It has been about 100 years (when "Desire of Ages" and "Ministry of Healing" were release) since the denomination published any major work written this well.
The quality of The Clear Word was demonstrated to me when I lent my copy of it to a University student for two weeks. When he returned it, he went back to reading his own Bibles. He later told me, "After reading The Clear Word, reading any other translation is like reading a text book."
Not only is The Clear Word incredibly well written, the layout of its
typesetting is also exceptionally good. A century ago Richard Moulton, the
father of modern literary study of the Bible said,
"The Bible is the worse printed book in the world."
It has taken 100 years and an Adventist publishing house to at last print
the Bible in a way that is extremely pleasing to the eye.
The simple secret of the layout has been to print the verse numbers in bold type. Those small sections of bold visually break up what would otherwise be a page of unattractive typeface. This makes the page more appealing to the eye. It makes a person feel more like reading it. And this increases the amount of Bible reading people do.
Indeed, if all Bibles had been written and printed as well as The Clear Word, far more of the world today would be Christian.
What is The Clear Word like? It is a paraphrase, rather than a translation. However, the sections of it which are paraphrases are particularly perceptive. Those sections are far less interpretive and with far less personal opinion than virtually any other paraphrase.
A major handicap
With all of these advantages, why isn't The Clear Word the world's largest selling English translation? Why do so few Christian bookshops sell it? Why do so few Christians know it exists? And why hasn't it single-handledly transformed its Adventist publisher into one of the world's largest Christian publishers?
The reason is that it has a major handicap -- a very major handicap.
Its handicap is not that it is published by a denomination about which other Christians have unfair prejudices. Its handicap is not that its publisher is so small, or that its publisher has no established distribution to most Christian bookshops.
It's handicap is that The Clear Word says more than the Bible itself says.
The Clear Word's title page calls itself "an expanded paraphrase." And it is this "expanded" nature which is its biggest hurdle to brilliant international sales success.
The Clear Word is the Bible plus. And that plus is a very big minus. There is no way when reading it to know which portions of it are the Bible, and which portions have been added by the author.
In the sample chapter below, an incredible 25% of the words in The Clear Word are not found in the original language.
Check it for yourself here in story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
The left-hand column below has the story from The Clear Word's third edition. The right-hand column has the same Clear Word passage with the extra wording removed. (It also has a few words added which were not translated from the original Greek.)
The gaps in the right-hand column make it obvious just how much has been added.
Read one of the columns below in a devotional frame of mind. It is a long quote, so you may be tempted to skip it and continue reading this article after scrolling past the passage. Yet by reading it, you may find it draws you more to God than reading the same passage in any other translation.
11 He continued: "A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of the two was restless and wanted to leave home. One day he said to his father, `Father, I would like to have my inheritance while I'm still young and can enjoy it.' The father reluctantly divided the inheritance between his two boys and gave the younger his share of the money. 13 After a few days, the younger son got his things together and left. He went to another country and there spent all his money on riotous living, throwing big parties and having a good time. 14 When all his money was gone, a famine hit that country, and he was in need but couldn't get a job anywhere. 15 Finally, a man hired him to watch his pigs. The desperate young man went to take care of the pigs, a most insulting task for a Hebrew. 16 He was so hungry that even what the pigs ate looked tempting to him. No one offered to help him. 17 He finally came to his senses and said, What am I doing here? Just think how many people my father has working for him all well paid and well fed. In fact, there's usually so much food left over that they have to throw some of it away! And here I sit among pigs! 18 I'm going home! I'm going to say to my father, "Father, please forgive me for sinning against God and against you. 19 I'm not fit to be called your son, but please give me a job as one of your workers."' 20 As weak as he was, he got up and made his way home. But while he was still a long way off, his father, who had been watching the distant road, spotted him. His heart went out to his son with great compassion and love. He got up and ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 When the boy regained control of his emotions, he said, `Father, please forgive me. I've sinned against God and against you. I'm not fit to be called your son....' 22 But before he could finish, his father turned to the servants who had also come out and said to them, 'Run back to the house and bring my best robe for my son; bring my ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 Then go out and find one of the best calves we have, slaughter it and prepare a feast! We're going to celebrate! 24 This is my son who was lost! I thought he was dead, but he's home!' The servants did what the father asked them to, and everyone began to celebrate! 25 The older son had been working out in the field when all this happened. When he came near the house, he heard music and saw everyone dancing for joy. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what this was all about. 27 The servant said, 'Your brother has come home! Your father asked us to slaughter one of the prize calves and prepare a feast to celebrate his safe return. 28 Then the older son became angry and refused to join in the celebration. So his father went looking for him. When he found him, he begged him to come see his brother and take part in the festivities. 29 But he said to his father, 'All these years while my brother was gone I've worked hard for you to build up the farm, and whatever you asked me to do, I did. Yet you never slaughtered even a goat for me and my friends so we could have a party like this. 30 But as soon as this son of yours comes home from wasting the family fortune on prostitutes and riotous living, you throw a party for him!' 31 Then the father said, 'Son, the farm and everything I have belongs to you; but your brother has nothing but us. 32 So it's right to celebrate his homecoming and be glad he's back. You see, I really thought he was dead, but he's alive. Don't you think that's reason enough to celebrate?'"
11 He continued: "A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger of the two said to his father, `Father, I would like to have my inheritance now.' So the father divided the inheritance between his two boys.
Unequaled by any other
As you can see from reading it, the Clear Word is exceptional. There is no Bible currently available which could equal the rendering in the right-hand column above. Unfortunately, the right-hand version is not the published version.
Imagine what could happen if The Clear Word was edited with all these non-Biblical comments removed! It would be one of the greatest gifts the Seventh-day Adventist Church could give to Christianity as a whole!
The sales of this book could be more than all other Adventist books combined. It would bring extremely large profits to its publishers. And it would raise the status of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in all Christian circles.
The Clear Word is exceptional, make no mistake about it. All involved in its publication have done an exceptional job. However, it has achieved only one percent of its potential.
It is time to prepare another edition without the added extras. This would make it the greatest gift Adventists ever give to the rest of Christianity.
The Clear Word is available from your nearest English language Adventist Book Center.