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)
- 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.
More from Thom