6. Guidelines for Selecting the Best Bible

DiscHere’s what to do ..

Watch the Video Presentation: “Guidelines for Selecting the Best Bible” along with the following notes.

This presentation is just over 22 minutes long and provides some useful guidelines which will hopefully help the student make a better-informed decision when it comes to choosing the “best” Bible. At the end of the day, though some suggestions are given, this is a decision for the individual.

Some notes

Josephus on the murder of Aristobulus by baptism:

At the feast of Tabernacles, the seventeen-year-old Aristobulus looked very tall and handsome as he conducted the rites, and his great popularity with the worshippers was only too obvious to Herod. Some time later, they were all entertained by Alexandra down in Jericho. Because it was hot, Herod, Aristobulus, and their friends were at the swimming pool, and the high priest was urged to take a swim. As it was getting dark, some friends, following orders, began pushing Aristobulus under water, as if in sport, until he drowned.1

See also Murder of Aristobulus by the Master of the Soane Josephus at Sir John Soane’s Museum, London.

The best advice I can give you is to quote from John Goldingay’s guide to tools for Old Testament study:

The most important principle here is not to sell your soul to any one translation. Because translation is an impossible task, all versions have their advantages and disadvantages, and a preacher should not be wedded to any one of them. Preachers who are not at home with Hebrew are advised to always read several translations of a text they are studying, to make sure they are not building a sermon on one translation’s idiosyncrasy!2

Goldingay’s 45-page pamphlet has now been replaced by Tremper Longman III’s 176-page book Old Testament Commentary Survey Fifth Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013). Longman is, of course, much more up-to-date with his recommendations but, personally, I often find Goldingay’s comments to be more helpful. We should also note the companion volume, The New Testament Commentary Survey Seventh Edition by D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013).

To conclude, some good advice from Philip Jenson:

A good case can be made for using two versions: a more literal translation for study and memorization; and a paraphrase for reading long sections of the Bible, for communicating with learners and outsiders, and for discovering new perspectives on texts that are in danger of becoming too familiar.3

< Bible Translation Issues   Bibliography > 


  1. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XV, translated by Paul L. Maier in Josephus – the essential writings, 1988: 240.
  2. Goldingay, Old Testament Commentary Survey 1991 Edition, 1991: 8
  3. Jenson, “Choosing an English Version” in R. T. France, Translating the Bible: Choosing and Using an English Version, 1997: 24