A new translation of the Bible—the Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)—is now available from Northwestern Publishing House (NPH).
More than one hundred people—pastors, professors, teachers, and laypeople—have been working on the translation since 2013, all under the direction of the Wartburg Project, an independent Lutheran Bible translation effort by WELS and Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) pastors and professors. About 30 WELS and ELS pastors and professors were involved in translating and the technical review, and 100 people served as proofreaders and popular reviewers. “By the time it was done, at least ten people had read every book,” says Rev. John Brug, general editor and Old Testament editor. All are volunteers, except Brug, who worked full time.
The EHV aims to provide a balanced translation that is good for all uses in the church, according to Brug. This means it preserves traditional familiar biblical idioms while better clarifying some language that may be confusing in other translations. Being balanced also means that “sometimes you have to be a little more literal in your translation, and sometimes you have to be a little more free,” says Brug. “We tried to look at each passage in its own case and not have one rulebook that covered everything.”
While only WELS members and those in fellowship with WELS worked on the translation, Brug is quick to note that this is not a “WELS Bible,” and it is not just for Lutherans. “No one should be able to say there is a Lutheran slant in the translation,” Brug says.
The Wartburg Project is working on content for an EHV study Bible that will provide Lutheran commentary on the passages. It hopes to have an electronic version available by the end of the year.
A committee appointed by the Conference of Presidents has reviewed the EHV. In its report, it writes, “Several of our reviewers expressed the hope that the EHV will continue to go through an editing process in anticipation of future editions. . . . At the same time, we find the translation accurate and faithful, and can recommend it for use in our church” (2019 Book of Reports and Memorials, p. 8). Brug says that the Wartburg Project welcomes suggestions to improve the translation. He anticipates reviewing changes for revisions after three to five years.
The new edition of Luther’s catechism from NPH using the EHV translation is available for preorder. It also is available using the English Standard Version and the New International Version 2011 translations. This is an example of NPH’s use of the eclectic approach: offering multiple translation choices when possible for a single resource.
Brug says he has been blessed to have been able to take part in a project of this scope. “I certainly learned a lot, but the greatest thing is the spirit with which the participants worked,” he says. “To work together with my brothers and sisters in Christ on God’s Word—the whole Bible—intensely for five years is a great blessing, and we hope it will also be a blessing to those who use what we developed.”