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Photo Illustration by John Clark, Deseret News

When it comes to publishing, nothing beats the Bible. It's the world's most readily available and most translated book — with portions of it now in more than 2,400 languages.

But which of its many versions should you use?

A recent survey done by Gallup for the American Bible Society showed that 93 percent of all American households have at least one Bible on hand. And the poll showed that the most popular version was the King James, possessed by 54 percent of American Bible owners. A distant second was the New International Version at only 15 percent.

Dr. David Burke, dean of the American Bible Society's Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, states on www .episcopalchurch.org, that this survey also confirmed a paradox.

"While the King James is clearly still the Bible of prestige, there are very clear signals that its Elizabethan English (while prized for its poetic cadences and classic style) is difficult to understand. The American Bible Society includes in its King James Bibles a lengthy list of words that have changed meaning since 1611 (e.g., "prevent" no longer means "go before"; "let" no longer means "hinder"). Other translations are needed if the Bible is to be read and used with understanding."

Here's a sampling of what various Bible versions churches are using:

Assembly of God: According to www.ag.org, "The Assemblies of God recognizes value in and accepts the usefulness of several Bible translations."

Admiration and use of the Authorized Version, popularly known as the King James Version (KJV), was quite uniform until the flurry of new English-language translations began appearing in the 1940s.

"Today it is safe to say that other translations besides the King James Version have found a well-deserved place in many Assemblies of God homes and churches," The Assembly of God Web site states. "Some of these are the 1973 NIV, the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the Revised American Standard Bible (RASB). The Assemblies of God has officially approved two versions: the King James Version and the New International Version. Other versions are also quoted, but their use is always identified after the quotation."

Catholic: The New American Bible is commonly used during Mass, according to www.americancatholic.org.

"Most important is having a modern edition of the Bible that makes you comfortable," the Web site advises.

According to www.catholic.com, "... which Bible is best? Perhaps the best answer is this: The one you'll read."

Christian Scientists: The King James Version of the Bible (published in 1611) is used in conducting Christian Science church services in the United States, according to Elizabeth Beall, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Utah.

Why use that version?

"In 1866, when the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote her book titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she meant it to be a companion book to the Bible, and she preferred the King James Bible over any modern translation of her day," Beall stated.

She continued: "Today those who study and practice Christian Science rely on this version of the Bible, yet individuals are free to gain deeper spiritual insights by studying other Bible translations."

Jehovah's Witnesses: They use the New World Translation of The Holy Scriptures. They also have the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures.

Seventh-Day Adventist: According to www.adventist.org, church members are simply encouraged to: "Select a Bible version for study that is faithful to the meaning contained in languages in which the Bible originally was written, giving preference to translations done by a broad group of scholars and published by a general publisher above translations sponsored by a particular denomination or narrowly focused group."

They are cautioned to "Exercise care not to build major doctrinal points on one Bible translation or version. Trained biblical scholars will use the Greek and Hebrew texts, enabling them to examine vari?ant readings of ancient Bible manuscripts as well."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Utilizes the King James Version, with footnotes of some of Joseph Smith's "Inspired Version," offering some additions/revisions/insights in various verses.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com