What Bible Would You Recommend for Ministry?

"Presented To" page of a Holy Bible

Dear Pastor AndyI’m about to be ordained, and my church has asked me what Bible I’d like as a gift. I plan to go into hospital chaplaincy right after divinity school, so want it to be a widely-accepted version that’s easy to hear (NRSV, NIV, NASB). I’d like cross-referencing, and ideally, parallel-passage notes for the gospels. I do not want study notes or a large concordance within it to carry around. I also would like a full-sized version, because I will do some preaching and would like to read it from the pulpit. Finally, I’m looking for something in basic black leather. No NRSV I’ve found online has all these features. I found a wonderful NIV that meets all of them perfectly, published by Holman, but out of print now and unavailable. If you’re a pastor or chaplain and have a working ministry Bible you really like, I would very much welcome your recommendation. Thank you!

My Reply: First, congratulations on your graduation from seminary! (Don’t be surprised if you never want to read another book again). OK, let’s see about this list.

  • Widely accepted versions:  NRSV, NLT, NIV, and the TNIV
  • Cross-referencing/parallel passage notes (footnotes too?)NASB, RSV, NRSV, NLT, NIV, TNIV
  • No concordance within: Just don’t get a “Study Bible”
  • Full-sized version: Most should come in a full-size.


  • I find the NLT has really good footnotes / cross references, and also is great for reading aloud, but because the language is set for such, it’s not a good Bible for word studies. Although I have seen some in black leather.
  • The TNIV is good in that it’s closer to the original Greek, yet not all their bibles have all that many footnotes. They’re also a little more difficult to come by, now that Zondervan has discontinued it and just updated the NIV. However, it does come in leather.
  • The NRSV often has good notes, and is actually what I choose to use with word studies (other than the Greek itself), and though it was difficult to find, I DID find one in black leather. However, I don’t believe it has everything you’re looking for, and it’s not the friendliest in speech for reading out loud.

Hope I helped some.

—Pastor Andy G.

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