Living Bible translation?


My brother-in-law, fundamentalist Christian posted this on my facebook:

3 For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. 4 They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.

It is from the Living Bible (TLB)
The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Am I wrong to believe that this is a bad translation of this text? All earlier translation I have checked refer to ‘sound doctrine’ or ‘sound teaching’.

I think there is a great deal of difference between ‘listening to what the Bible says’ and ‘listening to sound doctrine/teaching’

am I wrong?


The Living Bible was paraphrased from the NASB (a protestant translation) by a father for his children. So for its purpose it is a fine translation. For study or doctrine it is a poor choice, but for someone who has difficulty understanding the Bible especially when one has a limited vocabulary, it is a fine choice.
Grace and peace,


The verse mentions the word “bible”. There was no bible when that scripture was written. That being said, ask him how he knows the verse isn’t talking about him.
Ask him how he knows which scriptures belong in the bible.

For fun King James Version says: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;



The Living Bible is a paraphrase, not an actual translation. As such, it introduces the editorial biases of the translator. It used to enjoy some popularity among Evangelicals a few decades ago, but not so much nowadays. Fight fire with fire (if you’re so inclined) and ask him what an authentic translation approved by Evangelical theologians or pastors (such as the KJV, NIV or ESV) actually says. :wink:


I do believe the Living Bible was a paraphrase, but the New Living translation in use today is a dynamic equivalence translation.


I have asked my wife on more than one occasion to throw the “Living Bible” in the trash, but she will not be throwing out the sacred. Having said that, I am Catholic, and I follow the Bible because it is in tune with the Catholic dogma, more so now that I am Catholic, than when I had so many moments of “um I don’t know” as a protestant.

The moment the Bible became alive, was when I became Catholic. Prior to that I was just fumbling around in self-induced contradictory protestant perplexity. The Catholic and the Bible meet head on, and agree with each other.


As inferred in other responses, Bible translations vary in their purpose. The general thought is that a more readable version that people use is better than a more literal translation that sits on a shelf. For general reading there are quite a number of easier to read translations. For accurate study there are more precise translations.


What book and chapter is this?



2 Timothy 4:3


The Living Bible was extremely popular in the late '70’s, but I’ve never heard anyone use it who didn’t make very, very clear that it was NOT a translation, but a paraphrase. I haven’t heard it mentioned much in the past couple decades. It was always used to illuminate understanding of translations, not as scripture itself.

One thing that lead me towards the Catholic Church was another paraphrase, “The Story,” which was used heavily in protestant churches a couple years ago. It was marketed as a new translation of The Bible. I was so horrified by the acceptance of it as a translation of The Bible that I began questioning how my faith could be built on such shifting sand. Eventually, I found a firmer foundation in the Catholic Church.


The word is not Bible.

The Greek word is alEtheias. It means truth.

they will turn their ears away from the truth



There is a Catholic edition of the Living Bible that has an Imprimatur in 1976, just for info.


My copy does indeed carry those inscriptions. While the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat are encouraging signs, they are not guarantees of much except that the text does not directly contradict or teach against Catholic doctrine. Within their authorizations, there is surprising latitude allowed. They apply even to personal opinion if it does not directly contradict the Church.


From the Knox Translation (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

“The time will surely come, when men will grow tired of sound doctrine, always itching to hear something fresh; and so they will provide themselves with a continuous succession of new teachers, as the whim takes them, 4 turning a deaf ear to the truth, bestowing their attention on fables instead.”

I bought a used Catholic Living Bible ($1.99) solely to add to my collection. During various medical treatments it was easiest to read when I had almost zero energy. It is, at times, agonizing to read, but I consider it a penance. :smiley:

Ask him if Jesus founded a bible, or a Church. Even the Living Bible is correct there (Matthew 16:18). But, it is a very loose translation, and has clear denominational bias in it - thus, it is some distance from the original manuscripts. Since most fundamentalists use the NIV, let’s see what it has to say: 2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Truth and doctrine, but no “bible.” Hmmmm.

Your BIL seriously needs a far better translation if he is interested in the truth. I would send him a better bible. At best, he might read it. At worst, you will get it back. I would suggest the Revised English Bible (1989 and later). It was produced with the cooperation of all major denominations in England, and is essentially as easily read as the NIV. I have the version with “the Apocrypha” which essentially means the Deuterocanonical books used by Catholic and Orthodox. You can buy used, excellent condition copies on eBay and Amazon for less than $10.

But, virtually any English scripture translation would be far better than what he has.


Like I said, the Living Bible and the New Living bible (NLT) are different. The first is a paraphrase. The second, a translation. I’m almost sure that Catholic version was an earlier edition of the NLT. I had it for awhile because I like looking at different versions, but the print was too small for my aging eyes. I wish they would reissue it with the Deuterocanonicals again. What I’d really like is a Catholic NIV.


The authorized Catholic version is the original Living Bible. There is a catholic edition of the first NLT but it is not authorized by the Catholic Church.


Thanks for the clarification. I no longer have the Bible, since the print was so small; so I don’t remember, but I think it was that earlier version of the NLT you mentioned.


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