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The year 1966 was a good year. England won the World Cup. The Beatles released ‘Revolver’. And the Good News Bible was published.
Back then, it wasn’t even called the Bible. The first published part – the New Testament – was given the title Good News for Modern Man. And it was modern. The language was simple and friendly, ideal for people who were not used to the Bible, or even for people who did not have English as their first language. It was widely available – copies were even on sale in supermarkets. And it had illustrations. It was an overnight success. And, like all overnight successes, people had been working on it for years.
It began as the brainchild of a man called Eugene Nida, a talented linguist who was the Executive Secretary of the American Bible Society’s Translations Department.
In the 1960s, he formulated an idea called “Dynamic Equivalence”. Instead of trying to make a word-for-word translation, Nida’s idea was that translators should try to get to the thought behind the words, a “thought-for-thought” translation, as it were. The Good News Bible put Nida’s theories into practice. This approach made – and makes – the Good News Bible ideal for children and young people.
It took another ten years before the entire Bible was completed and published as the Good News Bible. (In America and elsewhere it has had different titles over the years, including Today’s English Version and, more recently, the Good News Translation.) In 1992 it was revised to take more inclusive language into account.
The Good News Bible became one of the bestselling Bibles of all time. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it sold over 104 million copies in the first ten or so years of its life. And it’s been selling millions each year ever since.