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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Good News for Everyone I

I was delighted to receive a request this week to blog about the Good News Bible (TEV), especially since I was in right the middle of rereading Good News for Everyone: How to Use the Good News Bible by Eugene Nida.

Taking a cue from Rick Mansfield's post on the TNIV, I will explain how I first started using the GNB. Like Rick, I was teaching high school - that seems to be a defining experience.

I have no sense myself of whether the language of any Bible translation is outdated. My father read a Bible passage from the KJV at the dinner table every night throughout my childhood, and an 8" dictionary sat on the side table beside his big chair in the living room. I don't believe my father missed a chapter or a geneology in all those years. And I don't believe I left many words uninvestigated.

In any case, I was teaching grade 11 English in the public school system and had just finished marking the test results from the MacBeth unit. I saw how the students really entered into the story but could make neither head nor tail of any particular line of text.

Next on the list of required reading was Who has seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell. I realized the importance of teaching the classical and biblical allusions in order to help the students understand this story. I can still remember that I actually brought to school a copy of the New American Standard Bible. I opened it up before teaching the next day to choose the necessary text - and then I simply shut it again and left that part of the lesson untaught.

In that moment, as I imagined reading the text out loud to the class (I forget what text it was), I heard the language of the Bible through the ears of my students. I went out the next day and bought a Good News Bible, and used it in class throughout the rest of the year. Along with the Greek New Testament, it has been my study Bible ever since.

Before I begin picking my way through Nida's book on the GNB I will give an example of what I consider to be the trademark feature of this Bible. When I began composing this post I knew immediately that I would chose a passage from Ephesians 1 to demonstrate this feature. It is the unpacking of the Greek genitive construction.

Here is Ephesians 1:14 - 20 in the GNB, published in 1966.
    14 The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
    15 For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people,
    16 I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers and
    17 ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him.
    18 I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people,
    19 and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength
    20 which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.
Here is the same passage in the New American Standard Bible.

    14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

    15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,

    16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;

    17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

    18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

    19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might

    20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
Many translations since have followed suit for some of these genitive constructions, but the Good News Bible was the first, I believe, to introduce this practise in English. To my mind, it sets your feet on a level path, and the words flow in smooth sequence from one phrase to the next, creating meaning in your mind. Why would we settle for anything less?


At Mon Jun 05, 07:48:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

I like these kinds of stories, Suzanne. A Bible is something that is personal to someone--it has a history with the reader if enough time is spent together. That's part of what I'm trying to do in my series--not just give an "objective" overview (as if I could) of my favorite translations, but also describe my experience with them.

The Good News Bible has a dear place in my heart, which I will relate eventually when I get to it in my series. But I will confess something now--even at 38 years of age, I like the pictures! To me, it just about isn't the GNB unless it is an edition with the pictures. Even before I could read, I would look at the pictures in paperback copies of the Good News for Modern Man New Testament that we had around our house when I was a child.

Also, thanks for mentioning the book by Nida. I didn't even know it existed. I enjoy reading books about versions of the Bible and currently have works about the KJV, NIV, CEV, NKJV, NRSV, and REB. I looked for the one you referenced about the Good News Bible on Amazon and although it is no longer in print, I found a used copy on Amazon for 64¢! It's on its way.

At Mon Jun 05, 09:46:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...


I also want to thank you for this post. I'm looking forward to all your posts. I'd be interested to know a few things about the GNB. First why does it have two names GNB/TEV. Second, I read there was a revision done in 1992. What kinds of changes were done. Finally, I'm curious how the GNT is being marketed by Bible Society. The American Bible Society website is using GNT for its daily readings despite CEV being a newer translation in the niche of "easy-to-read" bibles.

Finally, I don't believe you when you say, "I have no sense myself of whether the language of any Bible translation is outdated." That sounds like you're saying KJV sounds just as natural as GNT. Well, don't get overly heated about this point. I'm more interested in answers to my questions above.

At Mon Jun 05, 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Lingamish, Zondervan now has the commercial publishing rights to GNB/TEV and has republished this version under the title GNT (Good News Translation).

GNB/TEV, like most other major English versions, has had minor revisions over the years. Most people do not even notice the revisions. The latest revision you are referring to is one that some people might notice if they follow along with an older version while someone else is reading from the newest revision. I do not know the exact nature of the latest revisions but we have noticed them as our pastor reads from his pulpit Bible, which is the latest revision, and we follow along with older revisions. I think that some of the changes made increased the accuracy of the GNT in the area of gender reference.

ABS (American Bible Society) continues to sell the TEV and CEV and a number of other popular English versions at economical distribution prices. Here are the versions they currently sell:

AMP - Amplified Bible
NASB - New American Standard Bible
ASV - American Standard Version
NCV - New Century Version
CEV - Contemporary English Version
NIV - New International Version
ESV - English Standard Version
NJB - New Jerusalem Bible
GNT - Good News Translation
NKJV - New King James Version
HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible
NLT - New Living Translation
KJV - King James Version
NRSV - New Revised Standard Version
NAB - New American Bible
RSV - Revised Standard Version

At Mon Jun 05, 05:00:00 PM, Blogger lingamish said...

Thanks for that info Wayne.

Suzanne, after re-reading my comment above I shouldn't have stated my last paragraph that way. Forgive me and I'll keep working on expressing myself.

At Mon Jun 05, 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hey Dave,

Don't stop being a fun guy. Thanks to Wayne for answering all your questions.


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