Which is a pretty contentious question, and an odd one to ask as an atheist. My question is: what are the strengths and weaknesses of the different English translations of the Bible?
Readability, enjoyability of that read (poeticness would be a factor if it was a word) and a certain amount of consistency to the source material are all factors. I'm mostly interested in the Old Testament: It's got some pretty cool stories, I celebrate Jewish holidays with my Jewish friends and I want to know what's going on, and it's a little bit about making fun of Christians.
I haven't found any satisfactory answer on the interwebs or on the nexus. There's too much information that I can't adequately filter and, besides, I want you know you lovely peoples opinions.
(Something I've heard: Richard Dawkins likes The King James Version because of the poetic Elizabethan Prose)
I really like the full, unedited version of the KJB. I live in a remote area and sometimes run out of TP.
One problem, with any bible, is that many people have the reading comprehension of an 8th grader. Upper level readers, in college, read at a 10th grade education level. This is an obstacle for those who read their bibles, they have no comprehension of what they read. Many gloss over many scriptures that would prove Christianity a false religion, such as the Book of Jeremiah. Others do not read beyond their religious books to understand that the Book of John, introduction, is a plagiarized version of the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Heraclitus who wrote of The Logos 500 years before the common era. He was writing about creation through the power of Zeus. Christians stole this philosophy and wrote it into the intro to the book of John. Many people read texts at face value without really investigating the origin of their reading materials. So, it really doesn't matter what Bible one uses because most Christians only read the parts that satisfy their own church doctrine and ignore the rest of the bible.
I've read maybe 10% of KJV; only sentences in other versions.
After 12 years of next-worldly Catholicism, Song of Solomon is pleasantly this-worldly.
I found more value in collections of quotations, and works on pragmatism and existentialism.
When I was taking biblical scholarship classes in undergraduate, we used the New Revised Standard version of the bible. Most scholars consider this version to be the most accurate. As others have said, while the KJV is more poetic, it is by no means the most accurate translation. A good rule is that the older the manuscripts used in translation, the better. (However, this is assuming that the older translations don't have deliberate 'corrections' or changes.)
I haven't read my copy of the bible in awhile, but I found the translation to be pretty readable and accessible. HTH!
The Lego Bible...
R. Crumb's The Book of Genesis Illustrated. Shows, in graphic detail, the absolute assinine ancient fables that lead to the evil which is present day Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I'd forgotten about this...
My two cents as a Bible B.A. is KJV is horrible. Words are intentionally mistranslated and the English is too outdated to be easily understandable. I would highly recommend anyone wanting to do in depth Biblical studies to learn Hebrew, then Koine Greek. Mainly because all versions are translations, and all translations detract from the original language. Especially when it comes to an ancient language!
However, if you must use an English translation, I swear by Holman Christian Standard. After that, I will use the ESV or RSV.
You said you are Jewish though, do any of your friends speak or understand Hebrew? Or do you have any interest in learning? It may better educate your understanding of Judaism and especially that of the Old Testament.