Bible Compatibility Test

Mankind has developed questionnaires to assist with many life decisions, including choosing a pet, career, or mate that is well-suited to our own personal characteristics.  After searching for a Bible last weekend, I wished there were a similar test for Bible selection.

I’ve never bought a Bible.  The one I used before was given to me by my grandparents when I was ten years old.  It’s a very basic hard cover Bible, like one you would find in the hymn rack on the back of a pew in church.  This may sound silly, but I really wanted a Bible with Jesus’ words in red.  I also wanted a decent sized print and thumb tabs.  While I was dreaming, I added leather cover to the list.

I ordered a Bible online (I read reviews, looked at pictures, as well as read sample pages), but it didn’t work out.  There were some pages that didn’t print correctly, so I sent it back.  I decided this had to be a face-to-face decision, so I strode into the Christian bookstore, confident that I could find a Bible that met my criteria.  I paused and gazed around the large bookstore, where a woman greeted me.

Woman:  “Can I help you find something today”

Me:  “I wanted to look at your Bibles.”

Woman:  “What kind of Bible are you looking for?”

Me: <staring at her blankly> “Um, I think I’ll try the New International Version?”

Woman:  “Okay.  What kind are you interested in?”

Me:  “Kind?”  

Woman:  “We have devotional Bibles, study Bibles, life application Bibles, reference Bibles…”

I don’t know if she named all of the types of Bibles or if she just gave up because of the baffled look on my face.  She led me to the back wall of the store.  I gaped at the shelves and shelves of Bibles until she slid a couple of them in front of me – a devotional Bible and a study Bible.

I ruled out the devotional Bible right away because it had so much extra text (and an author’s name attached to it) that it didn’t seem like a “real” Bible.  Now I knew I wanted something more traditional.  I liked the popular study Bible that the woman put in front of me, but I wanted to look at more to make sure it was the right choice. 

To the left, I saw a column of shelves containing various King James Version (KJV) Bibles; to the right, I found shelves with New Living Translation (NLT) and English Standard Version (ESV).  I took those out of the running because in church, they use NIV.  (Well, at least I used some kind of reasoning, rather than a coin toss.)

I flipped through a reference Bible and found the middle column of abbreviated references distracting.  Had I been able to decipher them, I may have been more receptive.  But I stared at the column of abbreviations and had this strange feeling that there was some kind of decoder or secret key that I needed to unlock the mysteries.  I flipped the Bible over and checked the box – I found no clues.  I realized at once that this Bible was way over my head; like a first grader reading a book about quantum physics.

My eyes scanned the shelves, until I saw it.  My breath caught in my throat and I just knew.  It was love at first sight.

Love at first sight?

I paused.  You can’t judge a book by its cover.  The thought flashed through my mind and I felt as if a test from God was right in front of me, smartly dressed in orchid and raspberry.  I pulled the Bible from the box and inhaled the new book scent.  The pages made the familiar crinkling sound as I thumbed through them.  I read some of the notes and familiarized myself with the structure.

Favorite section - several pages that provide scripture references for lifes struggles

This Bible departs from the traditional style, but it felt “right” to me.  The format was easy for me to follow.  But still, I doubted the depth of my attraction (and the shrinkage my bank account would experience as a result of the purchase.)  As I pondered the question, “to purchase, or not to purchase,” the following invaded my mind:

Reasons to support a Bible Compatibility Test:

  • Objective second opinion (no sneaky interference of emotions)
  • Could save money by preventing involvement with the “wrong” Bible
  • Reveals whether infatuation is more than cover deep
  • Reduces risk of online Bible purchase choices

Reasons against a Bible Compatibility Test:

  • High divorce rate
  • Over-populated animal shelters
  • Career-hopping

(If compatibility tests were infallible, we would be able to live with our choices until death.)

So, I was forced to rely on my judgment <gulp!>   I moved forward on the hope that the wonder of newness wouldn’t grow stale and that our relationship would be filled with exploration and discovery.

What do you look for in a Bible?


31 thoughts on “Bible Compatibility Test

  1. Jackie Paulson 1966 April 17, 2011 / 2:05 AM

    My favorite: THE NIV Full life study bible. I have the Rainbow bible too. Great blog

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:21 PM

      Thank you, Jackie. I saw one Bible where every verse was highlighted in a different color. It looked pretty, but it distracted me.

      I’m not familiar with the Full Life Study Bible….I’m curious to go check it out.

      • Jackie Paulson 1966 April 17, 2011 / 2:33 PM

        Hey they dont’ publish my bible any longer. It’s a full life study bible and the newer one has more on the sidelines. The rainbow one is distracting but I do love it.

        • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 3:05 PM

          Thanks for letting me know it’s not published anymore, Jackie. I’m glad the rainbow one works well for you, because the colors really are nice 🙂

  2. Aligaeta April 17, 2011 / 5:51 AM

    I chose the King James Version because I wanted to be able to read the same translation of scripture read in church, but that was a choice I made thirty years ago when I began exploring various Protestant Churches. I was raised Catholic and as a child I had a wonderful illustrated Bible. I think if I were to purchase another Bible at this stage of my life, as a student who studied literature, that I may have chosen the same Bible you have. My you enjoy the Quest.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:29 PM

      I still have my Children’s Living Bible with illustrations (my grandparents gave it to me when I was three). I haven’t read from it in twenty-five years or so, but I could never get rid of it either. I guess I’ll see if this new Bible stays with me or if end up with another one in the future.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aligaeta 🙂

  3. Aligaeta April 17, 2011 / 5:52 AM

    I don’t know what happened to that “a”… May you enjoy the Quest.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:30 PM

      I knew what you meant 🙂 (I have a problem with missing letters on my comments, too. I really need to start proofing before submitting ;))

  4. SuziCate April 17, 2011 / 6:01 AM

    Quest is one I don’t have (and I do like that format), but I have many of the version you mentioned. I’ve found different ones useful at different times and needed for church, study, etc… When I first jumped back into the bible after a long absence I felt The Book made it easier. I have many friends who use The Message, but I don’t care for that version. I like my NIV reference bible.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:41 PM

      I am not familiar with The Book, but I looked it up on Amazon (it had great reviews) and found the format to be readable. I think it’s interesting that you have many different Bibles. I’m curious to see if I encounter the same need during my journey. Thanks for your input, SuziCate 🙂

  5. Debbie April 17, 2011 / 7:13 AM

    I have a couple of Bibles, all in the Catholic version. One has the leather cover with my name engraved in gold on the front (it was a gift); another has a bigger print and is a newer version. I’m like you in that a Bible, like any book, must feel right — it also helps that it looks right and smells right! I’m guessing that, despite the cost, the one you chose will suit your needs exactly!

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:47 PM

      It’s interesting that there are so many gift Bibles, but it’s such a personal item, I’m not sure how I could pick one out for anyone. The Bible I bought came with “free” engraving…and you bet I’ll be bringing it back to take them up on that offer 🙂

      I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked the crinkling sound when flipping through pages in the Bible. No other book I’ve read makes that sound. (Sigh…)

      Thanks for visiting today, Debbie!

  6. nrhatch April 17, 2011 / 8:29 AM

    When a book “jumps out” at me like that, I rely on what my intuition/spirit is whispering . . . That’s it. That’s the one.

    I have a Bible that my Great Aunt gave to me. She received it from her sister who purchased it in Jerusalem or Bethlehem. It’s covered in tiles from Mother of Pearl. Although, in all honesty, I rarely refer to it . . . prefering to rely on my inner Spirit to help me navigate through life.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:50 PM

      Wow, that Bible sounds beautiful – I love Mother of Pearl. (And here I thought leather was fancy!) Your inner Spirit is doing a fine job guiding you, but at least you have the Bible there in case you need it. Thanks for thoughts on the Bible, Nancy!

  7. dorcas April 17, 2011 / 10:38 AM

    I’ve never bought a BIble Janna. Every Bible that I had owned so far, has been a gift. And nothing matched what I would have liked to have. You set me thinking.. Maybe I should go and get a Bible that I like. 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:55 PM

      If you don’t have a Bible that is exactly what you want, I think you should consider purchasing one, Dorcas.

      I think I wanted the leather Bible with the thumb tabs because that’s what my Grandma always used. It was burgundy with her name engraved on the front. It was hard to keep my memories of her out of my mind when I thought about what “I” really wanted. I think I successfully did that…I couldn’t imagine my Grandma with a pink Bible!

  8. pattyabr April 17, 2011 / 2:25 PM

    If I chose a version of the Bible today I would choose and audio version. I’m an auditory learner. If I hear myself or another person read it –I get it. the Catholic church readings come from the New American Bible – I googled it to find out.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 2:59 PM

      The New American Bible isn’t one that I’d heard of. Debbie had mentioned that she had Catholic version Bibles and I wondered about that. Now I know 🙂

      An audio version is a good idea – I could even listen in the car on my commute to work. I’m glad you shared your comments, Patty!

  9. knotrune April 17, 2011 / 2:46 PM

    I like to have different translations so Bible reading doesn’t get stale. If the text gets too familiar, I tend to skim it and that’s not good! I prefer modern translations to the King James as I find the archaic language a barrier, but I don’t really get on with the Message as it’s a bit too hip for me 🙂

    Physically I need my Bible to not be too heavy for my feeble arthritic hands, which precludes the study and reference types. I have other books for Bible study, like ones which focus on just one book. It also means I have to go for paperbacks with tiny print. Fortunately my eyes are OK! At least those ones are cheaper too 🙂

    But even though I have several versions, I still don’t manage to read them every day 😦 I think that matters more than which version you use, as long as it isn’t riddled with errors!

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 3:10 PM

      I saw someone in church recently reading the Bible on their Kindle. Maybe that would work for you?

      I have a KJV Bible, too, but I’m not a fan of the language, either. Paperbacks are certainly less expensive – too bad I had my heart set on leather 😦 Reading every day is hard, and I completely agree that the version matters very little as long it’s accurate and we read it!

