Monday, December 28, 2009

Bible Now – Bible How

I read a report over the weekend from the Barna Group showing that biblical literacy in America is at an all time low. No surprise there. Most people think they know all they need to know about the Bible by the time they hit young adulthood. But Barna believes, and I agree too, that people have an underlying desire for biblical knowledge that is more than just superficial.

Part of the solution would be to actually READ the Bible. Since the New Year / Decade launches on Friday, this is the perfect time to make a real commitment to read your Bible. Okay, I know, the Bible is a BIG book and can be overwhelming, so where do you start? As they say, the easiest way to eat an elephant is…alright, forget I just said that, but here are a few pointers:

  • Go to your local Christian bookstore (or even some Walmarts) and but a One Year Bible. It will tell you exactly what to read on what days. OR…

  • Adopt a reading plan. This is what I do and it works great. I highly recommend the following website: You'll find 10 different reading plans (one which will take you through the whole Bible in 6 months if you really want to get after it). One GREAT feature about this website is that there is a "listen" link where you can choose to have the day's selection read to you. Very nice.

When people get serious about reading the Bible I usually get the question: Which translation is the best?

Great question. There are a ton of translations (if you read English) available today which can be a good thing or a very confusing thing. So let me try and break through the translation chaos for you.

There are basically TWO kinds of translations: 1) word-for-word (translating to be as literal as possible to the original Greek or Hebrew), 2) thought-for-thought (translating to be as close as possible to the original meaning of the Greek and Hebrew).

Your good word-for-word translations are ones such as the King James Version, New King James Version, New American Standard Version , English Standard Version , Holman Christian Standard Version.

Your good thought-for-thought translations are ones such as The New International Version, The New Living Translation, The Contemporary English Version.

You can usually tell which kind of translation you have by reading the Preface to the Bible you own.

I HIGHLY recommend that all Christians own two Bibles: one of each kind of translation. Currently, my favorite word-for-word translation is English Standard Version. I preach and study out of it extensively. My favorite thought-for-thought translation is hands down the New Living Translation. I absolutely love the way it "reads." I will point out that these are my preferences and in no way do they have to represent yours.

When someone asks me what translation is best, I usually ask them what they will be using it for. If it is for study, use a word-for-word translation. If it is for reading for sheer pleasure, use a thought-for-thought translation.

These are just a few of my thoughts and how I approach my own Bible reading and study.

One thing I can say with certainty – your life needs what only the Bible can give you.

Let's get reading!



J. L. Watts said...

Jeff, thanks for being one of the few who can recognize the value of the two types of bibles and can recommend them both for their intended audience.

Don Lehman said...

Jeff - I started reading the Bible straight through annually (Gen. to Rev.) about 12 years ago and it has done a lot to help me understand the Bible as a whole. Lately, I've been using my iPhone app to read it, although it doesn't have much in the way of study notes.

Debbie said...

Come link up with the Arkansas Bloggers group. It's not a finished product yet, but it is a start. Maybe perfection will come later:) There are no rules or obligations...just a working list of people with Arkansas or Arkansas-related blogs. Happy New Year!

Scott said...

Great post! Just signed up for the e-mail plan on their website.