Which Bible Translation Is Best?


What English version of the Bible do you consider to be closest to the original? Is there a printed version available that includes those parts that were later excised? I wonder why Yogananda used the King James version when he referenced the Bible, even though this version is noted for the liberties it took — liberties that favored poetic appeal over fidelity of meaning. Was Master simply trying to reach the broadest swath of American Christians?

—Alexandra, U.S.


Dear Alexandra,

Swami Kriyananda told us that Yogananda almost always preferred to use the King James version, primarily because of its beautiful, poetic way of putting things.

As for fidelity, Yogananda’s interpretations of Biblical scripture were offered from a superconscious understanding and from tuning into deeper meanings of the scriptures, especially of the teachings of Jesus — so this takes care of any fidelity issues.

And probably you are right — during the years that Yogananda was teaching publicly in the USA, the King James was the preferred translation for a majority of the Christian population, so it would be natural for him to offer what most people were more familiar with.

Swami Kriyananda’s commentaries on Biblical scriptures use several different translations (he told us he carefully compared several of them for clarity and how well they seem to stick to higher truths); on the other hand, he, too, often said he loved the rhythm and poetry of the King James version best of all.

I don’t think that all the parts of the Bible which were excised over the centuries are printed in any one book. But a great number of them have been re-discovered and many are in print now. You can search for them under the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the Gnostic Gospels, or the Apocryphal or Lost Books/Gospels of the Bible.