“The preparation of a contemporary English translation of the Bible should be undertaken as a collegiate endeavor of evangelical scholars.”
—Bible Translation Conference, Trinity Christian College, August 27, 1965
On August 26-27, 1965, a Bible translation conference was held at Trinity Christian College to consider whether or not the evangelical community should pursue a new, contemporary English translation of the Bible.
In August 1965, Christian scholars and leaders gathered for a two-day conference at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, to answer two questions:
• Is there truly a need for a modern English version of the Bible?
• If so, what should be done about it by the broader evangelical community?
Representatives from the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Nazarenes, Mennonites and Christian Reformed denominations debated previously circulated white papers alongside members of the committee. The consensus was that if they endorsed a new Bible translation, it would have to be for the entire English-speaking world, not just for Americans. It would need to be for personal and liturgical use, as well as for evangelism. Previous versions of the Bible might serve the same purposes, but of the top contenders, the ASV was too literal in its translation, creating an awkward and artificial English style, and the RSV too liberal in its interpretation and translation of the text.
On the afternoon of August 27, 1965, the attendees decided to move forward. “It is the sense of this assembly that the preparation of a contemporary English translation of the Bible should be undertaken as a collegiate endeavor of evangelical scholars.”
Howard Long’s vision was one step closer to reality. The broader evangelical community had just officially commissioned what would be known as the New International Version of the Bible.
A group of 15 scholars would take the mandate forward. Over the next 13 years, members of this Committee on Bible Translation devoted their lives to organizing and overseeing the massive task of translating the Bible into contemporary English.
They would call on the most respected evangelical scholars to begin afresh from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts. They would consult with contemporary English-language experts on style. And in addition to ensuring that the text was accurate and comprehensible to modern readers, the CBT would help make certain that the text reflected the beauty and style of the Bible in the original languages.
In 1968, the preparation work ended and the translation began, starting with the Gospel of John. It would be five more years before the New Testament translation appeared, and ten before the full Bible was published.