Top 10 Bible Translations Announced

Like Us

Christian Booksellers Association has announced the top 10 Bible translations based on dollar and unit sales in the U.S. in 2012.

A column in The Christian Post by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay, presented the top 10 Bible translations based on dollar sales and unit sales in 2012 in the U.S. The top five of each list is as follows:

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

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

Also included on both lists was the Holman Christian Standard, the Reina-Valera 1960, and the Common English Bible.

The best-seller lists from CBA also include best-selling Christian books, Music/Audio/Video books, and Bibles.

Please Note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, uncivil and off-topic. Read a detailed description of our Comments Policy.
  • Electronic Reader

    I wonder if this included e-book sales?

  • MGM46

    King James Version – I was saved listening to the preaching and teaching of this book, I have had numerous blessings by reading this book.

    It was from the KJV that I was taught that Christ died for my sins, that He was buried, and that He arose again the third day.

    Why should I ever want to change.

    • Mar Komus

      I first heard it from both KJV and NIV. I “changed” to other versions because I took Greek and Hebrew and found that the KJV uses very archaic English; it turns people off from even trying to read it if they’ve never been raised to understand the old, Elizabethan English.

      But as long as you can use it, understand it, and make it understandable to others, then…I guess no skin off my nose; praise Him forever…

      • MGM46

        Some people are bothered by the thee’s and thous’s and the addition of est and eth. Most people do not have a problem with it, any more than they do the writings of Shakespeare. I find the most people that have a problem with understanding the Bible are the ones that have never studied it.

        There are some words in the KJV that the average person will not understand without a dictionary, but then I would venture to say that would be true of all translations.

        I would imagine that the Greek and Hebrew you took would have its problems as well.

        I find that it is not what is not understood that really bothers people, but what they do understand.

        • Mar Komus

          There are at least two problems people encounter when reading the Bible (oh, yes…the list is very long, but for the sake of this discussion…): 1) comprehension of language and 2) comprehension of meaning. If the first is a problem, then that is OUR problem as the bride of Christ to translate the Bible into the language of the common person, since it was first written in the language of the common person. It is written, “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” In other words, we have to use a common language. The KJV not only uses archaic language, but has archaic definitions for certain words. “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” for example. In this verse, “suffer” used to mean “permit, allow, let,” but now that word has come to mean something entirely different–even though one can see the etymological development.

          If the second is the problem, then that is something else entirely and that is the Spirit’s arena.

          As for having a dictionary handy for other translations: probably an even split–but only AFTER the dialect is figured out. THEN one has to encounter problems like archaic definitions per above.

          Please, do tell, for I’m very interested and curious now: what problems do you imagine with the Greek and Hebrew, since they are the original languages in which the Bible was written (along with smatterings of Aramaic here and there)? I’ve found three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew to be quite enlightening–things one doesn’t get by reading the KJV or any other version alone.

          The other problem that I have with it is the attitude often sported by those who love the KJV just a little too much. It’s obnoxious, bombastic, rude, loud, narrow-minded, etc. I don’t mean that EVERYONE who has a KJV is that way, but just that the vast majority of Bible-wielding Bible-thumpers are usually thumping and wielding a big, black KJV. Such people aren’t inspiring. They’re just…goofy…at best–a bit of a circus sideshow type. But certainly no one i’d take seriously unless they demonstrated a good knowledge of the original languages and culture from which the good Book came.

          • MGM46

            Certainly there are people that use the KJV that are obnoxious, but I don’t think that is the KJVs fault as I have come across people that read the NIV, other translations, or no Bible reading at all that are very egotistical, rude, and jerks. Then, I have come across some readers of the KJV that were good godly and humble people – of course I have come across those that read a variety translations that are the same way. I would have to conclude that it is a human nature problem and not a problem of translations.

            I know some people that drive Dodge cars that are real jerks – but then I know others that are great people. Not liking something because some people won’t act right is a little beyond my comprehension.

            The problem with Greek and Hebrew is not a problem with the language itself but with some (not speaking of you at all) that try to show their vast knowledge of the languages and miss the point of Scripture and fail to convey the ideas of Scripture to those they are teaching. The other problem is if you use Greek or Hebrew to constantly correct the Bible you use, people get the idea that you can’t understand any of the word of God if you are not a scholar, which would be absurd. It really depends on the person more than anything.

