By Director of Spiritual Formation Rebecca Guzman
After asking what Bible to buy for a child, the most common question I am asked is what Bible to buy for oneself. This depends on a lot of things! Below, you will find some questions to ask yourself before purchasing a Bible, along with several recommendations depending on your answers.
You can buy a Bible for as little as $5 or you can spend almost $100. Generally, a hardcover study Bible will cost you about $40-$50, but you can pay more for bonded leather or imprinting. You can get a nice Bible without the study additions for about $20. When deciding your budget, think about how long you plan to keep your Bible, how often you’ll be transporting it, and how you will use it. I have one Bible that I carry around to classes, but a few other ones that I use when preparing to teach, and then an additional one for home devotional time.
In worship, we read from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). If you want to be able to read along with the preacher of the day, you will want to be sure to get the NRSV. The NRSV is a wonderful and faithful translation, but for my personal study and in classes, I prefer the Common English Bible (CEB). The CEB is written on an 8th grade reading level vs. the NRSV’s 11th grade reading level, and the language, while a faithful translation, is more modern and easier for a 21st century reader to understand. It’s a good idea to read a sample of both the CEB and NRSV (go to https://bible.oremus.org/ and select the NRSV). It is worth noting that there is an updated edition of the NRSV that will become more prevalent in the coming years.
The apocryphal books are used by our Catholic siblings. The Catholic church considers seven books (1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith) to be part of the inspired word of God, and we do not. You do not need to get a Bible with the apocrypha, but it certainly won’t hurt!
Study Bibles contains tons of study helps. Our church believes that in order to understand what the Bible really means, we need to be able to put the scriptures into their historical context to understand what they meant to the original hearers and readers. A study Bible will give you historical context. It will have an overview of each book that at the beginning, footnotes throughout, maps, and some other study tools, like a glossary, an index, and more. Depending on what translation you have chosen, I like the Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible or the CEB Study Bible. There are some other good NSRV Study Bibles, including the New Oxford Annotated Bible and The New Interpreter’s Study Bible.
Do you want a thinline Bible that can easily go with you during travel or is very light to bring with you to worship? Maybe an electronic version? Are you a doodler (they make a Bible for that!)?
People often ask me where I got my Bible with tabs. The tabs are actually separate and can be carefully applied to any Bible! I always have a sharpened pencil to make notes in my Bible. Some people like to have special highlighters that don’t go through the thin paper.
The most important thing, no matter what Bible you choose to purchase, is that you read it! Look for another blog post soon about some great Bible study resources to use on your own or when you are preparing to lead a study.