The style of the Bible in different languages

I have been considering using the bible as an additional resource for my language learning process, since it is easy to find it in almost any language, and for many of them there are also free audio recordings available.

I have some doubts though about the style, since it seems that for some languages the style is “acceptable” (not too different from modern writing) whereas for other languages it is rather, or even extremely archaic.

For example, I find that the Italian version is too old-style, and I would definitely not recommend it for learning Italian ; the French version, on the other hand, is a bit closer to the standard modern language.

How is it for the other languages (especially for Russian and Serbian) ?


I think you also need to consider the time the translation was done. For example, KJV was done about 400 years ago, and it is widely considered difficult to read by modern people. NIV is relatively new and it is much easier to read. The 2 versions have very different styles but yet they are in the same language.

I think you should look for more recent versions which use simpler vocabulary.

yes, as edwin said, the language/style of the text can be very archaic (both in english and other languages). Perhaps you should try the book of mormon as that is much more recent.

I myself use the a bilingual Bible for my study of Spanish. I also have audio and it’s great. I don’t see any problems with using the New international version (NIV) The language is up to date. There are a few old words but nothing to worry about.

Here;s the one I use if you are interested:

I’ve sometimes considered using the original biblical texts to learn ancient Hebrew and Greek. Unfortunately, in the case of Greek, the recordings available on Librivox seem to give it a Modern Greek pronunciation. (Of course, using a modern pronunciation with an ancient language isn’t a problem per se; but in the case of Greek it does kind of screw up the grammar, because there are some different case endings in Koine Greek which end up sounding the same if given modern pronunciation.)

As for modern languages, I think Edwin is right: one has to be careful, because the language used in bibles (though very beautiful and poetic sounding) is often stylistically different from normal modern usage.

I find the popular French version of the Bible, Louis Second actually contains old French. For example, it uses ‘point’ instead of ‘pas’ for negation.
(the version is party available in the LingQ library:

I think the style difference is not mainly because of the languages, but the time it was translated. It also heavily depends on the translation approach taken. Some translators might want to take the literal approach, and others would take the paraphrase approach. It is actually a spectrum between literal and paraphrase.

In general, for language learning, I recommend choosing a modern paraphrase translation.

As for the audio, there are many free ones on the net, but the good ones are usually not free. If you like the ‘dramatized’ versions, this following site offers 557 Audio Scripture recordings in 538 languages, all for free!!

Auf Deutsch kann ich folgende Übersetzungen empfehlen:

“Die gute Nachricht“.

Diese Übersetzung ist für junge Leute sehr ansprechend, weil sie im heutigen Deutsch geschrieben wurde.

Die „Einheitsübersetzung der Heiligen Schrift“, kommt dem Urtext näher und ist trotzdem in einer gut lesbaren Sprache geschrieben.

I took the same approach with Dutch and got a an audio Bible for free. I think it’s best when you’re already rather familiar with the bible in your own language and have a lot of the scriptures memorised, so that when you hear it in the language you’re learning it’s easier to piece things together and you can almost predict what you’re about to hear and can also test yourself.

Because there are so many English translations, i suppose there must be at least an old and modern in pretty much every language. Maybe you should go to a foreign bookshop website for whichever language you intend to learn and then browse it’s bible section. It might have some info on it there. Then just remember what the translation was called and search for a free audio version. Also this website gives info on it’s translations as well as access to the bible in several languages in text format. :slight_smile:

… Click on “Available Versions” down the left hand side on the homepage, then select a version and then you’ll find the information for whichever one you’ve selected. :wink:

Acho que isso depende da tradução, mas no caso da maioria das versões em língua portuguesa, eu não recomendaria o uso da Bíblia para iniciantes na língua. A linguagem é quase sempre muito rebuscada e fora de uso… se você tem bons conhecimentos em português, aí é interessante.

Diego, I have been wondering, why there is no free audio Portuguese Bible available. Is it because of some copyright issues?

The link I provided above, with audio scripture recordings in 538 languages, Portuguese is not on the list.

Hi Edwin,

As long as I’m concerned, the whole bible is free in all languages, isn’t it?

Here’s a website where you can download all the content of the bible (and listen to it with an european accent, which is quite rare here at LingQ).

Thanks, Diego, for the link.

I have this impression that it is quite hard to find a free audio version of the Portuguese Bible. For example, do you know where I can get one for the Nova Versão Internacional?


It seems that it is possible to download the NIV (NVI) version here:

Tell me if you succeed!

Which version is this Portuguese Bible? Which accent?



As this is mostly an old thread, I won’t comment but just leave a link for anyone who may be, as [Jay_B] was, looking for non-Modern Greek recordings of the NT. . Modern and varieties of ancient pronunciation are considered. This list is extremely helpful, as it indicates the text used, the pronunciation attempted, the speed of delivery, and several other characteristics of the recordings considered. A search on “recordings Greek New testament” sans quotes will probably find other good resources.