How times have changed!
I needed a Bible to take to Sunday school when I was seven or eight years old. It was the translation known alternatively as the Authorised Version (AV) or the King James Bible (KJB) because King James I authorised it to be read in churches.
I still have this copy with colour and monochrome pictures and find it useful as it has phonetic markings on many of the names. With the list of pronunciation of these marks in a dictionary I can (but don’t often) decipher them. I also have a copy I was given at school by the local education authority. (It wouldn’t happen now! Voluntary organisations such as the Gideons fill some of the gaps.) This has lovely line drawings, which were also used in a subsequent translation (Revised Standard Version – RSV) given out a few years later by the same authority.
The next translation I was aware of was the New English Bible. The New Testament was ready and published before the whole Bible. The Old Testament was written before the birth of Jesus and the New Testament was written in the first century afterwards.
Now there are numerous translations and paraphrases. I have the Living Bible and the Good News Bible, both of which are paraphrases and much easier to read than many translations. There are also New Testaments on our bookshelves in French and German. It was when I bought the latter that the lady from the Bible Society said, “Perhaps one day you’ll be a missionary!” I ran in the opposite direction (like Jonah.) In case you don’t know, Jonah has a (short) book of the Bible all to himself.
My favourite Bible is the New International Version, which is a translation rather than a paraphrase. However I still love some familiar passages in the AV.
But now we have the choice of reading a book or reading on a device.
There are Bibles available online free of charge. I have the English Standard Version on my Kindle app. I use Bible Gateway to look up passages.
Many people were put off Shakespeare at school. I suspect that they associate the Bible with the same archaic language. (Other people regard that period in history as the zenith of the English language.)
My plea to you, my readers, is to find a way which you find helpful to look again at the Bible. Perhaps you have a copy hidden away somewhere, which you were given or presented with, or perhaps you can download one. Be thankful – there are many people in the world, who are unable to read the Bible in their native language.
If you have read this far, you are a privileged English speaker and have the choice of many versions of the Bible and helps for reading it. Check out the Bible Reading Fellowship.
I heard a speaker say, The book’s great, but I’d rather meet the author. The Bible is a book for which this is possible for all its readers. Although written by human agents it claims to be the Word of God, a title also applied to Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. John 1:1-14