            Speaking of people that are partial to the KJV I notice that you won’t take them seriously if they don’t know the original languages. I find that to be very disturbing, as I have know many very godly, knowledgable preachers that did not read Greek or Hebrew. I do not pick my fellowship by how educated people are.

          • Mar Komus

            I didn’t say I pick my fellowship by how educated people are. That’s absurd. I only said that I don’t take seriously the circus clown that quotes a lot of KJV (or, really, any other translation), but doesn’t seem to know what all that means. But I do wonder why in the world, if a teacher has the means and opportunity to learn Greek and Hebrew, he/she would pass up that opportunity. Willful ignorance is not a virtue. “My people die for lack of knowledge.”

            Knowing the Greek and Hebrew behind the words helps to correct MAN’S TRANSLATIONS of the Bible–not the Bible itself.

            You know, it seems like people target those who have higher education in the church–almost like if I don’t stay uneducated then I’m pegged as being a scholarly elite who thinks he knows it all. I find that insulting. I think scripture has a LOT to say about willful ignorance vs intelligence, too.

          • MGM46

            Have a great weekend.

          • Pastor John

            Good point! The Apostle Paul was highly educated as a Hellenistic Jew and a Roman citizen. He considered his education rubbish as far as qualifying him for salvation. But it did help him articulate the Gospel to the cultured Ephesians, for example.

          • Susan Chesley

            I agree. I too found that the language used in biblical times’ meaning is different from English. It was originally Greek. There were many languages in one city in that time, but Greek was the language of the people. I did grab a Hebrew and Greek historical dictionary. It totally changes the words we grew up understand. It brings great understanding and a closer less afraid walk with God. It’s ok to have understanding and knowledge in the word and history. Bible study is meant to use many texts never limit yourself to one text. I’ll go one step further. Study other ancient biblical/spiritual texts (Nag Hammadi, Isiaah Scroll, etc) for enrichment of your spiritual life in God.

          • Mar Komus

            Insofar as they agree with scripture, fine. But I don’t think I’ll be putting them on the same plane of authority as the tradition we’ve received.

    • pw73gc

      AMEN! God wrote only one book. Too many contradictions between versions for all them to be right. Do some research people. I did. Why do people have trouble with thee’s and thou’s they are not that hard to understand.

      • Mar Komus

        “Thee’s and thou’s” is more of a short-hand phrase to represent the whole corpus of archaic language–of which the KJV contains a lot. It was good for its time, but definitions of words have changed. Dialect has changed. No one speaks like that anymore and from what I understand, they never did. The KJV dialect was a form of English unique even to the KJV. What a HORRIBLE way to translate ANYTHING!

        Not sure what you mean by “too many contradictions between versions.”

        God did, indeed, write one Book. But that Book has to be translated (otherwise everyone who wants to read it will have to learn Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). And when we translate, we have to put it into the language of the people, for it was WRITTEN in the language of the people.

      • Susan Chesley

        who says he wrote only one book? I’m afraid we as lowly humans can’t say anything to that effect. Like the buried texts, who’s to day 1000’s of years from now something else is found. Never put god in a box. He’s way bigger than any of our thoughts, understanding, or human musings.

    • Doug

      The other translations also teach that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He arose again the third day.

      • MGM46

        The New World Translation teaches that also, and I don’t recommend it.



        You’re receiving this message because you’re signed up to receive Disqus notifications. You can unsubscribe from these emails, or reduce the rate at which we send them by adjusting your notification settings .


  • Old Sarge

    Actually, there are as many or more archaic words in the NIV as the KJV and the KJV is about 9th grade reading level and the NIV first year college. People have been told the KJV is harder and the NIV easier so they believe it. Not that the KJV is cheaper than the others because it is public domain and so you can only charge for the binding and paper and those items are not as expensive as paying for what copyrighted work deems appropriate. Since the KJV has served so well in countries where English is a second or maybe third language it should not be so hard to understand in such a purportedly educated country such as ours. Often a page from the KJV and the NIV will be used with a page of Greek text to purport the superiority of the NIV except the Greek page does not come from the Majority text the KJV was translated from thus really setting up a false advertising campaign.

