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Which version should I read?

There are a staggering number of different English language Bible translations. Here are some of the more commonly used in Uniting Church circles.

King James, 1611
The King James Bible was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek languages into English at the request of King James I of England. Fifty-four translators gave diligent attention to rhythm and punctuation to give the text a fresh oral quality that no other translations to date could match.

Also known as the Authorised Version, it has endured as one of the most loved translations but the American Bible Society recently listed no less than 506 archaic and obsolete words and phrases found in the King James Version which have changed in meaning in the last 350 years.

Good News Bible, 1976
Originally translated by the American Bible Society for speakers of English as a second language, the Good News Bible proved popular with native English speakers as a very readable and helpful translation. The Good News Bible sought to express the meaning of the original texts in easily recognisable words and forms, and was subject to a policy of continual revision, with changes made in each new edition. A version which incorporates Australian usage and idiom was released in 1988.

New International Version, 1978
Considered the version of first choice by many evangelicals, the NIV was intended to be clear, have literary quality, and be suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorising and liturgical use, while preserving some continuity with older translations. Updates of the NIV have included a ‘inclusive-language edition’ and other changes which reflect advances in linguistic and archaeological knowledge, as well as recent changes to the English language.

NRSV, 1990
The New Revised Standard Version is an up-to-date and more readable revision of the original 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV) text. Highly regarded in scholarly circles this translation was authorised by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and is the work of an interdenominational team of scholars.

The Message, 1993
Translated directly from the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts into today’s contemporary idiomatic speech, The Message was designed as a reading Bible. With no verse numbers or formal language The Message is highly colloquial and interpretive, paraphrased by Eugene H. Peterson over a period of ten years, straight from the Bible’s original languages.

Contemporary English Version, 1994
The highly readable CEV translation was designed to be readily understood by a wide range of readers and was intended for both reading aloud and private study. Based on the best original-language texts available at the time the text is a meaning-based, rather than a strictly-literal, translation and is continuously revised as improved ways of expressing the original meaning are found.