When selecting a Bible to read for devotional or historical purposes, you may notice that there are a wide variety to choose from and that different sects of Christianity and Judaism seem to use different translations. While some sects claim that their version of the Bible is the ultimate true source, each has their own value and each has been translated from the original text differently.
Jewish Bibles differ from Christian Bibles in that they do not contain the New Testament. Contrary to popular belief, a Jewish Bible is not simply called a Torah (which is the first five books of the Bible). In Judaism, the full Bible is called the Tanakh. These Bibles are not Christian Bibles minus the New Testament, as most of them have been translated just a bit differently than other Christian Bibles. Most of these Bibles are published bilingually with the Hebrew text facing the English text. The most popular version of the Tanakh is the Jewish Publication of America Society's version (JPS), which was first published in 1917 and continues to be published to this day.
King James Version
The King James version of the Christian Bible is the most widely read and most highly regarded for conservative Christians. This particular Bible was authorized by King James and took 47 translators four years to complete this task. This version was authorized by King James I of England as the one and only correct translation of the Bible. Since its completion in 1611, it has become the most widely used Bible among English-speaking Christians.
New International Version
The New International Version (NIV) made its debut in 1973 and is constantly being revised (with a new revision due out in 2011). A team of 100 translators from all over the English speaking world came together to translate this Bible and aimed to preserve theological points of Christianity that the Revised Standard Version seemed to lack. When translating this Bible, the group of translators used the Tanakh and the Novum Testamentum Graece (the Greek version of the New Testament).
The Revised Version is a Bible that was first published in 1881 (in its entirety in 1894) that was meant to be a revision of the King James Bible, which at the time, was the only Protestant Bible available to the general public. This version was meant to make the Bible more accessible to the average reader. In this Bible, the word LORD is substituted by the word Jehovah. This Bible was then adapted in 1901 to the American Standard Version, which is still in use today. Although it was the only competition to the King James Version at the time, it was regarded as going against Evangelical philosophy such as not proclaiming Mary as a virgin.
Roman Catholic Versions
Today, the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, is the version that is widely accepted among Catholics. This version of the Bible is essentially the same thing as the newest edition as the Revised Standard Version, except the books are in the Catholic order (the inclusion of the books Tobit and Judith, as well as the books of Wisdom and Sirach).
Previously, the Douay-Rheims version of the Catholic Bible was the most widely used Bible among Catholics. This version was borrowed heavily from the King James Version. From 1750 to 1941, this was regarded as the official Catholic Bible. In 1941, major changes were made to the Bible and it was then identified as the Confraternity Bible.