Modern English Bible translations

Modern English Bible translations
The Bible in English
Old English (pre-1066)
Middle English (1066–1500)
Early Modern English (1500–1800)
Modern Christian (1800–)
Modern Jewish (1853–)
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Many attempts have been made to translate the Bible into modern English, which is defined as the form of English in use after 1800 (different from the linguistic usage of modern English). Since the early nineteenth century, there have been several translational responses to the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the world. Various denominational and organizational goals have produced, and continue to produce, Bibles to address the needs of English speakers from all walks of life. Differing base texts, theological emphasis, style, and translation aims (e.g. readability vs. literality) are just a few of the variables that contribute to the wide range of Bibles available today.


The Development of Modern English Bible Versions

The Authorized King James Version of 1611 was sporadically altered until 1769, but was not thoroughly updated until the creation of the Revised Version in 1885. These formal equivalence or literal translations have been continued with further modifications to the King James and Revised Versions, including the Revised Standard Version (1952), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), and the English Standard Version (2001).

In the late twentieth century, Bibles increasingly appeared that were much less literal in their style. In 1946, the New English Bible was initiated in the United Kingdom, intended to enable readers to better understand the King James Bible. In 1958, J. B. Phillips (1906–1982) produced an edition of the New Testament letters in paraphrase, the Letters to Young Churches, so that members of his youth group could understand what the New Testament authors had written. Others followed suit. The Living Bible, released in 1971, was published by its author Kenneth N. Taylor, based on the literal American Standard Version of 1901. Taylor had begun because of the trouble his children had in understanding the literal (and sometimes archaic) text of the King James Bible. His work was at first intended for children, but was later positioned for adults wishing to better understand the Bible. Like Phillips' version, the Living Bible was a dramatic departure from the King James version.

Despite widespread criticism, the popularity of The Living Bible, itself a paraphrase rather than a translation, created a demand for a new approach to translating the Bible into contemporary English called dynamic equivalence, which attempts to preserve the meaning of the original text in a readable way. Realizing the immense benefits of a Bible that was more easily accessible to the average reader, and responding to the criticisms of the Living Bible, the American Bible Society produced the Good News Bible (1976), a new English Bible translation in this more readable style. This translation has gone on to become one of the best selling in history. In 1996, a new revision of Taylor's Living Bible was published. This New Living Translation is a full translation from the original languages rather than a paraphrase of the Bible.

Another project aimed to create something in between the very literal translation of the King James Bible and the more informal Good News Bible. The goal of this was to create a Bible that would be scholarly yet not overly formal. The result of this project was the New International Version (1978).

The debate between the formal equivalence and dynamic (or 'functional') equivalence translation styles has increased with the introduction of inclusive language versions. Various terms are employed to defend or attack this development, such as feminist, gender neutral, or gender accurate. New editions of some previous translations have been updated to take this change in language into account, including the New Revised Standard Version (1989), the Revised English Bible (1989), and Today's New International Version (2005). Some translations have approached the issue more cautiously, such as the English Standard Version (2001).

A further process that has assisted in increasing the number of English Bible versions exponentially, is the use of the Internet in producing virtual bibles, of which a growing number are beginning to appear in print – especially given the development of "print on demand".

Today, there is a range of translations ranging from the most literal, such as the Young's Literal Translation to the most free such as The Message and The Word on the Street.

18th and 19th century translations

Name Date
Challoner's revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible 1752
John Wesley, Wesley's New Testament 1755
Quaker Bible 1764
Thomson's Translation 1808
Webster's Revision 1833
Young's Literal Translation 1862
Julia E. Smith Parker Translation 1876
Revised Version 1885
Darby Bible 1890

20th and 21st century translations

King James Versions and derivatives

The King James Version of 1611 still has an immense following, and as such there have been a number of different attempts to update or improve upon it. The Revised Version and its derivatives also stem from the King James Version.

Abbreviation Name Date
CKJV Children's King James Version Jay P. Green 1960
KJ II King James II Version of the Bible Jay P. Green 1971
KJV20 King James Version—Twentieth Century Edition Jay P. Green
NKJV New King James Version 1982
KJ21 21st Century King James Version 1991
MKJV Modern King James Version 1999
AKJV American King James Version[1] 1999
KJV2000 King James 2000 Version[2] 2000
UKJV Updated King James Version[3] 2000
KJVER King James Version Easy Reading[4] 2001
HSE Holy Scriptures in English[5] 2001
CKJV Comfort-able King James Version[6][7] 2003
NCPB New Cambridge Paragraph Bible[8] 2005
AV7 AV7 (New Authorized Version) 2006
AVU Authorized Version Update[9] 2006

Revised Version and derivatives

The English Revised Version was the first official attempt to update the Authorized (King James) Version. This was adapted in the United States as the American Standard Version. The translations and versions that stem from them are shown in date order:

Abbreviation Name Date
RV (British) Revised Version 1881–5
ASV American Standard Version 1901
RSV Revised Standard Version 1952, 1971
NASB New American Standard Bible 1971, 1995
NRSV New Revised Standard Version 1989
ESV English Standard Version 2001
WEB World English Bible In progress

New International Version and derivatives

The popular New International Version has appeared in a number of editions.

