What is your first favorite bible translation?

My biblio-blogger friend, Gary Zimmerli, just blogged about his journey through his search for a modern translation (HCSB, NASB, NRSV, T/NIV, ESV). He has now just returned full circle back to the NKJV as his main translation. I pose a question to everyone below.

Gary said:

“So I went and found my old, beat-up NKJV, and started reading. And it was like I had come home! I could hardly put it down! My mind relaxed, and I could understand it all! It was the Word as I remembered it! It was the Word as I had learned it and as I had heard it preached so many times for so many years! I couldn’t believe I was reading the NKJV and enjoying it! Even the rhythms are there, just like in the old KJV. So now I’m looking at replacing that beat-up old NKJV Bible. And while it’s not the NRSV, what it is, is immediately recognizable and acceptable to nearly all circles of Christians. It can be my Bible! I can carry it, and teach from it, and everybody will know it is the Word of God. I don’t have to recommend it to people; it will just be what I carry and use. I feel like I have come home.” [ read entire post here ]

My response to his post was:

“…it was also my translation while growing up in the Christian faith. My bible wasn’t the NIV or NASB like it is with many others. The NKJV has a ring to it that I’m so familiar with. Maybe that’s why when I pick it up, it sounds like how I think a bible should sound like. I think you have to be comfortable with the bible and have confidence in it that it is speaking the word of God into the ears of the listeners and readers.”

Even though I first read the GNT as a kid, at about age 19, I left it for the NKJV and stuck with it for many of my young adult years but have switched to various modern translations. I haven’t switched back to the NKJV, and do not foresee myself doing so.

This caused me wonder about why we find our first bible translation so comforting? Does it make us feel right at home like in our own bedroom in the house where we grew up, and where we know every nook and cranny?

I’m interested in hearing what was your first main bible translation? And how do you feel about it now?

24 thoughts on “What is your first favorite bible translation?

  1. I read alot of different versions of the Bible, but I mostly read the KJV, NLT, and ESV. I grew up using the KJV only. I later found that some modern versions were easier to read. I would say that my favorite Bible version is the KJV, and no im not old, im only 18 years old. Blessings.


  2. HBT currently uses the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, and ESV. HBT is always prayerful about adding other versions.


  3. Hey, Kevin. I saw that you are blogging on this and had to come over and put in my two cents worth. I don’t mean to blow you out of the water, but the NKJV wasn’t my first. I actually started out with the RSV way back in about 1961 which my church gave me as a third-grader. The first Bible I bought for myself was a paperback NEB when I left home for college in 1971. But the first Bible that was really my favorite, the one where the scriptures came alive for me was the NIV. I didn’t have a NKJV until I got my MacArthur SB in 2000.

    What I think you misinterpreted in my post was the fact that the NKJV (and similar translations)is what I have heard preached, in churches and on the radio and TV, for so many years. That is what has been so firmly impressed upon my mind, and not the NIV, NASB, NRSV, etc.

    Sorry if I didn’t make that clear enough. But it looks like it was good enough to get this fine discussion going here at your blog! 😉


  4. Kevin,
    I’m not sure to what degree it was “ElShaddai’s love of the REB that influenced” my first purchase of an REB, but it was fairly substantial. I had never heard of the REB before this year but it quickly went to the top of my favorites.


  5. The NIV was the translation I used for almost 20 years. In fact, I thought the only 2 translations were the KJV and the NIV for the longest time. Because I used the NIV for so many years, making the switch to the TNIV has been easy, and I now use the TNIV as my main translation along with the NRSV and NLTse for comparison.


  6. @L. Wells and Kevin: I agree about the Open Bible and wish the cyclopedic index was in every Bible I have – I can’t count the number of times I used that growing up to find references.


  7. Kevin: I actually love the NRSV but I don’t own a copy. It just so happens that the German Bible Society chose to bind the RSV with the NA27, so that’s my primary New Testament text. But when given the choice, for devotional reading I’ll take the KJV or the NLT, even though (funnily enough) the NIV happens to be the only translation I’ve ever read straight through.


  8. Of course he is. He’s using the TNIV and everyone knows that Zondervan only sells the TNIV to kids and young adults. *grin*

    El, you’re firing on all four cylinders today. Man, you cracking me up.


  9. I think TC is actually younger than we might think. I have the inside scoop.

    Of course he is. He’s using the TNIV and everyone knows that Zondervan only sells the TNIV to kids and young adults. *grin*

    So far, we have a couple NASB first favourites (ElShaddai and Keith).

