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The Most Popular and Fastest Growing Bible Translation Isn't What You Think It Is

NIV vs. KJV: Surveys and searches suggest the translation that most Americans are reading is actually not the bookstore bestseller.

When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll.

The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New ...

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Displaying 1–15 of 15 comments

Chris Stephens

March 13, 2014  4:51pm

I don't read the KJV, but I do frequently search for passages using it because often the segments of a verse that I remember were planted in Sunday School, when we read the version Paul used.

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March 13, 2014  4:13pm

I suspect that many of those KJV buyers are looking for a bookshelf bible, or following their parents' tradition, etc. People who seriously want to understand the bible's meaning will choose a modern translation. I currently use the ESV Study Bible, finding the clear text and the commentary giving me a much better understanding of the entire bible.

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Amos Stoltzfus

March 13, 2014  4:02pm

KJV--Good News for Modern Man in the 17th Century! And it also was revised and changed throughout the years as are other translations including the NIV.

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March 13, 2014  3:38pm

A large chunk of people think that the KJV is the original Bible and that the others are human, culturally driven, rewrites. Many Christians cannot name the original languages and give a coherent explanation of basic translation principles. I think that Pat Bailey (above) in throwing Sophia into the conversation has the careful, methodical NIV translators mixed up with the leftmost fringe of religion. The Sophia "re-imagining" advocates are far, far left of the mainline NRSV and CEB let alone of the evangelical NIV translators who are translating the Hebrew and Greek into the language usage of this time and place. While my overall favorite translation is the formal ESV, those who want very little hint of egalitarian language can choose the formal NASB or mid-range HCSB or NET, but the NIV is a solid translation with only moderate use of inclusive language. It ought to be consulted along with some other evangelical dynamic options that are moderately inclusive (NLT, NCV/EXB, VOICE).

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Karen Rhodes

March 13, 2014  3:19pm

I would be very interested in more detail from their study; such as, ages of respondents, region from which they came, Christians, nonbelievers, church affiliation, etc. Those answers could make a world of difference. I'm 65, and I grew up reading/memorizing KJV, but I much prefer newer translations, such as New Living Translation, The Message, and The Voice. I agree with others who bemoan the fact that you can no longer purchase an NIV 1984 Bible. Such a shame. I'm also wondering if the questioners were aware of some newer translations, seeing as how the article mentions the New RSV, The Living Bible, etc--which has been replaced by the New Living Translation. And the RSV and New RSV are used in Bible colleges and Seminaries for study--not read so much by people during personal devotion time, I think. I, of couse, could be mistaken.

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Chris Perver

March 13, 2014  3:00pm

They have to revise the NIV every once in a while simply because it's a copyrighted work. The copyright licence was about to expire on the 1984 edition when Zondervan decided to publish the updated 2011 work. It's all about the money.

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John Lee

March 13, 2014  2:31pm

I am a pastor in my 30's and lament that with the NIV's constantly changing text (1978 edition, 1984 revision, TNIV experiment, and now 2011 major revision) - it serves as a poor communal, inter-generational text. I cannot say Psalm 23 from memory with my grandparents...nor now with the 8th grade class whose graduation gift is yet another translation. The NIV hasn't given us a stable text to learn and share together. Even for personal devotion, a constantly evolving NIV works against memorization or allowing a stable text to be "hidden in one's heart." As a worship committee, Zondervan's refusal to sell a prior version means that in order to replace a handful of worn pew Bibles, all must be replaced. For all its other faults, at least the KJV has provided the church 400+ years of stability. In short, the NIV is better than the KJV in scholarship, but not in stability. Its dynamic equivalency is more easily understood, but less easily maintained over time.

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Mike Sechler

March 13, 2014  2:26pm

Colorado, My next door neighbor is as good a Catholic as you can find in our religious small town. He worked for the parish as a lay leader, sings in the choir, goes to every service, and he went to Catholic school all the way through college as did his kids. He is in his late 60s now. And . . . he is functionally biblically illiterate. To teach a short course on service he to come and ask me for a few verses. He did not even know how to use a concordance or online resource to look up passages by topic. He came to me (an evangelical) for help looking up verses not his own priest. Now when I suggested a few well know verses, he did recognize them, but did not have any idea where they came from or how to find them. I doubt he could distinguish between a Bible passage, Catholic doctrine, and secular wisdom. Perhaps some Catholics take personal reading more seriously, but they seem to be the exception among the many Catholics that I know.

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Tim Maples

March 13, 2014  1:43pm

If the KJV was good enough fer the Apostle Paul, it's good enough fer me? But seriously, folks... Sadly, I believe the reason some prefer the KJV is because some of the obscure meanings of words can be wrenched into whatever the reader chooses to believe it says.

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colorado springs

March 13, 2014  1:30pm

At least once every day, and sometimes twice, in all Roman Catholic churches, scripture is read from the New American Bible. Additionally, many Catholics read the same daily readings at home, in their workplace, from their phones, tablets and computers, and meditate and pray with them, all from the New American Bible. So while it might be literally true that the most people who sit by themselves and read the Bible read from the KJV, I would submit that this leaves out a huge portion of the population who read the Bible on a daily basis. Or are you just talking Protestants, or evangelicals, or a certain segment of the Christian population?

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Joey Brown

March 13, 2014  1:27pm

I cut my spiritual teeth on the KJV. It is like mastering shakespeare, it will be in your blood and soul forever.

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David Lloyd-Jones

March 13, 2014  1:02pm

I hope this means the Revised Standard. The original King James, you will remember, is the one that gives the turtle a voice in Song of Solomon. When I have pointed this out before I have had a letter back from a good Fundamentalist in Florida who assures me that he sits evenings listening to the turtles in his back garden --- but the Revised Standard revised it to turtledoves. -dlj.

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Pat Bailey

March 13, 2014  12:55pm

I have an older NIV Study Bible and a NASB (and several KJVs from long ago). I'm appalled at the newer NIV edition with the "inclusive language" that's now required by all of the so-called "mainline" religious corporations. We don't want to upset Sophia, though.

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Ngallendou Dieye

March 13, 2014  12:54pm

We who grew up speaking languages other then English or 'Merkan, find the KJV rather quaint, anachronistic and a silly subject for debate or controversy. In my tribal language, we have no Latin-based vocabulary, so nearly all KJV theological terms must be expressed as subject-verb-object phrases. This makes our translations very clear and convicting, a document to be obeyed more than defended.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 13, 2014  11:43am

Thou hast to hath misleadeth thy servant, who doest protesteth.

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