Shopping for a Bible? Choices may be limited

I love libraries and bookstores. Give me an extra hour and I can fill the time easily in either place. Yesterday was a day of errands: car repairs and meeting with CPA for taxes. In between those two activities, I had some spare time and visited a Christian book store; it was my first visit to this particular store. I try to look at what categories of books are handled and the range of authors stocked. And I do the same with Bibles.

Bible Selections and Non-selections

The book store carried four primary translations: KJV, NKJV, NAS, and NLT, with several different kinds of Bibles (study, devotional, topical, etc.). Even more fascinating were the translations missing: ESV and NIV (2011). ESV fits into the realm of the KJV/NKJV/NAS, and the NIV provides something between them and NLT.

So where were these two translations? I thought perhaps they limited themselves to “reliable and usable” — but why not ESV and NIV? Then I thought maybe because these four were considered better translations for study—but why NLT? And as I explored more, I discovered they carried The Message in multiple editions, as well as the Amplified Bible, the Expanded Bible, and the Common English Bible. And I found they carried a few editions of God’s Word (GW) translation, which I think is better than NLT. They even carried a new GW edition that I had not seen, published by Baker, called the Names of God Bible. I look forward to reviewing that new edition.

Hmmm. That doesn’t quite make sense. The Message is not even a translation, not even in the category of NLT, let alone ESV and NIV. The Amplified Bible (and as I looked it over the Expanded Bible, too) does an injustice to those wanting to study the Bible. It offers all possible meanings within a context, which is less than helpful, in fact, it is misleading.

So all this makes the omission of both ESV and NIV even more puzzling. I have been in other bookstores that carry ESV but not NIV, or they carry NIV and just a smattering of ESV. Given the rhetoric on both sides of the translations debates about ESV and NIV, those kinds of choices make sense (even if I disagree with both sides).

I didn’t have time, but now I wonder if any of the devotional books, study guides, or commentaries in the bookstore used ESV or NIV. Perhaps that is for my next visit (being 60 miles away from a Christian bookstore means less frequent trips).

It just gets curiouser and curiouser…
(PS: At least I found another edition of God’s Word to investigate!)

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

2 thoughts on “Shopping for a Bible? Choices may be limited”

  1. Remember from our studies that the translation is very important. It is rather odd that there would not be a representation of the others. Wonder where those are? Hopefully they are in homes where they are being studied; and hopefully those who are studying will join in you exploration!
    Our shelves are weighed down with all translations of the Bible; we are constantly searching each to clarify a point or just point out the differences in each. Thanks for helping us to know how to look for answers.


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