Bestselling Bible Translations at the End of 2022

It is a fascinating exercise to see which Bible translations are preferred in the United States. This data comes from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, whose methodology is comprehensive and fair.

I am comparing the 2022 end-of-year data with another summary I did in June 2021. In other words, the comparative rankings are 18 months apart. The numbers in parentheses are the rankings as of June 2021.

1. New International Version (NIV) (1)

2. English Standard Version (ESV) (4)

3. New Living Translation (NLT) (3)

4. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (6)

5. King James Version (KJV) (2)

6. New King James Version (NKJV) (5)

7. Reina Valera (RV) (7)

8. New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) (9)

9. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) (not ranked)

10. New American Standard Bible (NASB) (not ranked)

No longer in the top ten bestselling translations:

  • The Message (Message) (8)
  • Nueva Version International (NVI) (10)

 

Observations:

  • The biggest surprise is the drop in the King James Version from 2nd to 5th.  It is a significant drop in just 18 months. If this ranking becomes normative, it behooves us to do a deeper dive to understand why this translation has fallen from favor for many Bible readers.
  • The biggest beneficiaries of the KJV decline are the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the Christian Standard Bible. All three of those translations are relatively new in the history of English translations.
  • The New International Version remains the best-selling translation. Though we don’t have market share data, we anecdotally surmise that the NIV is losing market share to the next  three translations (ESV, NLT, CSB). There has not become a clear-cut “heir apparent” for the number one ranking if the NIV does indeed lose its place as the best-selling translation. Based on our conversations with church leaders, we could see either the ESV or the NLT taking the top position. Both of these translations have been in the second spot at different months of the year.
  • We were surprised to see the NASB return to the top ten rankings after falling out 18 months ago.
  • Disclosure: Church Answers has a partnership with Tyndale and the NLT. Also, I was the CEO of the company that commissioned the CSB.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this information.

Posted on January 2, 2023


With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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31 Comments

  • Larry Webb says on

    I have always been a KJV guy. I was saved and that is what the church used. I stuck with it, and memorized verses with it. When I started listening to church answers, I heard about this NLT and also my wife has for many years used it. I decided that it was time to make a change. I wanted to understand what I was reading. Since this change I have not regretted it. I still use my KJV but not as much.

  • Corey Beatty says on

    I have read and preferred the NIV for over thirty years. I have pastored for thirteen years and most often use the NIV on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I can tell you frankly, though, that the 2011 version has deeply fallen out of favor with many folks. There is a perception that the more gender-inclusive language and the omission of several verses of the Bible have undermined the trustworthiness of the NIV. I have no problem with either change because I trust the NIV translators’ assertion that the gender inclusiveness is to better reflect current language (as we do not refer to a collection of people as “men” much any more), and that the exclusion of certain verses to footnotes or italics is because ancient texts simply do not include them. Both of these issues also occur with the other newer translations, but for some reason the NIV is the scapegoat. I still prefer the language of the NIV over the ESV, NLT, NASB, CSB, or any other, but am fighting an uphill battle with some in my flock. These days I usually spread out 9-10 translations on my desk and study the word usage of all of them and look for trends and differences. I now have a small handful of members who bring multiple Bibles to Wednesday night Bible study. That brings me joy for sure.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I also used the NIV for many years before moving to the CSB. I have been using the NLT for three years now. It has been a blessing.

  • Sandy Patterson says on

    Surprised not to see The Passion Translation in the list.

  • What do you expect from lost people, the want alternatives.

  • John Britttain says on

    Thank you, Thom. Always helpful research and info.

    Blessings,
    John in Missouri

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