Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Give Me the Bible—But Which One?

What Bible version of the Bible should Christian writers use? Here are some things to consider.

How accurately is the version translated? Some versions are not translated at all but simply paraphrased. We need to be aware of that.

Another thing, does it matter who translated the particular version we’re using? To me, it does not. I look at the accuracy of the words.

We need to be aware that all the versions have been translated by man and thus will contain some mistakes. We need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) That way we will know where the mistakes are located.

Some versions leave out verses found in other Bibles. These versions used the oldest manuscripts as the original source and do not include verses not found in those manuscripts. That does not make the version inaccurate as some contend.

We need to remember that older manuscripts have been found since the King James Version of the Bible was first printed and may be more reliable than the King James.

Still, some people refuse to use any Bible except the King James. A Bible salesman came to my aunt’s house one time.

“I don’t know what he was selling, but it wasn’t the Bible,” she told us later.

I don’t remember what version he was selling, but since it wasn’t the King James, she thought it wasn’t the Bible.

Here’s the thing. Jesus spoke to the people in common language, easily understood by all. I believe the King James is lovely to read, but I hesitate to use it as the only source in my writing. Many have difficulty understanding the archaic language. The Bible should not be inaccessible to some. That’s the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.

Jesus wanted his words to be understood by the common man.

Which version is best for doing this?

Well, I don’t know.

I like to read and study a variety of versions. I also like to use a BibleLexicon to get at the true meaning of a passage.

When I actually get down to the writing, there is another thing to consider and that’s copyright.

Most Bible versions are copyrighted.

Some might ask, what about the King James Version? While it is true it is in the public domain in the United States, notice this: In the United Kingdom, however, it is still copyrighted and is subject to an eternal Crown copyright. Permission to publish in England and Wales can be obtained by following the guidance in A Brief Guide to Liturgical Copyright, third edition(RTF file); permission to publish in Scotland requires contacting the Scottish Bible Board. Bible (King James)

This means if you sell books in the United Kingdom, you must receive permission to use verses from the King James.

I’ve listed some of the copyright of some versions I use below. More can be found here at BibleGateway: Copyright Information for Bible Versions


Copyright Information


The NIV text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, providing the verses do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.

When the NIV is quoted in works that exercise the above fair use clause, notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page or opening screen of the work (whichever is appropriate) as follows:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Message

The Message text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses, without express written permission of the publisher, NavPress Publishing Group, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible and do not account for 25% or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.
Notice of copyright must appear as follows on either the title page or the copyright page of the work in which The Message is quoted: "Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993

The ESV 

The "ESV"; and "English Standard Version" are trademarks of Good News Publishers. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Good News Publishers.

When quotations from the ESV text are used in non-saleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but the initials (ESV) must appear at the end of the quotation.

Publication of any commentary or other Bible reference work produced for commercial sale that uses the English Standard Version must include written permission for use of the ESV text.

Permission requests that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to Good News Publishers, Attn: Bible Rights, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187, USA.

Accuracy, copyright, ease in reading are all things to consider when we choose scripture from Bible versions in our writing. But still, how do we know which is the right one?

Study to show yourself approved . . . ! In other words, each of us must decide that through study and prayerful consideration.

Happy studying!


  1. Thanks for sharing this information. I didn't know the KJV was copyrighted in England.

    Thanks for that clarification.

  2. Great post, Sheila. Very informative. I did not realize that Bibles are copyrighted. One would think the Word of God would be free to everyone. Guess not. Sure breaks my bubble.

    Thank you for sharing all of your research.

  3. You're welcome! Thanks to both of you for stopping by.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.