Bible Translation Comparison

We do not advocate any version of the Bible over another one. In many cases, your reason for reading the Bible should determine what version is best for you. Each version has a description next to it as well as the reading level that the Bible is written in. Click on each link to shop for Bibles of the particular translation.

For a better idea of how each Bible is translated (literal word for word or more basic thought for thought) see each Bible listed in order here.

Contemporary English Version

CEV – 4th grade reading level – Completed in 1995 – This version seeks to be readable, yet faithful to the meaning of the original texts. Nouns describing God’s actions (righteousness, salvation, etc.) are rendered in varying ways. This version avoids complicated language, obscure vocabulary and difficult sentence structure to produce a translation understandable to a wide variety of modern readers.

English Standard Version

ESV – 8th grade reading level – completed in 2001 – The ESV uses the classic principles of word-for-word translation and literary excellence as exemplified by the KJV and most recently the RSV. Highly accurate, the ESV closely reflects the original meaning of the text in clear, readable, enduring English.

Good News Translation

GNT – 7th grade reading level – Completed in 1974, revised in 1993 – A thought-for-thought translation theory called dynamic equivalence was used for this version. It uses common English throughout, and modern idioms are sometimes substituted for ancient ones in the interest of clarity.

Holman Christian Standard Bible

HCSB – 7th grade reading level – Completed in 2004 – The HCSB is a combination of word-for-word and dynamic renderings that is both faithful to the words God inspired and user friendly to modern readers.

King James Version

KJV – 12th grade reading level – Completed in 1611, revised in 1768 – Commissioned by King James I of England, this translation is still recognized for the beauty of its language which dates from the time of William Shakespeare.

The Message

MES – 7th grade reading level – completed in 2002 – Pastor and biblical scholar Eugene H. Peterson’s aim in developing this contemporary language version is to transfer the informal and earthy flavor of the Greek into the rhythms and idiom of everyday English.

New American Standard

NASB – 11th grade reading level – completed in 1971, revised in 1995 – Especially popular among Evangelicals and others who want a word-for-word translation of the original manuscripts, this translation was prepared as an update of the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV).

New International Version

NIV – 7th grade reading level – completed in 1978 – Called “international” because it is transdenominational and contains the work of many scholars from many English-speaking nations, the NIV is a straightforward translation in contemporary English.

New International Readers’ Version

NIrV – 3rd grade reading level – completed in 1996 – The NIrV is a simplified version of the NIV, developed by the same translation team that prepared the NIV. Very easy reading, designed for children as a stepping stone to the NIV, as well as those for whom English is a second language.

New King James Version

NKJV – 8th grade reading level – completed in 1982 – This translation updates the language of the King James Version, changing archaic inflections and obsolete words, while preserving its basic literary structure.

New Living Translation

NLT – 6th grade reading level – completed in 1996 – Using Kenneth Taylor’s paraphrase, The Living Bible, as a base, a team of 90 Bible scholars worked for seven years, carefully comparing each verse with the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures to produce a true translation that is accurate and easy to understand.

New Revised Standard Version

NRSV – 10th grade reading level – completed in 1990 – An update of the Revised Standard Version (1952), this translation incorporates changes resulting from archaeological and textual discoveries in recent decades.