Abbreviation Name Date
NIV New International Version 1978, 1984, 2011[10]
NIrV New International Reader's Version 1996
NIVI New International Version Inclusive Language Edition (discontinued) 1996-unknown
TNIV Today's New International Version (discontinued) 2005-2011

Dynamic translations and paraphrases

A significant aspect in translations from the latter half of the 20th century was much greater use of the principles of dynamic equivalence.

Abbreviation Name Date
TLB The Living Bible 1971
GNT/GNB/TEV Good News Translation/Good News Bible/Today's English Version 1976, 1992
CEV Contemporary English Version 1995
GW God's Word 1995
NLT New Living Translation 1996, 2004, 2007
MSG The Message 2002
RNT Restored New Testament 2009

Internet-based translations

The New English Translation (or NET Bible) is a project to publish a translation of the Bible using the Internet. It is freely available and accompanied by extensive translator's notes. Another Internet based translation (currently only in the planning stages)[11] is The Free Bible. It is a wiki, collaborative project, based on Wikisource. A third is The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible, which uses a collaborative Mediawiki website that interlinks the words of the Bible to articles and image galleries about the topic.

Abbreviation Name Date
NET New English Translation 2005
TFB The Free Bible In planning stage[11]
WGCIB The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2010
CBP Conservative Bible Project In Progress[12]
WEB World English Bible In Progress[13]

Jewish translations

Jewish translations follow the Masoretic Text, and are usually published in bilingual editions with the Hebrew text facing the English translation. The translations often reflect traditional Jewish exegesis of the bible. As translations of the Masoretic bible, Jewish translations contain neither the apocrypha nor the Christian New Testament.

Abbreviation Name Date
JPS Jewish Publication Society of America Version[14] 1917
Judaica Press[15] 1963
Koren Jerusalem Bible[16] Based on a translation by Harold Fisch 1962
The Living Torah by Aryeh Kaplan[17]
The Living Nach by Yaakov Elman
NJPS New Jewish Publication Society of America Version 1985
Artscroll Stone Edition (Artscroll) 1996

Messianic translations

Some Bible translations find popular use in, or were prepared especially for, the Messianic Judaism movement.

Abbreviation Name Date
TS98 The Scriptures '98 Version 1993, 1998
CJB Complete Jewish Bible (by David H. Stern) 1998
God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation (by Heinz Cassirer) 1989
OJB Orthodox Jewish Bible (by Phillip E Goble) 2002

New English Bible and derivatives

The initiative to create the New English Bible began in 1946, in an attempt to make an entirely new translation of the Bible in modern English.

Abbreviation Name Date
NEB New English Bible 1970
REB Revised English Bible 1989

Public domain translations

Abbreviation Name Date
WEB World English Bible In Progress
MASV Modern American Standard Version In Progress
CPDV Catholic Public Domain Version 2009
DRP David Robert Palmer Translation[18] In Progress
UKJV Updated King James Version 2000
TFB The Free Bible In Progress
WGCIB The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2010

Catholic translations

Abbreviation Name Date
DRB Douay-Rheims Bible 1582–1610
DRC Douay-Rheims Bible Challoner Revision 1752
WVSS Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures 1913–19351
SPC Spencer New Testament 1941
CCD Confraternity Bible 19412
Knox Knox's Translation of the Vulgate 1955
KLNT Kleist-Lilly New Testament 19563
JB Jerusalem Bible 1966
RSV-CE Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 1965–664
NAB New American Bible 1970
TLB-CE The Living Bible - Catholic Edition 1971
NJB New Jerusalem Bible 1985
CCB Christian Community Bible 1986
NRSV-CE New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 1989
CPDV Catholic Public Domain Version 2009
WGCIB The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2010
NABRE New American Bible Revised Edition 2011

1Released in parts between 1913–1935 with copious study and textual notes. The New Testament with condensed notes was released in 1936 as one volume.
2NT released in 1941. The OT contained material from the Challoner Revision until the entire OT was completed in 1969.
3New Testament only; Gospels by James Kleist, rest by Joseph Lilly.
4Second Catholic Edition released 2006.

