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 that is good for inductive study, with margins wide enough to write in and comprehensive notes that can add to your study. 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 overall inductive study. If you are serious about Bible study and want to dig deeper into the Word of God than 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 long to tell, but suffice it to say they came with a great cost. Men like John Wycliffe, who produced the first hand-written English language Bible in 1382 AD and was martyred for it. And there was William Tyndale, who 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 history of the Bible 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 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 was:
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).
You will notice in the NASB, NIV and ESV that the words "he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted" are left completely 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.
That's it! Those are my recommendations for study Bibles. I know there are many more to choose from and I have used many of them (Life Application Bible, The NIV Quest Bible, Names of God Bible, just to name a few) but I whittled my list down to these two because I found them to be the most helpful in my study times. What bibles do you use? Let me know in the comments.