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Selecting a Bible
The Bible - An Overview

The Bible... it's the bestselling book in the world. It shares the message of Salvation through Jesus Christ and answers life’s most difficult questions. The Bible is comprised of 66 books, which were written over a period of about 1500 years by many authors, all of whom were directly inspired by God. The different parts of the Bible were originally written in either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek and have since been translated into many different languages.

The 66 books of the Bible are further divided into chapters and verses, which enable readers to locate specific passages more easily. The Bible itself is divided into two major parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament has 39 books, which cover the period of time from the creation of the world to just prior to Christ's birth. The New Testament has 27 books, which cover the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the history and teachings of the early Christian church.

Selecting a Bible
When you're looking for a Bible, the vast selection can be a bit overwhelming. To simplify the process and help you select the right Bible for your needs, you may want to consider these 'qualifying' questions. They're designed to uncover what you're looking for, even when you may not know yourself!

Qualifying Questions

Question #1: Who is the Bible for? A child? A teen or young adult? Or an adult man or woman?

Question #2: If you're buying the Bible as a gift, try to imagine how the person receiving it will use it. For in-depth Bible study? For personal or devotional reading? To carry to school, church, or when traveling?
There are many types of Bibles available. Most translations are available in a variety of categories, which have been designed to meet different readers' spiritual and study needs. Most types of Bibles fall into the following categories:

Study Bibles – Designed for those seeking to learn more about Biblical people, places, and times as well as specific Bible passages. Study Bibles may also include maps, charts, book introductions, outlines, and concordances. Some of our most popular Study Bibles are the Zondervan NIV Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bible. (Available in NIV, KJV, NLT, and NKJV). Two popular youth Study Bibles are the NIV Student Bible (for ages 16+) and the NIV Teen Study Bible (for ages 12-15).

Devotional Bibles – These are written for specific audiences, like women, men, or couples, and generally include notes and readings for meditation, reflection and growth -- all targeted to the specific audience. Some popular choices include the NIV Women's Devotional Bible, the NIV Men's Devotional Bible, the NIV Couple's Devotional Bible, and the NIV Teen Devotional Bible.

Text and Reference Bibles – These have very limited study and devotional features, and are chosen for their size and simplicity. Because they don't include extra features, they are generally compact, lightweight, and portable, making them the ideal choice for carrying to church, or in your briefcase, pocket, or purse. Some popular choices are the Thin line and Compact Reference Bibles, each available in various translations.

Parallel Bibles – These make comparing translations much easier! The text from multiple translations is positioned in one volume, in side-by-side columns, so you can read and compare. You can choose between 2, 4, 8 or more translations.

Audio Bibles – These are great when you spend a lot of time on the go -- in your car or on a plane, or wherever you go! Some audio versions are available in dramatized formats, which include background music, sound effects, and other dramatic effects. A new groundbreaking audio Bible is the Inspired by... The Bible Experience.

Children's Bibles – These are designed for various age groups. Some may be used by children alone, with a parent, or in a class. Simple children's Bibles will have the text plus a few pictures, but there are also children's Bibles that include features like study and application notes, pictures, and devotions, geared for the specific age level.

Question #3: What is your translation preference?

There are many translations (or versions) of the Bible. These are renderings of the original Greek and Hebrew text in today's language to make it more understandable. If you're not sure what translation you want, or wish to know more about a specific translation, click here for more information on most of the translations available today, and how they compare with one another. You may want to consult this translation chart.
Once you've chosen the translation and type of Bible you want, it's time to begin looking! As you compare types of Bibles, you may find the following definitions helpful:

Bible Terminology

Annotated – A Bible containing study notes.

Bible Dictionary – Gives more detailed information about people, places, words, and events in the Bible.

Book Introductions – Included with most study Bibles, these are not part of the actual text of the Bible but are provided to give the reader a brief overview of the contents of each Bible book or section.

Center-Column Reference Bible – A Bible with references listed in a vertical column located in the middle of the page between two columns of Bible text.

Chain-Reference Bible – A Bible with references grouped into categories with a numbering system.

Concordance – An alphabetical index of Bible words and names, and where they occur. Enables you to do word studies as well as locate verses you vaguely remember. Dictionary/Concordance – A combination Bible dictionary and concordance that is usually brief and most often used in children's Bibles.

Presentation Pages – One or more pages at the front of a Bible used for recording the user's name as well as other information like marriages, births, and family trees.

Red-Letter Edition – A Bible with the words of Christ printed in red.

Single Column – A Bible with just one column of Bible text on a page, much like a normal book.

Subject Index – A listing of major Bible topics, each followed by a passage or passages of Scripture about that topic. Some subject indexes also reference topics covered in study notes, devotions, and book introductions.

Study Notes – Included with study Bibles, these notes are not part of the actual text of the Bible but are included as helpful tools for those readers who want to understand more about God's Word. Study notes sometimes give additional information about the meaning of specific Bible passages or tell additional facts about biblical people, places, and times.

Table of Weights and Measures – The New International Version includes a supplementary chart in most editions entitled a Table of Weights and Measures. Biblical terms for weight, capacity, and length are shown in their equivalent American measure to help readers understand some of the ancient terms.

Thumb Indexed – Special tabs cut into the side of the Bible to help you easily locate each book of the Bible.

Typeface and Size – Refers to the shape and size of the letters on a page in a Bible. Bible publishers strive to provide the most legible and attractive appearance for each Bible style and edition. The size or shape of a particular typeface can affect its readability.

Wide Margin – A Bible with extra white space around the text for note taking

Bibles are also available in many types of bindings. It's important to consider how the Bible will be used when determining the binding that's right for you.

Paperback - basic heavy paper. Generally inexpensive, though not designed to last long-term.

Cloth - Also referred to as 'hardcover,' this binding is stronger and more durable than paperback bindings.

Leather-Look™ – An inexpensive material that has been coated and embossed to look like leather.

Premium Leather-Look™ – Imitation leather made to look like leather with a quality binding.

Italian Duo-Tone™ – Soft, supple, two-tone simulated leather.

Bonded Leather – Genuine leather pieces bonded with latex, dyed, cut, and embossed with a leather grain. This durable material is supple and pleasant to hold, has many of the characteristics of full leather, and is designed to hold up for about 10 years.

Premium Bonded Leather – Bonded leather that goes through a special and more expensive manufacturing process to give the leather a soft feel and calfskin look.

European Leather – A premium bonded leather finish in either a tone-on-tone color or two colors with stitching.

Genuine Leather or Top Grain Leather – Leather from the top or outside of a hide. This 100% leather is a superior binding material that gives a lifetime of wear and consistent quality.

Cowhide – A step up in quality from Genuine Leather or Top Grain Leather, from the hide of a cow.

Calfskin – Luxurious but tough material highly praised for its distinctive natural grain and rich color shading. It's long-lasting, and its suppleness increase with use.

Morocco Leather – Highest quality goatskin that is very supple, durable, and long-wearing. French Moroccan leather is from a high-grade split sheepskin, slightly thinner than other grades of leather. It is flexible and soft even when new, wears well, and will last a long time.

We also carry many Bible Accessories, including highlighters (both wet and dry), ribbon markers, tabs (for the books of the Bible), and magnifiers. If you want a compact Bible, but need larger prilnt, you may want to consider a magnifier. These come in various sizes, from bookmark size to full-page size, and magnify the size of the text.