[UPDATE] For those of you who are coming here from the CEB website to read my entire post, please be aware that I have changed my opinion, and please read my later post, The CEB – Reason for Caution.
As a number of us have been doing lately, I have been working my way, off and on, through the free download of Genesis in the Common English Bible. Right now I’m in the 18th chapter. I have had this pdf file on the computer for some time now, and had almost forgotten it until the last couple days. But I decided I need to take the opportunity to familiarize myself with this new translation, whatever little bits and pieces they offer to us. The book of Genesis is more than just a bit, it’s a big hunk, and it is a great opportunity to get a real look at a good example of the CEB Old Testament.
I am impressed! As time goes by, as I continue to read, I get more impressed! I am very pleased to see such a high quality translation coming out of this group! And one of the things that is impressing me the most is that they have taken a different approach to making a Bible in current English. Instead of assuming that the common English-speaking people are a simple people who require a simple translation, they have chosen to make a Bible in the common English as spoken by educated English-speakers. They are not “dumbing it down”.
After having read Matthew, and now about half of Genesis, I’m starting to get really curious about reading Paul’s epistles in the NT, to see how they have handled the complex compound sentences and concepts that are so prevalent in Paul’s writing.
One of the things that is being done in this new translation is the use of fresh new translations of certain terms in order to eliminate the “Biblish” terminology that so many translations get bogged down with. The best-known example of this is their use of the phrase “the human one” instead of the Biblish “Son of Man”. Yes, it is jarring at first, but when you realize that it may be the very best and most accurate way of translating that phrase into today’s English, you get over the novelty of it and accept it.
I’m noticing now in Genesis how they often will use the Hebrew names for God, like “El Elyon”, “El Roi”, or “El Shaddai” along with a note that tells what the name means. I like that! But I’m not always sure the best choices are made. For example, in Genesis 18:11, it reads, “Sarah was no longer menstruating.” Yes, that’s exactly correct. That tells it like it is. But would it maybe be a little more respectful to the subject, to the text, and to the reader to say she had “gone through menopause”, or perhaps to simply say she was now too old to have children? Maybe it’s just my own sensibilities, since I’m now an “old guy” myself.
But I am becoming quite excited about the prospects of getting my free New Testament when they print them this fall, and even more excited about being able to buy the full Bible sometime next year.