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Bible Guide

With hundreds of Bibles in stock, and thousands more available to order, we have one of the largest ranges of Bibles available in the UK and are sure to have one to suit almost any circumstance. But being confronted by so many different translations, sizes, bindings and other features can make finding just the right one a real challenge.

Here is a brief guide to some of the main choices you will face as you select a new Bible. You can also take advantage of our extensive knowledge, built on years of experience of helping choose the right Bible, by speaking to our expert staff.

Which translation?

Our Bible range includes around 20 English translations from the traditional to the most modern paraphrases. Here is a brief overview to some of the major versions currently available, and a sample text (taken from 2 Corinthians 10:13) to give a flavour of the style of each one. Click here for a full list of translations available.

English Standard Version (ESV)

A highly accurate, essentially literal translation based on the Revised Standard Version that is quickly gaining recognition and popularity. The translation team included J I Packer, Wayne Grudem and others.
 
'But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.'
 

Good News Bible (GNB)

Also known as Today's English Version, the GNB was one of the first thought-for-thought translations. Written in simple, everyday language, the GNB has found particular popularity among schools and youth groups.
 
'As for us, however, our boasting will not go beyond certain limits; it will stay within the limits of the work which God has set for us, and this includes our work among you.'
 

King James (or Authorised) Version (KJV/AV)

First published in 1611, the KJV has had a huge influence on the development of the English language over the last 400 years.
It is a formal, word-for-word translation that can be more difficult to read and understand. Despite this it is still loved by many people for its poetic style and beauty.
 
'But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.'
 

New International Version (NIV)

As the most widely used English language version, the NIV tries to strike a balance between meaning-for-meaning principles and word-for-word meanings. The NIV was completely revised and updated in 2011.
 
'We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.'
 

New King James Version (NKJV)

A thorough revision of the King James Version designed to retain the formal, dignified style, whilst using more modern, understandable language. Ideal for those who love the King James Version but struggle with the traditional language.
 
'We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us - a sphere which especially includes you.'
 

New Living Translation (NLT)

A thought-for-thought translation based on the style and principles of The Living Bible that uses clear, natural, understandable language.
 
'We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened withing the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you.'
 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A translation designed to be 'as literal as possible, as free as necessary,' that is popular in both the Church of England and the Catholic Church. It is also widely recommended in many academic institutions.
 
'We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you.'
 

The Message

A paraphrase written by Eugene H Peterson, The Message provides a current, fresh alternative to more traditional versions by rendering the text in flowing prose.
 
'We aren't making outrageous claims here. We're sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you.'
 
 

Which binding?

A wide range of bindings are available in most translations, including paperback, hardback and different grades of leather (such as imitation, bonded, genuine, calfskin, goatskin, French Morocco). The general rule is that the finest leather editions will cost more, but will be much more durable and luxurious. The more inexpensive editions will generally be paperback or hardback.

Many translations also produce special editions such as large print Bibles, devotional Bibles, women's Bibles, or beautiful gift editions for occasions such as christenings, dedications or weddings. There are also Scripture portions available in many translations, including New Testaments and individual gospels.

Other features?

There are many other features to look out for when choosing a Bible. These include:

  • Concordance: A list of Biblical references for various words
  • Cross references: A system of references to help find similar relevant passages from other parts of the Bible
  • Dictionary: Definitions for difficult words as well as important ideas and themes
  • Study Bible: includes additional material - such as explanatory notes, maps, concordance - to aid understanding of the text
  • Thumb index: Indentations cut into the page edges to make finding the books of the Bible easier
  • Wide margin: Extra blank space around the page edges for personal notes and reflections
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