Bible translator Barclay Newman tells us why
A new generation of Bible translations has recently appeared on bookstore shelves. With names like the New Revised Standard Version, New Century Version, and Contemporary English Version (CEV), they have settled into the crowded space occupied by the best-selling Living Bible, King James, and New International versions. Why so many?
Barclay Newman, chief translations officer for the American Bible Society (ABS), which copublished the CEV with Thomas Nelson Publishers, has more than academic interest in the answer. An ordained Southern Baptist minister, Newman has a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He discussed Bible translation with Pepperdine University professor Ken Waters.
Some Christians ask, “Why a new round of translations?”
I asked myself that question when the CEV project started in 1984. The short answer is that each contemporary translation meets a different need. With the CEV, we wanted a mission-driven translation.
The CEV began as a translation for children. What seemed missing was a Bible for children eight to nine years old that could easily be read aloud without stumbling. We tested the draft translation here in Springfield, Missouri, where the ABS core translation team lives. We used it with evangelical and Roman Catholic schoolchildren and their teachers. We found that the adults praised the translation for enhancing their own biblical understanding. In sharing the draft translation with more adults—including street people our church ministers to—we found that the most responsive folks were those with limited English skills, those turned off by traditional Christian jargon, and the unchurched.
Reading theCEVand the New Century Version requires only ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more