Book Review
The Amplified Bible

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The Amplified Bible (AB) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1965, with later reprints). Though very popular as a Bible, the Amplified Bible is really a word-by-word Bible commentary rather than a Bible. The notes are very interpretive with a strong fundamentalist slant. It reportedly used the 1901 ASV as its basis, but in a larger sense it is based on the KJV and continues to justify the KJV wording.

For example, the Amplified Bible represents 1Jo 5:6-8 as saying:

6 This is He Who came by (with) water and blood [[1] His baptism and His death], Jesus Christ (the Messiah) -- not by (in) the water only, but by (in) the water and the blood. And it is the [Holy] Spirit Who bears witness, because the [Holy] Spirit is the Truth. 7 So there are three witnesses [2] in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One; 8 and there are three witnesses on the earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree [are in unison; their testimony coincides].

1. Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.

2. The italicized section is found only in late manuscripts.

Modern versions rightly omit the following KJV wording in 1Jo 5:7,8:

in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth

That the Amplified Bible even includes these spurious words in its text is very misleading to readers. For further details on the 1Jo 5:7,8 issue, browse:

There are many other misleading passages in the Amplified Bible, especially where it strongly shows its fundamentalist bias.

The goal of the Amplified Bible is noble, but its word-by-word exegesis of the text does not allow the text to speak for itself. It would be better to either translate (1) nearly word by word (like the NASB) or (2) to translate phrase by phrase (like the TEV). Both the NASB and the TEV are much better Bible resources. The TEV does the best of any English version in most consistently conveying in English the message that the Greek writers in the 1st and 2nd century intended.

Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, by Joseph Bryant Rotherham (Grand Rapids, MI: now published by Kregel, 1902) does a much better job of reliably providing the type of amplification that the Amplified Bible attempts. (See review at:

Sakae Kubo and Walter Specht (So Many Versions? Twentieth Century English Versions of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975, pages 115-123) comment:

The desire to make the Bible understandable is admirable and translators of the Bible have used different methods to accomplish this common aim. AB does this by amplification... Many of the notes are apologetic in tone, showing how achaeology has "proved" the Bible... An analysis... indicates that some amplifications are unnecessary... At times there are unjustifiable amplifications that are not derived from the Greek text... There are also additions that are completely redundant since in those instances the one English word is sufficient... There is all too much danger of the ordinary man assuming that the interpretations and amplifications are part of God's revelation...


Copyright 1996-2003 Robert Nguyen Cramer