Bible guide

YOUR GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT BIBLE FOR YOU

"Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end." - ISAIAH 60:20 NLT

a bible guide created just for you

We encourage you to explore the different Bible versions plus check out our tips and features that will help you discover the right Bible for you. Grow closer to God by reading His Word and your faith will thrive like never before!

what is the bible?

The Bible is a remarkable collection of ancient writings Christians believe to be God’s revelation to people. Some people say it’s actually like a library of books and letters all bound up in one. The Bible tells the story of God’s relationship with the masterpiece of his creation – people.

The Bible says that its words are ‘God-breathed’. Exactly how God ‘breathed’ the words remains a mystery; most Christians agree that God inspired the writers as they recorded His words. The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament (the time before Jesus) and the New Testament (during and after Jesus’ life).

 

There are several different types of writings included in the Bible:

  • The Old Testament is made up of historical books, law, poetry, wisdom and prophetic books.
  • The New Testament is made up of four Gospels, one history book, 21 letters and one prophetic book. 

The books and letters in the Bible were written by more than forty different people over a period of more than 1,000 years. Some of the writers were kings, royal officials, poets and even a doctor, while some parts were written by poor uneducated fishermen. There are also some parts of the Bible where scholars and historians are unsure of authorship.

why is it important to have a bible?

In Psalm 119:105 (NIV) it says “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Can you imagine going through life in the pitch-black darkness? You cannot see where anything is and in darkness, nothing can thrive. When we have a Bible it brings light to our path, our direction, gives advice, guidance, understanding and correction. We learn truths. Most importantly we are learning about and encountering the One who created our path. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and through reading the Word of God, we come to know and to encounter the Creator of all.

tips to consider

#1

It can be a good idea to have a Bible in the same translation that your minister uses to teach and preach from in church. That way you’ll find it easier to follow along during church services.

#2

The best Bible is a Bible that is read often. Choose a Bible that you can easily understand. Read more about the 3 main Bible styles (see below), for a Bible version that suits you.

#3

Consider your main purpose for getting a Bible. Will you be taking it to church, or use it at home as a part of your study or devotional time? Are you looking to have a Bible you can take with you everywhere?

#4

What is your budget? Different cover formats and text sizes can affect the price. Genuine leather is the most expensive, followed by bonded leather, imitation leather, hardback, and then paperback.

#1

It can be a good idea to have a Bible in the same translation that your minister uses to teach and preach from in church. That way you’ll find it easier to follow along during church services.

#2

The best Bible is a Bible that is read often. Choose a Bible that you can easily understand. Read more about the 3 main Bible styles (see below), for a Bible version that suits you.

#3

Consider your main purpose for getting a Bible. Will you be taking it to church, or use it at home as a part of your study or devotional time? Are you looking to have a Bible you can take with you everywhere?

#4

What is your budget? Different cover formats and text sizes can affect the price. Genuine leather is the most expensive, followed by bonded leather, imitation leather, hardback, and then paperback.

"SO DO NOT FEAR, FOR I AM WITH YOU; DO NOT BE DISMAYED, FOR I AM YOUR GOD. I WILL STRENGTHEN YOU AND HELP YOU; I WILL UPHOLD YOU WITH MY RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND." - ISAIAH 41:10 NIV

features you
would like

Includes cultural, archaeological, geographical, and historical information from Bible scholars that studied the Word in context, which helps bring a fuller understanding of Scripture.

Thumb Indexed Bibles have page-cut indentations which are useful to find the specific books of the Bible more easily.

These are usually listed in the margin or a center column and help to point to other relevant scriptures to help with your studies.

An alphabetical index of words used in the Bible with a list of Bible passages where that word appears.

A condensed dictionary can be found in some Bibles. It is an alphabetical list, explaining biblical terms, people, places, and more.

A Bible with a larger font size.

A Bible with a larger font size.

Very helpful to see where any given event, person, or place fits in the overall biblical story.

