Not to be believed. That's the first phrase that comes to mind when I think of the Good News Bible.

There have been many translation travesties that have come into being in an effort to make the Bible, a very old book feel new and full of life. (Mind you, I think it is full of life. Stuffing "fake" life into it, however, results in horrible things...).

While some claim that the New International Version is one such, the Good News Bible is in a league of its own. At least that's how I remember it. As a small child in the 1970's, I remember seeing the Good News Bible in a drawer in my parent's house. I'd like to note in passing that it was always in the drawer. I don't remember them ever taking it out.

The cover showed happy youthful people in bell bottomed jeans, 70's styled hair, and used a psuedo psychedelic font.

The language sounded like it had been spoken by a teenager of the same era. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but it still sounds dated. Dig one out of the nearest garbage dump and check it out.

And have a groovy time.

AKA Today's English Version, or Good News for Modern Man.

Published in 1966 by the American Bible Society, it attempts to translate the Bible into modern-day English -- not hippie-speak. Over 20 million copies have been sold, and it is still available today (the most recent revision was apparently in 1996).

It is a non-literal translation, so it is condemned by many Christians. Nonetheless, it is still one of the more popular Bible texts in the world, and has been translated into many other languages. The Roman Catholic Church gave its official approval of the Good News Translation in 1969. The Southern Baptist Convention has also given approval, as has Billy Graham.

1. In the beginning, when God created the universe, 2. the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. 3. Then God commanded, "Let there be light"-and light appeared. 4. God was pleased with what he saw. Then he separated the light from the darkness, 5. and he named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night." Evening passed and morning came-that was the first day. 6. Then God commanded, "Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places"-and it was done. 7. So God made a dome, and it separated the water under it from the water above it. 8. He named the dome "Sky." Evening passed and morning came-that was the second day. - Good News Bible*

1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. -- KJV

It should be noted that the Good News Bible is well footnoted. I have removed the footnotes here. The GNB is copyright-free for any quotation under 1000 verses, as long as I include this:

Scripture taken from the Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

If you want to search this version of the Bible on-line, you can go to

For those, typically Protestant fundamentalists, that find complex thought too difficult. Also known as the dumbed-down version of the Bible, perfect for uneducated preachers like Billy Graham.

Zondervan Publishing House has it listed with a reading level of 6.0. For comparison, the KJV is a difficult 12.0, the Updated NASB is 11.0, and even the NAB (the Catholic version) is 6.6.

At the time of it's publication (1966), it was the lowest level version that was aimed for adults. However, not to be outdone, there are now two more, the CEV (1995) at 5.4, and The Message (1993) (containing the NT and additional "Old Testament wisdom") at 4.8. The NLV (1996) does manage a hefty 6.3.

The theme here is that these translations, so adored by fundamentalists, remove the complex language that has made the Bible worth studying all these years, and therefore reduce the ways the Bible can be interpreted (short circuiting hundreds of years of Biblical research in the process). Which of course is the fundamentalist point: "There is one and only one interpretation, ours, and we will convert that interpretation into today's (simplified) language to preclude anyone from coming up with a different interpretation that might question our views."

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