First Thoughts on The Common English Bible
A couple of months ago I was asked to take part in a blog tour for The Common English Bible. While I probably haven’t been the best blog tour participant (mainly because this is my first post on it), I have wanted to get a feel of this new translation before I shared my thoughts. In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free copy of the CEB… and you can get one too, if you keep reading.
So after a month, what do I think about the CEB? It feels… different. The translation is very much in common English as it is written at a seventh grade level. The dynamic equivalence translation principles used allow for a smooth flow and rhythm when reading it, and it has a very conversational tone to it. It feels like what I would envision The Message being, were it an actual translation, rather than a paraphrase.
In learning more about the CEB, I was interested in hearing what Dr. Paul Franklyn, the project director for the CEB, had to say in response to some commonly asked questions
Why do we need another Bible translation?
The Common English Bible is a non-polarizing Bible translation. It’s the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; teens working with retirees; men working with women; conservatives working with liberals; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a translation that unites rather than divides, with the ultimate goal of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world.
The Common English Bible is also needed today because the digital revolution is accelerating changes in the English language and its everyday usage and understandability. This translation is necessary to clearly communicate God’s Word because 9,000 new words & meaning revisions are added yearly to the English lexicon. The Common English Bible is today’s freshest translation and uses natural, 21st century English
Explain the translation process.
Combining scholarly accuracy with vivid language, the Common English Bible is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. They translated the Bible into English directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.
Additionally, more than 500 readers in 77 groups field-tested the translation. Every verse was read aloud in the reading groups, where potentially confusing passages were identified. The translators considered the groups’ responses and, where necessary, reworked those passages to clarify in English their meaning from the original languages. In total, more than 600 people worked jointly to bring the Common English Bible to fruition.
Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?
The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).
Reading the list of sponsors I was surprised by the number of mainline publishers involved in this project, so I asked Dr. Franklyn to speak a little to that, and to clarify how this translation differs from the NIV and ESV:
Translators came from the largest groups in the country, but the term “mainline” is inaccurate as a label because the translators often (more than half of the time) are evangelical regardless of denominational tradition. They are Presbyterian (17), Episcopal (17), Methodist (17), Baptist (14), Christian Churches (7) Catholic (12), Lutheran (5) Nazarene (5), and Pentecostal (5).
The CEB is comparable in reading level to the NIV, but the CEB starts over fresh with Hebrew and Greek instead of trying to preserve the KJV vocabulary that is still very strong in the NIV and especially ESV. The ESV is actually the RSV, which was translated by the so-called mainline denominations in 1951.
Our goal was builing common ground rather than choosing sides between denominational controversies.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am still getting a sense of how I feel about this translation. I have enjoyed reading it during my devotional times, but find myself returning to my NIV, NASB, and occasionally ESV when I am doing my deeper study.
What is YOUR experience with the Common English Bible?
Want a copy of the CEB? Leave a comment and share a tweet about this post. I will select a random comment on Friday, December 16th at noon, eastern, to receive your very own copy!