In the 1970s, the World Bible Translation Center decided to create a Bible for the hearing impaired. The result was a simple and readable text that led to the translation of the International Children’s Bible (ICB), the forerunner to the New Century Version. The New Testament translation of the ICB was released in 1983, followed by the entire Bible in 1986.
The vocabulary of the ICB was on about a 3rd-grade level. The translators also avoided long sentences and familiar use of place names. There was some criticism of the original release of the ICB in that it includes some phrases that were thought to be anti-Semitic, a problem that was eliminated in subsequent releases.
The success of the International Children’s Bible inspired an edition for adults called the New Century Version, published in 1991. Given a different target audience, the NCV was accomplished with a new translation team which included Biblical scholars from across the spectrum of Protestantism.
The NCV translators accepted the restrictions on reading level and vocabulary of the ICB. They also used modern equivalents for currency, weights, and measures; and they chose only the most familiar name for a geographical location. Within the translation of the NCV, the meanings behind ancient customs were clarified, as were the definitions of words whose usage in English has changed in recent years. The NCV also made an effort to use gender-inclusive language when such could be done while preserving the original meaning of the text.
Both the adult and child editions of the New Century Version emphasize simplicity and clarity of expression. The children’s edition is stylistically simpler than the adult’s edition. The translators wanted to make “the language simple enough for children to read and understand for themselves.”
The use of a limited vocabulary sometimes detracts from the beauty of the translation, as in Genesis 1:1, which is translated, “In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.”
Overall, though, the New Century Version is a clear and concise translation, helpful to both the serious Bible scholar and the devotional reader. In particular, it is a good translation for older children and teens. I recently purchased a teen study Bible based on the NCV translation for my 12 year-old nephew, and like it very much. I’m thinking of buying a copy of the NCV for myself.