Why Are There So Many Bible Versions?
Some people have the idea that there should be only one English Bible version. After all: if you have two different Bible versions, then you can be pretty sure that one of them is “wrong”…right? And if you have dozens — which happens to be the case in English (here’s a list of more than 100, most of which are in print) — well…why? Why do we (English-speakers) need or want or (one might imagine) aimlessly continue to produce and sell and buy all of those different English Bible versions?
Below I provide the major reasons (not all of the reasons) that we English-speakers produce and publish so many Bible versions. Most of them are quite good reasons…but as one might expect, not all of them are.
The Reasons Very Briefly Summarized
Our language changes over time. Modern translations use modern words with modern meanings that modern readers understand.
Not all Christians use Bibles with the same contents (that is: the same Biblical books). So: different Bible translations are produced containing the contents that different Christians require in their Bibles.
New discoveries of very ancient copies of Bible documents are continually made. New Bible translations make use of these newly-discovered ancient copies in order to make the Bible closer in content and in meaning to the original documents.
Knowledge of the Biblical languages continues to increase and improve over time. New translations of the Bible make use of this knowledge, resulting in translations that are more accurate and precise.
Different Bible translations are produced using different translation methodologies (such as word-for-word or thought-for-thought methodologies). Each Bible translation is the product of a particular methodology, and each methodology has pros and cons associated with it. So: different Bible translations produced using different translation methodologies are made to serve different purposes and different needs of Bible readers.
Some (not all) Bible translations intentionally support a particular selection of religious doctrines. That is to say: such a Bible translation supports the particular religious beliefs of a particular group of Christians. So: if we consider only Bibles of this sort, we see that multiple Bible translations of this sort are needed to support the differing religious beliefs of different groups of Christians.
Although there are several exceptions, most modern Bible translations are produced by book publishers or by non-profit groups who earn income (royalties) from book publishers. Both of these types of producers of Bible translations seek to earn income from the sale of their Bible translations.
You can get a more complete explanation of each reason by continuing to the next page, or you jump to the more complete explanation for a particular reason by choosing from the list.