“Which Version of the Bible is Most Accurate?”

Do you know which version of the Bible is most accurate? The main ones I’m considering for thorough Bible study are the King James Version, New International Version, and the New American Standard Version. Are the NIV and NASB inferior to the KJV? Also, what study bible do you feel is most helpful? Life Application, Scofield, Ryrie?

I would never recommend the KJV for Bible study because language has changed so much since 1611, and better manuscripts are now available as the basis for translation than what they used for the KJV. (I suggest you read our article on the King James debate.)

The NIV is a dynamic translation, where the translators sought to communicate the general idea and thoughts behind the original languages, rather than an actual word-for-word translation, which can tend to be more wooden. I no longer use the NIV exclusively (although I did for 20 years) because I am frustrated by the fact that they translate the word “flesh” as “sin nature,” which leads to a misunderstanding of the Christian life, I believe. I have joined the ranks of a growing number who have returned to the NASB for serious Bible study. However, I am very much enjoying the NET Bible (New English Translation), which can be downloaded for free (www.netbible.org) although the beta version is now out in print. Each page has more translator notes and study notes than actual text, which gives the reader a VERY full understanding of what’s going on in the original languages. I am using the NET Bible to augment my NASB reading; it’s like listening to color commentary during a sports telecast.

In terms of the study Bibles, that is really a personal preference issue depending on one’s theology. The Life Application, Scofield and Ryrie Bibles are dispensational, and the Reformation Study Bible is reform in its theology. The Student Bible is especially good, as is Kay Arthur’s Inductive Study Bible. All the study Bibles you mentioned are good and have their fans. The best way to judge, I think, is to compare the notes on the same passage between the various versions.

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries