Top Bible Translations Remain NIV, KJV and NKJV

New International Version, King James Bible and New KJV Most Popular Among Readers

The 2011 NIV Bible was released in stores in March. The updated translation has drawn mixed reviews, with the latest criticism coming from the Southern Baptist Convention. |

The New International Version, the King James Version and the New King James Version continue to enjoy popularity among Bible readers, according to the Association for Christian Retail (CBA) and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).

While the CBA and the ECPA agree on the top-selling three Bible translations for the month of September, the organizations vary on which versions of Christian Scripture rank among the remaining 7 bestsellers.

According to the CBA, whose rankings are based on sales at member Christian retail stores in the U.S. through Aug. 3, 2013, the top Bible translations are: (1) New International Version; (2) King James Version; (3) New King James Version; (4) English Standard Version; (5) New Living Translation; (6) Holman Christian Standard Bible; (7) New American Standard; (8) Common English Bible; (9) New International Readers Version; (10) Reina Valera 1960.

The ECPA's list, compiled using adult book sales data from Christian retail stores across the U.S., includes: (1) New International Version; (2) King James Version; (3) New King James Version; (4) New Living Translation; (5) English Standard Version; (6) Reina Valera; (7) New American Standard Bible; (8) New International Reader's Version; (9) The Message; (10) Christian Standard Bible.

Sales charts from the ECPA going back all the way to January show that the NIV, NLV, KJV and NKJV have consistently wrestled for the top spot among buyers.

Daniel Wallace, a New Testament scholar who has served as a consultant and editor on at least five Bible translations, told The Christian Post earlier this year that Bible readers can benefit greatly from reading various translations.

"I think that English speakers should have more than one translation. If we have in our background a history of Christian thought in the Western world, especially in the English-speaking world, it's part of our tradition and it's important to own a lot more than one translation," said Wallace.

He suggested the King James Bible for English-speaking readers, citing its "elegance and its cadence and the beauty of its language."

"But it's not the most accurate anymore," Wallace added of the KJV. "So it's elegant, it's easy to memorize out of even though the language is archaic, but it's not always real clear and it's not always real accurate."

The Dallas Theological Seminary professor of New Testament Studies also suggested the NIV as a "reading Bible," expressing the opinion that the translation is good for reading discourses or narratives "a paragraph at a time, a chapter at a time…"

Other suggested translations were the NET Bible, ESV, NLT, the Revised English Bible and the Message.

Despite the number of translations available and the Bible being the world's most printed and widely distributed book, surveys have consistently showed that many Christians rarely read the Bibles they own.

While LifeWay Research reported in September 2012 that 80 percent of churchgoers do not read the Bible daily, the American Bible Society and Barna Research found in their "State of the Bible 2013" study that 57 percent of Americans read Scripture less than five times throughout the year.

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