Kenneth N. Taylor, 88, whose Bible paraphrase helped pave the way for modern translations, is being remembered as a man of humility and vision.

Taylor, who died of heart failure June 10, paraphrased the King James Version in language his children could understand. That effort eventually became the Living Bible. A bestseller after its 1971 release, it has sold more than 40 million copies.

Noting that Billy Graham has called the Bible the world's best evangelist, American Bible Society president Gene Habecker said Taylor's work made a massive impact.

"It may be greater than Billy Graham," Habecker said.

The publication of the Living Bible spurred the formation of Tyndale House Publishers. With 260 employees, Tyndale releases 250 products annually, about 60 percent of them books. Its New Living Translation, the 1996 successor to Taylor's paraphrase, has sold more than 16.9 million copies. In recent years, the Carol Stream, Illinois-based publisher has sold more than 63 million copies of the Left Behind end-times novels and related products.

Taylor's son Mark, president of Tyndale, said many have emphasized his father's personal legacy.

"They made a point of talking about [his] personal interest in them and the time he spent praying with them," he said.

Kent Hughes, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, Taylor's longtime church, noted that Taylor "was interested in people regardless of status."

In an article written last year for Wheaton College's alumni magazine, Ken Taylor predicted that not many would give his death more than a passing thought. "This is a reminder to me that we do not live for praise but to help others, so whatever needs doing must be done now," Taylor wrote. Despite his prediction, an estimated 1,000 people attended his funeral.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, the Portland, Oregon, native earned degrees from Wheaton College and Chicago's Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the author of many children's books.

Taylor's publishing career began as editor of HIS magazine. Later, while director of Moody Press, he began paraphrasing the King James Version for family devotions. He first released Living Letters (New Testament epistles) in 1962. He had to self-publish them because no publishers were interested. Wheaton College historian Mark Noll called the timing significant, because many evangelicals of the era still opposed the Revised Standard Version, released a decade earlier.

"The long-term impact was to open the conservative Christian community to modern Bible translations, which has been a tremendous matter," Noll said.

In 1950, Taylor helped start the Christian Booksellers Association, now known as CBA. President Bill Anderson said Taylor saw the need for a group that could strengthen retailers and improve distribution of Christian materials.

"He was a highly innovative man," said Anderson, who has led the Colorado Springs group for 21 years. "He could see beyond what was to what could be."

Taylor is survived by his wife, Margaret; 10 children, 28 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Related Elsewhere:

Other articles from CT, and CT sister publications, about Taylor include:

Ken Taylor: God's Voice in the Vernacular | Although his work has made him famous, he remained a retiring and modest figure. (October 5, 1979)
Ken Taylor, Translator of The Living Bible, Dies at 88 | Founder of Tyndale House Publishers, Christian Booksellers Association, was driven by passion for Bible. (June 10, 2005)
The Living Bible's Modern Hero | Ken Taylor's autobiography shows a man who makes nothing of an extraordinary life. (April 6, 1992)
Ken Taylor: Giving The World Good Things to Read | How the translator of The Living Bible and founder of Today's Christian has helped Christians of all ages grow. (Today's Christian, September/October 1993)

Tyndale House Publishers has put together a site in memory of Taylor.

Wheaton College has a collection of Ken Taylor's writings and a short biography.

In an article about The Living Bible, Books & Culture editor John Wilson says the impact of Ken Taylor's work extended far beyond the fortunes of The Living Bible.

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