30 Years In The Making

It was in 1986 that two friends sat down together in East London, England with a blank sheet of paper to try and imagine what a Bible for the 21st century would look like.  Would it be an electronic edition?  Would it be on CD?  If it was printed would it comprise 66 separate books, two books, or fit within a single cover?  Was it possible to provide a Bible for people of all ages, nationalities and cultures, or would there need to be different editions for different groups.

One of the friends, Tony Cantale is a Bible designer, and he set about the huge task of working out potential layouts, page and font sizes using his considerable knowledge of existing Bibles and trends.  The other friend, Keith J. White, who is a writer, began work on how to present the Bible text.  He led daily prayers with his large extended family and together they discussed how the Bible could be made more accessible to people of various age-groups and backgrounds.

It wasn’t long before the magnitude of the enterprise became clear.  It would be breaking new ground in Bible publishing.

When we discussed the idea with publishers in the UK and America they expressed their interest and respect for the project but understandably gave the impression that it simply wasn’t feasible.  The received wisdom was that niche Bibles were the future.

The more we worked on the project however, the more enthusiastic we became and we soon added to our team.  It was crucial to find an artist and after several years of searching we found Andy Bisgrove, who accepted the challenge of producing 500 colour illustrations for the first editions that were accessible to people of every age and culture in the world.  That hadn’t been done before in a Bible, and it took him 14 years to complete the first series. He sought the advice of many friends and colleagues including Koji Matsubyashi, a Japanese artist.

We also needed editorial advisers who were experts in theology and biblical studies.  These included the late Dr Martin Selman, Dr Debra Reid, Arthur Rowe (all from Spurgeons’ College, London) and also Martin Manser, Emma Redfern, Nicky Bull and David Pickering all highly respected Bible editors.

Year by year the team worked at integrating illustrations, biblical studies and design, all the time checking out our ideas with children, young people and families around the world.

Eventually we formed a partnership with Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society) who agreed to offer the NIrV as the version for the English edition of the Bible in this international project.  We were also supported financially by two UK charities, Dove Ministries and the Goddard Memorial Trust.  Mill Grove Christian Charitable Trust provided encouragement, space and administrative help throughout.

When we came to the first printing of the Bible the very special customised paper was made in France, the printing done in Japan, and the binding in Hong Kong.  So the whole project has been international in scope from start to finish.

The end result is, we believe, a Bible that is beautiful, simple, accessible and clear.

The first printing of the English edition was however just a start.  We are now planning multiple language editions.

We invite readers to join us in the development of this Bible so that it continues to be sensitive to national and regional traditions, and to the needs of young and old, churched and unchurched, in every part of the world and at every level of society.