GOD’s WORD Translation - History
Completed in 1995, the GOD’s WORD Translation (GW) is an English translation of the Bible by the God’s Word to the Nations Society. GW had its beginnings with a New Testament translation titled The New Testament in the Language of Today: An American Translation, published in 1963 by Lutheran pastor and seminary professor William F. Beck (1904–1966). In 1982, work on a revision was begun by Phillip B. Giessler, a pastor from Cleveland, Ohio, and his committee. This yielded another NT translation released in 1988 and titled New Testament: God’s Word to the Nations (GWN). In 1992, earlier work was abandoned and a new translation was begun, this time based on the best Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts currently available. In early 1994 the translation was renamed GOD’s WORD prior to being turned over to World Bible Publishers for publication in March 1995. In 2008 rights to GOD’s WORD were acquired by Baker Publishing Group.
GOD’s WORD Translation - Translation Method
The GOD’s WORD Translation uses the translation method known as “closest natural equivalence” which seeks to combine dynamic equivalence (thought for thought) with finding equivalent English ways of expressing the meaning of the original text. This procedure, the translators contend, ensures that the translation is faithful to the meaning intended by the original writer. Closest natural equivalence seeks to avoid the awkwardness and inaccuracy associated with word-for-word translation, and avoids the loss of meaning and oversimplification associated with thought-for-thought translation. Another consideration for the translators was readability, so they used common English punctuation, capitalization, and nearly perfect English grammar to express the text in clear, natural English. The GOD’s WORD Translation is printed in an open, single column format that enhances readability.
GOD’s WORD Translation - Pros and Cons
The GOD’s WORD Translation sometimes does a good job at rendering words/phrases how they would be rendered if the Bible was being translated into English for the first time today. With a 400+ year history of English Bible translations, new translations are often rendered a certain way because that is how the translators are used to reading/hearing it. The GOD’s WORD Translation seeks to avoid this, and should be commended for this effort. However, sometimes in its goal of “closest natural equivalence,” the GOD’s WORD Translation strays a little too far from the literal meaning of the text, interpreting rather than translating.
GOD’s WORD Translation - Sample verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.”
John 3:16 – “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”
John 8:58 – “Jesus told them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.’”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.”
Titus 2:13 – “At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”