Question:

What about the Easy-to-Read Version?


Answer:

The English Version for the Deaf (ERD) was first published in 1978 by Baker Publishing House. American Sign Language, used by the deaf in the United States, does not follow the same grammar rules as English. Thus English is a second language for many of the deaf. The ERD was an attempt to provide a written Bible that was more comprehensible to a deaf person trying to read English.

The English Version for the Deaf was a translation done mostly by Ervin Bishop financed by the World Bible Translating Center, which is now called Bible League International. There is frequent mention of a translation team, but it was hard to pin down who the team was.

"The Easy-to-Read Version owes its major credit to Ervin Bishop, who also serves as vice-president of the World Bible Translation Center. For the original English Version for the Deaf project, he worked closely with Benton Dibrell, a deaf-language specialist. The first draft was revised after receiving suggestions from other scholars who served as consultants. Among those who examined the text and offered their suggestions were Dr. Harvey Floyd, head of the Department of Biblical Languages at David Lipscomb University, and Dr. Everett Ferguson, professor of Greek and Church History at Abilene Christian University. For the 1991 revision, comments were solicited from a Translation Review Committee consisting of scholars from various church backgrounds, including Harold W. Hoehner, Virtus E. Gideon, Bruce M. Metzger, Neil R. Lightfoot and Stanley M. Horton." [Easy to Read Version, BibleSoft.com].

From this it would seem that this was basically a one-person translation which was then improved using the suggestions of several noted scholars.

From this base work came a second version called the Easy to Read Version (ERV) which was published in 1980 by Baker Publishing House but was geared to speakers of English. Interestingly, Sweet Publishing revised this same base text and published the International Children's Version in 1986 and another version called the New Century Version in 1987. This was followed by a special edition called The Everyday Bible in 1988. The New Century Version underwent another major revision in 1991 and was acquired by Thomas Nelson Publishing. The Easy to Read Version also underwent a major revision in 1991. The text was heavily revised, using a greater number of words and more complex English grammar.

The current versions are copyrighted 2006 and are based on updated source material. The version's goals were expanded to target non-literate audiences where the spoken word is easier to understand.

For the Old Testament, it is based on the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1984), though portions were based on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Greek Septuagint translation. The New Testament was based on the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (third edition, 1975 and fourth revised edition, 1993) and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (twenty-seventh edition, 1993). Again, some deviation was done from the base text as the translators thought they had a better wording. This is not unusual, most translations do this sort of thing.

The style of translation is dynamic equivalence, or functional equivalence. Ervin Bishop is a strong proponent of this style of translation. The text is translated phrase-by-phrase. The original wording is generally followed, but where phrasing is different between cultures, such as through the use of idioms, the dynamic equivalent translation will substitute a more modern way of phrasing the idea. This style of translation is sometimes called thought-for-thought.

This thought-for-thought style of translation can easily be seen in "Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then God will forgive your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you. It is also for your children and for the people who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself" (Acts 2:38-39 ERV). Notice that the single Greek word metanoesate is translated as a phrase because the translators thought the word "repent" would not be easily understood. But also notice that other words are added. The original Greek says, eis aphesian hamartion (for remission of sins), but the ERV adds "God" to the text. While the concept isn't biblically wrong, it still isn't what the text said.

In simplifying the text, sometimes words are dropped. "Through Christ, God gave me the special work of an apostle to lead people of all nations to believe and obey him. I do all this to honor Christ" (Romans 1:5 ERV). "Gave me the special work of an apostle" is supposedly translating elabomen charin kai apostolen (we received grace and apostleship). Compare this to "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name" (Romans 1:5). The receiving of grace is left out of this passage entirely. It also changed "we" which would include more than just Paul to only Paul. What Christ did for his name's sake is changed to something Paul personally does to honor Christ.

Returning to Acts 2, we find "The believers spent their time listening to the teaching of the apostles. They shared everything with each other. They ate together and prayed together" (Acts 2:42 ERV). The NKJV translates this as: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). "Continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" implies much more spending time listening to the their teachings; it also includes the idea of living by those teachings. "Fellowship" is much more than sharing material things. "Breaking of bread" does refer to a meal, but in this context it is referring to the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:47 refers to common meals). "Continued steadfastly ... in prayers" would include praying with other Christians, but it also includes being devoted to private prayers as well.

I'm citing these to point out that in simplifying the text, the translators managed to lose much of the implied meaning in the phrases or to give new implications that are not correct. Words are added, and sometimes subtracted, giving the reader the wrong impression. This would definitely not be a good version to use to get into a deep discussion about God's teaching. If someone wanted to used this as a children's version, then it might have some use.

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