Celebrating the Life and Legacy of a Bible Legend

Dr. Barclay Newman brought the message of the Bible to life for modern English readers.

On December 7, 2020, Dr. Barclay Moon Newman, a beloved former employee and scholar of American Bible Society, passed away at the age of 89.

Among his many lasting contributions to the mission of American Bible Society, Dr. Newman was Chair and Chief Translator of the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible, first published in 1995. He was also a member of the Old Testament Committee for the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) published in 1976, and he went on to chair the revision that was published in 1992 as the Good News Translation.

Both of these groundbreaking Bible translations, which utilize a “thought-for-thought” rather than a “word-for-word” translation method, aim to make an ancient text easy to read and apply for modern English readers.

“We are trying to set God’s Word free from traditional translations that don’t speak in down-to-earth language—that don’t use everyday colloquial English to express the meaning of the eternal Word of God,” Dr. Newman said of the CEV translation. “Symbolically, it is what the Apostle John means when he states … [the] Word becomes a human being, comes down to earth and becomes one of us. Looking into the life of Jesus here on earth to see what God is like—this is what the Word is all about.”

Dr. Newman was fond of quoting Martin Luther, who, when he translated the Scriptures into German, tried to make Jesus sound “so German” that no one would ever believe he was not a native German speaker. Also like Martin Luther, Dr. Newman embodied a wit and humor that belied his incredible academic prowess. His command of the language enabled him to inspire, inform, enlighten and delight all who knew him.

Dr. Newman is survived by his wife, Jean—who served faithfully alongside him at American Bible Society—as well as by two daughters, three grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.

American Bible Society mourns the loss of this beloved Bible legend and celebrates the great spiritual impact of his work and life!

You can read the obituary of Dr. Barclay M. Newman at this site.

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