Bible Version Use in Quoting the Bible
Throughout most of history people could not have a written copy of God’s Word. Even after the printing press was invented, people were often denied access to the Word of God in their native tongue. Today we are truly blessed. We not only have the Bible available in printed form, but we have it in electronic form as well.
Today the Bible is readily available in the English language. It is even available in multiple translations. There is an unfortunate amount of controversy about Bible versions though.
Many people are “King James Only.” Some of these people believe that God inspired the translators so that the King James Bible has the same authority as the original manuscripts in Greek and Hebrew. Others do not go that far, but still use the King James Only because they believe it was translated from the most reliable manuscripts. While these people are sincere, many are very strong in their opinion and may accuse people who use any other English version of compromising.
There are others who say they are “Only King James.” They tend to be less extreme in their opinions, but still use only the King James Bible for teaching, preaching, and Bible study. Still others are equally loyal and vocal about their preferred English translation of the Bible.
I wonder what Jesus thinks about His children dividing over which translation of His Word they use?
It has been said, “You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” (John Lydgate, later adapted by Abraham Lincoln). I am afraid this may be true in regard to the Bible versions I quote.
I apologize in advance if my English Bible version choices displease you. Rather than getting mad or writing me off, I encourage you to read along using your version of choice. Be like the noble Bereans who eagerly received Paul’s message and studied the scriptures to verify that what they heard was true (Acts 17:11).
The purpose of this article is to explain my use of different English Bible versions on the Revealed Truth website. I may write a thorough explanation of my beliefs regarding Bible versions someday, but that is not the intent of this article.
The Goal is Understanding
I believe that the primary purpose of translating the Bible from the original languages into English is so that English-speaking people can understand it. When choosing a version to quote, my primary objective is to help people understand what God meant. So I prefer to use the version that I think best captures the meaning of the passage in a way that is easy to understand.
The purpose of English Bible Versions is to enable English-speaking people to understand God’s Word
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul asked, “If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said?” (1 Cor. 14:9 / NET). Paul also said he would rather speak five words with understanding that he may instruct others than 10,000 words in an unknown tongue (1 Cor. 14:19). My goal is to help people understand God’s Word. To do that, I need to use Bible versions that clearly communicate the meaning using language that is easy to understand.
If the language is not clear, how will anyone understand it?
I respect the value of the King James Version of the Bible and the contribution it has made to the world for over 400 years. I have read the King James Version over 15 times, and love its poetic beauty. It is not always the easiest version to understand though. English has changed significantly in the past 400 years. When I think a more modern translation more clearly communicates the meaning of the original language or is significantly easier to understand than the KJV, then the modern version may be quoted.
Another reality that must be considered when quoting the Bible is that all modern translations are copyrighted. The publishers of these modern versions place limitations on quoting their translations. All require any verse quoted to be properly attributed and a copyright statement included. Most publishers also limit how many verses may be quoted.
For instance, Thomas Nelson publishers require (NKJV) to follow the verse number, and limit quotes to a maximum of 250 verses on the entire RevealedTruth.com website. While it is easy to add (NKJV) after a verse, I have to limit my use of this translation to ensure that I do not exceed 250 verses on this website. I will therefore only quote the New King James Version (NKJV) when I think it is significantly clearer than other versions.
- The Holman Christian Standard Bible® (HCSB) also only permits 250 verses to be quoted.
- The International Standard Version® (ISV), New International Version® (NIV®), New International Reader’s Version® (NIrV®), and the Amplified Bible (AMP) permit 500 verses to be quoted.
- The English Standard Version® (ESV®) and the New American Standard Bible® (NASB) both permit quoting 1,000 verses.
- The Lexham English Bible (LEB) permits 100 verses per work as long as it is provided free.
- The NET Bible® (NET) has a “Ministry First” policy that permits quoting an unlimited number of verses as long as it is for ministry and the resulting product is available at no cost.
- The King James Version (KJV) is still copyrighted in the UK, but is in the “Public Domain” in most of the world (including the United States of America). Therefore there are no restrictions on quoting the KJV in America.
My goal of quoting the version that is easiest to understand has to be balanced with the above restrictions. Therefore, the King James Version will be used when I believe it accurately communicates the meaning of the passage in a way that will be easy to understand by the modern reader. When I think a more modern translation is needed. I will give preference to those with the most generous quotation policy.
A Great Reference Tool
The RevealedTruth.com website uses the RefTagger plug-in powered by Logos Bible Software. This tool makes all Bible references into links. When you hover over one of these Scripture reverence links, the verses(s) will appear in a pop-up text box. If you just want to read that reference in the default version, that is all you need to do. If you click on “more,” you will be taken to Biblia.com where you can do more Bible study.
Right now, the default version for the RefTagger quotes is the NKJV (this default may be changed to a different version in the future). It is my understanding that this does not count against my quote limit, because the pop-up references are being supplied by Biblia.com.