The Final Three

If you’ve ever looked at the “My Bible Preferences” page on this blog, you already have a good idea who the winners are. So let’s get started.

#3 The NIV This is not the NIV/TNIV that I have referred to for the last few years, this is the NIV 2011, the latest revision that came out online a few months ago on Bible Gateway as the NIV 2010. It incorporates many of the changes and improvements over the 1984 NIV that we saw in the TNIV, but also makes many other changes that actually improve the translation. The Committee on Bible Translation has done a bang-up job on this one, and I’m sure Biblica and Zondervan will be doing their usual fantastic job of marketing it.

I’m really hoping there isn’t any backlash against the new NIV like there was against the TNIV, even though I hear rumblings that some people aren’t happy that their beloved 1984 NIV has been changed. The new NIV is clearly an improvement over the 1984 version, and it doesn’t deserve that kind of negative reaction by the very people it’s targeted to serve. The new NIV is the best combination of literal accuracy and easy-reading contemporary English for the every-day Christian that is on the market today.

It could easily have been my number one choice in this series.

#2 The NET Bible This may be a bit of a surprise to many of my readers, because for a long time the NET was barely on the radar screens. Sure, we all knew about the 62,000+ translation and study notes, but the translation itself was a little bit stilted. It was only marketed online at, so only people who were aware of were aware of the NET.

But I have been taking careful note of the NET translation, without all the notes, and it has also impressed me with its amazing accuracy yet easy read. The new NET Bible Online study environment has pushed me over the line on this one, and when the translation, good as it is, is taken with its notes as well as with its online convenience, we suddenly have what may be the very best Bible study Bible available anywhere. I’m sold on it!

The NET Bible, like the NIV, could easily have been #1.

#1 The NASB This is the 1995 update version of the NASB.

After writing what I did about the NET, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t pick that one. But the NASB has had it right all along, especially since they updated it in 1995. The text is so accurately translated, and learning to use the text notes and getting to know a little bit about Greek and Hebrew idioms helps this translation open up the scriptures to my mind like no other.

Yes, the language is a bit “wooden”, as so many complain. But when one is simply reading and/or studying that’s not a problem. The only difficulty I have encountered with it is that it can occasionally be a bit of a mouthful to read out loud. And it’s not always the easiest translation for people to understand. It retains a few archaic terms, like “Behold!” But when it’s being exposited or carefully studied, I think it’s one of the very best Bibles available.

The NASB is not very well marketed, if in fact the purpose of Lockman’s marketing it is to sell lots of them. But that apparently isn’t their purpose, but rather it is to make sure the Holy Scriptures are available to all in as clear and as accurate a form as possible. And I think they have basically succeeded at that better than just about anybody else.

But I don’t see the NASB becoming the top seller, or even a particularly major player in the Bible “wars”, so to speak. People will continue to run after Crossway and Zondervan and Tyndale. But if you find a NASB Bible with the full references and study notes, and use it carefully and faithfully, I think you’ll find you have a treasure in your hands.

(But don’t be surprised if I name the NET as my number one next time!)