Why are there different versions of the Bible?

Different versions of the Bible piled up
Picture by Dan Acharya
Different versions of the Bible piled up
Picture by Dan Acharya

This page is a beginner’s guide to understanding Bible translations (or versions). We will explain why there are different versions of the Bible and help you decide which Bible is right for you.

You can read the whole page, or you can click one of these links to jump to the part you want to read.

How was the Bible written?

Why are there different versions of the Bible?

Which Bible is right for me?

How was the Bible written?

The Bible is really one big book made up of lots of smaller books. These books were written thousands of years ago. They were written by different people, at different times and in different places. Click here to find out more about the different kinds of books that are in the Bible.

Close up of Hebrew language Bible
Picture by Dan Acharya
Close up of Hebrew language Bible
Picture by Dan Acharya

The books in the first part of the Bible were written in Hebrew. This is the language of a group of people called the Jews. These books were written by Jews, for other Jews to read. This part of the Bible is called the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures.
  
The books in the second part of the Bible were written in another language called Greek. Most of the people who wrote these books were also Jews. But they wanted people all over the world to read them. At that time, most of the world spoke Greek. So they wrote the books in Greek. This part of the Bible is called the New Testament.

Some groups of Christians, including Catholics, also have some extra books in their Bible. Christians disagree about whether these books should be part of the Bible. On this page we will talk about the parts of the Bible that all Christians agree on.

Why are there different versions of the Bible?

Most people today cannot read Hebrew or Greek. So the Bible had to be translated into other languages, like English. People had to find English words that had the same meaning as the Hebrew and Greek words. The first English Bible was translated 900 years ago. But English has changed a lot since then! So people had to translate it again, and again. That is why there are so many different versions of the Bible. All Bibles try to keep the same meaning. They just use different words. 

Today people all over the world can read the Bible in their own language. There are Bibles with beautiful old words. There are Bibles that use the kind of English we speak today. Some Bibles use hard words, and some use easy words. We will always need new versions of the Bible so that everyone can understand it.

Which Bible is right for me?

Different versions of the Bible are good for different people. If you are looking for a Bible that is easy to read, we have another page that will help. Click here to find out about the best easy to read Bibles. 

Image of BibleGateway website showing how to change Bible version and font size

If you want to try out different Bible translations, click here to compare some online at biblegateway.com. On that page you can look up Bible passages in the search bar. You can try lots of different Bible versions. You can also make the letters bigger if you need to. This will help you with understanding Bible translations.

Two men comparing Bible versions, asking which Bible is right for me
Picture by Tima Miroshnichenko
Two men comparing Bible versions, asking which Bible is right for me
Picture by Tima Miroshnichenko

Once you have decided what version of the Bible you like best, you can read it online, on an app or in a book. You can get many different Bibles in each version. Some Bibles have extra information to help you understand what you are reading. Some have maps and pictures that show you what the world was like when it was first written. In some Bibles the things Jesus said are written in red. Some people have a few different Bibles. Why not ask a Christian friend to show you theirs?

So are all Bibles the same? No. But they all try to keep the same meaning as those first Bibles that were written in Hebrew and Greek. The people who wrote the Bible followed God. They wanted to help others get to know God. And God is still the same today as he was then! So the Bible that is right for you will be one that helps you get to know him. It will be one that you can read and understand well.

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Who We Are

Valley of Springs is the online home of Dan and Jo Acharya.

We write devotional blogs to help you grow in your faith and trust God in difficult times.

We also provide easy read Bible study and discipleship resources for Christians with learning difficulties, intellectual disabilities and special needs.

Jo is the author of ‘Refresh: a wellness devotional for the whole Christian life’ and ‘Living Well With God: easy read Bible lessons for people who find reading hard’.

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