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What is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)?

21st Century Easy-to-Read Version, ERV

Question: "What is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)?"

Easy-to-Read Version - History

The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible, published in 1989 by the World Bible Translation Center—founded in 1973 in Arlington, Texas—was initially prepared to meet the special needs of the deaf and was first published by Baker Book House as The English Version for the Deaf. The first-draft work on The English Version for the Deaf was done by WBTC's in-house translators who are Greek and Hebrew scholars and deaf-language consultants. The Easy-to-Read Version has also recently undergone a major revision to better meet the needs of its target audience and evangelistic outreach (via ministries to prisons, the homeless, or children) as well as those with limited English. The revised text is also more suitable for oral reading, since many who understand spoken English are not literate.

Easy-to-Read Version - Translation method
The revision of the English Version for the Deaf into the Easy-to-Read Version was not a translation as such, but rather a reworking of the EVD for the hearing population. The WBTC enlisted English stylists to smooth the text and an ecumenical panel of New Testament scholars to review the edited drafts and make suggestions. There were very few changes in content. Most of the changes involved a move toward more standard English style, i.e., less redundancy, and a more complex sentence structure. According to the WBTC: “Besides improving the English style, the revised Easy-to-Read Version reflects a better understanding of many passages. This has been made possible, in part, by the greatly expanded resources now available to our translators. Also, these translators have benefited from their involvement in over 30 different language projects. As they compared the drafts of these translations with the original texts, they often noted how the same passages were translated in the Easy-to-Read Version, resulting in many improvements. In addition, the Easy-to-Read Version has benefited from input from numerous outside scholars who have served as consultants in the process of evaluating WBTC's translations.”

Easy-to-Read Version - Pro’s and Con’s
The Easy-to-Read Version is very aptly named, as it is definitely easy to read. For that, the ERV is to be commended. It is a good thing to have the Bible translated so that those who struggle with English can understand it. While the Bible is very deep in what it proclaims, the wording usually does not need to be complicated. The primary weakness of the ERV would be that sometimes its renderings are so simplified that they do not fully communicate the message that was in the original languages. The ERV is definitely on the "dynamic equivalence" side of Bible translations, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, open the door for interpretation to be done instead of strict translation.

Easy-to-Read Version - Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was there with God. The Word was God. The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace (kindness) and truth.”

John 3:16 – “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but have life forever.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I AM.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “I mean that you are saved by grace. And you got that grace by believing. You did not save yourselves. It was a gift from God. No! You are not saved by the things you have done. So no person can boast {that he saved himself}.”

Titus 2:13 – “We should live like that while we are waiting for the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our great hope, and he will come with glory.”

Recommended Resources: How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Gordon D. Fee & Mark L. Strauss and Logos Bible Software.


Related Topics:

Textual criticism - what is it?

Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?

How does the translation process impact the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible?

KJV Only movement? Is the Easy-to-Read Version the only Bible we should use?

Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?



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What is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)?