Friday Fives: The Top Five Selling Bible Versions in America

What’s your favorite version of the Bible? I like the New American Standard for study and the God’s Word Translation for when I am quoting text in my writing. The Message, of course, is also an outstanding paraphrase for getting a fresh perspective on The Word.

Neither of my favorites, however, made the list of the top five selling Bible versions in America for the month of April, 2015 from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). Is yours on the list? Here you go:


#5 English Standard Version

The English Standard Version (ESV), a 1990’s update of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version, was overseen by the National Council of Churches. Updated in 2007, it is intended as a more literal approach to translation. Many versions include an Apocrypha “for study.”

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#4 New Living Translation

The newest version in the top five, the New Living Translation (NLT) is intended to translate the text into modern conversational English. It began as a revision of The Living Bible. The first edition was published in 1996 with nearly 100 translators working for 7 years. Updates were published in 2004 and 2007.
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#3 King James Bible

The King James Version (KJV) is the grandaddy, of course. But it wasn’t the first English translation. That was the Great Bible, which was commissioned by King Henry VIII in 1535. The King James (I) version was begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. It has sold more copies than any other book in history.

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#2 New King James Bible

The New King James Version (NKJV) is a modernization, of course, of the language and style of the King James, first published fully in 1982.  The NKJV translation was initially proposed by Arthur Farstad, Baptist pastor and editor at Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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#1 New International Version

The New International Version (NIV) was a work of the International Bible Society originally fully published in 1978 – the initial concept was proposed in 1956 – with updates in 1984 and 2011. Primary translation work was coordinated by the New York Bible Society. It has been consistently been in the top 5, and most often at number 1 of most Bible sales lists since it was first published.

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