It is amazing to live at a time when we actually have choices as to which translation of the Bible we should read. For so long the person in the pew couldn’t have their own copy, and even if they did it would have been in a foreign language.
Now we have so many versions at our finger tips it can be hard to make a choice. Zondervan, who publishes lots of Bibles, put together a helpful chart to describe the differences and philosophies behind the more common translations. Zondervan publishes the NIV, so it gets top billing. I typically read from the English Standard Version (ESV), which is a bit more literal. I lean this direction because these sorts of translations try to stick closer to the original and refrain from making a decision on a translation that would shut out other interpretations. On the other end of the spectrum, the thought-for-thought style Bibles, those translations help communicate the text by paraphrasing the original for you. This can be helpful to present a very readable style that can even refresh some of the more familiar texts, but they may obscure or lose certain meanings in the text.
With so many tools online to read and compare versions, you don’t need to make some lifetime decision to stick with just one. Reading multiple translations can be a great way to better understand God’s Word. I bring this up in preparation for the Year in the Bible because I wanted to have a physical edition that I use for my daily readings. This Bible will serve almost like a journal to record the process–notes in the margins, underlines, and other squiggles. I look forward to the day, a year or so from now, when I can compare the way my Bible will look compared to its current “mint” condition.