NEWYORK, N. Y. (BP)–The American Bible Society (ABS) made history here–just in time for Christmas and the final days of the nation’s bicentennial.
Appropriately, they released in December the complete” Good News Bible” in Today’s English Version (TEV) , described as a “common-language, dynamic-equivalent translation in contemporary English.” What makes the new version significant for the ABS is that it is the first English Bible translation the Society has produced on its own. The new Bible, said to be as readable as the modern daily newspaper, is expected to break previous records in publishing, an ASS spokesman said. The first press order totals 1.2 million copies, he said. ABS officials anticipate a distribution of 10 million copies during the first year the translation is on the market.
An eight-man team of translators produced the basic text of the Old Testament in the TEVI the last portion of the Bible to be completed for, the new translation. Five of the translators including the team’s chairman, are Baptists
The “Good News Bible” is not intended to take the place of the older translations, “but is designed to attract people to Bible reading who have found these standard translations difficult or obscure in places,” according to Laton E. Holmgren, the Bible Society’s senior general secretary.
The new translation avoids both slang and “church” language, aiming at a level of written English readily understood in common by the estimated 600 million English-speaking people in the world today, Holmgren said. By following principles of “dynamic equivalence” the translators translated the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek into expressions that convey the “same meaning in today’s English,” he cited. The translation “does not employ the loose wording of paraphrases, but rather uses the closest, natural equivalent in English to convey the original meaning,” he added.
Southern Baptists were prominent in the translation project. In fact, it was a letter from M. Wendell Belew of the Southern Baptist Home mission Board in 1961 that helped to get the project started, an ABS spokesman noted. Belew wrote to Eugene Nida, in charge of translations for the ABS, expressing the need of Southern Baptist home missionaries for a simplified translation of the New Testament suitable for new literates and foreign language groups in the United States.
In 1961, Robert Bratcher, who was a Southern Baptist missionary seven years in Brazil before joining the Bible Society staff, was assigned responsibility for preparing a first draft of the New Testament. He and several colleagues completed the New Testament first draft by July, 1965. The first section published was the “Gospel of Mark”, released in October 1964, under the title, “The Right Time.” Over 600’000 copies were released, mainly in the U.S.
The complete New Testament – Good News for Modern Man – was released in September 1966. In 1971, it became the all time best seller and in 1975 circulation passed the 50 million mark. Translation of the Old Testament began in 1967 and was completed in November 1975, with Bratcher as the team’s chairman.