A Ball & a Bible Translation

For our young Labmaraner Summer, any ball that is throwable is a ball worth retrieving.

For our black Labrador Adi, there is only one type of ball worth retrieving- the orange Chuck-it brand rubber ball.

As a puppy, Adi was like Goldilocks.  She’d run to retrieve a ball only to spit it out saying, “This one is too hard.”  Another was “too spikey.”  Yet another was “too fuzzy.”  Finally, I threw an orange Chuck-it brand ball and she returned saying, “This one is just right.”  Thankfully this ball comes in various sizes, so as Adi grew so did the ball- from medium to large to extra-large.  Twice a day like clockwork, Adi brings me her orange ball ready for a round of retrieving. 

I get Adi’s particularity with balls.  It is how I am with Bible translations.  As much I’d like to be a Summer and pick up just any Bible and be happy as a lark retrieving God’s truths from the Word.  I’m not.

To understand why I’m an Adi and not a Summer you need a bit of Beth background.  For the entirety of my elementary and middle school years, I had a red, hard back New King James Version Bible given to me by the Mennonite school I attended.  A solid translation, but a little over the head of a child who struggled with reading comprehension.  I found the words printed on the pages of this Bible confusing and unattainable.  Thanks to the help of a reading specialist, I received the additional instruction I needed and learned strategies for tackling difficult passages.  However, I still thought that red Bible was too hard to understand.  I much preferred the flannel board and film strip Bible stories told by my Sunday School and classroom teachers. 

Before I entered high school, my parents gave me a pink leather bond New International Version Bible (NIV).  I remember opening it and discovering to my delight that I could actually understand what I was reading.  It was like that moment described by the prophet Jeremiah, “When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight for I bear Your name, O Lord God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16). 

I wore that Bible out highlighting passages, dog-earing pages, and carrying it with me through all my travels.  It would eventually be replaced by an NIV Life Application Study Bible which in turn would be replaced by an NIV cross referencing Bible.  As all the scriptures I’ve memorized are from that translation, I can pick up where I left off with each new copy.  It’s like visiting with an old, trusted friend. 

My Current Conundrum

Tucked among my dog things is a spare Chuck it ball.  Kept there just in case the company ever decides to discontinue that model.  I wish I had done the same thing with the NIV Bible.  My current copy is battle worn and looking increasingly fragile.  When I went to purchase a replacement, I learned that the NIV 1984 is no longer in publication. It has been replaced by the 2011 update, which is designed to appeal to the “modern reader.” The more I investigated this revision the more I couldn’t stomach the “updates.”  Thus, I decided it would be best to find a new translation.    

One that has, as my Lab would put it, a similar “mouth feel.”  

“Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in Your laws.”

Psalm 119:43

One that is a valuable Bible study tool yet can be picked up first thing in the morning or last thing at night when my tired mind struggles most to comprehend what I’m reading.

“Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart.”

Psalm 119:34

One that will become a cherished friend.

“The Law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”

Psalm 119:72

Dear Readers, I would appreciate hearing which translation of the Bible you prefer and what you like most about it.  Sincerely, Beth Alisan

© 2019-2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

37 thoughts on “A Ball & a Bible Translation

  1. What a neat way to share to share about an important issue. Yes, I have noticed the changing of the NIV. My wife and I read together at night and her updated NIV is quite different from mine. Strangely enough I use that particular bible for reading because it is giant print and easy on my eyes at night! My go-to translation however for study is the ESV. I have used it for almost 20 years and find it faithful to the original though a bit less poetic in the rendering of the Psalms. I hope that helps and keep on sharing these wonderful Lab-lessons!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pastor Pete! I use my ESV Key Word Study Bible extensively in my Bible study. It’s word for word reliability is wonderful however it does lack as you said that poetic sense. I’ve been trying my hand at the CSB translation and keep my trusty ESV nearby to check its word accuracy and I’m finding that there are a lot of similarities in word choice between the CSB and ESV. However, the sentence structure and word order make it more readable than the ESV. That said it doesn’t have the poetic nature that I enjoy about the NIV when it comes to the Psalms. Hope you and your wife continue to enjoy your anniversary adventure!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve fallen behind in my blog reading, Beth. Sorry to be a late commenter. I sympathize with your conundrum. I also think it’s super cool that you used the word conundrum in a post. 😊

    My favorite Bible is a leather bound NIV given to me in 1997. I used it so much it was literally falling apart. Yet, like you, I discovered the “new” NIV is nothing to write home about. I like the way my 1984 version reads. So, I sent it off to be rebound. The price is about four times what a new leather bound Bible costs, but I’m still making the investment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries David. I completely understand. I’m in that same boat. We were out of town celebrating a graduation and in the process I picked up a cold which took me down for a few days so now I’m scrambling to catch up with house work, blog reading, etc. Sounds like you made a wise investment with having your NIV rebound.


