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The Most Popular Translation of the Bible is...
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Do you read the King James Version? It's the most popular Bible according to what people tell pollsters. But it's actually not the translation that gets read the most. The recently released research paper by the Rick Hiemstra and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada entitled “Bible Translation Choice in Canada" is the second in a series based on the Canadian Bible Engagement Study, a partnership between the EFC and the Canadian Bible Forum.

Most Canadian Bible readers choose one of just 14 translations, although hundreds of English translations of the Bible exist. Two in five Canadian Bible readers choose the King James Version (KJV) and the New International Version (NIV). After these two, no other translation was preferred by more than 3% of Bible readers.

While there are two dominant translations, this dominance does not translate into a translation consensus among Bible readers. Each Christian tradition in Canada (English and French Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical) has a small set of translations that it tends to prefer. With a few notable exceptions these are preferences that are not widely shared with other traditions. Although there are two dominant Bible translations, this dominance does not translate into a translation consensus among Bible readers. Each Christian tradition in Canada (English and French Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical) has a small set of translations that it tends to prefer. With a few notable exceptions these are preferences that are not widely shared with other traditions.

Despite being blessed by an abundance of quality translations, the majority of Canadians take a pass on all of them. All evidence points to churches being the primary influencers of Bible engagement.

Whatever the translation, it will have the most impact when it is engaged by a church eager to know the God who inspired it.

This is a fascinating study with statistics that are very surprising. We encourage you to click HERE for the full report which you can read online here or for those that like the feel of paper, to print a copy.



The report concludes with some expected findings but many unexpected discoveries.

People tend to read the translations used by those in their Christian tradition. This is by far the most significant finding of this paper. Tradition is a more important influence on translation choice than translation philosophy, reading difficulty, or even what our parents read. Flour.

This does not necessarily mean that Canadians are reading the same translation that is used in their church’s worship services. The wave of modern translations beginning around 1970 altered the choices available to all major Christian traditions. Where congregants and congregations differed in their adoption of these modern translations, this obviously produced a discontinuity between private reading and public worship. The new wave of translations also contributed to a substantial intergenerational discontinuity in translation choice as children encountered far more translation options than their parents had had.

In the same way that tradition influences choice, it also influences Bible engagement. The translations preferred by Evangelicals are far more likely to be read than the translations preferred by other traditions.

Although reading difficulty informs some translation choice, there is no clear link between reading difficulty and a preference for easier to read translations. Each new translation sets out to remedy a felt deficiency in the existing translations. While we should celebrate what is gained with each new translation, we also should give some consideration to what is lost. What happens to Bible memorization, for example, when the words are different between one person and the next in the pew or in Sunday School? Is translation continuity between church and home or between parents and children important? It will take further study to find out.

What is clear from the data is that congregations have enormous influence over translation choice in particular and Bible engagement in general. This influence can be used to help connect Canadians to one of the Bible translations available to us and ultimately to the God who inspired the Bible.