We were saddened to hear that one of the original translators of the New International Bible passed away earlier this month. Ron Youngblood was a key figure in the initial creation of the NIV translation, as well as its continued development over the decades.
Biblica has posted an informative tribute to Youngblood’s life and ministry. Particularly noteworthy in that tribute is Youngblood’s lifelong commitment to making Scripture accessible to children:
Dr. Youngblood never lost his passion for making sure that even the smallest child can read God’s Word. In the 1990s, he led the development of the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)—a special edition of the NIV which reads at a third-grade level. In other words, a Bible perfect for 8 year-olds.
The NIrV expanded the vision for accurate, readable translation to include children, those with difficulty reading, and those who are learning English as a second language. No longer would 8 year-old children read the good news and wonder if it was for them. No longer would archaic, obscure, or difficult language be a barrier to knowing God. An updated edition of the NIrV was completed in 2013.
Youngblood’s testimony is a moving reminder that the people behind all those Bible translations aren’t stuffy academics holed up in ivory towers; they’re men and women gifted by God with a special love for the Bible, and with the skills needed to translate it. It also shines a light on a type of Bible translation that is often overlooked when people debate the merits of different Bible versions: Bibles for children.
Youngblood worked on the New International Reader’s Version, which keeps sentences and vocabulary as simple as possible to make it accessible to children and to anyone who struggles with advanced English. It’s not the only English Bible translation that does so: the Contemporary English Version, Worldwide English New Testament, and Good News Translation are other translations that aim for accessibility. Here’s an example of a Bible passage in all of these translations alongside the NIV for comparison.
We’re grateful to people like Ron Youngblood, who devote their lives to making it easier for people to read and understand Scripture. And we salute Youngblood’s life and ministry—defined by an all-consuming love for God and His Word. What a testimony! Praise God for His “cloud of witnesses,” of which Youngblood is an important part.