The Living Bible - History
First published in 1971, The Living Bible (TLB) is a version of the Bible created by Kenneth N. Taylor, the founder of Tyndale House, a major Christian publishing company. The Living Bible is not a translation of the Bible; it is a paraphrase. (See Translation Method.) In 1962, Living Letters, Taylor’s paraphrase of the epistles, became available. The Living Bible was very popular in the 1970s and was, in fact, the best-selling book in America in 1972 and 1973. By 1997, 40 million copies of The Living Bible had been sold. In the late 1980s, Taylor and his colleagues at Tyndale House Publishers invited a team of 90 Greek and Hebrew scholars to participate in a project of revising the text of The Living Bible. After many years of work, the result was an entirely new translation of the Bible. It was published in 1996 as the Holy Bible: New Living Translation.
The Living Bible - Translation Method
Dr. Taylor employed the method of paraphrasing to create The Living Bible. While direct translation involves using a thought-for-thought or a word-for-word recreation of the text from original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, paraphrasing uses the “in other words” method of restating a previously translated manuscript, in this case the American Standard Version of 1901. Paraphrasing is essentially rewording the text with the intention of making it clearer and more easily understood. Taylor never intended for his paraphrase to be used as the reader’s only source of biblical knowledge, or as the primary text for scholars. Rather, his goal was to put the basic message of the Bible into modern language that could readily be understood by the typical reader without a theological or linguistic background.
The Living Bible - Pros and Cons
As with any paraphrase, putting the Bible "in your own words" runs the risk of enabling your own biases, thoughts, and preferences to influence what the Bible says. This is impossible to avoid. The primary problem of any paraphrase of the Bible is that it inputs far too much of a person’s opinion of what the Bible says, instead of simply stating what the Bible says. There is nothing inherently wrong with a paraphrase, as long as users of the paraphrase understand exactly what it is - not a Bible translation, but rather an interpretation/commentary on what the Bible says.
The Living Bible - Sample verses
John 1:1-2, 14 – “Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. And Christ became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And some of us have seen his glory – the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father.”
John 3:16 – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 8:58 – “Jesus: ‘The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born!’”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “ Because of his kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it.”
Titus 2:13 – “looking forward to that wonderful time we have been expecting, when his glory shall be seen – the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”