An easy-to-read version of the Bible, which uses a vocabulary of just 1 200 words, has now been completed. The culmination of 20 years’ work, it is freely available online.
The project began in the early 1990s at the request of an overseas mission worker wanting Bible commentaries, which most people with rudimentary English in her region could read.
The result is the EasyEnglish Bible and commentaries, which has been compiled by a team of volunteers, all members of MissionAssist.
Formerly known as Wycliffe Associates UK, MissionAssist helps overseas Christian mission workers advance the Gospel and make scripture accessible wherever they are in the world. Working in their own homes, its volunteers provide many practical, academic, and administrative services, at no cost to the mission worker.
To compile the new Bible and commentaries, it was realised that a new subset of English, which follows forms of grammar to help express complex ideas in simpler words and sentences, was needed. The rules followed included the use of one topic per paragraph, no passive verbs, split infinitives, idioms, rhetorical questions, or ambiguous pronouns.
“A trial with Psalm 100 proved a success so the work was extended, not just to the rest of Psalms but to the whole Bible,” recalls John Williams, who has worked on the project from the beginning.
“A team of translators, writers, linguistic, and theological checkers was recruited and, as each book and commentary was completed, it was put online at www.easyenglish.info. The website is now getting more than five million visits a year and includes that first psalm as translated!” he adds.
However, the project is still a work in progress with revisions to the commentaries and now, the writing and translation of Bible studies.
MissionAssist’s chief executive, Daryl Richardson, comments: “The completion of the EasyEnglish Bible is a testimony to the dedication and commitment of a remarkable group of volunteers.
“To produce a Bible in its entirety, which only uses a 1 200-word vocabulary and which is both linguistically correct and theologically sound, is a considerable feat.
“Thousands, if not millions, have now both read and understood the Bible for the first time. Many have, as a result, discovered new life and hope in Jesus. While thanks must go to this amazing team, the glory goes to God.”
The challenge now is to make this Bible and commentaries available in different formats, such as smartphones and tablets, and also to add audio recordings. Additional help is needed to make this possible. Anyone with experience of editing documents or leading small projects and who wants to help mission worldwide should contact MissionAssist through its website: www.missionassist.org.uk.