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Elementary Students Recognized for Contribution to Bible Translation

Michigan elementary students celebrate the new Bible translation they helped with.

Fifth and sixth graders at Rose Park Elementary School in Holland, Michigan, recently celebrated their contribution to a Bible translation update project by receiving their own complimentary copies from Zonderkidz, the children’s division of Zondervan. As third graders, the students helped the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) translation team—which includes Bethel Seminary San Diego faculty Jeannine Brown, professor of New Testament, and the late Ronald Youngblood, professor emeritus of Old Testament and Hebrew—by providing input on word choice and readability for a revised and updated version.

The NIrV is based on the widely used New International Version of the Bible, translated for a third grade reading level. The goal of the revision was to make the edition as clear and accurate as possible, resulting in an excellent Bible for children, those learning English as a second language, or anyone who wants an easier to understand version of the Bible.

Early in the translation team’s work, they decided that hands-on input from third graders would be helpful. The team connected with students at Rose Park, asking them to read passages using different word choices and phrases and then discuss their understanding of what they had read. “We’d often wonder if a particular proposal would be understood by kids at this reading level,” explains Brown. “For example, students didn’t understand the phrase ‘take an oath’ very well, but they did understand the word ‘promise.’”

As students offered input about their comprehension and made suggestions about words and phrases they found easiest to understand, the translation team used the feedback to render the best translation geared to a third grade reading level. Now that the Bible is in print, the students are celebrating their part in the achievement. “It was a joy to commend these children for their willingness, enthusiasm, and efforts in helping with the NIrV translation update,” says Annette Bourland, senior vice president and group publisher at Zonderkidz. “It was a delight to see their faces as we handed them their own copy of the Bible that they helped make happen.”

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