d How To Read A Bible Outside Your Comfort Zone - Digital Sojourner

How To Read A Bible Outside Your Comfort Zone

We started this bit on studying the Bible using different tools to highlight their strengths and weaknesses. In this post I want to shed some light on reading in different versions.

Reading in your known version shouldn’t take long (John 1: possibly a minute; all of John: possibly 30 minutes). Your mind is putting the sentences together quicker than your eyes see them.

What you want to do while studying is read the entire book again, but this time we’ll jump outside of the comfort zone of our translation’s methodological sphere. Confused? Let me explain.

Each version has a methodology to how they translate the original language.

Some translations try to convey the words and structure of the original language in the receptor (that is, the translated to) language. Those translations are trying to employ a methodology called formal equivalence.

Other translations try to convey what the original language is trying to get across the original readers. The words are doing something and these methodologies want to translate what those words are doing into the receptor language. The translations are using functional equivalence.

The thing is, all versions are essentially on a line that approaches the original language. The only way you can have a one-to-one form and function correspondence is if you have the original language. (Read a great book by Gordon Fee on this subject or a great article about different versions by Wallace.)

So what I’m really saying is that one should read outside of the sphere of what we’re used to so that we can really read the text. My personal preference picks from three points on the line, bolding what I think are absolutely the best options: [NASBESV]-[NIVHCSBNET]-[NLTMSG]. The MSG is by far the least preferable on this list since it doesn’t have group scholarship behind it, but it’s still good just for letting us see what the text says.

  • Online: On Bible Gateway, pick a different version on the pull down and read. This is available on almost every online site so don’t feel restricted to Bible Gateway.
  • Freeish: Pick a different available version from the tabs.
  • Not-Free: You should have a library or catalog within the program that should let you pick a different version. Some might already have five versions pre-picked on different tabs in the background.

Crossposted at The Bible Archive.


  1. So many people are missing out on new and fresh thoughts from the Lord by only reading 1 translation. My daily Bible reading has been enhanced so much since reading the NKJV, NLT and ESV. I also enjoy studying with other translations as well.

  2. Multiple English translations are a blessing and a great help in studying the scriptures. My three primary translations are NKJV, ESV, and JND. However, I regularly consult other translations as well.

    Personally I do have a problem with some of the more modern translations that attempt to be “gender neutral”