How To Choose a Bible

Have you ever been to a bookstore or even a Bible or Christian bookstore and looked at the Bible section?  Talk about overwhelming!  How in the world does a person go about picking out a Bible?  It’s not as difficult as one might think.  There are a few questions you need to ask yourself and from there the decision becomes very manageable.  And depending on your answer to the first question, it could be a very brief process.

Digital or Hardcopy?

Like virtually everything else, the Bible is also available in digital format.  The Bible text is available for smart phones, tablet devices, e-book readers, etc.  There are obviously going to be more considerations and concerns if you are getting a physical Bible rather than a digital format.  The next question applies to both, but after that it’s all questions for hardcopy Bibles.

Which Translation?

This is actually the biggest question in selecting your Bible.  Be sure and give this some thought.  All translations are not the same.  If you would like to read what is behind translations CLICK HERE.  My basic translation recommendation is the English Standard Version.

Which Cover/Binding?

Do you want a hardback or a soft cover?  The most inexpensive ones will be paperback editions, of course.  They are also the least durable.  The most durable cover is genuine leather.  They’re also more expensive.  Stay away from bonded leather.  It looks really nice in the store and is inexpensive, but it breaks down very quickly and begins looking ratty soon.  Another fairly recent alternative is a durable synthetic called “TruTone®” (by Crossway, publishers of the ESV, other publishers have different names).  This seems to be a durable soft cover that also features a wide range of colors and designs, just in case you’d like a more artful cover on your Bible.

What Size?

Bibles do come in all kinds of sizes.  The two things that affect a Bible’s size more than anything else is the letter font size and the paper thickness.  If your eyes are good and can read small print, you can use a pretty small Bible if you want.  If you need larger print to read comfortably, the smaller Bibles just wouldn’t be a good option.

Paper thickness may or may not be an issue for you.  The Bible is a big book.  To cut down on its physical printed size, publishers have traditionally printed Bibles on thin paper.  To make them even smaller–some publishers print a “Thinline” Bible–they have used even thinner paper.  I’ve known people for whom that very thin paper was just too much.  They had trouble turning the pages.

Study Notes?

Study Bibles are very popular.   These Bibles include a lot of information in addition to the Bible text.  There is background and historical information in addition to commentary and explanatory notes.  Study Bibles tend to be large just because of the additional material they contain.  The extra information can be helpful and useful. Some Bibles with notes, though, are explicitly intended to promote one particular theological viewpoint.  Just remember, particularly with commentary and explanatory notes, these are men’s ideas and not God’s word itself.

A man who is credited with the notes in two Old Testament books in the NIV Study Bible tells of the editor’s disagreement with him on a couple of points in the notes he wrote.  This illustrates what you are dealing with in the notes of a Study Bible.  They may or may not be correct.

I’ve also know people who have failed to make the distinction between the text of Scripture and provided study notes.  They thought that if it is found within the cover a book with “Bible” on the front cover, then it was Scripture.  I typically recommend that people shy away from study Bibles.

Selling Bibles is big business.  There are lots of options available and Bible publishers and sellers market their product just like anybody else does.   So, decide what you’re after before you go looking and find what you want.

Do you have any comments or suggestion?  Go to the comments below and share them with us.

God bless,

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  1. […] While we’ve been concerned with the best translation, it might be that you are ready to purchase a Bible.  Maybe you have never had one or you’ve decided it’s time to change translations.  Believe it or not, deciding which translation you want is just the beginning.  Some thoughts on how to choose a Bible can be found HERE. […]

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