Bi­ble Reviews Bi­ble Reviews

Pros and Cons

of English Bible Versions

Table Abbreviations

  • IL = Inclusive Language (index value taken from this chart).  Range is from 1-10, 10 indicating the maximum inclusive language.
  • Li = “Literalness” (index value taken from this chart).  It would be useful to be aware of the pros and cons of “Literalness”.  Range is from 1-10, 10 indicating the most word-for-word literal translation.  Note that interlinear translations are not considered in this range, so a value of 10 is the maximum possible for a “regular and proper English grammar” translation.
  • RL = (Grade) Reading Level (Note:  U.S. education system, grades 1-12.)  (Reading level taken from this chart).

Pros and Cons

of English Bible Versions

Table Abbreviations

  • IL = Inclusive Language (index value taken from this chart).  Range is from 1-10, 10 indicating the maximum inclusive language.
  • Li = “Literalness” (index value taken from this chart).  It would be useful to be aware of the pros and cons of “Literalness”.  Range is from 1-10, 10 indicating the most word-for-word literal translation.  Note that interlinear translations are not considered in this range, so a value of 10 is the maximum possible for a “regular and proper English grammar” translation.
  • RL = (Grade) Reading Level (Note:  U.S. education system, grades 1-12.)  (Reading level taken from this chart).

