by Inge Anderson

1996: The first edition of the complete NLT Bible was a revision of Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible paraphrase by a team of scholars who compared it to the original languages. But it remained a fairly loose translation, and that’s why we recommend only the second edition and onward.
2004: The second edition, sometimes known as the NLTse, was a major revision that greatly improved accuracy.
2007 Revision includes minor textual or footnote revisions.
2013 Revision include minor changes throughout.

[This page is still under construction. In sections without images, click on the section title to see the bibles on Amazon.]

Translation philosophy: The New Living Translation, NLT for short, differs from word-for-word translations such as the NASB, KJV, NKJV and ESV in that it is more of a sentence translation. Translators attempted to produce a faithful and accurate translation in modern language which stays true to the original manuscripts in thought, while not necessarily translating each word literally. This is generally termed a “dynamic equivalence” approach. It has made the Bible accessible for thousands of people who could not “get into” the Bible through the older translations. That said, for serious study, it is well to compare any passage with a word-for-word translation, such as the NASB. (Note that there is a big difference between the original NLT of 1996 and the 2004 NLTse and subsequent editions. When you go to purchase a NLT Bible, we strongly suggest getting at least the 2004 version. Newer versions are even better.)

Since the original books of the Bible were written in the common language of the people and not the language of scholars, this translation may be more true to the spirit of the original writings than the more formal translations that also use more formal language. Popular Koine Greek was the language of the Canonical Gospels, the Septuagint and the New Testament. It was a controlling church that did not wish its members to read the Bible for themselves which kept the Bible in a “scholarly” language that people could not understand. The leaders of the Reformation changed all that by again translating the Bible into the contemporary language of the people. Luther’s full Bible was published in 1534. The King James version was published in 1611. That was over 400 years ago. The time was right for a truly contemporary translation in 1996 when the NLT was first published. A significant revision was completed in 2007, and it is often designated as the NLTse. It is currently one of the most popular Bible sold.

You can get a sense of this translation by reading a book, such as Acts on (You can look up familiar passages and do a comparison.) If you love the majesty and rhythm of the KJV, this may not be for you, but if you find the KJV a bit of a challenge, you will probably enjoy the NLT a lot – especially if you choose one of the “study” bibles.

Some plain-text NLT Bibles

(Click on the images or links to see the description and user reviews.) These bible generally have very little other than the text, some translation notes, and a few maps in the back. “Compact” and “gift Bibles” tend to have fairly small print. Note that “Large print” is not very large, but larger than normal. To get really LARGE print, choose a “Giant-print” version. A “parallel Bible” allows you to see two versions side-by-side. Read customer reviews for details not found in descriptions to make sure that the Bible you order is the one that will meet your needs. (You can usually see similar editions in different colors or bindings at the bottom of the Amazon page.)

Some NLT Reference Bibles (Amazon page)

(Click on heading to see them.) These reference bibles in the classic tradition generally include a dictionary/concordance, end-of-Bible helps, full-color maps, a ribbon marker, and cross references either at the end of texts, between two columns, or in the margin. They come in compact (usually smaller print) and regular size, as well as “large print” (a little larger than normal) and “Giant Print” which is about 14 point. The most popular editions are termed “Slimline” in recognition of their slimmer format due to no commentary-style notes, but only explanatory textual footnotes.

Note that Tyndale’s “imitation leather” named “Tutone” has an excellent, soft leather-like feel and seems quite sturdy. (It’s similar material as is found in some good imitation leather purses.) In contrast to some older imitation leathers, surface scratches seem to self-heal, just like on real leather.

NLT Study Bibles (Amazon page)

The NLT Study Bible was released in September, 2008, with a brand new set of notes and features put together by what Tyndale calls “a dream team of today’s top Bible scholars.” 1 The minor errata in that edition are corrected in subsequent editions. The intent was to focus “on the meaning and message of the text as understood in and through the original historical context. … [The goal] was to provide everything we could that would help the readers understand the Scripture text more fully as the original human authors and readers themselves would have understood it.” 2 This means that the Study Bible is relatively free from denominational bias.

From the NLT Bible website:

The product of over forty Bible scholars and seven years’ work, it is the most comprehensive study Bible ever created. The notes focus on bringing out the full meaning of the text, allowing the reader to understand the Bible more deeply than ever. Features include 25,900 study notes (over 820,000 words), maps, charts, illustrations, a word-study system, and much more.
Feature details: Ten section introductions provide an overview of the literature and history of each section of the Bible, showing how the books are related to each other and to the rest of Scripture. Theme articles and person profiles (406 total) highlight recurring ideas and describe the lives of those who inhabit the pages of scripture. Also includes 100 Greek and 100 Hebrew word studies, 100 quotations from modern and ancient writers, and words of Christ in red. Another unique feature is that further reading is recommended at the end of each book.

The NLT Study Bible has a complete cross reference system that takes into account the meaning of the text or passage, rather than just similarity of words. Parallel passages are noted separately from center references in such books as Kings and Chronicles and the prophetic books to facilitate comparison of such passages. Book introductions include author, date and other historical context. Charts, illustrations and diagrams are used wherever helpful. The text includes running outlines and practical study notes that attempt to answer the question, “So what?”

