Have you ever wondered which Bible is the most reliable? There are so many translations on the market today, it's hard to know which one remains true to the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek text. At the same time, you want something good for inductive study, with margins wide enough to write in and comprehensive notes that can add to your study times. There are all "kinds" of Bibles, from Women's Study Bibles to Men's Study Bibles to Family Bibles. But for my purposes here, I will be evaluating which Bibles are best for general inductive study. If you are serious about Bible study and want to dig deeper into the Word of God, then I hope this post helps.
Besides the fact that we have different "kinds" of Bibles, we also have dozens of translations. How did we end up with so many translations anyway? That story is too involved and too long to tell, but suffice it to say they came with a high cost. John Wycliffe, who produced the first hand-written English language Bible in 1382 AD, was martyred for it. William Tyndale created the first English Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. He was also the first to take advantage of the printing press, which resulted in the first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation, which ultimately led to his execution. It would be many years and revisions later that we would end up with the plethora of translations we have today. For a fascinating look at the Bible's history, visit English Bible History for a more detailed list of how the Christian Bible has evolved through time. You will soon discover how and why the Scriptures began to degrade over time. So much so that the real meaning and intent behind some of the original words would be lost. For example, take the word "awesome" in Daniel 2:31, which in the NASB reads:
"You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome."
The wording is almost identical in the NIV, but in the KJV, the wording is vastly different. Instead of the word "awesome," the KJV says, "Its appearance was terrible." In this case, the KJV was closer to the original intent of the Aramaic word dĕchal, which means "to fear or (pass participle) terrible." In other words, the statue was terrifying to look at. Using the modern word "awesome" does not convey fear or how terrifying the statue really was.
In some cases, whole verses have been left out of the Bible. For example, in the NIV, NASB and the ESV, an entire sentence is left out of Scripture in Luke 4:18-19. The original reading of the verse is:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19, KJV).
In the NASB, NIV and ESV, you will notice that the words "he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted" are entirely left out of these versions. Why this has happened is anyone's guess, but I'm willing to bet it is the number one reason we have so many people who advocate for the KJV as the only reliable English translation available. But the only way we can know with certainty what the original manuscripts said is to have a concordance handy whenever we do a Bible Study. I like to use the online site Blue Letter Bible. Here you will find a Strong's concordance available for original word meanings, a Greek and Hebrew Lexicon and many other resources to help you with your studies. But for now, let's look at the Bibles I personally believe are best for Inductive Study.
My number one choice is The New Inductive Study Bible. It has it all and is designed to help you gain a more intimate understanding of God and His Word. Wondering what "inductive" means? It is a form of study that uses the Word of God as the primary source for learning about God and what the Bible teaches. In essence, you discover the truth for yourself by observing what the text says, interpreting what it means, and applying it to your life.
I have a hard copy of this Bible, but recommend you spend the extra dollars and get a soft or leather copy. They are easier to maneuver than the hard, in that they are easier to write in and not quite as heavy.
Inside this Bible you will find full colour maps, a concordance, wide margins for writing in, a study plan for each book of the Bible, extra insights and more that will help you grow in your relationship with the Lord. It is available in ESV or NASB. I use NASB. You can purchase a copy from Precept Ministries at preceptministries.ca (Canada) or precept.org (USA).
For those who like the history in Bible Study I highly recommend the Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan. This Bible is available in NIV or KJV. I am a big fan of keeping the Bible in context with history and knowing the culture of the day. So if you want a more intimate knowledge of the historical context of the Bible this is an excellent choice. This Bible is full of informative articles and full-color photographs of places and objects from biblical times. It examines the archaeological record surrounding God’s Word and brings the biblical world to life in a rather unique way giving the reader a sense of "being there." While it does not offer large margins for writing in, it is still a fascinating Bible to have on hand when you are trying to get a "sense" of what things were like during Biblical times.
The only things I did not like about this Bible was that the printing was incredibly small and it is a huge book. Even with a soft cover it was too large to carry to church (that's how much stuff is packed into it). This is strictly a Bible for personal study times and actually makes a great companion to the Inductive Bible.