    Hey now, I said the NASB was my first main Bible, not my first favorite Bible…


  10. So far, we have a couple NASB first favourites (ElShaddai and Keith). As Gary said in his post, it might have been limited to mainly evangelical readers.

    @Keith, the NLTse is my favourite dynamic translation. I often refer to it in exegesis so I can quickly grasp the main ideas. I’ve been very impressed with it.


  11. @Nick, I can’t seem to get used to the RSV’s old pronouns. So I guess you haven’t switched to the NRSV?

    @ElShaddai and TC,
    ElShaddai wrote: You’re that old?

    I think TC is actually younger than we might think. I have the inside scoop.

    @L.Wells, I also love the NKJV Open Bible’s index. I haven’t seen anything else like it. With so many previous N/KJV readers (now also TC and you, L.Wells), I also wonder what would have happened to the NKJV if they had switched over to the older critical texts before the arrival of the NIV? It might possibly have become today’s main translation for evangelicals and mainliners.


  12. I grew up using the NIV. In my high school and early college years, I was a hard-core advocate of the NASB because many people I respected encouraged me to use it and the most literal (i.e., faithful) translation.

    Now, I’m primarily an NLT user, but the NIV and TNIV get regular use as well.


  13. The one I used for the longest in the early going was the NKJV. It does have a lot of the feel and cadence of the KJV, which is great. It SOUNDS like the Bible I came up on, you might say.

    It can be a little frustrating at times and in places with some of its sentence structure,and the places it cleaves too closely to the Masoretic Text even when it makes little to no sense, rather than following the Septuagint in such places of difficulty.

    It is my wife’s favorite, hands down, which isn’t too surprising when you consider its overall popularity. It consistently is in the top three sellers every month along with KJV and NIV. My former priest always was quick to recommend it, and still does to this day.

    These days I mostly use the NRSV,RSV, and ESV, but use several others alongside them. I must say though, despite their difficulty in places, the KJV and NKJV will always hold a special place in my heart, if for no other reason than that nostalgic ringing of their cadences.

    One of the Bibles I use pretty much everyday is a NKJV Open Bible, partly because I love the cyclopedic index it contains. I appreciate Gary’s post, as it is nice to be reminded of the strengths of what is a very good translation. It might still be my main one, had it made better use of the older and better manuscripts instead of relying so heavily on the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus. Actually, in a way this makes it an excellent translation to use beside other moderns, because it gives you more to compare since most others now make much use of the Septuagint and Dead Sea scrolls in the OT, and the Nestle-Aland in the NT.


  14. TC wrote: My first Bible was the KJV, by default, I might add.

    You’re that old?


  15. Kevin: I still reference the NIV, but I do most of my reading these days in the RSV. It’s definitely not my favorite translation, but it’s part and parcel of my favorite Bible (the NA27-RSV Diglot).


  16. I discovered the REB before I did ElSh’s blog. However he has been influential, I’m just not sure how much. Maybe 50% hehe. What is interesting is that I enjoy the NEB just as much as the REB. It depends on whether or not I prefer the revision or the original rendering, naturally.


  17. I started to reply, but it quickly became too long. So my short answer is that the NASB was my first main Bible translation, but the REB is my first favorite Bible translation.

    To read more on the difference, click here.


  18. Thanks for your comments. So far, it seems like the NIV is a popular first bible. Also, I’m surprised with all your involvement with KJV/NKJV because I didn’t think it was that popular… but I guess I’m wrong.

    @Nick, are you still reading the NIV?

    @ Stan & Nathan: interesting that you guys are into REB. I’m wondering if it was ElShaddai’s love of the REB that influenced you?


  19. My only translations growing up were primarily the NIV, and sometimes the KJV. Lately I read mostly out of the TNIV and ESV. However I also really enjoy the REB and NJB, and am only just now starting to read the NLTse which I just acquired. If I look at what I am most comfortable with, it would definitely be the NIV/TNIV tradition.


  20. The first translation I had that I could read and understand was the NIV which I purchased immediately prior to becoming a Christian.

    A couple of years after that my wife purchased me a compact NKJV which I used as my primary Bible for 10-15 years.

    Later I purchased an NASB as that was what our pastor was using.

    Now I’m primarily reading from the REB. However, I also regularly read from the NLTse, TNIV, NAB. My NASB is the wide margin calfskin. I had already started taking notes in it and I still use it for studying as I go through several books of the Bible with commentaries in hand.

    The NIV still has a special place in my heart. Perhaps its similarity with the REB explains why I like the REB so much.


  21. The first translation I really read the Bible in was the NIV, then I switched to the KJV. I still like the NIV but my heart will always be with the KJV. It just sounds the best to me.


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