Comparing Bibles: A Resource

Last night at my book club, one member who we'll call Elizabeth, talked about a website called where you can look up different verses and then pick from a list to see the verse in different bibles. I was just on their site the other day looking to see if they offered the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as a pdf, but alas they do not. But I never noticed this cool resource for what it is!

The reason I was interested in that version was because a biblical scholar, Loring Prest, who came to talk to our group told us that it was a very good translation. Since he's read the original texts, I felt that was a good recommendation.

Anyway, back to Bible Gateway. They have 23 English versions of the bible available, not to mention a bunch of other languages.

This is a great way to read the bible and see how the different translations treat the same verse.

Let's take a few examples. The first comes from Elizabeth who said to try the following verse if I was feeling immature. So of course, I had to read it:

Ezekiel 23:20

  • New American Standard: 18-21 She uncovered her harlotries and uncovered her nakedness; then I became disgusted with her, as I had become disgusted with her sister. Yet she multiplied her harlotries, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt. She lusted after their paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom because of the breasts of your youth.

  • King James: For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

  • God's Word: She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose semen was like that of horses.

  • Amplified Bible: For she doted upon her paramours there, whose lust was sensuous and vulgar like that of asses or stallions.

  • Good News: She was filled with lust for oversexed men who had all the lustfulness of donkeys or stallions.

  • Contemporary English: She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers.

  • New Century: She wanted men who behaved like animals in their sexual desire.

  • The Message: 18-21 "I turned my back on her just as I had on her sister. But that didn't slow her down. She went at her whoring harder than ever. She remembered when she was young, just starting out as a whore in Egypt. That whetted her appetite for more virile, vulgar, and violent lovers—stallions obsessive in their lust. She longed for the sexual prowess of her youth back in Egypt, where her firm young breasts were caressed and fondled.

The Message version insisted on showing verses 18-21 instead of just 20. I've included 18-21 for the NASB too, just to compare. It reads like romance novel porn, doesn't it?

Let's try another verse to see how it differs:

Matthew 10:34-37

  • New American Standard: Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

  • Contemporary English: Don't think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace. I came to turn sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. Your worst enemies will be in your own family. If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples.

  • King James: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

  • The Message: Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me.

What about this little gem? 1 Corinthians 10:22

  • New American Standard: Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

  • King James: Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

  • God's Word: Are we trying to make the Lord jealous? Are we stronger than he is?

  • Contemporary English: We would make the Lord jealous if we did that. And we are not stronger than the Lord.

  • Amplified Bible: Shall we thus provoke the Lord to jealousy and anger and indignation? Are we stronger than He [that we should defy Him]?

  • The Message: 19-22 Do you see the difference? Sacrifices offered to idols are offered to nothing, for what's the idol but a nothing? Or worse than nothing, a minus, a demon! I don't want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself. And you can't have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. Besides, the Master won't put up with it. He wants us—all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less?

This one is interesting. Notice how the NASB makes it a hesitant question. The Contemporary English version just turns it around and makes it a negative statement! And what the hell is going on in The Message?

Who reads The Message? I've never heard of it. Let's see if it's popular on Amazon: Huh, it's 3,174 in Books, and #12 in Bibles! And look at this, if that's not hip enough, he's got The Message Remix. Here's the product description: "God's Word was meant to be read and understood. This pocket-sized Message REMIX New Testament is perfect for backpacks, lockers and makes a great evangelism tool or gift."

Of course, no discussion of bibles would be complete without mentioning the wonderful Skeptic's Annotated Bible. They have the Quran and Book of Mormon on there as well. What is so great about this site is the Highlights of Absurdity, Cruelty, Intolerance, Good Stuff, etc. Very handy. They use the King James version which is not the easiest version to read, or the most accurate. But it's also not copyrighted.

Sam Harris worked with the Skeptic's Annotated to create the Scripture Project for his Project Reason. I was able to help transition it over there as a volunteer. Project Reason  wants to use what they got from Skeptic's Annotated and build on it to "make the Scripture Project the best source for scriptural criticism on the Internet."

I also highly recommend the Codex Sinaiticus. This is one of the oldest biblical texts, it's over 1600 years old and is written in Greek. It includes the oldest complete copy of the new testament.  You can see for yourself the original manuscript, and how it has been heavily corrected. It gives translations in English, Greek, German and Russian. The way it's laid out is wonderful. If you really want to see what the bible was like close to its original format, this is a treasure.

One of the most fascinating examples of the Codex Sinaiticus is Mark 16. You can see in this original version, it ends at verse 8, before the resurrection. Verses 9-20 are clearly added later. Wikipedia goes into much more detail about it.

So what are your favorite bible verses? Which ones change drastically depending on the different translations? Share in the comments! :)


  1. Holy cow! There's an absurd amount of variation in some of those. The "asses and horses" passages have almost completely different meanings depending upon the translation. No wonder there are arguments about interpretations and claims of "He's not a REAL Christian" when the "holy" book is so completely borked up.

  2. As usual the unbelievers will use the above conflicting information to further their realisation that the bible is a sham and cannot be from a divine source.
    On the other hand the believers will as usual stay unswerving because "you've just got to have faith". Blogs that come along and make sense are just the devil trying to sway them from their faith.

  3. Exactly, Dan. A very interesting exercise, don't you think?

  4. Well, I have blogged about this before. People tend to seek out information that confirms their world view and disregard anything that conflicts with their world view.

    Religions prey on this by making believers paranoid about heathens or other "demons" trying to test their faith, or get them away from God. They are brainwashed to believe they are the underdog, downtrodden, beaten down, crucified in the name of their belief, even when that is demonstrably false.

  5. I'm quite sure I've seen sites that offer more variation in translations. Not in English varieties, perhaps, but this site only offers one Dutch and one German Bible translation up for comparison. seems to offer a much greater Dutch variety, but it's still lacking in the German and French department. I will give Bible Gateway that it offers a fair amount of English and Spanish translations, which is probably the most relevant for Americans.

  6. That Message one's a hoot! Are there websites where you can read the Gospels side-by-side too? Love the LOLMontyPython - the cats who say Ni!

  7. What makes you think BibleGateway doesn't have the Gospels?

  8. It amazes me anybody can declare the Bible a source of "the truth" . The various translations (and the myriad ways people interpret them) make it impossible to find any one "truth" in a single verse, let alone the entire work.

  9. Frans, Brent is interested in a side by side comparison. See my reply to him for a link to a site that does just that. :)

  10. Brent, you're interested in a website that shows the gospels side by side so you have them in different columns where you can compare them easily, right? There's a book that does that: Synopsis of the Four Gospels by Kurt Aland, but it's an expensive textbook, really, and includes the Greek text as well as English.

    But, this is awesome! I just found a website that does the same thing (without the Greek). Gospels Comparison

  11. Not to mention the many contradictions and dreadful moral values!

  12. Thanks for appreciating the lolcat. :) The Cats who say Ni! NI!
    I would love to know who reads The Message. As I wrote about, it seems pretty popular as a biblical book on Amazon, so apparently people are reading it.