Bible Chart with Grade Levels


Preface:            I have been meaning to do a chart like this for some time; the problem being is, I don’t really know how to judge reading levels. However, I have thought about subdividing the translations for the exegetical study of each chapter of the Bible and adding in another category of easy-to-read translations. In order to do that, I needed to know which translations were easy-to-read. This resulted in the following chart, culled mostly from elsewhere, with the credit given at the bottom of the chart.



Reading Level by Grade/ Target Audience

Description/ Translation Philosophy






Amplified Bible


11th Grade

Those looking for more detailed shades of meaning in Scripture



plus additional

amplification of

word meanings in brackets

This translation is really a mini-commentary which features a system of verse-end alternate translations and comments on different shades of meaning in the original languages.

A popular translation used to understand the

hidden meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Break through the language barrier.


New Testament 1958; Old Testament 1964; Revised 1987

Common English Bible


7th grade CBS, BY






Contemporary English Version


4th Grade

5.4 grade level

5th BY




This version seeks to be readable, yet faithful to the meaning of the original texts. Nouns describing God's actions (righteousness, salvation, etc.) are rendered in varying ways. This version avoids complicated language, obscure vocabulary and difficult sentence structure to produce a translation understandable to a wide variety of modern readers.

Written at an elementary-school reading level, the CEV is readable and understandable for the modern reader.


New Testament 1991; Old Testament 1995

Emphasized Bible

  12th Grade

Formal Equivalent

Joseph R. Rotherham's translation features special markings, indentations, and footnotes designed to convey the sense of Hebrew and Greek to the modern reader.



New Testament 1878, 1897; Old Testament 1902

English Standard Version


8th Grade

7.4 grade level

10th grade CBS

10th BY

Bible readers of

all ages

Formal Equivalent


The ESV uses the classic principles of word-for-word translation and literary excellence as exemplified by the KJV and most recently the RSV. Highly accurate, the ESV closely reflects the original meaning of the text in clear, readable, enduring English.

A literal update of the Revised Standard

Version, seeks to produce word-for-word



Fall 2001

God's Word

God’s Word™


4th – 5th Grade

4.3 grade level

5th grade CBS

Christians and


adults and children


Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

This revision utilizes the translation process employed by global mission organizations for translating the Bible into new foreign languages. The goal is to express the meaning of what appears in the forms of the original biblical languages into those expressing essentially the same meaning in modern English.

A meaning-based,

contemporary translation utilizing the

thought-for-thought translation philosophy


New Testament 1988; Old Testament 1995

Good News Version (Today’s English Version)


7th Grade

6th grade (LfJ)

7th BY

6.0 (Zond.)

Paraphrase; Emphasis on Functional Equivalent

A thought-for-thought translation theory called dynamic equivalence was used for this version. It uses common English throughout, and modern idioms are sometimes substituted for ancient ones in the interest of clarity.



New Testament 1966; Old Testament 1974, Revised 1993

Holman Christian Standard Bible


NT 7th – 8th grade

7.5 grade level

7th – 8th grade CBS

Bible readers of

all ages

Functional equivalence; Optimal Equivalence

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

The HCSB is a combination of word-for-word and dynamic renderings that is both faithful to the words God inspired and user friendly to modern readers.

A translation that attempts to combine

both formal and dynamic equivalence


NT 2001

International Standard Version


8th – 9th






Living Bible


8th Grade


This paraphrase of the American Standard Version was an attempt by Kenneth L. Taylor to put the Bible in language his children could understand. It is useful for introducing the Bible to people who are unfamiliar with it.



New Testament 1962; Old Testament 1971

The Message

7th Grade

5.5–10 depending on the passage

4th – 5th CBS

4.8 (Zond.)

Christians who

want a fresh Bible-reading experience and seekers

Paraphrase Thought-for-thought. Converts the original languages into the tone and rhythms of modern-day American speech while retaining the idioms and meaning of the original languages

Pastor and biblical scholar Eugene H. Peterson's aim in developing this contemporary language version is to transfer the informal and earthy flavor of the Greek into the rhythms and idiom of everyday English.

This paraphrase was translated using the rhythms and tone of contemporary English to communicate to the modern reader


New Testament 1993; Psalms 1994; Complete Bible, July 2002

New American Bible


11th Grade

6.6 grade level

7th BY

6.6 (Zond.)


Formal equivalent, Dynamic


This is the first complete American Catholic Bible translated from the original languages. Its style is more direct than that of the Jerusalem Bible.

Published under the direction of Pope Pius XII, this Catholic version of the Bible represents more than 25 years of effort by the Catholic

Biblical Association of America. All editions include the Deuterocanonical/




1970; NT revised 1986; Psalms revised 1992

New American Standard


11th Grade

10th BY (for updated version)




Formal Equivalent


Especially popular among Evangelicals and others who want a word-for-word translation of the original manuscripts, this translation was prepared as an update of the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV).

A highly respected, formal translation of the Bible. Purpose of the work was to update the American Standard Version into more current English. The most literal is now more readable


New Testament 1963; Whole Bible 1971, Revised 1995

New Century Version


3rd Grade

5.6 grade level

3rd grade CBS

4th BY

Those who want a highly readable translation of the Bible in today's language

Formal Equivalent

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

From the translators of the International Children's Version, this conservative evangelical translation is in simple English, designed to be easy to read.

Based on the ICB (International Children's Bible), it's a readable and simple translation using the thought-for-thought translation methodology.


New Testament 1978; Old Testament 1986

New English Bible


8th Grade


The first British Bible to be translated from the original languages since the King James Version, this is a thought-by-thought translation in modern British English. It has been replaced, for the most part, by the Revised English Bible.