A couple interesting features not generally found in study bibles:
1) “Epigraphs,” marginal notes and introductory comments featuring some of the best quotations by other authors about each book.
2) Anyone who owns a copy of the NLT Study Bible gains access to a companion website that includes the whole Bible plus helps.

Life Application NLT Study Bibles

NLT Life Application Study Bible

Typical TuTone binding

Life Application Study Bibles are available in various translations. As the title suggests, one of the chief aims of these bibles is to help the reader apply biblical principles to daily life in modern times. Tyndale explains, “The Life Application Study Bible is today’s #1-selling study Bible, containing notes that not only explain difficult passages and give information on Bible life and times, but go a step further to show you how to “take it personally,” speaking to every situation and circumstance of your life! It’s the one Bible resource that incorporates today’s top scholarship in answering your real-life questions and includes nearly 10,000 Life Application notes and features designed to help readers apply God’s truth to everyday life.”

Life Application Study Bible do not have many cross references or Greek and Hebrew word studies. They do have maps and numerous color illustrations to help readers understand the context in which the original books were written.

The “TuTone” bindings are a major improvement on previous “imitation leathers” and have a substantial yet soft leather feel. You can see an assortment of Life Application Study Bible in TuTone bindings on Amazon. And you can check out the same bible in other bindings on Amazon.

NLT Chronological Bibles (Amazon page)

(Click on heading to see them.) Chronological Bibles are arranged in the order in which events occurred. That means that the psalms are mixed in with other books. The books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles are interspersed with each other, as well as the major and minor prophets. This offers a great reading/study experience, but is not practical to carry to church for looking up texts, even though I’ve been known to do it, because I treasure my Tutone brown Chronological Life Application Study Bible so much.  The brown-and-tan Tutone Bible you see on the left is the one I have. The cover feels like soft leather, and small scratches can be smoothed down, just like they can on real leather.

Chronological bibles may be plain text bibles, with very little in the way of study helps, or they may be full-features study bibles, like the Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT, or they may be more bare-bones. You can even get one in Kindle format and a plain text Kindle NLT Chronological Bible here.

P.S. I ended up getting the Kindle version of this Bible as well when my husband and I read this Bible for worship from cover to cover. The hard-copy version is beautiful and well-laid out, and it’s a little harder to access all the extra features in the Kindle version, but it is possible once you get the hang of it. But a tablet provides a much better reading experience than a phone. 

Some Special-Purpose NLT Bibles

The Book is a user-friendly Bible with a selection of excerpts that speak to life’s major issues, such as “Anger,” “Discouragement,” “Fear,” and “Loneliness.” Also includes excerpts on relationships, such as love, friends, marriage, and parenthood. A “Where Can I Find It?” section lists favorite Bible stories, including “The Prodigal Son” and “The Golden Rule” and “Great Chapters from the Book,”  such as “A Time for Everything,” and “The Holy Spirit Comes.” Available in hardback or paperback, this inexpensive edition is not printed on high-quality Bible paper.
The Book for Teens is similar to The Book, but specifically aimed at teens. It shows teens how biblical truths are relevant to their lives today. Topical verses, teen-friendly book introductions, and a helpful front section will show young people that The Book for Teens can help them with life issues, relationships, their future, and their faith. This 1999 edition is only available second-ha110nd, which explains the very low price.

This 2012 Teen Life Application Study Bible was previously marketed as the Student’s Life Application Study Bible and is packed with features designed to meet the challenges and needs of today’s high school students. It combines traditional study Bible features like book introductions, textual notes, person profiles, and maps with application-oriented features focusing on choices, real-life issues, and real-life stories of actual teens. Also suitable for new Christians of any age. Check out the wide range of prices from different sellers on Amazon.


First Bible for Kids

The Hands-On Bible is a complete Bible designed for kids aged 7-12. Includes 52 Key Verse Activities. Bible Hero Biographies and Bible Bonanza Experiences introduce kids to the biggest and best Bible stories. Bible Book Introductions, Fun Facts, Frequently Asked Questions About the Bible, Personal Reading Plan, Kids’ Dictionary/Concordance, 8 Full-color maps. Color illustrations through-out the Bible. An older edition of this bible is available for much less.
My First Hands-On Bible is a compilation of 85 Bible stories designed for Pre-Schoolers (ages 3-6) from the actual text of the New Living Translation. Each page includes full-color illustrations, and each story includes several activities to help young children both understand and remember the teachings of the story. To get a better idea, see a video review of this Bible with actual pre-schoolers.



New Living Translation of the Bible — 9 Comments

  1. I NLT Application Bible from friend and I really like. I want to own one for myself. Please is it possible to send me a copy. Thank you.

    • We do not supply Bibles ourselves as we do not have the resources to do that. If you would like to purchase one of the Bibles in this article, follow the links Amazon.

  2. I just bought the Filament NLT Bible that uses an app to make this specific bible a study one with notes and videos. So, a study bible need not be big and thick,thanks to the Filament bible.

  3. Does anyone know where I can get an on-line copy of the 1996 Version of the New Living Translation?

    I realize there have been 4 updates but I'd love to have access to the 1996...


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