I was browsing through a small catalog that came from a local Christian bookstore and noticed several advertisements for a new translation called the Common English Bible (CEB). I had never heard of it before, so I decided to investigate. On the CEB website they state the following:
The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It is a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
A key goal of the translation team is to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level for over half of all English readers. . . . Easy readability can enhance church worship and participation, and personal Bible study. It also encourages children and youth to discover the Bible for themselves, perhaps for the very first time.Apparently they believe that many of our current translations are difficult to read and therefore the need for another translation.
I downloaded Genesis from their website and began to read (since I’m working for AiG, I had better start with that book of the Bible!) While there is much I could say, I will comment on just a few verses in Genesis and elsewhere.
The Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. The Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. (Genesis 2:7–8, CEB, underlining mine)
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. (Genesis 2:7–8, NKJV, underlining mine)Obviously, my biggest problem with these verses is the CEB’s use of the generic term human for man. It isn’t until later in chapter 2 when God made the woman that there is any indication in the CEB that the “human” in verses 7 and 8 was male! The Hebrew word for man is adam, which is a masculine noun and in the context of these verses in Genesis clearly refers to the first man, Adam. Perhaps it was their desire to appease the evangelical feminists or be “politically correct,” but in the process they have sacrificed accuracy and ease of understanding, which is contrary to their goal.
Now let’s look at a New Testament passage:
So they went out and proclaimed that people should change their hearts and lives. (Mark 6:12, CEB, underlining mine)
So they went out and preached that people should repent. (Mark 6:12, NKJV, underlining mine)According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word repent (metanoeo) means “to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” The phrase “change their hearts and lives” does not relay the sense that repentance is a turning away from sin. It sounds a lot like moralism in that it doesn’t address sin and just encourages people to live better lives. Another problem with the CEB translation is the implication that this is something people can do, as if people can change their hearts and lives without God. According to Scripture, the only one who can change our hearts and lives is Jesus (Romans 5:8). It’s not something we do, but rather because of what He did for us.
Sadly, the CEB translation also includes the apocrypha, which is clearly not Scripture (see Why 66?). Not surprisingly, the list of translators reveals many from liberal Christian denominations. It's sad to see a translation that muddies the waters instead of bringing clarity and will confuse people about the true meaning of the Gospel.
If you want to know more about translations and defending the Bible as truth, I highly recommend the book by Brian Edwards, Nothing But the Truth, and his DVD series, How Do We Know the Bible is True? I’ve been using the DVDs in my Sunday school class, and they have been very helpful.