  3. What an interesting conversation you’ve started, Beth! My 1984 NIV also began to fall apart; I purchased the newer version which works for me. But I also use online versions frequently. One I particularly like is HCSB. It’s tightly written–no unnecessary words. Great for memorizing! Others I appreciate when I’m looking for clarification are CEV (Contemporary English Version) and GNT (Good News Translation). As for Study Bibles, I’ve been disappointed. My questions rarely seem to be answered, perhaps because a response would take up too much space! Thankfully, the internet these days provides rich resources for research.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, you are right- we are so rich with all the materials both translations and commentaries that are available to us online. The Good News Translation was one of my Dad’s favorites. When my oldest took on the challenge of reading through the New Testament for Sunday school, he bought her a copy to use.


  4. Beth, I totally relate to this topic and appreciate the discussion you’ve invited. For 20+ years my NIV was my main Bible. The church we attended had a competitive Bible memorization program everyone used NIV for that. As a result, I naturally grew accustomed to the version.

    I share the same sentiments about the changes made to the newer version and prefer not to acquire it. As others stated, look for the 1984 version in consignment shops, used bookstores, and GoodWill stores. I’ve found Bibles in such places.

    I have too many versions in my house to address each one individually. However, I found switching to CSB (Christian Standard Bible) felt similar to NIV, and it has become my go-to version for memorization. I believe this is the version some in the comments abbreviate as “CSV,” although I couldn’t find any reference to CSV on Biblegateway, Biblehub, or via Google search.

    If you would like a more detailed comparison of my top three Bibles check the RESOURCES tab on my site. I explained what I specifically like about each.

    I love how you drew this analogy from Adi and Summer. I’m mostly an Adi, but my resources tab may paint me more like a Summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Manette for your valuable feedback! You’ve confirmed my thoughts on the CSB. I recently picked up a copy and have been giving it a try. I’m finding it similar to the NIV (in its word to word/ thought to thought balance) but I am so wary of anything with a recent publication date that it is reassuring to hear from a Christian sister who has a solid foundation in the Word that they are having a similar experience with it as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your dogs and love the KJV, oddly enough! I also enjoy reading The Message. I find the two make a powerful combo. A note on your battered Bible — print shops can do a very good job rebinding a worn text! Read on!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nora for that valuable tip! The Message combined with the KJV. That sounds like an experience worth trying. I believe I have a copy of the Message among my books somewhere and my Dad’s KJV Thompson chain resides in my Bible study materials.


  6. I enjoyed reading about the doggy preferences with balls, and quite right too! Your adventures in Bible translations is encouraging too sister.
    I would make enquiries to find out if your 1984 NIV is available from a good quality sencondhand source before changing just yet. I used to read the NIV years ago, and like yourself I could not tolerate the new woke NIV. I was introduced to the NASB by a dear brother and Pastor 29 years ago and have never thought about changing. Although I would say that the ESV appears to be very close to the NASB, but slightly more readable. I pray that our Father God will guide your search sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alan! I appreciate your input so much. There is reassurance in knowing that others are also seeing what publishers are doing with their updates. I do enjoy reading the verses you share on your blog in the NASB translation. I’m curious as to what the copyright year is of the NASB you use? As I investigated my translation options, I noticed that the NASB had various year options.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Beth, I use the 1995 NASB online from my tablet app (Literal Word) and Bible Gateway, which is identical to my first 1985 version. I also have a 1993 Thompson Chain Reference NASB which is an excellent study Bible, which I still haven’t exhausted. These all work together well with no obvious changes.
        I do also often use the KJV and ESV for comparison reference, and occasionally the Darby. Hope this helps .

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Patricia Burkhart

    My daily go-to version is the NLT Life Application Study Bible. I like the ease of reading and comprehension, the great detailed notes for many of the verses, and the single column format (more room to add notes!) My old trusty 1978 NIV version also sits beside my chair. It was the first Bible I received after I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I memorized many verses from it. So it has a special significance and place in my heart. My Sunday School version is a 2008-updated NIV, which I find acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pat! I loved hearing the story behind your NIV Bible. Several years ago our church read through the Bible using the Immerse series. It’s the NLT without the chapters and verses giving a more book like reading experience. I found the NLT very readable and enjoyed the experience. I hadn’t considered looking into a traditionally formatted NLT for daily use.


