When the American Bible Society was founded just over 150 years ago, the prospect of Protestant-Catholic cooperation for the printing and distribution of Scripture was rejected—by the Roman Catholic Church. In the early years four successive popes denounced the Bible societies, and numerous problems arose to bar participation.

Now times are changing. As an outgrowth of Vatican II, which encouraged Bible reading in the vernacular by laymen, Catholics now seek participation in Bible society activities and increasingly probe the possibility of efforts toward common Bibles—in Dutch, French, Japanese, and other languages.

Last month cooperation passed another milestone. At the meeting of the ABS Advisory Council in New York City, delegates raised hands to “recommend formulation of plans to include service to Roman Catholics and encouragement of Roman Catholic support of the existing Bible societies.” Their action approved Catholic participation in translation committees and paved the way for a wider pooling of resources for the printing and distribution of the Word.

Last year the united Bible societies distributed nearly 90 million copies of the Scriptures, with the ABS’s share amounting to seventy-one per cent. The strikingly successful common language New Testament Good News for Modern Man (first published in September, 1966) has already sold more than seven million copies. In the same year the ABS registered the largest single shipment of Bibles in its history—520,250 Bibles and 45,500 New Testaments to Ghana for use in government schools.

The constitution of the Bible societies specifies that the Scriptures shall be distributed without notes or comments, and translations of the Old and New Testaments have always been based upon ...

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