    I was saved by a man using the KJV and I still use it. I left the NASB the man who got me to church gave me thinking the KJV would hinder when I found a passage that makes Jesus look like a liar because it left out one word that was in the KJV and it is not italicized because it was in the TR.

    I have fought this battle many times and if God used the TR/KJV for four hundred years He is not going to allow the “better” manuscripts to be discovered in the days of apostasy so we can have a “better” version. Older is not necessarily better but there are older manuscripts, lectionaries, sermons and versions from the first and second centuries support the TR and the KJV, not the junk manuscripts from the fourth that the MVs are based on. Yes, you could easily leave the eths and Thous out without even needing to do another translation, but it does set the KJV apart from other books, which is why the translators used a version of English that was not modern in its time so that it would stand out when quoted. Sales pitches are just that and as long as there are salesmen there are suckers born every minute like P. T. Barnum said so there will always be a “new and better” version for sale.

    You can have an inferior, but easier to read version if you like. I will stick with the winner of four centuries. Let’s compare the sales of other versions over four centuries and none have sold like the KJV, not even its forerunners or contemporaries. That sounds like a God seal of approval to me. It is not broke and needs not be fixed by that which is severely flawed.

    • Mar Komus

      Archaic words in the NIV: please list some.

      The reason people believe NIV (and other modern versions) are easier to read than the KJV is because…wait for it…wait for it…because it is. The KJV employs a dialect of English not heard on the street or read in the newspapers. Or maybe you can point me to CNN’s Ye Olde English version?

      The reason the KJV serves so well in those countries is precisely because English IS a second or third language. But to the native English speaker it doesn’t reflect ordinary, everyday speech.

      This isn’t about which Greek version is utilized. I haven’t dug deeply into that issue yet, but more than likely I would come to a conclusion similar to this: there isn’t enough of a difference to warrant a sweeping condemnation of any text based on either tradition.

      What’s the passage in question that makes Jesus look like a liar?

      “I have fought this battle many times and if God used the TR/KJV for four hundred years He is not going to allow the ‘better’ manuscripts to be discovered in the days of apostasy so we can have a ‘better’ version.” Stacking the deck much?

      So the KJV wasn’t even the dialect of the people of the time!!! Wow. Because when God penned His Book, He wrote it in the dialect of the people. Koine Greek was the common street language. Hebrew was spoken universally (with acknowledged changes in the text itself of changed and archaic words). Fidelity to a translation as if it were “God’s approved translation” is lunacy.

      “You can have an inferior, but easier to read version if you like.” Again, you’re stacking the deck. “I will stick with the winner of four centuries. Let’s compare…” Ok, let’s do just that. It’ll be a while for the results to come in, but I’m patient. And the forerunners didn’t have the advantage of the printing press or the stamp of approval of the king.

      Here’s my take on “God’s” seal of approval: I think He’s showing us with these new versions that, like Moses, the KJV is olde. And it’s time to move onto a new generation of young versions who are still keen to God and which have been used to lead hundreds of thousands to the Lord. Maybe ye olde KJV might stand up and give a “Cheer-ee-o” to his younger offspring as the seal of approval moves from the KJV to the new versions.

      What say ye?

      • PrescottJayErwin

        You’re right, Mar Komus. The KJV was written at a time when the English language was still being developed. Writers like William Shakespear, John Donne, and Benjamin Johnson prior to the KJV, and (especially) John Milton after the KJV had to create/coin words because there wasn’t yet an adequate vocabulary. Milton coined or created more new english words than any of the rest of them.

    • PrescottJayErwin

      I love the KJV, especially for my devotional reading. I use the NASB for study, along with the BHS, UBS4, and NA28. Actually, the NIV is on a 7th-8th grade level, the KJV is on a 12th grade level.

      And I presume, R.E. Shultz, that according to your comments you use only the 1611 version (with the Apocrypha) as printed by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer, since we know that the KJV underwent many revisions between 1611 and 1769.

      Your rationale “if God used the TR / KJV for four hundred years He is not going to allow the ‘better’ manuscripts to be discovered in the days of apostasy” is pretty specious. What was used for the 1500 years (and more for the OT) prior to the KJV? For 1000 of those years, it was the Latin Vulgate. In addition, you fail to recognize that you’re using a text that’s the product of the Anglican Church — look where that came from and where it is now. That’s hardly a recommendation.

