The Contemporary English Version began with Barclay Newman, who assisted in the translation of the Good News Bible. In the mid-1980s, Newman began to study popular forms of the English language found in books, magazines, newspapers, and television to see what kind of language people were speaking and hearing. He was particularly concerned with how people heard texts when they were read aloud.
In 1986, he published a text volume that was a collection of illustrated Scripture passages for children. The New Testament was completed in 1991, the entire Bible in 1995.
The public reading of the text was a primary concern of the CEV translators. It led them to adopt three guiding principles for their translation. First, an experienced reader should be able to read it aloud easily without stumbling. Since most readers usually pause at the end of a line, attention was paid to the line breaks in the text in order to minimize the possibility of confusion on the part of the hearer. Second, it should be understood by someone unfamiliar with Biblical language. Finally, it should be understood and enjoyed by English speakers regardless of their religious or educational background.