The International Children’s Bible® is not a storybook or a paraphrased Bible. It is a translation of God’s Word from the original Hebrew and Greek languages.
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. It is for this same purpose of making the Scriptures intelligible that this translation was created.
A TRUSTWORTHY TRANSLATION
Two basic premises guided the translation process. 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 twenty-one additional, highly qualified and experienced Bible scholars and translators was assembled. The team included men 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 simple to read and understand. In maintaining language simplicity, several guidelines were followed. Sentences have been kept short and uncomplicated. Vocabulary choice has been based upon The Living Word Vocabulary by Dr. Edgar Dale and Dr. Joseph O’Rourke (Worldbook-Childcraft International, 1981) which is the standard used by the editors of The World Book Encyclopedia to determine appropriate vocabulary.
The International Children’s Bible® aids a reader’s understanding by putting concepts into natural terms. Modern measurements and geographical locations have been used as much as possible. For instance, the traditional “shekels” and “cubits” 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 difficult for many readers to understand. So these are clarified either in the text or in a footnote.
Since connotations of words change with time, care has been taken to avoid potential misunderstandings. Instead of describing ancient citadels as “forts,” which for modern readers would likely conjure up pictures of wooden stockades in the Old West, the International Children’s Bible® uses “strong, walled cities.” Instead of using the phrase “God drove the nations out of Canaan,” the phrase is translated “forced them out of Canaan.”
Rhetorical questions have been worded as statements, showing the implied meaning, as in this example: “No one is equal to our God,” instead of “Who is equal to our God?”
Figures of speech can easily be misunderstood as literal statements. For instance, when Canaan is described as a land “flowing with milk and honey,” the reader might literally see milk and honey running through the streets. To clarify, the International Children’s Bible® has translated the meaning of the figures, while preserving the image as much as possible.
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 meaning—“he died.”
Every attempt has been made to maintain proper English style, while simplifying concepts and communications. The beauty of the Hebrew parallelism in poetry and the word plays have been retained. Images of the ancient languages have been captured in equivalent English images wherever possible.
It is with great humility and prayerfulness that this Bible is presented to God’s children, young and old. We acknowledge the infallibility of God’s Word and our own human frailty. We pray that God has worked through us as his vessels so that his people might learn his truth for themselves and that it might richly grow in their lives. It is to his glory that this Bible is given.