A Handy Guide to Major English Translations of the Bible

In this article I would like to mention some of the most important English translations of the Bible. I am going to indicate the type of translation it is, and make a few other helpful remarks as necessary. I hope that you find it useful in choosing a Bible translation for your own personal reading and study —
The Amplified Bible — The Amplified Bible is a specialty translation produced by The Lockman Foundation, and makes use of a special system of punctuation to indicate various shades of meaning that may not be apparent to most English-speaking readers of the Bible.

The Contemporary English Version — The Contemporary English version is a product of the American Bible Society. It is not a literal, word for word translation, but uses every day English to communicate biblical truth.

The Douay-Rheims Bible — The Douay-Rheims Bible is a traditional Catholic translation, written around the same time as the King James Version which is familiar to Protestants. The DRB is still used by many English-speaking Catholics today, especially traditionalist Catholics.

The English Standard Version — the ESV is a relatively recent translation, which used the RSV as its base text. It is in a more literal translation, but is nicely balanced — and is fast gaining favor among evangelical Protestant Christians.

God’s Word — Gods Word is another contemporary English translation of the Bible, sponsored by the Gods Word to the Nations Bible Society.

The Good News Bible — The Good News Bible, sometimes called Today’s English Translation, is another contemporary language translation which was sponsored some years back by the American Bible Society, and which still remains popular in certain circles, especially in larger, mainline denominations.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible — The Holman Christian Standard Bible is a more literal translation from Broadman and Holman publishers which also attempts to strike a balance in the direction of being very understandable. It has a small, but dedicated following.

The New Jerusalem Bible — The New Jerusalem Bible, a revision and updating of the Jerusalem Bible, is a contemporary translation that displays an excellent literary style. Published by Random House in the United States, it is also a popular choice among contemporary Catholics.

The King James Version — What could we say about the King James Version — since the 1700s at least this translation has exercised a mammoth influence within Christendom. Multitudes of people still read — and love — the KJV, however many today find its antiquated language a barrier to understanding and are seeking alternatives.

The New American Bible — The New American Bible is the standard translation for Catholics in the United States today. It is an enormously important translation, as all Catholic Mass Scripture texts in this country use this translation. The oversight for this translation belongs to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The New American Standard Bible — The NASB first appeared in the early 1970s, and quickly established itself among Protestant evangelicals as an extremely literal translation of the Bible. This translation is sponsored by the Lockman Foundation.

The Revised English Bible — The REB is and updating and revision of the New English Bible (NEB), which also appeared in the 1970s for the first time. The REB also has an excellent literary style, however many people feel that it is slanted theologically. It is a popular choice among mainline Protestants in this country and also in the United Kingdom.

The New International Version — The New International Version is a very popular evangelical Protestant translation of the Bible. Not as “literal” as some other Bible translationsArticle Submission, it is currently one of the best-selling translations among English-speaking people worldwide.

The New King James Version — The NKJV is an updating of the King James version which first appeared in the 1980s. The translators have tried to update the older vocabulary of the KJV. It is a popular choice among evangelical Christians.

The Revised Standard Version — The RSV (and its successor the NRSV) is the principal translation of mainline Protestant churches in the US today. The RSV is also available in a special Catholic edition (the RSV-CE) which has received ecclesiastical approval for use by Catholics. The oversight for this translation remains with the National Council of Churches.

Please note: I have not attempted at all to list every possible English translation currently being published — just some of the more popular and influential ones. Also note that the author of this article does not endorse any particular translation of the Bible over any others. I hope that you have found this brief survey helpful if you are looking to select a new translation of the Bible for yourself or others…


  1. Norbert Kroupa on October 5, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It’s always exciting to read through content from other authors and practice a little something from other websites.

  2. Bradley Biastock on October 16, 2019 at 8:48 am

    I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again!

Leave a Comment