    1. Thank you Tierney!! I knew I liked Mike’s taste. Our neighbor’s Staffordshire terrier is obsessed with her blue chuck it ball. There is just enough similarity between it and the orange version that Adi will “steal” it from her playmate and race around the yard chomping on it like blueberry Bubblilicious bubble gum playing keep away. Eventually, her playmate will win it back. They exhaust each other with that game.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooh, I get very excited by this topic

    Jo loves the NLT from her days studying modern languages (it’s written for people for whom English is not their first language, which makes it especially accessible to all).

    I love the ESV for accuracy (although it isn’t always all that easily readable)

    We tried a few versions and so our older boys chose the CSV – sort of a cross between the NLT and the ESV in my opinion.

    I totally get the NIV issue. The 1984 version is wonderful: I still have a smaller leather bound version. Like you, the newer NIV version just doesn’t appeal.

    I’d love to know where you conclude…

    Andy B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy, you’re comment was extremely helpful and enlightening. First, I like your description of the NLT. Second, you’ve given me a much better understanding of the CSV translation. I recently stumbled upon the CSV through a Bible study and couldn’t place it on the spectrum of word for word to thought for thought. I’ve been using my ESV study Bible as a cross reference in that study and have noticed how it in some ways parallels with the ESV yet stands apart in readability. That is a translation I need to look further into. Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I still have and read my New King James Bible that is a large print copy, and I keep it on my nightstand. I have my mother’s little white Bible that is The King James version given to her on her birthday in 1950. (Also, on a table in my room where I see it every day!) My mother passed away not so long ago, and I treasure her Bible. The Bible is God’s Living Word and it does speak to us. I have several family Bibles, (even a very old one from Sweden), and I have Children’s Bibles. The children’s Bibles with large picture book illustrations and the familiar stories we learned as kids. are so beautiful to look at. My youngest child was given the New International Reader’s version as a gift and I still have that one too! (Many things still here at the family homestead!) The one I read is the New King James version!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, your collection of Bibles sound like an absolute treasure!! I love that you have your mother’s Bible. I can completely understand why you treasure its presence. My Dad gave me his old Thompson Chain Bible and I love finding his notes written in the margins.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have an old NIV I mostly use. My 2nd one was a high quality gift from my wife and kids. I have been meaning to get an ESV but use online passages for study comparison when a speaking engagement comes my way. I do like the ball illustration…good one. I’ll let GW do the retrieving though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Gary! Ten year ago when I bought my last NIV copy I thought they’d always be available. Hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I had invested in a quality leather bound copy as the binding is what is going in my current faux leather copy.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi, Beth. Without going into a litany of my favorites, let me mention my favorite personal study Bible is an NKJV (Thomas Nelson Pub.) I find the warmth of the language inviting and the notes adequate for quick reference. But I like the ESV for communicating the best English translation from the original. However, I recently found an NIV 1984 in good shape at a used Bible bookstore. Do you have one reasonably near you?
    On a different note, I agree with Adi’s choice of the orange Chuck-it brand ball for a round of retrieving. It fits my mouth well and doesn’t disturb my dental work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GW, thank you for the laugh. Reassure your dentist that the orange chuck it ball is guaranteed not to wear down your teeth. Though I do have my suspicions that you are a lot like Summer and find something you value about each Bible Translation in your collection. For years I’ve been using Samuel Bagster’s “Daily Light on the Daily Path” which is pure scripture taken from the NKJV, and I’ve come to enjoy the lyrical nature of the NKJV. I do have an ESV Reformation Study Bible that I often pull out for the commentary when studying the Bible, I should give it a try in my Bible Reading. We have a wonderful used bookstore nearby. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for a NIV 1984.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Glen Buckwalter

    I really like your analogy.
    My Bible version preference right now is the NLT. It is the version that our children at Manor Church use. I must admit that I do refer to the NIV and ESV to get a better, in depth understanding at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I feel like your house needs to be equipped with an orange chuck it ball for the multiplicity of Labs that walk through the door to enjoy. Does your NLT come with cross references?


      1. Glen

        I got a large print life application study Bible with lots of cross references. It is large and mostly stays home, but nice for studying.

        Liked by 1 person

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