Christians, young and mature, often ask us which Bible version we recommend for use in public and private devotions. With so many English versions on the market now it can be a bewildering choice. Here are some of the most commonly used Bibles (the list is not exhaustive) with the ones NCM uses the most marked with an asterisk*:
The Authorised King James Version* (AV, KJV) first published in 1611
The New King James Version* (NKJV)
The New International Version* (NIV)
The Amplified Version* (AmpV)
The Hebraic-Roots Version* (HRV) Messianic Version
The Institute for Scripture Research Version* (ISRV) Messianic Version
The Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition* (RSTNE) Messianic Version
The Orthodox Jewish Bible* (OJB) Messianic Version
The Concordant Literal New Testament* (CLNT)
The New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The New English Bible (NEB)
The Living Bible (LB)
The American Standard Version (ASV)
The Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Revised Version (RV)
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Jerusalem Bible (JB)
The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) Messianic Version
The Moffatt Bible (Moff.)
The J.B.Philips Version (JBP)
The Coverdale Bible (Cov)
The Geneva Bible (Gen)
The Douay Version (Dou)
The Inspired Version (IV)¤
The New World Translation (NWT)¤¤
¤ The IV is a product of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now called the Community of Christ), a denomination of the Mormon Church, but is not strictly-speaking a "translation" as no Hebrew or Greek manuscripts were used -- it is an alleged correction of the KJV by Joseph Smith using "inspiration" only and is unreliable.
¤¤ The NWT is a product of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Organisation and is not a translation either. It is a doctored Bible designed especially to reflect Jehovah's Witness dogma and is unreliable. This is probably the most mutilated Bible "version" on the market and should be avoided completely.
If you are able to afford more than one Bible, then we recommend you purchase the following for starters, beginning with the first two, so that you have a Messianic and an Evangelical set for comparitive purposes:
Institute for Scripture Research - 'The Scriptures' (ISRV) Messianic Version
New King James Version (NKJV) Evangelical Version
Amplified Version (AmpV) Evangelical Version
Hebraic-Roots Version (HRV) Messianic Version
We recommend the ISRV and AmpV for devotionals with the NKJV and HRV for serious study. It's up to you, though, to choose for yourself. The ground text currently used in most of our writings is a messianised version of the NKJV with liberal use of other versions for clarity. In this we seek to achieve two aims:
1. To use a readable, version with clear, easily understandable English, which is also used and accepted widely (NKJV, AmpV, KJV, NASB), and
2. To use versions that are as accurate and true to the receptor tongues as possible and that also use, wherever possible, the true Names of Deity (ISRV, HRV, OJB, CLNT, RSTNE, etc.).
A controversy has arisen in the last decade over which version of the Bible is the most reliable. There are essentially three positions:
THE KING JAMES-ONLY POSITION which maintains that the KJV was especially preserved by God as a 100% error-free version to be used exclusively by the Christian Church; THE OLDEST MANUSCRIPT POSITION which maintains that the oldest manuscripts (MSS) of the Bible are the most reliable even though they are numerically in the minority (1% of all MSS) and there is considerable variation between them. These are called MINORITY MS versions as opposed to MAJORITY MS versions (99% of all MSS). The KJV is the only Majority MS version in English and is based on what is also called the Textus Receptus or Received Text; THE KING JAMES-BEST POSITION which maintains that the King James Version is to date the best version because the Textus Receptus is the best MS. This is a position respected by this Ministry even if we do not fully agree with it.
There is a growing movement which takes the King James-Only Position. It is a highly dogmatic and intolerent position that condemns all those who do not use the KJV. Worse, it is without biblical foundation and is manifestly irrational. There are some who maintain that this position is cultic. Indeed, this movement was started by a Seventh-Day Adventist called Benjamin G. Wilkinson in order to defend preconceived SDA doctrines (such as soul-sleeping) which were overturned by more accurate modern versions!
New Covenant Christian Ministries believes that God's Word is to be found in a variety of translations and that no one translation can claim to be exclusively the only correct one. We do, however, believe that the King James Version, in spite of its antiquated language, is probably the best and most reliable. It has long been our hope to produce a modern translation based on the Received Text. We had hoped that the New King James Version would be that version but it, like all other modern ones (NIV, NASB) is based on the minority texts and contains glaring errors. We began work in 1995 to produce a New Covenant Version (NCV) but did not make great progress. Instead we have largely contented ourselves with making revisions to the NIV and hope one day to issue a collection of revised passages. The NIV is one of the version we have previously favoured in public ministry because of its readability. Since 1999 we have preferred using Messianic Versions.
The King James-Only Debate
Because alot of people are being misled and having their testimonies undermined by the King James-Only Question, we have decided to include a number of excellent articles and site links that cover this question throughly. We are not the authors of these articles, and whilst the position of the authors on other topics is not necessarily always our own, we consider them to be excellent aids to understanding the KJV-Only problem. We further wish to add that we are admirers of many King James-Only ministries and that our position on the KJV in no way detracts from these ministries' otherwise excellent services generally (e.g. Tex Marrs, William Schnoebelen, etc.). Our opposition to the KJV-Only position must not, furthermore, be construed to mean that we are against the KJV -- we are not proponents of the Minority MS position either! Having clarified our position we recommend the articles and sites that follow:
The KJV-Only Issue. A very balanced and fair treatment of the issues. This site is being updated all the time and deserves to be visited regularly. Pilgrimettes. An extensive and through site covering almost all the angles on the KJV-Only controversy. Written from a Baptist perspective. As it is quite difficult to find the KJV-Only materials on this site and as the author encourages copyright-free duplication, we have incorporated most of his materials on this site. A sincere thanks to Bob Ross at Pilgrim Publications for his hard work and excellent research!