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NCC Bible Translation and Utilization Committee
envisions an expanding role for the NRSV bible

Oviedo, Fla., February 9, 2011 -- The National Council of Churches, which developed one of the most respected and widely used English translations of the bible, is moving to encourage more people to read the bible in a variety of print and electronic formats.

The NCC's Bible Translation and Utilization Committee (BTU) met in the Canterbury Retreat Center here to make plans for expanding the readership of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Both the NRSV and the Revised Standard Version were translated and updated by scholars from member communions and partners of the NCC, which holds both copyrights.

"The NRSV and the RSV still remain the benchmark in scholarship for translations," said the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, who chairs the BTU committee. "I was extremely pleased to hear of new electronic resources that will provide even greater access to the NRSV. There is an amazing wealth of print and electronic resources for both the NRSV and RSV versions for bible study and devotional use."

The most current list of print and electronic editions of the entire NRSV and RSV is posted online at In addition, excerpts of the NRSV and RSV are available as a component within other products, including study and worship planning tools. The NCC is also in conversation with several web-based bible search sites regarding a free online posting of the RSV and NRSV.

The NRSV first appeared in 1989 and has received the widest acclaim and broadest support from academics and church leaders of any modern English translation. It is the only Bible translation that is as widely ecumenical. The 30 men and women who served on the translation committee included representatives of Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The committee also included a Jewish scholar.

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which was a revision of the King James Version, published in 1611. The RSV of the New Testament was published in 1946. The publication of the RSV bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, was authorized by vote of the NCC governing board in 1951.

More information about the NRSV and RSV can be found at

"One issue before the translation subcommittee is whether NRSV and the RSV can be made more accessible in language for the public while not sacrificing scholarship," Medley said.

Making the bible readable, after all, is the primary goal, said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

Kinnamon noted that the National Council of Churches has often been unfairly caricatured as a liberal organization more interested in social action than in
Bible study and reflection. "It has been my intention as NCC General Secretary to change this by emphasizing Bible utilization as a key aspect of our programming," he said. "This is driven by my conviction that scripture is 'the unique and normative authority…the supreme rule of the church's life,
worship, teaching, and witness' and by an awareness, stemming from my years as a seminary professor, that biblical literacy is sharply declining in the

Kinnamon said the Bible is regarded by many contemporary Christians "as a sacred object (but many are) without much knowledge of its contents -- which is a very dangerous combination. That's when the Bible is used as a club to beat up on ideological opponents. As James Smart said in The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church, the church that no longer is familiar with scripture 'soon ceases to understand what it is for and is open to be captured by the dominant religious philosophy of the moment, which is usually some blend of cultural nationalism with Christianity.'"

If the NCC is to be a faithful and effective expression of the ecumenical movement, Kinnamon said, "then its members must, with God's guidance, make widespread, intelligent engagement with the scriptural text a top priority."

Clare J. Chapman, NCC deputy general secretary and chief operating office, Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations; and the Rev. Garland F. Pierce, NCC associate general secretary, Education and Leadership Ministries provide staff support for the BTU committee.

The Rev. Dr. Richard L. Jeske, a New Testament scholar from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a former member of the American Bible Society staff, chairs the Translation subcommittee. The Rev. Tom Albin, a United Methodist and dean of The Upper Room Ministries and Ecumenical Relations, chairs the Utilization subcommittee.


The following persons sit on the BTU steering committee: the Rev. Dr. Daryl Ingram, African Methodist Episcopal Church (Chair, Education and Leadership Ministries Commission); Dr. Anton Vrame, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Chair, Faith and Order Commission); Ellen Taggert, United Methodist Church; the Rev. Robina Winbush, Presbyterian Church USA; and the Rev. Dr. Marcia Allen Owens, African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The BTU committee is not yet complete as NCC member communions are still nominating representatives to serve on it. In addition to Jeske and Albin, other current members are:

The Rev. Dr. Michael J. Brown (Translation), African Methodist Episcopal Church, New Testament Scholar, Candler School of Theology, Emory University;

Dr. David Bartlett (Translation), American Baptist Churches USA, New Testament Scholar;

Dr. William Herzog (Translation), American Baptist Churches USA, New Testament Scholar, Dean, Andover Newton Theological School;

The Rev. Dr. Darla D. Turlington (Utilization), American Baptist Churches USA, retired pastor;

Fr. Papken Anouchian (Translation), Armenian Church in America, New Testament Scholar;

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge (Translation), The Episcopal Church, New Testament Scholar, Seminary of the Southwest;

Dr. Deirdre J. Good (Utilization), The Episcopal Church;

The Rev. Dr. Eugene Eung-Chun Park (Translation), Presbyterian Church USA, New Testament Scholar, San Francisco Theological Seminary;

The Rev. Dr. Gay Byron (Translation), Presbyterian Church USA, New Testament Scholar, Colgate Rochester Divinity School;

Mr. David Dobson (Utilization), Presbyterian Church USA, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation;

The Rev. Dr. J. Randall Bailey (Translation), Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) Scholar, Interdenominational Theological Center;

Dr. Lee Butler (Translation), United Church of Christ, Professor of Theology and Psychology, Chicago Theological Seminary;

The Rev. Dr. Shannon Clarkson (Utilization), United Church of Christ;

Dr. Bill Arnold (Translation), United Methodist Church, Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) Scholar, Asbury Theological Seminary.

The Rev. Dr. Carmichael Crutchfield, General Secretary of Christian Education, CME Church (Utilization)

The Rev. Dr. Billye P. Bridges, Director of Christian Education, Disciples Home Missions, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Utilization)

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),

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