Sacred Name translations

These Sacred Name Bibles were all done with the specific aim of carrying into English the actual Name of God as they were in the originals. Most have been done by people from the Sacred Name Movement. They are distinguished by their policy of transliterating Hebrew-based forms for sacred names, such as "Yahweh", "YHWH", etc.

Abbreviation Name Date
ERB Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible 1976
HNB Holy Name Bible 1963
SSBE Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition 1981
SN-KJ Sacred Name King James Bible 2005
SSFOY Sacred Scriptures, Family of Yah Edition 2000
TWOY The Word of Yahweh 2003
TS98 The Scriptures '98 Version 1993, 1998
HRV Hebraic-Roots Version 2004
TB The Besorah (a plagiarized copy of The Scriptures 1998[19]) 2008
TBE Transparent English Bible In progress

Septuagint translations

Abbreviation Name Date
Charles Thomson's The Holy Bible, Containing The Old And New Covenant, Commonly Called The Old And New Testament: Translated From The Greek 1808
Brenton's English Translation of the Septuagint 1851
ABP Apostolic Bible Polyglot 2003
AB The Apostles' Bible 2004
OSB Orthodox Study Bible 2007
NETS New English Translation of the Septuagint 2007
EOB Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible In progress

HOB Holy Orthodox Bible

Simplified English Bibles

There have been a number of attempts to produce a Bible that greatly simplifies the English. (Some of these versions are also listed in other categories: for example, the NIrV is also found under the NIV section). These are translations that are not necessarily a very dynamic translation, but go beyond simply everyday English into a restricted vocabulary set, often aimed at non-native speakers of English.

Abbreviation Name Date
BBE Bible in Basic English 1949
BWE Bible in Worldwide English [New Testament only] 1969
NLV New Life Version (Gleason Ledyard) 1986
SEB Simple English Bible (Dr Stanley Morris) 1980
ERV Easy-to-Read Version (previously English Version for the Deaf) 1989
NCV New Century Version 1991
NIrV New International Reader's Version 1998
EEB EasyEnglish Bible[20] 2001+

Translations exclusively published by Jehovah's Witnesses

Abbreviation Name Date
NWT New World Translation 1950

Translations exclusively published by the Latter Day Saints movement

Abbreviation Name Date
JST Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible 1830

Adaptive retellings

Some versions have been labelled "adaptive retelling"[21] as they take many liberties with the form of the text.

Abbreviation Name Date
Black Bible Chronicles 1993, 1994
The Cotton Patch version (various portions of the New Testament done by Clarence Jordan)
The Aussie Bible; also More Aussie Bible[22] by Kel Richards 2003

Other translations

Abbreviation Name Date
Fenton The Holy Bible In Modern English (by Ferrar Fenton) 1903
MNT A New Translation (by James Moffatt) 1926
Lamsa Lamsa Bible (by George Lamsa) 1933
AAT An American Translation (by Smith and Goodspeed|) 1935
BV Berkeley Version 1958
AMP Amplified Bible 1965
Knoch Concordant Literal Version (by Adolph Ernst Knoch) 1966
MLB The Modern Language Bible (New Berkeley Version) 1969
TSB The Story Bible 1971
BECK An American Translation (by William F. Beck) 1976
LITV Green's Literal Translation (by Jay P. Green) 1985
The Clear Word (Seventh-day Adventist paraphrase) 1994
Anointed Standard Version 1995
CJB Complete Jewish Bible 1998
TMB Third Millennium Bible 1998
RcV Recovery Version (Living Stream Ministry) 1999
ABP Apostolic Bible Polyglot 2003
VW A Voice In The Wilderness Holy Scriptures[23] 2003
AB The Apostles' Bible 2004
HCSB Holman Christian Standard Bible 2004
CAB The Complete Apostles' Bible 2005
ACV A Conservative Version (NT only in print OT & NT Internet versions) 2005
NEV New European Version (NT only in print OT & NT Internet versions)[24] 2011
NJV The New Jubilees Version (The Beloved and I: The Sacred Scriptures in English Verse, McElwain) 2005+
ARTB Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (Old Testament Only) 2006
The Literary Bible (by David Rosenberg)(Old Testament Only) 2009
CEB Common English Bible (expected to be complete in 2011) In progress
MGB The Manga Bible[25] In progress
TEB Transparent English Bible[26] In progress
ISV International Standard Version In progress
Jubilee2000 English Jubilee 2000 Bible
Murdock James Murdock's Translation of the Syriac Peshitta
EOB Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible In progress

