"The Message" is wonderful for "just reading", but horrible for study. For beginners who have come to believe they "should" read the Bible but may not have the fortitude for a "real" Bible, I highly recommend "The Message". And even for those who are conversant with the Bible, I highly recommend "The Message" if for no other reason than because it often makes you go, "Hmm, does the BIble really say THAT?!", giving you a new perspective on many passages you thought you knew. For study, I prefer something more literal, like the NASB or RSV, or even (shudder!), the KJV. Better yet is a cross-comparison of these multiple versions. Better yet would be the original Greek and Hebrew versions, but that's beyond many of us. (However, if you weren't raised on the KJV but are insistent on reading it, I suggest learning Greek instead of archaic English; it's almost the same amount of work and would be much more valuable.) For something in between I think the NIV and the NKJV are pretty good, but lately I've begun to become somewhat impressed with the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It's as readable as the NIV, but seems to be more literally accurate. A couple of nits: I'm bothered that so many versions hide the name of God behind the man-made practice of substituting for it the phrase "the LORD". I'm also bothered that so many versions retain archaic English in prayer passages when the rest of the text is modern, as if archaic English is somehow more holy or reverent (when actually it violates the principle God gave us for speaking clearly in the people's street language when He inspired the NT in "street Greek"). At any rate, I'd consider the best version of the Bible to be the one that gets read. The worst version is the one that sits on a shelf, revered as Holy and accurate, but gathering dust.