLT and enjoyed it very much. For my own personal reading, I still prefer the Message. My most marked up Bibles remain my old NIVs. Now that I’m no longer preaching, I lean toward a good study bible just in case the sermon is less than interesting! I may have contributed to the sales of study bibles!!

  16. Brandon Price says:

    The ESV is making some nice strides in Bible design and just came out with a single column compact Bible (reviewed here). I’m a new fan of the ESV because it follows a word-for-tradition, but uses more modern vernacular (though I do scratch me head at some of their translation choices).

    I do want to give all you Bible geeks out there (like myself) the coolest link you could fine in regard to Bible printing. The Bible Design Blog is an awesome blog that reviews all sorts of versions and releases, and talks about the whole process of Bible publishing, printing, and binding. Very interesting. I’ve got him on my feed reader and often learn of new releases or behind-the-scenes info in the Bible world.

  17. Justin says:

    Wow, nobody has even mentioned the Amplified! That is my personal favorite, because it “amplifies” the words and gives the hebrew and greek meanings, so you can get the true sense of what is being said!

    I also love the King James, and when I’m stuck I’ll look up a verse online using The Message. However, I don’t recommend the Message all the time because it has removed a lot of the power that is behind the Word of God.

  18. talia says:

    i love the message. sometimes i cross-reference on biblegateway, but the message is where it’s at for me.

  19. The Bowden's says:

    I just got the NCV (New Century Version). I am liking it so far. What do you think about it??

  20. TREY MORGAN says:

    Hey Bowden’s … Good bible. Read it and wear it out.

  21. preacherman says:

    The King James is more than once said in his book it is His own language but yet sounds Biblical. I do think Eugene H. Peter just might be our King James Bible but we will love you if you read any other translation. We won’t be cultish over our translation.

  22. Marlo B. says:

    wow I am surprised the Amplified isn’t on that list! I love it :) Marlo

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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Trey Morgan
Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
  • good list. Don't forget Nickelback, OJ, ISIS and beer-throwing Blue Jay fans.
  • He was pretty tough to listen to as well.
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