      • Twinsfan1

        Thanks for pointing that out, PrescottJayErwin! I would add that the English ALPHABET has even changed since 1611. For instance, the letter “v” is not in the 1611 KJV, so instead of “have,” it is “haue.” Try using that with an elementary school child…

  • Mike R

    Sometimes I found it quite amusing in America about the issue of which Bible translation is better or preferred; but for those of us, like myself, who came from other country and have only one translation of God’s Word in our native language, I can truly say that I’m blessed!

    • Mar Komus

      Perhaps. But having only one translation doesn’t mean that it’s 100% accurate. There may yet be some better ways of rendering certain passages. But I’m thankful to God you’re one of His.

  • Frankie Valens

    I stick with the KJV because it is one of the few bibles that comes from the proper manuscript body of text. I ask people to look up in their NIV this verse that is totally left out – Act 8:35, 36, then you go to verse 37 and it is gone. The NIV took it out. They even skip the number and it goes from 36 to 38. And this book is a best seller? Apparently the Alexandrians didn’t like what that verse said. Let me inform those who are not aware of this but –
    Around the year 1500 or so, people started translating the Bible into English, and you get the Wycliffe Bible, the Tyndale Bible, the Great bible, and all these, and the KJV of 1611. About 200 years later somebody takes the Alexandrian Manuscript, the corrupted one, and says, “This is older, it must be better.” OH NO. It’s older because it is worse and nobody used it. That’s why it never wore out. So, about 1800, 200 years ago, they started making translations into English of the Alexandrian Manuscript, and that’s where almost all of the new Bible versions come from, the corrupted Alexandrian version. They are a good translation of a lousy manuscript.
    The Textus Receptus, the Received Text, the Majority Test, is where the King James Bible comes from. Another group of manuscripts which is called the Alexandrian Manuscript is where the Jehovah Witnesses get their bible, and they are considered a cult. The Alexandrians didn’t believe in the deity of Christ, so whenever the bible said “Lord Jesus Christ,” they just said “Jesus.”
    Don’t buy into the new versions, or what we call ‘perversions’ – I would much rather read the true pure word of God. Take this last sentence and write it on your heart – “I would rather try and raise my intellect to that of the bible, than bring the bible down to my intellect.”
    Seven editors of these new versions have permanently lost their ability to speak because they tampered with God’s word. One of the editors of the NIV is a professed lesbian, and the version’s ‘stand’ on sodomy reflects her editing. The new versions espouse concepts and terminology of the New Age Movement and salvation becomes ‘works’ to get into heaven.
    Even the new King James version omits the word “Lord” 66 times; “God” is omitted 51 times; “heaven” 50 times, and the list goes on and on. It’s the ‘watering down” of the gospel. “Master” becomes “Teacher” 46 times, and there is a major difference between Master and your teacher. “Doctrine” becomes “teaching.” The word ‘doctrine’ means ‘principle or unwritten law, whereas ‘teaching’ just means ‘instruction.’
    The word ‘servants’ become ‘slaves’ – Servant has the meaning of ‘helper,’ but ‘slave’ means ‘captive.’
    THE NEW VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE ARE DESTROYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE HOME., by destroying the authenticity of the word of God – 2ND COR. 2:17.

  • PrescottJayErwin

    Well, that’s 5 + 3, that’s 8. Where are the other 2? Guess someone messed up the headline again… Oh, but if you follow the link you find there are 3 more: NASB, NIrV, and The Message. The writer got it wrong, too: also included on both lists is the NASB. The only difference between the content of the lists is one had NIrV and the other The Message.

  • Gary

    I have several different translations and I enjoy all of them. For me it is the Word of God that is inspired, not the translation. I agree that if we are that concerned with which translation is the best, then we should all learn to read Greek and Hebrew. To say that other translations are not worth reading is telling all the foreign countries in the world that the Bibles that are in their native language are worthless.
    We all are a lot like the Pharisees when it comes to arguing over translations, and do not even mention what denomination is right. Or is there a rapture and if so is it pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trip?
    I do enjoy reading all of the different info just to stay aware. That helps us all to check things out for ourselves. Thanks to everyone for all of the information.