Study Bible: How to Choose the Right One | God TV

Study Bible: How to Choose the Right One

Finding the right study Bible will keep you coming back for more

Study Bible: How to Choose the Right One
Study Bible: How to Choose the Right One

Many people have the desire to read the Bible, but lack follow-through. They are either not sure where to begin or feel they will not understand what they read. It is no wonder with a generation that grew up reading the King James Version. However, times have changed, and there are more options available to readers today. Those old doubts and worries can be alleviated through a good Study Bible.

The Differences Between Bible Versions

It is important to understand that there are different versions of the Bible. Each one is a separate translation to help the reader understand God’s Word. Most hold to the original language and convey the same message: God’s love for us.

Here are the most popular versions available:

  • King James Version (KJV) – This is the version you probably grew up with. It is the translation that was written in 1611 by scholars on the appointment of King James IV. You recognize it from the “thee’s” and “thou’s” and many words ending with “-eth or -est.”
  • New King James Version (NKJV) – This is the modern version of the KJV. Translated in 1982, it sticks to the same original text but changes the Old English to its modern counterpart. (i.e., leads, instead of leadeth; speaks, instead of speakest.)
  • English Standard Version (ESV) – This translation is more recent. Published in 2001, it is translated from the KJV. It modifies the language to give more modern definitions as well as a gender-neutral feel.
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – A little older than the ESV; 1998, but follows the same pattern. The editors modified what they felt aligned with the original scripture and simplified it to make it more readable to today’s Bible reader.
  • New International Version (NIV) – This version is older than the others. It was first translated from the KJV in 1978. It is popular due to its ease of reading.
  • The Message – Translated over nine years; 1993-2002. This translation approaches the original text of the Bible and puts a contemporary spin on it. The translator’s aim was to help people of today relate to the message of the Gospel.

Each person will have one that they consider their favorite. The version does not matter; what matters is the effort to read. There is little difference in the overall message itself; Timothy 3:16 teaches us that all scripture is given by God. The differences lie in how the story is being told. Each version also has a Study Bible counterpart. These are versions that include various ways of getting more out of the scripture you read.

How to choose the best study bible

The Differences in Study Bible Content

A Study Bible is targeted to a specific audience. It can be by age, or by content:

AGE:  Studying the Bible differs as you age – physical and spiritual. With it being about preference, one would have to review each Study Bible version to find which one suits them best.

  • Children – In one word, simplicity. Scripture that is designed with kids in mind. It has an explanation to what each passage means in words little ones can understand.
  • Young Adult – As children age, they move from drinking the milk of scripture to wanting something with a little more substance – a deeper level of meaning and focusing on spiritual truths that apply to teens and tweens.
  • Men’s – These tackle scriptures that apply to men. They give targeted instruction on how to be a Man of God. These often come with commentaries from the publisher or notable Christian male role models such as athletes, authors, and ministers.
  • Women’s – Just as with men, a Women’s Study Bible will approach scripture as it applies to women. These will also include devotionals and commentaries from female figures.

TYPE OF STUDY: In addition to breaking God’s Word down by individual, a Study Bible will narrow it down even further by type of study. These are for those who want to get to the heart of the Word.

  • Parallel – A parallel Bible is one that takes two versions and places them side by side. For instance, a KJV/NIV Bible will have both versions in one. You can compare the differences. This helps when you have grown accustomed to reading one and are moving into another. It also helps if you read one, and your pastor preaches from another.
  • Hebrew/Greek– The Bible in its original language for the Biblical Study buff. These are also found in Parallel form. One thing you will discover about the Hebrew/Greek language is that it is more literal. For instance, the word ‘love.’ Our ‘love’ means, compassion for someone. In Hebrew, it has many different translations. Agape, Phileo, and Eros to name a few. Agape is Godly love, Phileo is friendly love, and Eros is love between husband and wife.
  • Footnotes – Most Study Bibles have footnotes. It is the identifying characteristic of a Study Bible. These footnotes help clarify a verse. They give dates, details of locations, as well as personal history of a person mentioned. They also give details on customs, rituals, and habits of the time.
  • References – References appear either within the text or down the middle of the page. These will point the reader of the Study Bible to other places in scripture where the subject or verse is repeated or referred to.
  • Concordance – These are great when you want to know where else a subject is mentioned in scripture. They take a subject like ‘prayer’ and give you references to where else that subject is mentioned in the Bible.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get a grasp on the truths in scripture, a Study Bible is for you. It may take a bit of shopping around because there is no real one-size-fits-all. Your tastes may even change as you progress through your spiritual walk.

The main thing you will notice from using a Study Bible is how much closer you will feel to God. Your hunger for reading increases because there is no longer a fear of not understanding. Your prayer life will have more meaning because you feel comfortable communicating with Him. And your relationship deepens because you know Him better and have a stronger desire to continue in His Word.

This article was written by Jeff S Bray



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