Partial translations

New Testament

Abbreviation Name Date
  Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, by Thomas Jefferson 1895
  The Epistles of Paul in Modern English (includes Hebrews), by George Barker Stevens 1898
  The Twentieth Century New Testament 1902
  Weymouth New Testament (New Testament in Modern Speech) 1903
  Centenary New Testament (by Helen Barrett Montgomery) 1924
  The Four Gospels, by E. V. Rieu, Penguin 1952
  The Authentic New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield 1955
Phi / PME Phillips New Testament in Modern English and Four Prophets (by J. B. Phillips) 1958
  The Simplified New Testament, by Olaf M. Norlie 1961
WET Wuest Expanded Translation (by Kenneth Wuest) 1961
  The New Testament: a New Translation, by William Barclay 1968
  TransLine, by Michael Magill 2002
CPG Cotton Patch Gospel[27] by Clarence Jordan 1968–1973 (4 vols)
  The Four Gospels, by Norman Marrow, ISBN 0-9505565-0-5 1977
  The Original New Testament, by Hugh J. Schonfield, ISBN 0-947752-20-X 1985
int-E The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 1985
McCord's New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel by Hugo McCord 1988
A Fresh Parenthetical Version of the New Testament by B. E. Junkins ISBN 0761823972 2002
God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation by Heinz Cassirer, ISBN 0-8028-3673-9 1989
  Jewish New Testament, by David H. Stern 1989
Gaus The Unvarnished New Testament[28] by Andy Gaus 1991
  The New Testament, by Richmond Lattimore, ISBN 0-460 87953 7 1996
TCE The Common Edition New Testament[29] 1999
COM The Comprehensive New Testament[30] 2008
ALT Analytical-Literal Translation 1999?
A New Accurate Translation of the Greek New Testament, by Julian G. Anderson ISBN 0-960-21284-1 1984
The Voice ISBN 1418534390 2008
JNT Jewish New Testament by David H. Stern 1989
The Source New Testament With Extensive Notes on Greek Word Meaning, by Dr A. Nyland ISBN 0980443008 2004
The Last Days New Testament, Ray W. Johnson 1999
The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation, N T Wright[31] 2011

Hebrew Bible

Name Date
The Wisdom Books in Modern Speech (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Song of Songs), John Edgar McFadyen 1917
Four Prophets (Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah), J.B. Phillips 1963
Job Speaks (Job), David Rosenberg 1977
The Book of J (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg 1990
A Poet's Bible (Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Maccabees, Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Jonah, Ruth, Esther, Judith, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah), David Rosenberg 1991
The Book of Job, Stephen Mitchell 1992
The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox 1995
The Lost Book of Paradise: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis and related apocrypha), David Rosenberg 1995
Genesis, Stephen Mitchell 1996
The Book of David (2 Samuel), David Rosenberg 1998
Give us a King! (1, 2 Samuel), Everett Fox 1999
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible,[32] Martin Abegg, Peter Flint, Eugene Ulrich 1999
The David Story (1, 2 Samuel), Robert Alter 2000
The Five Books of Moses, Robert Alter 2004
The Bible with Sources Revealed, Richard Elliott Friedman 2005
The Book of Psalms, Robert Alter 2007

See also


  1. ^ American King James Version
  2. ^ King James 2000 Version
  3. ^ Updated King James Version
  4. ^ King James Bibles
  5. ^ The Holy Scriptures. Rabon Vincent Jr., translator. Victoria: Trafford, 2001. ISBN 1-55369-199-7
  6. ^ The Evidence Bible
  7. ^ Amazon Online Reader : The Evidence Bible
  8. ^ New Cambridge Paragraph Bible
  9. ^
  10. ^ "About the New International Version". Electronic version available; print version available March 2011. 
  11. ^ a b FBT Free Bible Translation Version website: 'The FBT is only in the planning stages and no translation work has been done yet.'
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Hebrew Bible in English
  15. ^ The Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi
  16. ^ Jerusalem Bible (Koren)
  17. ^ Available online
  18. ^ A new translation of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, 1 John, 2 John, and Revelation
  19. ^
  20. ^ Simple Translations of the Bible in Easy English
  21. ^ Boswell, Freddy. 2006. Classifying "Cotton Patch Version" and similar renderings as adaptive retelling rather than translation (La clasificación de la "cotton patch version" y de otros tipos de versiones más como reescrituras adaptadoras más traducciones)." Hermēneus, Vol. 8: 45–66.
  22. ^
  23. ^ A Voice in the Wilderness
  24. ^ New European Version
  25. ^ The Manga Bible
  26. ^ Original Bible Project
  27. ^ The Cotton Patch Version
  28. ^ [1] [2]
  29. ^ [3] [4]
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible

External links

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