      Thanks for stopping by, Knotrune 🙂

  10. Ollin April 17, 2011 / 7:16 PM

    I’ve been thinking about the Bible lately. And sometimes I wonder if I was introduced to its deep wisdom far too early to appreciate it.

    I’ve been thinking primarily of Job and Jonah. For me, Jonah being swallowed by the whale was because he did not follow his “calling.” Much like writers who don’t follow their calling feel as if they are being swallowed. Then there’s Job, who had everything taken away from him, and given disease. I thought that what Job’s story meant was that if you have faith in god you will get a reward – the 7 times fold rewards he gets in the end.

    But I think I was wrong. The point is the opposite, I think. That faith in God is being faithful and trusting God even though it’s all going wrong. And that you shouldn’t just trust the gifts he gives but also the suffering that comes, or the bad things that happen to you. Because maybe there is a reason for it that you as a human being just cannot comprehend. There is so much mystery in the world, and how can I as a human being be so self-centered to think that everything should go my way at all times? Who knows what I truly need to happen to me for me to grow? Only God does.

    Or at least that is what I am learning. Or trying to learn. Not sure if that had anything to do with your post. But I thought I’d share.

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 8:38 PM

      The thing about the Bible is that you can read something more than once, at different times in your life, and the passages will have different meanings. (My pastor even talked about that happening to him, and he was a pastor’s son….which means he was no doubt immersed in the Bible from a very early age.)

      That’s the thing about faith – if you have it, there’s no guarantee that you will get the reward that you were hoping for – but it’s almost certain that you will suffer at some point. In fact, the “reward” may be more suffering to strengthen your character. It’s not fair, but God does what’s best.

      I agree with you that we can’t possibly know the reasons why things happen…our minds couldn’t comprehend. I’ve noticed that when things are going well, I don’t try as hard in my relationship with God. It’s so easy to say, “yeah, I’ll get to it later.” But when things have gone horribly wrong, all of a sudden I’m begging God for help. If I never suffered, I’d never get around to deepening my relationship with God. When I think of it that way, I’m able to understand suffering more. What I’ve been working on this year is learning more and strengthening the relationship on a daily basis instead of when I reach the bottom of an emotional pit.

      I’m glad you shared your thought process, Ollin. I hope you are able to find some peace and clarification.

      Oh, and of course it has something to do with this post – it was all about the Bible 🙂

  11. pattisj April 17, 2011 / 9:53 PM

    My first Bible was a KJV, a gift for my tenth birthday. The next was a KJV study Bible, then I went to an NIV devotional Bible for a change in translation. After that I got an Amplified, large print (which I love), but sometimes it’s a bit repetitive in the amplification (think Beatitudes). I like shopping for Bibles and seeing what is available, but I haven’t found one I’d trade in my Amplified for just yet. My preferences: Leather covers are nice to hold, and it HAS to have those familiar sounding pages. My 4-yr-old granddaughter was comparing her red letter edition Bible with her older sister’s that was not RLE, and questioned, “Why she doesn’t have Jesus in her Bible?” (Had to share that).

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 10:45 PM

      I haven’t heard of Amplified. I wrote that down so I can check it out. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that loves those crinkly pages. When I searched online, there were some that touted thicker pages without ink bleed through. I was concerned they might have removed the crinkle-ness.

      That’s so cute, what your granddaughter said. I like the RLE too. I’m a bit disappointed my new Bible doesn’t have RLE, but I liked everything else. Hey, it’s still a good Bible even though Jesus isn’t in it 😉

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the funny story, Patti. I can go to sleep with a smile, now!

  12. Carol Ann Hoel April 17, 2011 / 10:43 PM

    I learned from the King James Scofield Reference Bible in my young adult years. For this reason, I still cling to it. If I need to search for a verse online, I use the KJV. Because I know it, I am able to use the correct search words. I also like the NIV and explore other translations as well. At I can find verses and can switch from one version to another with a click. I have a Bible app on my phone that is in KJV and NET. I switch back and forth. Study Bibles like the Scofield Reference are helpful for learning. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites April 17, 2011 / 10:51 PM

      I haven’t heard of the Scofield Reference Bible…another one for me to research 🙂

      Online is a great tool for finding verses quickly. I used the internet when I needed to research scriptures as I wrote Kharma’s Way (that one serial short story I wrote.) After I get a feel for the Bible I have, I may branch out and read other translations. I imagine that does give you an interesting comparison.

      As always, I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your thoughtful/helpful comment, Carol!

  13. Genia May 14, 2011 / 11:18 AM

    My favorite is the Life Application Study Bible. It is loaded with biographies of main people in the word and gives you tons of information on places and key scriptures as well as commentaries, concordance, maps, outlines, summaries, and timelines. I have had it for 11 years now and its the only one i use.

    • Genia May 14, 2011 / 11:19 AM

      BTW it comes in NIV and KJB

    • jannatwrites May 14, 2011 / 8:37 PM

      Hi, Genia! I’m glad you found your Bible match. I checked them out on Amazon and it looked like they had great reviews. I even saw one that looked much like the one I debated buying before I found the one I did get – I liked that one.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your Bible preference 🙂

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