HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR FIRST BIBLE
Buying your first Bible can actually be fun, if you know what you’re doing. The trick for this first purchase is to limit your options, so that you get only what will be helpful for you and avoid paying for things you don’t need.
- Choose your translation
The first thing to decide is which translation you want to buy. Currently there are two that outsell the rest: the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV). The NIV is written in modern English and is easy to read and understand. The KJV was published at the same time that Shakespeare was writing and is filled with words that we no longer use. It sounds beautiful when read aloud, but can be difficult for a modern reader to understand. It was the first widely read Bible in English and many value it for this reason.There are many other modern language translations. You can explore them at the Translations link to your left. But first let me make this recommendation. Ask around to find out which Bible is being read by people you know. If you go to church, which translation does your pastor use? Are you attending a Bible study? What version does the leader use? How about your mom or your grandma? Which translation do they read? Do you want to have the same translation as them, or would you prefer to have one that is different so that you can make a comparison? This is really a matter of personality and only you know what will suit you best.
- Choose your format
You can choose between a study Bible, a devotional Bible or a Bible with just the Bible text. A study Bible will have tools that will help you dig deeper into the text for meaning and application. A devotional Bible will include essays and devotions that will help you apply the text to your life situations. Again, let me make a recommendation. For your first Bible – buy a copy with just the text of the Bible. Once you’re familiar with the text then you can branch out and try the additional material. For now, get to know what the Bible says for itself. One more recommendation: Steer clear of any one-year Bible, daily Bible or chronological Bible. These will take the Bible books out of order. That can make sense once you’re familiar with the Bible, but it’s not a good idea for your first Bible.
- Choose your basic features
There are two features I would suggest you include. The first is a Bible with a concordance. A concordance looks like a dictionary. It is a list of words in alphabetical order. But instead of giving you the meaning of the words, it gives you the location of the main verses where that word appears in the text of the Bible. This is a nice tool for beginners and helps you know where to look for a given topic.
This is a Bible concordance
The second feature is a thumb index. These are chiseled into the side of the Bible and help you quickly find each book in the Bible. When you’re listening to a sermon or participating in a Bible study it can be quite challenging to flip to a particular verse if you’re new to the Bible. With the index you can easily get to the Bible verse and keep up with the flow of the sermon or lesson. If you find a Bible you like, but it doesn’t have these tabs, you can buy them separately for a few dollars and add them yourself. In this case, be sure to stagger the tabs down the length of the page. If you put them directly behind each other, it makes them harder to use. Think of these tabs as training wheels. Memorizing the books of the Bible is the fastest way to get to a specific scripture. That will come with time and experience.
There are other features that might be important to you. They are listed on the Basics Features page of this website.
- Choose your store
You can buy a Bible at many different stores or you can order online. For your first Bible let me recommend that you buy it at a store instead of online. You will want to hold it in your hand and see what you’re getting. Which store? You can go to a Christian book store, but before you go, choose your translation, then stick to looking just at those options. They will have shelves and shelves of Bibles, with many different versions and many different study and devotional Bible options. It can be quite overwhelming. My recommendation is that you make this first purchase at a Barnes & Noble or other large book store. They will have only one or two shelves of Bibles. You’ll be tempted to spend a lot of money buying a nice leather bound Bible with lots of features. But don’t do it. You can get a very nice Bible for under $30. Give yourself a chance to get familiar with the Bible and to experience a few translations before you invest a lot of money.
So, explore the other pages of this site that will be helpful. Start with the Translations page. And once you’ve made your purchase come back to this website and click on the Next Steps page. It will give you some helpful tips on how to get the most out of your new purchase. If you bookmark this website it will be easy to come back to it. Then drop me a line with the email form. I’d love to know what you bought and what you think of it.