New Testament 1961; Old Testament 1970

New English Translation


7th BY






New International Readers' Version


3rd Grade

2.9 grade level

3rd grade CBS

3.5 grade (LfJ)

Children ages 10 and under

Simple Functional Equivalent

Balance between word-for-word translation and thought-for thought, with an emphasis on meaning when necessary for simplification

The NIrV is a simplified version of the NIV, developed by the same translation team that prepared the NIV. Very easy reading, designed for children as a stepping stone to the NIV, as well as those for whom English is a second language.

A thorough, scholarly simplification of the NIV, the NIrV was specifically designed to help young children and new readers understand the Bible for themselves and create an easy stepping-stone

from a children's Bible to an adult Bible. The NIV for kids


1996 Published in 1994. Updated in 1998.

New International Version


7th Grade

7.8 grade level

7th – 8th grade CBS

7.8 grade (LfJ)

8th BY

Evangelical Christians of all ages

Primarily functional equivalent with some attention to formal considerations

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

Called "international" because it is transdenominational and contains the work of many scholars from many English-speaking nations, the NIV is a straightforward translation in contemporary English.

The bestselling translation, widely accepted by evangelical Christians. Purpose in translation was to "produce an accurate translation, suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing, and liturgical use." Most read. Most trusted


New Testament 1973; Old Testament 1978

New Jerusalem Bible


9th Grade

7.4 (Zond.)

8th BY

functional equivalent

An update of the Jerusalem Bible, with revised footnotes and more dignified language.




New Jewish Translation

12th Grade

Formal Equivalent

A modern language translation of the Jewish Scriptures (Christian Old Testament); of special interest to students of the Old Testament.



Torah 1962; Nevi'im 1978; Kethubim 1982; Tanakh 1985

New King James Version


8th Grade

7th grade CBS

8.5 grade (LfJ)

9th Zond.

Those who want a readable translation of the Bible that is great for study but maintains the poetry of the KJV

Formal Equivalent

Authors used the original KJV as a benchmark, while working to produce an accurate and modern word-for-word translation

This translation updates the language of the King James Version, changing archaic inflections and obsolete words, while preserving its basic literary structure.

A modern language update of the original KJV. Purpose was to update and modernize the original KJV but preserve the KJV as much as possible.



New Life Bible



Missionaries Gleason and Kathyrn Ledyard's work in the Canadian arctic inspired them to develop a simple language version which breaks down difficult concepts into simple phrases.



New Testament 1969; Old Testament 1986

New Living Translation


6th – 7th Grades

6.3 grade level

6th grade CBS

Adults and children

Functional Equivalent

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

Using Kenneth Taylor's paraphrase, The Living Bible, as a base, a team of 90 Bible scholars worked for seven years, carefully comparing each verse with the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures to produce a true translation that is accurate and easy to understand.

Based on the work of 90 Bible scholars and a smaller team of English stylists. These scholars and stylists went back to the original languages and sought to produce the closest natural equivalent of the message in natural, contemporary English.



New Revised Standard Version


10th Grade

8.1–10.4 grade level

11th grade CBS

10.4 grade (Zond.)

Mainline and


Emphasis on Functional Equivalent

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought

An update of the Revised Standard Version (1952), this translation incorporates changes resulting from archaeological and textual discoveries in recent decades.

A widely accepted translation in the tradition of the King James Version. Purpose was to make a good one better." Published in 1990. A Bible for all Christians



Revised English Bible


6th Grade

Emphasis on Functional Equivalent

This revision of the New English Bible, which began in 1973, features clear, contemporary international English. This text is intended for both private reading and public worship.




Today’s NIV

8th BY

Today's generation of

Bible readers looking

for readability without

sacrificing accuracy

Balance between

word-for-word and thought-for-thought


Remaining faithful to the original texts while using up-to-date language of today's world, the TNIV is a highly readable and highly accurate translation. Timeless truth. Today's language.


Complete Bible published in 2005.

World English Bible


7th BY






Young's Literal Translation

8th – 9th Grades

college BY

Formal Equivalent

Robert Young sought to correct certain inaccuracies in the King James Version in this very literal translation.



1862, Revised 1887

This information was pulled together from: (2nd grade given; marked “grade level”) (1st grade given; marked “grade” “grades”) (3rd grade given; marked CBS) (Grade level marked LfJ) (Marked BY)

All accessed March 3, 2013. (marked Zond.)

Accessed March 9, 2013.

The chart below was courtesy of

Formal Equivalent

These translations attempt to reproduce the Greek and Hebrew as exactly as possible into English. Words, figures of speech, and sometimes even the sentence structure of the original languages are reproduced in a much more limited way in this type of Bible. These hold -in varying degrees- to a generally word for word approach.

Dynamic Equivalent

These Bibles run on a more thought-for-thought philosophy than the Formal Equivalent translations, but do so in a much more sparing manner than paraphrases. Greek and Hebrew figures of speech are replaced with modern rough equivalents. They are more readable in a sense, though sometimes in a freer translation some passages become more interpretations than translations.


These are not really translations, but rewordings of the Scriptures that speak in a very earthy, common tongue. Those who advocate these note that the New Testament was written in the common language of the people and not that of playwrights or philosophers. The results can be the clearest expression of Scripture on par with the original. However, theological biases can creep in and be readily apparent. These are acceptable for devotional reading, but even the authors themselves would not suggest using them for study or as a church Bible. Some paraphrases are based on the original languages, while others on translations themselves.

Aberrational Translations

These are translations done independently by a smaller religious sect. Usually they will "translate" Scripture by twisting it to fit their theologies, rather than conforming their theologies to the Scriptures. These groups often have a person or organization which is practically considered equal in authority with the Bible, and a number of them believe that their group is the only way to salvation.

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