Single-author translations have deep, historical roots. In the early church, Jerome composed the Latin Vulgate; during the Reformation, Martin Luther translated the original biblical languages into German; and William Tyndale’s English translation later impacted the King James Version. There have been many single-person translations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the translation of J. B. Phillips, J. N. Darby’s Darby Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible by Dr. David H. Stern, Young’s Literal Translation by Robert Young, Kenneth Wuest’s The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, The Kingdom New Testament by British New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, a translation of the New Testament by American philosophical theologian David Bentley Hart, and more.
The Passion Translation is an attempt to bring God’s fiery heart of love and truth to this generation, merging the emotion and truth of God’s Word
Although Brian Simmons is the lead translator of The Passion Translation, he is part of a team that gives oversight and accountability to the translation project in the historical missionary translation tradition. Working in Panama, Brian’s skills were shaped according to this missionary tradition. Unlike the committee translation tradition of many Western Bible versions of the Christianized, developed world, by necessity new translations of God’s Word in the unreached majority world are undertaken by either single individuals or small teams of people who are skilled in biblical languages and linguistics. They also go beyond translation to transculturation, where the goal is transferring the essential meaning of God’s message into contemporary relevance for the people group.
Relying on these same skills with the biblical language, linguistics, and transculturation that were honed during his time translating in Central America, Brian has sought to faithfully translate the essential message of God’s Word into the contemporary, relevant language of today. And adopting the same stringent guidelines used through his missionary work, including teamwork and accountability, his work has been theologically reviewed by professionals such as Rick Wadholm Jr. (PhD), Gary S. Greig (PhD), Jacqueline Grey (BTh, PhD), Jeremy Bouma (MTh), David Housholder (Fulbright Scholar in New Testament), Stephen D. Renn (BA[Hons]; DipEd; MDiv; MA [History]; EdM), Justin Evans (MTh; MA), and others.
The reason is because our knowledge of the Bible’s language and culture increases, and English language usage changes over time
Although some Bible readers might assume making a translation permanent and unchanging is a good thing, Bible scholar Tremper Longman III explains why this is unwise: “Most translators and linguists would say that such an approach to translation is actually less accurate in terms of communicating the thought of the ancient writer to a modern audience” (Christianity Today, 9/).
We affirm this position, believing that advances in our understanding of the original biblical languages, discoveries in biblical scholarship, and continued developments of English usage necessitate regularly assessing the translation and its notes to ensure faithfulness, accuracy, readability, and clarity.
It is a common practice for modern, mainstream translations to make minor or even significant revisions and updates to the translation. In 2011, the Committee on Bible Translation updated the New International Version, unlocking the 1984 edition and revising around 5 percent of its content. They continue to meet yearly to assess the translation and make necessary changes and adjustments.
Such translating committees constantly monitor developments in biblical scholarship and changes in how English is used. Brian Simmons and translation partners pledge to regularly review The Passion Translation and its notes for its faithfulness and accuracy in light of the latest biblical scholarship, and its readability and clarity in light of modern English usage.
The result is a clear, accurate, readable translation for modern English readers, permeated by the heart of God and the emotion of his Word.