Editors of the Reader’s Digest are nearing the completion of a major book-condensation project: the entire Bible. Publication date is September 1982, but so far, Digest editors are saying little about it.

Jack Walsh, who is overseeing the Bible project, did say that work on it was being done under the direction of “one of the world’s most respected Bible scholars, Dr. Bruce Metzger of Princeton Theological Seminary.” (He is a New Testament scholar, chairman of the RSV Bible Committee, author of numerous commentaries, and historical and literary studies.)

Walsh said Reader’s Digest editors who had professional knowledge of condensing procedure were “specifically trained to work on Bible text.” After that everything was reviewed by Metzger.

“In fact,” said Walsh, “he was in on it from the beginning. The initial discussions on each book took place with him. The work, as it proceeded, was reviewed by him. He had the sole right of final approval.” Attempts to reach Metzger about the work have been unsuccessful.

Walsh said that though the condensing technique developed by Digest editors for the Bible was basically the same one used for other books, there were some differences. “We had to adapt it to some extent because of the nature of the Bible,” he said. As an example, he said editors will change a word or phrase to clarify or shorten it. In working with the Bible, however, unlike other books, “we could not use any words that came from our editors. We used only words that actually appeared in the RSV, preferably in the same book we were working on.” By contrast, in condensing ordinary literature, he said, it was proper with the author’s permission in bring in words that would fit in context.

Walsh said work on the new Bible was painstakingly ...

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