Today there are more than 100 different versions of the Bible. There is the Revised Standard Version, the New Jerusalem Bible, and so many more. If you grew up in or around The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you will likely be most familiar with the King James Version (KJV). The Church prints a version of this Bible and all Church curriculum, including the Come, Follow Me study program, is based on the King James Version.
However, millions of Christians around the world embrace multiple editions of the Bible for various reasons. Some converts to the Church and those studying Church materials in other languages may not have access to printed copies of the King James Version. So if you don’t have the King James Version of the Bible does that mean you need to get one? Not necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at some doctrines and policies taught about the Bible.
What The General Handbook Says
In the General Handbook of the Church, it says, “The Church identifies editions of the Bible that align well with the Lord’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. A preferred edition of the Bible is then chosen for many languages spoken by Church members.”
There are many different versions of the Bible used in different languages. Examples of this include the King James Version in English, the Reina-Valera in Spanish, and the Almeida in Portuguese. The Church will often publish editions of these bibles with footnotes, indexes, and other study aids. The Handbook states that where possible, these Church-approved or Church-published editions of the Bible should be used in Church classes and meetings.
Using Other Bibles
However, that does not mean that other Bibles are without truth or cannot be useful. The Handbook also states that other versions of the Bible can be useful for personal or academic study. President Russell M. Nelson (because he is President Nelson) has read and taught from the original Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible. And because the King James Version of the Bible is the standard for English only, there are more than 7 million members who are using other Bibles anyway!
In Section 91 of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith is hard at work translating the Old Testament and arrives at the section known as the Apocrypha. When he inquires of the Lord whether or not he should translate it, the Lord tells him that there are both many true and untrue things in the Apocrypha and that it doesn’t need to be translated. But, the Lord continues, if an individual were to read the Apocrypha with the Spirit they could find truth, that “whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom.”
The Joseph Smith Translation
Concerning Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, many may wonder why the Church doesn’t use that as its sponsored Bible. The reasons are a bit complicated. In part, we do use the Inspired Version of the Bible. The Book of Moses and Joseph Smith-Matthew are both excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translations. But because the manuscript remained in Emma Smith’s possession when the body of the Church left for the Salt Lake Valley, the manuscript and copyright for the Inspired Version now belong to the Community of Christ Church.
Out Of The Best Books
So, is it okay to read Bibles besides the King James Version? Yes. In a statement from the First Presidency of the Church about the King James Bible, we learn that “Many versions of the Bible are available today. Unfortunately, no original manuscripts of any portion of the Bible are available for comparison to determine the most accurate version. However, the Lord has revealed clearly the doctrines of the gospel in these latter-days. The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.”
We have been instructed to learn “out of the best books.” As we study by faith and the Spirit, using modern-day revelation to guide us, we can find truths and grow closer to God using many different versions of the Bible.
Which version of the Bible are you reading? We invite you to share it with us and to let us know what insights you have gained and how you have been uplifted by your Bible study!
After serving a mission to Samara, Russia, Tyler graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing. Tyler is the author of Away From The Sun, a short collection of his written works. He lives in Provo with his drop-dead gorgeous wife, enjoys playing basketball, playing the banjo, studying history, and collecting Pokemon cards. Follow Tyler on Instagram @therealtylerbnelson