Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We were offered a chance to review the new Common English Bible (CEB) and decided it deserved consideration. By the way, a post similar to this one also appears on the Sowing the Seeds Blog devoted to The Life and Times of the Early Christians. You can visit HERE.

The 8 ¾ x 5 ¾ [large enough to read, small enough to easily carry] Thinline copy that we received contained the full Apocrypha between Testaments. [It’s available with or without.] It features a black DecoTone cover with gilt-edged pages and a ribbon marker. Inside, it has a two column format with 9 point type [not huge, but readable] with in-text subject headings, eight full color maps from National Geographic, study aids and a topical index. In short, it’s a nice presentation. One thing it did not have was all the red type in the Gospels, which I personally find distracting.

The CEB is designed for cross-denominational use and was created by a team of 118 Biblical scholars representing 22 Protestant denominations. It was field tested by 77 groups chosen from 13 separate denominations. The Common English Bible was built from the ground up, so to speak. It is a new translation, not a revision or update of an existing Bible. The work was funded by a co-operative group formed by the denominational publishers serving the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church.

To be fair, I have to admit I’m enough of a traditionalist that at first glance the idea of a Bible using common phrases and terminology makes me a little uncomfortable. Some of these “modern translations” of the verses we’ve come to know and love lose something when they don’t sound the way they always did. As I thought about it, I realized that the King James Version (KJV) and other older translations also contained common English…for their time.

So maybe there’s something to be said for a Bible that’s more accessible, particularly by the younger generation. You may love your Thees, Thous and Thys, but if a newer translation is what it takes to hook the next generation, I say “Go for it.” The important thing is underlying content. When all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is to keep what the words mean essentially the same.

The publisher suggested that reviewers compare this new translation to several of their favorite passages. In order to do this I went to Bible Gateway, an online Bible resource, and found their top 100 Bible Passages based on 25 million searches. Here are a few comparisons. I’ve used the Revised Standard Version for comparison purposes. It’s a newer edition of the KJV.

Here’s number one on their list, John 3:16
RSV: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
CEB: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.

Number three on the list, Rom 8:28
RSV: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
CEB: We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Number twenty-two on the list, Matt 28:20
RSV: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
CEB: Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.

Number twenty-five on the list, Phil 4:8
RSV: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
CEB: From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.

A personal favorite Isa 54:10
RSV: For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
CEB: The mountains may shift, and the hills may be shaken, but my faithful love won’t shift from you, and my covenant of peace won’t be shaken, says the LORD, the one who pities you.

Last, but not least, Ps 23:1-3
RSV: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
CEB: The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

I believe in each of the examples the translators accurately followed the original meaning. The purchase of a Bible is a very personal thing and, if you’re like me, it requires taking it for a “Test Drive.” You can do just that at the CEB website HERE.

You’ll also find the Common English Bible in stores that sell Bibles. I recommend you give it strong consideration…especially as a birthday or graduation gift for a younger person in your life.  
—E.G. Lewis

1 comment:

  1. I have it in audio, and it is excellent to listen to, if only it didn't have have God the only Son in John, an abominable translation and renders the passage absurd.