God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society (originally incorporated in September 1983 as Know the Truth Foundation, and later renamed Luther Bible Society) is formed to “revise” (at least as it’s “advertised”) an earlier work by Dr. William F. Beck, The New Testament in the Language of Today, published in 1963. Following Dr. Beck’s death in 1966, the remainder of the Old Testament is completed by a small group of Lutheran scholars. The entire Bible is published in 1976 as An American Translation (AAT).
Recognizing the need for further updating of this work, a committee is formed in 1978 by Rev. Phillip Giessler, a Cleveland area pastor. In 1982 Rev. Giessler begins a full-time revision effort with the assistance of a full-time English stylist. This revision of Beck’s earlier New Testament work results in the publication of the New Testament: GOD’S WORD to the Nations (a form equivalence translation of sorts) in November 1988. (Note: In 1990 it is renamed the New Evangelical Translation (NET).
Translation Principle: Form equivalence (of sorts)
Process and Procedure: This remains, in fact, a one man translation effort similar to Dr. Beck’s individual effort many years earlier. And, although comments and suggestions are provided by a small group of reviewers—final editorial decisions are made by Rev. Giessler.
Translation Principle: Closest Natural Equivalence (only in “theory”)
Process and Procedure: In May 1991 a Protocol Document is approved by the board of directors to establish the process and procedure for completing the translation.
Nevertheless, as before (1982-90), this essentially remains a one-man translation effort—inasmuch as all editorial decisions are left to the discretion of Rev. Giessler... despite input from the editorial committees (as established by the Protocol Document), a few other reviewers, and an expanded in-house staff.
At the same time, a Consultative Committee of prominent non-Lutheran pastors is created to promote the translation project among all Christians, not just Lutherans.
Translation Principle: In evaluating this part of the Society’s history, it’s important to document that in April 1987 the board of directors had asked Dr. Eugene W. Bunkowske—a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary and noted missionary and translator—to become their translation consultant. (Dr. Bunkowske had served as translation consultant to the United Bible Societies from 1974-1982 as well as UBS translation coordinator for the entire African continent from 1980-82). Dr. Bunkowske agreed, contingent upon the project embracing the new translation principle he had insisted be adopted in 1987, Closest Natural Equivalence, which is important to understand. A REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s essential to document that the advertised “revision” work on Dr. Beck’s earlier work on An American Translation (AAT) was completely discontinued at this time.
Process and Procedure: By early 1992, a team of five full-time Bible scholars and three (soon four) English reviewers are assembled and begin working with unprecedented computer resources at the Society’s new facility in Cleveland. In June 1992, the leadership of the organization changes as Rev. Michael Hackbardt becomes executive director.
Under new leadership, the supervision of a full-time translation coordinator, the consulting role of Dr. Bunkowske, and the implementation of a new translation principle... a complete break with the previously advertised “revision” work of the AAT is made (and, in effect, it becomes a model for “English-style”... not “translation”) and the completely new Old Testament and New Testament translation work on GOD’S WORD moves forward at a rapid pace by the in-house staff.
During the June 1993 board of directors meeting:
- The Protocol Agreement (5-6-93-13) is slightly revised and re-approved.
- Recognizing the upcoming completion of the new translation GOD’S WORD project (both Old and New Testaments) in October 1994, the board approves the following resolution (after extensive discussion) to ensure the final form of the text: 5-6-93-14 RESOLVED, that a Bible Editorial Committee be appointed by the Executive Director in consultation with the Board Consultant and translation coordinator. M.S. & C.
- Members are given a comprehensive report on the status of the completely new GOD’S WORD Old and New Testament translation work, as well as a review of the language issues facing the translation team.
During the June 1994 board of directors meeting:
- Board members are given comprehensive updates regarding the process for finalizing the completely new text of GOD’S WORD. Extensive discussion takes place regarding the change in traditional theological terms.
- The name of the translation is officially copyrighted as GOD’S WORD.
GOD’S WORD is introduced to the marketplace by World Bible Publishers (Iowa Falls, IA) in March 1995. Also, translation work on the Deuterocanonical Books is finished, as well as a Complete Concordance.
In June 2003, Green Key Books (Holiday, FL) acquires exclusive publishing rights for GOD’S WORD within the CBA market.
The mission society relocates from Cleveland, OH, to Orange Park, FL (the Jacksonville metro area) in April 2005.
In January 2016, God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society ends its publishing arrangement with an independent publisher, and begins to market and make the GOD’S WORD Translation available for licensing and for custom Bible, evangelism, and mission resources to ministries and parachurch organizations.