I was recently sent a complimentary copy of the New Testament in the Common English Bible translation.

A quick check on my personal library shelf: I think I have 30 or so contemporary English translations of the Bible or significant parts of the Bible. If you want to make money, it seems, produce a new translation. If you want to press a particular quirky doctrine or teaching, produce a new translation. Produce a translation and it appears there is always a market, a niche in our ever-fragmenting English-speaking Christian market, for the next, new thing. Other English translations, apparently, are too old-fashioned, too street-language-like, too Catholic, too Calvinist, too inclusive, too sexist, etc.

So here’s the next one. I really struggle to work out what its niche is – do let me know in the comments.

Jesus no longer calls himself the Son of Man, he has become “the Human One” (I don’t know if the authors noticed, but capitals aren’t “heard” in reading aloud). Distances and lengths are given in feet and inches etc. (yes – there are still people on the planet that use these! LOL! Cost: one Mars probe, not cheap). But, other measures are just (inconsistently) transliterated.

The Beatitudes (Matt 5) have people being “Happy”, bishops are “supervisors”, deacons are “servants”.

When you want to move a little deeper than “be nice” in the Bible:

1 John 2:2 καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.

becomes “He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world.” ie. ἱλασμός is “God’s way of dealing with”.

The Old Testament I think isn’t out yet. But some of it is online. I liked that, in Gen 2:7 “the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land” having the Hebrew “earth-creature” as “human” rather than “man”, but when the Hebrew changes to “man” (verse 23) this translation just continues with “human”.

We’ve all met people (maybe you are such a person) who want the Bible translation to “sound nice”, to read easily, to be the way they expect the Bible to be – but I think a Bible translation is more and different to that: I want a translation to be as accurate as possible – whether I like it or not. I want a translation to be reliable – not just good in parts. Not just mostly reliable (so that you are never sure if this bit is what the original actually says or not).

If, like me, you have a shelf full of translations, by all means buy this one to add to your collection. If not: a) learn some Greek and/or Hebrew b) use the tools I provide c) get yourself one formal equivalent translation (NRSV) and if you want, a dynamic equivalent (CEV) and a paraphrase (the Message).

More information about the Common English Bible

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