Updated 12th April 2019 (because of Holy Week and Easter, and my post-Easter break, there will not be an update until 3rd May) You may have a Bible which you really enjoy reading. You may feel that you would like to try or buy a more up-to-date translation. There have been loads of new translations this century. There is an excellent website called Bible Gateway which has over 150 versions of the Bible available, and which is a really good way of seeing which one might suit you. If you click here you will go to the website. If you wish you can download Bibles onto your computer, ipad, tablet, phone etc. What follows is a review of the various Bibles which I own (quite a few, though nowhere near 150!). This will be added to each week. If you wish to look at different Bibles, you are very welcome to come and see mine (please ring me on 01373 812705 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org first). The best local Bookshop for buying Bibles is the Downside Bookshop, although they will not stock everything – or you can purchase on Amazon. If there is a Study version of the Bible that is always worth purchasing although of course Study versions are much bigger and heavier to carry. My recommendation is that you have at least two Bibles so that you can compare translations.
There are three parts to a Bible – the Old Testament, the Apocrypha and the New Testament. Not all Bibles include the Apocrypha, and some Bibles (eg Roman Catholic and Orthodox) include the books in the Apocrypha (at least most of them) in with the Old Testament. The books of the Apocrypha cover much of the period from the return from exile and settling back in Israel in the early 5th century BC until about 100 BC. This is a period which the OT does not cover, and is very helpful.
The most important thing when buying a Bible is to buy one with headings above each ‘story’. Not all Bibles agree on the same headings, but they are incredibly helpful if you need to find something in a hurry, and when reading they help break up the text.
The Bible for Everyone (no Apocrypha)
This consists of The New Testament for Everyone translated by Tom Wright, which I would highly recommend (originally published on its own in 2011, and now with a brief introduction for each book) and The Old Testament for Everyone translated by John Goldingay. I had really high expectations of this. However, for some reason John Goldingay has decided that it is good to leave names in their original form. When the OT was originally translated into Greek and then later into Latin, and then much later into English names changed. For instance Moshes became Moses, Yesha’yahu became Isaiah and Misrayim became Egypt. We are used, in reading the OT to Moses, Isaiah and Egypt but John Goldingay has gone back to the original. This is hugely complicating considering the enormous number of names there are. For this reason, I would not recommend this Bible unless you are already a Bible scholar or know quite a bit about the Bible. I have also found that there are things under a particular heading which really belong either to the next heading or should have a heading of their own. [See The New Testament for Everyone below.]
Common English Bible (with Apocrypha)
This was first published in 2011. Click here for the website. I find this a very helpful translation, and use it a lot, although there are one or two odd bits such as Saul coming into the cave where David is to ‘use the rest room’!! There is a Study Bible which I have just ordered and I shall be reading this soon.
Jerusalem Bible (much of Apocrypha included)
The Jerusalem Bible was originally published in 1966. The New Jerusalem Bible came out in 1985, with the Reader’s Edition being published in 1990. In 2018, the Revised New Jerusalem Bible New Testament and Psalms with Study Notes was published, and at the end of June 2019 the complete Revised New Jerusalem Bible Study Edition will be published. I have found the New Testament and Psalms incredibly useful (though there are some errors in the notes about the Psalm numbering). One of the most useful things I find is references to the Old Testament book, chapter and verse where something is quoted in the New (this was also a feature of the 1990 edition). As it is a Roman Catholic Bible nearly all of the Apocrypha is included in the Old Testament itself.
The New International Version (NIV) (no Apocrypha)
This is the most popular translation in the UK. The only problem is that it does not include the Apocrypha. First published in 1973, it has been updated in 1978, 1984 and 2011. If you are buying a copy, you need to ensure that it is the latest version. There are many different versions on the market. Probably I find the most useful the NIV First-Century Study Bible which was published in 2014. The text is that of 2011, but it has some really excellent notes which see things from the point of view of the first century AD.
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) (with Apocrypha)
This is the version of the Bible which we normally use in Holy Trinity and St Andrew’s. It is in our Lectionary (the book where we find the designated readings for Sundays). It was published in 1989, and I think could do with being looked at again with a view to a updated translation. Having said that, it is a very accurate translation. If you are buying one, do make sure you buy one with the Apocrypha. There are study versions as well.
The New Testament for Everyone (translated by Tom Wright in 2011)
Although this is only the NT, I would highly recommend it. It is an extremely helpful translation, and it has the added value of maps which are especially useful when reading the Acts of the Apostles.