First things first: any Bible is better than no Bible. 😉 But I’ve found over the years that I connect with different versions or formats better than others. I bet you do, too.
In fact, not too long ago, I got a Bible designed for creative journaling. It was in the translation that I liked and I was doing more art, and so the creative lettering in the margins was enticing. I wanted to do stuff like that!
Yet as I came to use it, I realized that I actually like to write in my Bible more than draw. I asked questions in the margins, or wrote out prayers. And my creative journaling Bible was not giving me enough room to do so! In fact, the artwork started to get in the way.
And so, in the back of my mind, I knew I probably needed to get a different Bible. One that would allow me to connect with God through writing in the margins.
How do you decide which Bible is a good fit for you? Here are some questions to consider.
Question 1: Which translation do you prefer?
There’s a spectrum when it comes to Bible translations. On one end, there’s a word-for-word translation from the original language. On the other end is more of a thought-for-thought translation.
For example, compare the ESV with the NLT:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.Psalm 23:1-3, ESV
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
The Lord is my shepherd;Psalm 23:1-3, NLT
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
See how there’s a bit of a difference? If you aren’t sure what translation you prefer, I would go to a website like Bible Gateway, look up a passage, and compare how the different translations phrase it.
My advice: get one that you’ll read! When studying, I prefer the word-for-word translations, but when I’m doing more of a prayerful or devotional reading, my favorite is NLT. But it doesn’t do any good to get a Bible that you won’t pick up and read, so choose the one that works best for you!
Question #2: Which features do you want?
Some Bibles contain just the Scripture and related footnotes, and that is it. Others include study notes, devotionals, maps, and/or introductory materials to help you learn more about the places or people in the Bible. Would these things be helpful to you, or would they prove to be more of a distraction?
There are even Bibles that break up the whole of Scripture into daily readings, so all you have to do is turn to that day in the book and read the passage.
Still other Bibles put the books in chronological order (because our Bible isn’t naturally in chronological order, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out what prophets spoke during which king’s reign, and things like that).
What features do you want? Make a list as to what would be most helpful for you at this point in your faith journey.
Question #3: Do you need or want something special with your Bible?
There are many individuals who might personally connect with a leather-bound Bible. For them, it sets it apart from other books. Gives it more of an importance.
Others might need a large-print Bible to help them see, or one that is small enough that they can take it with them wherever they go.
Still others might want to put their name on the front. You can’t do that with just any cover. You have to have a special kind.
Are you getting this Bible for a special occasion? Do you have a specific budget that you are working with?
Take a moment and think about any special features you might want or need.
Choosing Your Bible
Once you make an honest list about the things you’d like in a Bible, you can begin the search for one. I’ve learned it’s best that I do this upfront so I don’t end up with another Bible just sitting on the shelf.
Now, realize, there may not be a Bible that has all the features you are looking for. Find the closest one and start with that.
And if you find out, like I did, that it wasn’t as good of a fit as you thought it was, you can start looking again.
You can also consider buying additional resources (like maps or study guides) if you choose a Bible that doesn’t have that included.
If you end up with some Bibles that you aren’t using, I found this organization called Love Packages that will send them to others who are just waiting to get their hands on one. Would you consider sending it to them so others can read God’s Word, too?
What Bible Did I Choose?
Ultimately, I went with the ESV Journaling Bible from Crossway. The interleaved version. Which means that every other page is blank. Blank! A whole page for me to write notes, prayers, and questions.
Plus, it is covered in cloth, which speaks deeply to this book-lover’s heart. I’ll admit, it’s a thick one! It won’t be something I’ll be carrying around to Bible studies or anything (I’ll use a different one for that), but I love how much space it gives me for my personal study.
I got it from ChristianBook.com for about $20 on sale. I recommend starting here!
So, which Bible would you choose?
Why are we talking about Bibles?
I often say that I have no encouragement to offer to others unless I am spending time with Jesus. And reading His Word every day is one of the best ways for me to connect with Him and hear His heart.
So find a Bible that you’re going to read and dive into your relationship with Him. You won’t regret it!