En­glish Bi­ble Versions:  Pros and Cons

Sorted by Acronym
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
CEB
Common English Bible
IL:
Li:
RL:
8.7
4.3
7
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2011).
  • Available in 66-book and “with Apocrypha” editions.  The Expanded Apocrypha includes the complete Eastern Orthodox Bible canon except for The Book of Odes.
  • Excessive inclusive language.
Pros
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2011).
  • Available in 66-book and “with Apocrypha” editions.  The Expanded Apocrypha includes the complete Eastern Orthodox Bible canon except for The Book of Odes.
Cons
  • Excessive inclusive language.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
ESV
English Standard Version
IL:
Li:
RL:
2.7
8.6
8.4
  • Moderately ecumenical translation.
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2001, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2016).
  • Available in 66-book and (only one) “with Apocrypha” editions.  The Expanded Apocrypha includes the complete Eastern Orthodox Bible canon except for The Book of Odes.
  • Conservative inclusive language (ideal).
  • Evangelical bias.
  • Scholarship seems to fall short of the reference, the Revised Standard Version.
Pros
  • Moderately ecumenical translation.
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2001, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2016).
  • Available in 66-book and (only one) “with Apocrypha” editions.  The Expanded Apocrypha includes the complete Eastern Orthodox Bible canon except for The Book of Odes.
  • Conservative inclusive language (ideal).
Cons
  • Evangelical bias.
  • Scholarship seems to fall short of the reference, the Revised Standard Version.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
HCSB, HCSB-2010
Holman Christian Standard Bible - 2010 Revision
IL:
Li:
RL:
3.4
7.8
8.3
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2004, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2010).
  • Conservative inclusive language (ideal).
  • Renders the tetragrammaton as “Yahweh” in hundreds of instances.  Why this is useful.  (Note that in the Bible the tetragrammaton appears thousands of times, so the HCSB displays only a partial, but still significant, improvement in this matter.)
  • Presumed Southern Baptist bias.
  • Major update entitled “Christian Standard Bible” (no “Holman”) slated for 2017.
Pros
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 2004, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2010).
  • Conservative inclusive language (ideal).
  • Renders the tetragrammaton as “Yahweh” in hundreds of instances.  Why this is useful.  (Note that in the Bible the tetragrammaton appears thousands of times, so the HCSB displays only a partial, but still significant, improvement in this matter.)
Cons
  • Presumed Southern Baptist bias.
Misc
  • Major update entitled “Christian Standard Bible” (no “Holman”) slated for 2017.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
KJV, KJV-ST
King James Version - Standard Text
IL:
Li:
RL:
0.6
8.6
11.5
  • Production officially authorized.
  • Very familiar traditional biblical language.
  • Available in 66-book and “with Apocrypha” editions.
  • Spelling essentially modern when compared to the original (1611) edition.
  • Dated translation (1611).
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Early Anglican / Protestant bias.
  • Archaic wording (1611) and sometimes spelling (1769).
  • Most popular English bible for over 300 years (but no longer).
  • Authorization
    • King James I.
    • Fifth (but not last) officially authorized English Bible.
Pros
  • Production officially authorized.
  • Very familiar traditional biblical language.
  • Available in 66-book and “with Apocrypha” editions.
  • Spelling essentially modern when compared to the original (1611) edition.
Cons
  • Dated translation (1611).
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Early Anglican / Protestant bias.
  • Archaic wording (1611) and sometimes spelling (1769).
Misc
  • Most popular English bible for over 300 years (but no longer).
  • Authorization
    • King James I.
    • Fifth (but not last) officially authorized English Bible.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
NASB, NASU, NASB-95
New American Standard Bible - 1995 Update
IL:
Li:
RL:
1.7
9.5
10.7
  • Most widely-accepted very literal translation.
  • Fairly up-to-date translation (first edition 1977, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 1995).
  • Italics show words added by translators.
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Mild amount of conservative Protestant bias.
Pros
  • Most widely-accepted very literal translation.
  • Fairly up-to-date translation (first edition 1977, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 1995).
  • Italics show words added by translators.
Cons
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Mild amount of conservative Protestant bias.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
NIV, NIV-2011
New International Version - 2011 Revision
IL:
Li:
RL:
7.3
~5.8
~7.7
  • Fairly ecumenical despite its clear conservative Evangelical bias.
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1978, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2011).
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Definite conservative Evangelical bias.
  • More inclusive language than ideal.
  • As of 2016, best-selling English Bible version for well over 10 years.
Pros
  • Fairly ecumenical despite its clear conservative Evangelical bias.
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1978, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2011).
Cons
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Definite conservative Evangelical bias.
  • More inclusive language than ideal.
Misc
  • As of 2016, best-selling English Bible version for well over 10 years.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
NIrV, NIrV-2014
New International Reader’s Version - 2014 Revision
IL:
Li:
RL:
7.5
~3.4
~3.1
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1996, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2014).
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • More inclusive language than ideal.
  • As of 2016, best-selling young children’s (3rd-grade reading level) English Bible version.
Pros
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1996, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2014).
Cons
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • More inclusive language than ideal.
Misc
  • As of 2016, best-selling young children’s (3rd-grade reading level) English Bible version.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
NKJV
New King James Version
IL:
Li:
RL:
1.5
8.5
8.5
  • Moderately ecumenical translation.
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Slightly dated translation (1982).
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Retains some of the archaic language found in the KJVKing James Version.
  • Retains many of the problems found in the KJVKing James Version, a consequence of the source text used.
  • Extensive conservative Protestant bias.
  • Intended purpose was twofold:
    • A modern, scholarly translation of the same source texts used by translators of the KJVKing James Version.
    • Emulate the wording of the KJVKing James Version as much as possible (i.e. eliminate archaisms and inaccurate translations).
Pros
  • Moderately ecumenical translation.
Cons
  • Available only in a 66-book edition.
  • Slightly dated translation (1982).
  • Minimal inclusive language.
  • Retains some of the archaic language found in the KJVKing James Version.
  • Retains many of the problems found in the KJVKing James Version, a consequence of the source text used.
  • Extensive conservative Protestant bias.
Misc
  • Intended purpose was twofold:
    • A modern, scholarly translation of the same source texts used by translators of the KJVKing James Version.
    • Emulate the wording of the KJVKing James Version as much as possible (i.e. eliminate archaisms and inaccurate translations).
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc
NLT, NLT-2015
New Living Translation - 2015 Revision
IL:
Li:
RL:
8.2
3.7
~6.3
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1996, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2015).
  • Available in 66-book and Catholic editions (but Catholic edition is out-of-print).
  • Conservative Protestant bias.
  • Excessive inclusive language.
  • Catholic edition does not carry an imprimatur, is out-of-print.
  • Plans for a new, imprimatur-bearing Catholic edition.  No firm info as of 2016.
  • As of 2016 has for many years been the most popular “very easy-to-read” English Bible version.
Pros
  • Up-to-date translation (first edition 1996, as of 2016 the latest update dates to 2015).
  • Available in 66-book and Catholic editions (but Catholic edition is out-of-print).
  • Conservative Protestant bias.
Cons
  • Excessive inclusive language.
  • Catholic edition does not carry an imprimatur, is out-of-print.
Misc
  • Plans for a new, imprimatur-bearing Catholic edition.  No firm info as of 2016.
  • As of 2016 has for many years been the most popular “very easy-to-read” English Bible version.
Name In­di­ces Pros Cons Misc