The Good News Bible (GNB) as it is known, or sometimes in North America as the Good News Translation (GNT), is an English language translation of the Bible by the American Bible Society, first published as the New Testament under the name Good News for Modern Man in 1966. It was anglicized into British English by the British and Foreign Bible Society with the use of metric measurements for the Commonwealth market.
In North America, it was formerly known as Today's English Version (TEV) but in 2001 was renamed the Good News Translation because of misconceptions that it was merely a paraphrase and not a genuine translation In fact, despite the official terminology, it was and is often referred to as the Good News Bible in America as well as elsewhere.
The beginnings of the Good News Bible can be traced to requests made by people in Africa and the Far East for a version of the Bible that was friendly to non-native English speakers. In 1961, a home missions board also made a request for the same type of translation. Besides these requests, the GNB was born out of the translation theories of linguist Eugene Nida, the Executive Secretary of the American Bible Society's Translations Department. In the 1960s, Nida envisioned a new style of translation called Dynamic equivalence. That is, the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek would be expressed in a translation "thought for thought" rather than "word for word". The dynamic theory was inspired by a Spanish translation for Latin American native peoples. The American Bible Society, impressed with Nida's theories, decided to use them. Due to these requests and Nida's theories, Robert Bratcher (who was at that time a staffer at the American Bible Society) did a sample translation of the Gospel of Mark. This later led to a translation of the full New Testament. The result, titled Good News for Modern Man: The New Testament in Today's English Version, was released in 1966. In 1976, the Old Testament was completed and published as the Good News Bible: The Bible in Today's English Version. In 1979, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books were added to the Good News Bible and published as Good News Bible: Today's English Version with Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. In 1992, the translation was revised with inclusive language.
The GNB has been a popular translation. By 1969, Good News for Modern Man had sold 17.5 million copies. By 1971, that number had swelled to 30 million copies. It has been endorsed by Billy Graham and Christian groups such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) The GNB is one of the authorized versions to be used in the Episcopal Church. Excerpts from the New Testament were used extensively in evangelistic campaigns, such as the Billy Graham crusades and others, from the late 1960s right through to the early 1980s. In 1991, a Gallup poll of British parishioners showed that the GNB was the most popular Bible version in that nation. In 2003, the GNB was used as the basis for a film version of the Gospel of John. In 2008, Swedish group Illuminated World paired the text of the GNB with contemporary photography for the English translation of Bible Illuminated: The Book.
Since the focus is strongly on ease of understanding, poetry is sometimes sacrificed for clarity. This choice can be seen in the example quote of John 3:16, which is rendered "For God loved the world so much that . . ." which is more pedestrian than the familiar "For God so loved the world . . . ."
Further statements from Bratcher and subsequent investigation of the GNB cause some to believe that it weakens or undermines other key doctrines, such as the virgin birth of Christ; it failed the "Isaiah 7.14 litmus test" that had been used by conservative Christians since the publication of the Revised Standard Version in 1952 (see Revised Standard Version#Reception and controversy).
As Baptist missionary David Cloud wrote, "The popularity of the Today's English Version is frightful in light of its perverted renderings of key passages dealing with Christ's deity, the inspiration and preservation of Scripture, the blood atonement, and many other doctrines.
Others emphasize however that Bratcher was only part of a committee of translators, and that this attack is simply an attempt to support the view held by some that "Literal translations, especially the King James Version, are God's word, and all dynamic translations are evil" argument, typified by the King-James-Only Movement. The Bible Societies' latest release is the Contemporary English Version of the Bible.
The GNB has also come under heavy criticism from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for substituting the inaccurate and anachronistic designation "Sudan" (originally referring to Western Africa) in place of the original word Kush in Hebrew, Ethiopia in the Septuagint.