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Preface to the New Century Version
God intended for everyone to be able to understand his Word. Earliest Scriptures were in Hebrew, ideally suited for a barely literate society because of its economy of words, acrostic literary form and poetic parallelism. The New Testament was first written in the simple Greek of everyday life, not in the Latin of Roman courts or the classical Greek of the academies. Even Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught spiritual principles by comparing them to such familiar terms as pearls, seeds, rocks, trees, and sheep. Likewise, the New Century Version translates the Scriptures in familiar, everyday words of our times.

The New Century Version is a bestselling translation of God’s Word from the original Hebrew and Greek languages. Several previous editions of the complete New Century Version have been published, such as the International Children’s Bible (1986); Time With God (1991); The Odyssey Bible (1994); The Answer (1993); and The Inspirational Study Bible (1995), among others.

A Trustworthy Translation Two basic premises guided the translation process of the New Century Version. The first concern was that the translation be faithful to the manuscripts in the original languages. A team composed of the World Bible Translation Center and fifty additional, highly qualified and experienced Bible scholars and translators was assembled. The team included people with translation experience on such accepted versions as the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Version. The most recent scholarship and the best available Hebrew and Greek texts were used, principally the third edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek text and the latest edition of the Biblia Hebraica, along with the Septuagint.

A Clear Translation

The second concern was to make the language clear enough for anyone to read the Bible and understand it for himself. In maintaining clear language, several guidelines were followed. Vocabulary choice has been based upon The Living Word Vocabulary by Dr. Edgar Dale and Dr. Joseph O’Rourke (Worldbook-Childcraft International), which is the standard used by the editors of The World Book Encyclopedia to determine appropriate vocabulary. For difficult words which have no simpler synonyms, footnotes and dictionary references are provided. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page and the dictionary/topical concordance is located at the back of the Bible.

The New Century Version aids understanding by putting concepts into natural terms. Modern measurements and geographical locations have been used as much as possible. For instance, terms such as “shekels,” “cubits,” “omer” and “hin” have been converted to modern equivalents of weights and measures. Where geographical references are identical, the modern name has been used, such as the “Mediterranean Sea” instead of “Great Sea” or “Western Sea.” Also, to minimize confusion, the most familiar name for a place is used consistently, instead of using variant names for the same place. “Lake Galilee” is used throughout rather than its variant forms, “Sea of Kinnereth,” “Lake Gennesaret” and “Sea of Tiberias.”

Ancient customs are often unfamiliar to modern readers. Customs such as shaving a man’s beard to shame him or walking between the halves of a dead animal to seal an agreement are meaningless to most people. So these are clarified either in the text or in a footnote.

Since meanings of words change with time, care has been taken to avoid potential misunderstandings. Frequently in the Old Testament God tells his people to “devote” something to him, as when he tells the Israelites to devote Jericho and everything in it to him. While we might understand this to mean he is telling them to keep it safe and holy, the exact opposite is true. He is telling them to destroy it totally as an offering to him. The New Century Version communicates the idea clearly by translating “devoted,” in these situations, as “destroyed as an offering to the Lord.”

Rhetorical questions have been stated according to their implied answers. The psalmist’s question, “What god is so great as our God?” has been stated more directly as, “No god is as great as our God.”

Figures of speech have been translated according to their meanings. For instance, the expression, “the Virgin Daughter of Zion,” which is frequently used in the Old Testament, is simply translated “the people of Jerusalem.”

Idiomatic expressions of the biblical languages are translated to communicate the same meaning to today’s reader that would have been understood by the original audience. For example, the Hebrew idiom “he rested with his fathers” is translated by its corresponding current meaning—”he died.”

Obscure terms have been clarified. In the Old Testament God frequently condemns the people for their “high places” and “Asherah poles.” The New Century Version translates those according to their meanings, which would have been understood by the Hebrews. “High places” is translated “places where gods were worshiped” and “Asherah poles” is translated “Asherah idols.”

Gender language has also been translated with a concern for clarity. To avoid the misconception that “man” and “mankind” and “he” are exclusively masculine when they are being used in a generic sense, this translation has chosen to use less ambiguous language, such as “people” and “humans” and “human beings,” and has prayerfully attempted throughout to choose gender language that would accurately convey the intent of the original writers. Specifically and exclusively masculine and feminine references in the text have been retained.

Gender language has also been translated with a concern for clarity. To avoid the misconception that “man” and “mankind” and “he” are exclusively masculine when they are being used in a generic sense, this translation has chosen to use less ambiguous language, such as “people” and “humans” and “human beings,” and has prayerfully attempted throughout to choose gender language that would accurately convey the intent of the original writers. Specifically and exclusively masculine and feminine references in the text have been retained.

Following in the tradition of other English versions, the New Century Version indicates the divine name YHWH, the Tetragrammaton, by putting LORD, and sometimes GOD, in capital letters. This is to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word that is translated Lord.

Every attempt has been made to maintain proper English style, while clarifying concepts and communication. The beauty of the Hebrew parallelism in poetry and the word plays have been retained, and the images of the ancient languages have been captured in equivalent English images wherever possible.

Our Prayer

It is with great humility and prayerfulness that this Bible is presented. We acknowledge the infallibility of God’s Word and yet our own human frailty. We pray that God has worked through us as his vessels so that we all might better learn his truth for ourselves and that it might richly grow in our lives. It is to his glory that this Bible is given.

THE PUBLISHER

 

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New Century Version

Reading Level: Grade 5-6
First Published:1986
About the NCV
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