Great at encouraging the reader to apply the Word in practical ways. Often includes character studies, topical studies and action points for the reader.

These contain only the biblical text and don’t include any references or footnotes. Red-letter Bibles include the words of Jesus Christ printed in a red font.

Contain references, normally in a centre column, but sometimes at the bottom or edge of the page. References guide the reader to similar verses, passages, or topics.

Includes white christening and white brides Bibles, lectern Bibles, pew Bibles, children’s, and youth Bibles, loose-leaf, wide-margin, parallel, large print and self-pronouncing Bibles.

DIFFERENT PRINT SIZES & FORMATS

Just as it is important to own a Bible, it is most important to be able to read your Bible and therefore Bibles can come in a variety of fonts and print sizes. Bibles are available in standard, large and up to super giant print sizes. Keep in mind the larger the print, the larger the size of the Bible.

COVER FORMATS INCLUDE:

A material made and finished to resemble genuine leather.

This is made by shredding leather scraps and leather fibre, and then mixing it with bonding materials.

Having a soft but durable cover.

A book bound with a rigid protective cover. Has a flexible, sewn spine, which allows it to lie flat on a surface when opened.

A type of book characterised by a thick paper or paperboard cover. Pages are glued or stapled and not sewn.

A small paperback, usually non-illustrated, with a less expensive bookbinding format.

there are three main styles

All Bible versions and translations fit into one of these three main styles. Translations closer to the Word-for-Word (WFW) end of the scale tend to reflect the grammar of the biblical language more closely, but as a result, could be considered harder to understand. Thought-for-Thought (TFT) or Paraphrase (PAR) attempts to reflect the meaning behind a larger section of text in a way that makes the most sense for the intended reader.

word-for-word

WFW goes back to the original Greek or Hebrew text and attempts to retain the sentence structure as much as possible. The WFW translation or literal translation aims to stick closely to the sentence structure of the original text.

Examples include: King James Version (KJV), Authorised King James Version (AKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), New Revised Standard Version (NSRV) and Revised Standard Version (RSV).

thought-for-thought

Rather than looking at the individual Greek or Hebrew word the TFT approach is to look at the phrase or sentence and translate it with a more natural phrase or sentence, for a specific language group, which renders the same meaning in a way that is easier to understand. The TFT aims to convey words and thoughts in a contemporary balanced way.

Examples include: New Living Translation (NLT), Contemporary English Version (CEV) and Good News Translation (GNT).

paraphase

A Paraphrase translation is often the work of one person or a small group of people who takes the meaning of the verse or passage and attempts to retell it in their own words using “plain language”.

Examples include: The Living Bible (LB), The Message (MSG) and The Passion (TPT).

word-for-word

WFW goes back to the original Greek or Hebrew text and attempts to retain the sentence structure as much as possible. The WFW translation or literal translation aims to stick closely to the sentence structure of the original text.

Examples include: King James Version (KJV), Authorised King James Version (AKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), New Revised Standard Version (NSRV) and Revised Standard Version (RSV).

thought-for-thought

Rather than looking at the individual Greek or Hebrew word the TFT approach is to look at the phrase or sentence and translate it with a more natural phrase or sentence, for a specific language group, which renders the same meaning in a way that is easierto understand. The TFT aims to convey words and thoughts in a
contemporary balanced way.

Examples include: New Living Translation (NLT), Contemporary English Version (CEV) and Good News Translation (GNT).

paraphase

Paraphrase translation is often the work of one person or a small group of people who takes the meaning of the verse or passage and attempts to retell it in their own words using “plain language”.

Examples include: The Living Bible (LB), The Message (MSG) and The Passion (TPT).

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." - John 1:1-5 NKJV

DIFFERENT BIBLE VERSIONS

A long time ago, the only English Bible you could get was full of Shakespearean-style language with words like thee and thou and begat. Today you can buy Bibles in easy-to-understand English. The best Bible for you is the one that you feel most comfortable with. It’s great to have so many different Bible versions to choose from but it can be a bit overwhelming. Follow this handy Bible guide step-by-step and it will help you narrow down your choices. You can download this guide online or pick up your free copy in-store. We also encourage you to visit your local Manna Christian Store and take a look at our Bible Range in person. Our friendly team would be happy to talk to you about any questions you may have. See below some of the versions available.

