Four observations about Bible translations in the United States today

The Christian Booksellers Association announced the top ten selling Bible translations from 2012 in the United States recently:

2012 – Based on Dollar Sales

  1. New International Version
  2. King James Version
  3. New Living Translation
  4. New King James Version
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  7. New American Standard Bible
  8. Common English Bible
  9. Reina Valera 1960
  10. The Message

2012 – Based on Unit Sales

  1. New Living Translation
  2. New International Version
  3. King James Version
  4. New King James Version
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Common English Bible
  7. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  8. New American Standard Bible
  9. Reina Valera 1960
  10. New International Readers Version

A few things stood out to be about these lists:  




1. Readability – The top two translations (both in terms of dollar sales and unit sales) are the NIV and NLT, both translations that prioritize readability over literal translation. 

2. KJV/NKJV tradition – In pockets of American Christianity, the KJV is considered to be the only choice, with perhaps an allowance of the NKJV for the youth. This is based 

on a preference for the group of manuscripts (called the Byzantine or Received text) that the KJV is based on. I was surprised to see this tradition so near the top of the 2012 list. 

I wonder if the Gideon’s use of the KJV and NKJV had something to do with it. If you aren’t familiar with them, the Gideons are a parachurch organization that gives away  Bibles in hotels, near schools, doctor offices… really anywhere they can, for free. And since the KJV has no license fees, they can get more bang for their buck.  

3. Competing literalist translations – The HCSB, ESV, and NASB all are looking for the same market (those wanting a more literal translation of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), but seem to be splitting the pie. The HCSB is the official translation of the Southern Baptist Convention, the ESV is favored by the younger Reformed crowd, and the NASB is the translation of choice for an older group of evangelicals who like inductive Bible study. I use the ESV 99% of the time in teaching, and think that it’s star is rising, as influential groups like AWANA and Bible Study Fellowship switched to it this year. 



4. Reina Valera 1960 and Spanish translations – I certainly am no expert on Spanish translations of the Bible, but I wonder if the market is there for an updated and more readable translation of the Scriptures in Spanish. If anyone knows of one, I’d appreciate the heads-up, so I can help be a resource when asked about what Spanish translation to recommend. 

(HT: Thom Rainer)

St. Patrick’s Prayer

From the famous prayer of St. Patrick (aka the Lorica or Breastplate of St. Patrick)

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Why is he called “pope”?

Interesting stuff from Joe Carter’s “9 Things You Should Know About the Papacy”:

1. The most well-known title for the head of the Roman Catholic Church—”pope” (from the Latinpapa, a child’s word for father)—does not appear in the official list of titles given in the Annuario Pontificio (Italian for “Pontifical Yearbook”). The Pope’s official list of titles are Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, and Servant of the Servants of God.

Read the rest of his list here.

How my position change is leading to a change on this blog

What changed

Just over a year ago, with the retirement of our long time senior pastor Don Shoemaker, my role at Grace changed to a hybrid of “Young Adults/Teaching/Vision Pastor,” though it was always thought to be temporary, since we were in the search for a new senior pastor, and my assumption was that I would (at some point) go back to focusing primarily on young adults. But since Steve Williams was promoted from Associate to Senior Pastor here at Grace last November, I’m starting to accept that there is no “going back” – I’m firmly in the “Associate” role, at least for the foreseeable, God-willed future.

Why now

This is becoming especially “real” as we hire a new “Director of Student Ministries and Global Mission” who will take over college ministry, among other responsibilities.  I’ll still be involved with young adult ministry in a post-college context, and will still be around college students in a general pastoral sense, but my days of surveys and on-campus outreach seem to be in the rear view.

What’s next for this blog

Therefore, I think it’s time to re-calibrate what this blog could be. Last year, as part of our transition process, we went through the immensely helpful resource, Church Unique, by Will Mancini. To sum up the process in one sentence, “How has God built your church to make disciples of Jesus and bring glory to himself that is unique from 10,000 other churches?” In that journey, our leadership identified 5 core values that we think make us “Grace Community Church of Seal Beach”:

Biblical Worldview

Faithful Compassion

Known by Name

Participatory Worship

Missional Life

It’s these five values that I want to focus on writing about in this blog. I’ll still have an eye toward how it connects with young adult ministry, of course, but my main focus will be asking how to do more of these five things here in Seal Beach and in the greater Seal Beach area.