Friday, December 30, 2011
Common English Bible
Some Bible translations today are revisions of previous revisions. For example, from its preface, the New Revised
Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) explains it’s “an authorized revision of the Revised Standard Version,
published in 1952, which was a revision of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which, in turn,
embodied earlier revisions of the King James Version, published in 1611.” And the preface of the English
Standard Version (ESV) says it “stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past halfmillennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; marking its course
were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard
Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV).”
The Common English Bible is not a revision of any version. It’s a bold, new translation (not a paraphrase) for the
century, balancing academic rigor with modern understandability; ecumenical biblical scholarly thoroughness
with a natural reading experience.
The Common English Bible is a denomination-neutral Bible, with translator scholars responsible to each other in
peer review. It’s translated by 120 biblical scholars from faith traditions in American, African, Asian, European,
and Latino communities representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific
University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary,
Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. (See website for entire list.)
To avoid sectarian bias, 700 persons from 24 faith traditions participated in the development of the CEB
translation, which includes translators, editors, 77 reading group leaders, and hundreds of reading group
participants. All communicated together efficiently through a secure project website. The translation work began in
2008 and completed in 2011.
A lead translator prepared the first draft of the translation. A co-translator made revisions and raised issues for
further research. A reading group commented on the second draft. A readability editor then applied rigorous
comments about style and grammar. An Old Testament, New Testament, or Apocrypha editor reviewed all
changes for each book and made final revisions. The editorial board met in person and through conferencing
technology to address issues of consistency or to resolve controversial matters. Then a stylist and copyeditors
checked the text for English consistency.
Reading groups, consisting of 5 to 10 persons, were located in churches, youth groups, colleges, seminaries, and
a retirement community. The participants in the reading groups worship among 13 distinct denominations. Each
group was assigned a book of the Bible. They read the text aloud to each other and commented on unclear or
awkward phrasing, which translators considered in making the Common English Bible as comprehensively clear
The entire process for the complete Bible, the largest Bible translation undertaking ever with the most number of
participants, took only 40 months from the date of the first meeting of the CEB translation board.