Examining the Bible Versions

New Century Version (1991)

I had planned to skip the NCV until I read that in 2003 it was one of the top five selling translations. Therefore, I must make a review of this version. According to Bible-researcher.com, “This dynamic equivalence version began as a project of the World Bible Translation Center in Ft. Worth, Texas, a society formed in 1973 by persons associated with the Churches of Christ. The initial purpose of the society was to produce and publish a version specially adapted to the needs of deaf people who were unfamiliar with many idioms of English as it is commonly spoken. The New Testament was completed in 1978 and published as the English Version for the Deaf (EVD) by Baker Book house. It was perhaps the simplest English version ever published, being done with a third-grade vocabulary (1) and with very short sentences. In 1980 Baker tried to market this version to a wider readership by publishing it as A New Easy-to-Read Version (ERV), in a format which made no reference to its original purpose. By 1983 the New Testament was revised and again issued, this time by Sweet Publishing in Ft. Worth, as the International Children’s Version New Testament. In 1984 the same publisher issued the same version as The Word: New Century Version. The complete Bible (with slightly revised New Testament) was then published as The Holy Bible, International Children’s Version in 1986, and in 1987 the complete Bible was also published under the name New Century Version. By this time Sweet Publishing had merged with Worthy Publishing in Ft. Worth Texas, and had issued the version in a special edition called The Everyday Bible, with an endorsement by Billy Graham. In 1988 Sweet/Worthy Publishing was acquired by Word Publishing, which in 1991 published another revision. This 1991 revision was more extensive, and it was designed to make the version more suitable for an older readership, with longer sentences and more fluent style. In 1992 Word Publishing was acquired by Thomas Nelson Publishers, which continues to print the 1991 revision under the name, New Century Version.

A BIG PROBLEM:

Very Simplistic

I believe the biggest problem with this version is that the translation is overly simplistic. Many important and deep theological teachings are wiped away to keep the translation on a third grade reading level.

Romans 3:25

NCV: “God gave him as a way to forgive sin through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death. This showed that God always does what is right and fair, as in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins.”
HCSB: “God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.”

Romans 5:16

NCV: “After Adam sinned once, he was judged guilty. But the gift of God is different. God’s free gift came after many sins, and it makes people right with God.”
NKJV: “And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”

Because of the excessive simplicity, it is impossible to have a literal translation of the scriptures with the NCV. Instead, the NCV seems to attempt to “just get the idea of the text” conveyed through short words and short sentences. But many times, as seen in Romans 3:25, the deep meaning of the scripture is lost in an effort to make the translation easy to read. Propitiation is not simply the forgiveness of sins. If Paul wanted to say that God gave us Jesus as a way to forgive sins, he could have used those Greek words and said it that way. But Paul was saying something deeper than merely the fact that Jesus is the way our sins our forgiven. Propitiation also teach us that Jesus is the way we receive mercy from God. Propitiation describes God as extending abundant mercy toward his people though we did not deserve it. Jesus is the propitiation, that is, he is how God could show mercy to people who are violators of his law.

Conclusion

The NCV does not have any value for reading or studying because of its simplistic nature. By reading the NCV you may get the gist of the Bible, but you certainly will not be able to mine the deep truths of the scriptures. Too much of the depth of God’s word is washed away in an effort to use simple words. I have only recommended the NCV to children who are just beginning to read.

The NCV is at a third grade reading level and anyone older than eight years old should move up to a more literal translation.

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