WORD-FOR-WORD

Amplified Bible

English Standard Version

King James Version

New American Standard Bible

New King James Version

New Revised Standard Version

THOUGHT-FOR-THOUGHT

Contemporary English Version

Christian Standard Bible

Good News Translation

New International Reader’s Version

New International Version

New Living Translation

PARAPHASE

The Message

OTHER

New Testaments & Gospels

Bible for the Deaf

Creative Bibles

Bible Storybooks for Kids

Bibles for Youth

Other Language Bibles

WORD-FOR-WORD

Amplified Bible

English Standard Version

King James Version

New American Standard Bible

New King James Version

New Revised Standard Version

THOUGHT-FOR-THOUGHT

Contemporary English Version

Christian Standard Bible

Good News Translation

New International Reader’s Version

New International Version

New Living Translation

PARAPHASE

The Message

OTHER

New Testaments & Gospels

Bible for the Deaf

Creative Bibles

Bible Storybooks for Kids

Bibles for Youth

Other Language Bibles

let's compare bible versions

psalm 23

King James Version
(KJV 1611)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me.

New International Version
(NIV)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

New Living Translation
(NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd; 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 honour to His name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be in need.

You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and You refresh my life.

You are true to Your name, and You lead me along the right paths.

I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and Your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe.

King James Version
(KJV 1611)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me.

New International Version
(NIV)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

New Living Translation
(NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd; 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 honour to His name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and You refresh my life.

You are true to Your name, and You lead me along the right paths.

I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and Your shepherd’s rod makes me feel safe.

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what others say

AMPLIFIED BIBLE (AMP)
AMPLIFIED BIBLE (AMP)Tim Brown, Category Buyer Bibles, Books & Digital Media
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I really like the Amplified, for the way it helps me think about the meaning of the words. Frequently the original Greek, Hebrew & Aramaic words are very rich with meaning, which is not always fully expressed in translation to English. The Amplified includes a significant number of footnotes and references, and features alternative renderings for many key words. A great help in understanding the meaning without having to be a language scholar.
NEW KING JAMES VERSION (NKJV)
NEW KING JAMES VERSION (NKJV)Ingrid Marais, Brand & Communications Lead
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I read the NKJV version which captures the accuracy and authority that we love about the KJV but presents it in an easier-to-read language. This is one of the more literal translations of the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek (16th Century) text. I love and appreciate the priority the translators put in keeping the accuracy and meaning of the text as close to the original Scripture as possible. It has always been my preferred source when doing in-depth Bible study.
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)Allison Davidson, Manna Mt. Roskill, Retail Shop Manager
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I love reading from a selection of versions. I especially like to read from one of the more mainstream such as NIV or NLT and then compare the passage to say the Message. I have often found that the difference in a word or phrase brings the Word to life for me in a new way. One of my favourite passages is the Prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. I love the emphasis on God’s love: the height, depth, length and breadth of it – WOW!
NEW LIVING TRANSLATION (NLT)
NEW LIVING TRANSLATION (NLT)Julia Palaamo, Gift Buyer & Distribution Centre Team Lead
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My go-to Bible is the NLT Compact Large Print Bible. This Bible includes everything I like - dictionary/concordance, red lettering, black leather soft cover and it’s super light. Although it’s small enough to fit in my bag, the print size is still very comfortable to read! I like the NLT as it’s written in easy-to-understand language and it gives me a fresh look at Scripture.
the message (MSG)
the message (MSG)bono, lead singer of U2
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There’s a translation of the Scripture that this guy Eugene Peterson has undertaken. It has been a great strength to me. He’s a poet and a scholar, and he’s brought the text back to the tone in which the books were written.
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