Printed Bible Versions
When I was young, when anyone wanted a new Bible, it was easy to choose which version, for there were very few versions other than the King James version. In fact, I cannot remember seeing anything other than the King James Bible in the bookshops and all the Bibles given out to the children at Sunday school anniversaries were universally King James Bibles. Then in 1961 the New English version of the New Testament appeared, followed in 1970 by the Old Testament. From then onwards it seemed as if a new Bible translation appeared every few months and today we have hundreds. It is not apparently possible for anyone to give an accurate number of the current number of English translations, since there are also large numbers of partial Bibles containing a single testament, groups of books, or just a single book, but the American Bible Society, taking everything into consideration, thinks there are around 900 English language versions of the Bible available today and I am not sure whether this figure is just for printed versions or includes digital versions too.
It is therefore not surprising that anyone seeking a new Bible can get utterly confused and lost by the forest of Bibles which confronts them, leading to the very common question ‘Which is the best version?’. In fact there is no ‘Best Version’ since they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the ‘Best Version’ depends very much on what you need it for and how you will use it. Consequently the question should be ‘What is the best version for me’, which may be utterly different from best version for someone else.
Help is at hand, the Bible Society has published a guide to the most common English language translations which specifies the characteristics of each version to aid selection, together with some indications of the best versions for a variety of uses. Click the link below to enlist the help of the Bible Society:
Hopefully that will take care of the printed versions, but have you considered a digital version of the Bible?
Digital Bible Versions
Digital Bibles have a lot of advantages:
- Many digital Bibles can be downloaded completely free of charge.
- Both the size and style of the text can be adjusted to suit your needs .
- Several versions of the Bible can be placed on the same digital device (e.g. Kindle, iPad/iPhone, laptop, smartphone, or tablet computers etc.).
- The words of Jesus are usually highlighted in a different colour.
- You can frequently place the same downloaded Bible version on several digital devices for no further cost.
- Digital Bibles frequently include some or all of the following:
- a dictionary
- reference material
- a commentary
- a concordance
Did you know that you don’t need to own a Kindle tablet or eReader to obtain and read Kindle books? The Kindle App can be downloaded for free onto Apple computers, iPads and iPhones, Android tablets and phones as well as Windows computers, tablets and phones. Click the following link to download the free Kindle App:
I am unable to give you a comprehensive list of available digital Bibles, but a quick search revealed the following versions available for Kindles, all of which can be downloaded from the Amazon Kindle bookstore:
- English Standard Version (Several examples Free to £4.49)
- New International Version (£6.99)
- The New Testament Translated From the Original Greek, With Chronological Arrangement of the Sacred Books, and Improved Divisions of Chapters and Verses. (Free)
- King James Version (Several examples £0.92 to £3.66)
- New Life Bible (£5.89)
- Methodist Holy Bible (£3.12)
- Holman Christian Standard Bible (Several examples Free to £2.49)
- International Standard Version (£7.46)
- Holy Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version (£0.99)
- American Standard Bible (Several examples £1.50 to £3.59)
- Christian Standard Bible (Free)
- Good News Bible (£2.54)
The above list of Kindle Bibles is far from exhaustive, and all can be downloaded either to a Kindle device or to a Kindle App from the Kindle book store. The link to the Kindle book store is:
Did you know that the current Methodist hymn book ‘Singing the Faith’ is available as a download for Kindles (Kindle App and Kindle devices)? The cost is £9.50 and the link is:
I keep both a Bible and Singing the Faith on my two Kindle devices, my windows laptop and my Android phone. I am therefore never without either.
Did you know that the full text of the Bible is sufficiently small to be sent as an email attachment as a ZIP file? Click the button below to download a file called KJV-text.zip, which contains the full text of the King James Bible, which you can either send on to friends via email, or open yourself. To obtain the KJV Bible, open the downloaded zip file and copy the file named KJV.txt to another location on your disc. The KJV.txt file can be opened with any text editor such as Notepad, Wordpad or even the MS WORD word processor. In fact you can use MS WORD to add any additional notes and annotations yourself, allowing you to make you own personalised version of the Bible.Download
The Bibles I Use
Although I am unable to publish a comprehensive list of digital Bibles, I can tell you what I use and have found to be useful.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB Kindle free version)
For my main digital Bible I use the HCSB version. The HCSB was compiled by 100 Christian scholars from the most reliable Greek and Hebrew texts and seeks to convey the precise meaning of the original text by the best means available. It is available in both printed and digital versions, but the digital version includes all the features expected of a digital Bible, in that it includes a dictionary, reference material, commentaries and a concordance. The words of Jesus are highlighted in red if viewed on a colour screen. It is available to download on an iPad, iPhone, Android and/or Windows devices. I use it on my Windows laptop, Android smartphone and (both) my Kindle Fire HD and my Kindle Paperwhite, but since my Kindle Paperwhite is monochrome only, the coloured text (such as the words of Jesus) appears in a lighter shade of grey to the normally black text.
To download a non-Kindle version, click the following link, which contains both a free and non-free versions. The non-free version contains extra features.
If you have a Kindle, or the Kindle App on your PC, Tablet or Smartphone, the Kindle Bookstore link to the free version is:
A reference version of the HCSB Bible for Kindles, available for £2.49, can be downloaded from the following link:
However, I find the free version perfectly adequate for my needs.
YouVersion Bible App
I also use the YouVersion Bible App (commonly known as the Bible App), which is a free app which has the advantage that within the app you are able to download as many Bible versions as you like for free and switch between them. It is therefore fabulous for comparing text between versions. It also provides a selected Bible verse for each day, the ability to add bookmarks, images, notes, highlights, friends and earn badges. You can, subscribe to reading plans and discover and explore many important topics. However, the most advanced and arguably the most important feature of this app is the ability to create Events.
I consider Bible App Events to be an incredibly useful feature which can help to bring the Church into the 21st century. It allows a Minister or Worship Leader to create an Order of Service to display on a screen or projector in a similar manner to a PowerPoint presentation. However, it also provides the facility to add much more additional and background material, which can be accessed by the congregation during the service, on their smartphones, tablet or even laptops If used properly, this is an extremely powerful feature since it helps the congregation to learn more about the points which interest them or do not fully understand, add notes or questions for further investigation and all during the service. Using this system, a preacher can become a real teacher and not just a speaker.
However, this blog is about the choice of Bible versions and this is a totally different topic which I will cover in a later blog.
The Bible App is totally free and is suitable for the following devices/operating systems:
- Windows Phone
- Windows 8
- Mobile Web
- Kindle Fire
It can be downloaded from:
Which Bibles Do You Use?
Please use the comment form below to tell us which Bible versions you use and why you find them useful.
Please note that this blog is also available on the St Martin’s Methodist Church website: