Overview of Bible Study

Living Bible


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The Living Bible

Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor, an Illinois businessman, perceived the need for putting the thoughts of the Bible writers into modern understandable English while serving as a speaker for Inter-Varsity on various college campuses in the United States and Canada. In his own family, he noted the puzzled expressions on the faces of his children as he read to them from the KJV.

This led to his first attempt, in 1956, to produce a written paraphrase of the book of Romans, using the more literal ASV as a basis. He formed his own publishing company to promote the paraphrases he was producing, calling his firm Tyndale House after William Tyndale, who pioneered the effort of translating the Bible into a readable language.

In 1962 he published a paraphrase of the NT letters as Living Letters, following it with Living Prophecies in 1965, Living Gospels in 1966, and the complete Living New Testament in 1967.

Obviously intending to paraphrase the entire Bible, he released the Living Psalms, followed by Living Lessons of Life and Love in 1968, Living Book of Moses in 1969, and Living History of Israel in 1970. The complete Living Bible went to press in 1971.

The Living Bible was very well received, its popularity boosted considerably by an endorsement from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which advertised it on television and gave away hundreds of thousands of copies.

The Living Bible is a simplified, easy-to-read rendition of the Bible in effective, contemporary English. It does, however, take great liberties with the text, frequently interpreting or reinterpreting a passage without regard for the actual text. He admits this in his preface to the translation:

    For whenever the author's exact words are not translated from the original languages, there is a possibility that the translator, however honest, may be giving the English read something that the original writer did not mean to say. This is because a paraphrase is guided not only by the translator's skill in simplifying but also by the clarity of his understanding of what the author meant and by his theology. For when the Greek or Hebrew is not clear, then the theology of the translator is his guide along with his sense of logic.

The Living Bible is an appealing and readable paraphrase that has aroused among many a new interest in the Bible. It is not an accurate translation of the Bible, however, and it does not pretend to be. It is a paraphrase of a translation, and doesn't pretend to be otherwise. Furthermore, Taylor has taken liberties in leaving out or adding thoughts that do not appear in the original languages. He himself suggests, "For study purposes, a paraphrase should be checked against a rigid translation."


Overview of Bible Study