Tag: ecumenical bible

NRSV Giant Print Thin-line Bible Review

NRSV Giant Print Thin-line Bible Review

Zondervan has finally released an edition of the NRSV that I can read with no issues, while I wait for my bifocals to arrive, and I am glad to review it for you today. If you click on this ISBN, 9780310454113, you will find an affiliate link which will enable you to purchase your own copy. For the lawyers: Zondervan provided this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Photos of this Bible

 

Zondervan’s Product Description

Easy to Read. Easy to Carry.

Explore God’s Word without suffering from eyestrain, with the NRSV Thinline Bible Giant Print. Not only will the 13 point type size enable you to read Scripture with ease, but it has also been paired with Zondervan’s Comfort Print typeface, which has been heavily tested and specifically designed to present the verses of the Bible in an as easy-to-read print as possible. We invite you to experience a smooth reading experience that complements the foremost Bible translation vetted by Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Jewish scholars.

Features:

  • The full text of the New Revised Standard Version (66-book Protestant canon), vetted by an ecumenical pool of Christian academics and renowned for its beautiful balance of scholarship and readability
  • Only an inch thick
  • Double-column format
  • Presentation page
  • Satin ribbon marker
  • Exclusive Zondervan NRSV Comfort Print typeface
  • 13-point print size

 

 

Readability

This edition stands far above its colleagues. Most NRSV Bibles are fairly smallish, especially the study editions, and cause eyestrain or other fatigue when attempting to read for long periods of time. Zondervan’s Comfort Print font greatly reduces the eyestrain; for some it eliminates it entirely, as it did in my case. The font in the Giant Print Thin-line is 13-point where the Large Print Thin-line comes in at 11-point. Both have the Comfort Print font and yet the difference in readability is incredible, just remember the Giant Print Thin-line adds about 20% to the thickness of the Bible. The only other NRSV that comes close to this in readability is the Baylor Annotated Study Bible. Naturally, I recommend both.

 

The Layout and Paper

The Giant Print Thin-line is laid out in a double-column paragraph format with semi-bold verse numbers. As far as NRSV Bibles go, this will be one of the easier Bibles to use in preaching.

 

This is a text only edition of the Bible so there are no distractions in the text itself. In the bottom left or right of the page you will find the Translator’s footnotes. NRSV happens to be one of the more heavily footnoted translations, partially because of its widespread use in academic circles. The foot notes include alternate translations and textual variants.

 

The paper is around 28gsm and it is a crisp white. It offsets the black letters quite nicely causing the Bible to perform well in most settings. You should have no issues with carrying the Bible.

 

Cover and Binding

The edition I am reviewing is the black leathersoft and it is also available in burgundy. In this edition, the polymer feel is considerably more obvious than in other Zondervan editions; it isn’t so bad though. I would really like to see this in a genuine leather cover, a Bible so clearly designed for preaching should have a nice cover. I understand Zondervan’s decision, though. NRSV is not the most popular translation; Christian Bookseller’s Association puts NRSV at 7% market share which does not put in the top 10 best-selling Bible translations. Meanwhile Zondervan also publishes the two best-selling English translations on the planet, KJV and NIV so I can understand not committing many premium options into the market. For the leathersoft to be the top level offered is a smart play.

 

The Bible appears to have a sewn binding so it will last for quite a while. If you plan to use it for a daily carry Bible, it should hold up well.

 

For Preaching

The NRSV is not a main preaching translation for me. That being said, this is the only NRSV that I would actually be comfortable to recommend for preaching. The font size and readability lend to its usefulness in the pulpit.

 

I can easily see this edition in the classroom; it will pair very well with the Baylor Annotated Study Bible, the Harper Collins Study Bible, the Oxford Annotated Bible or the New Interpreter’s Study Bible. In point of fact, that would be my recommended use case for this Bible, in the classroom.

 

For Every Day Carry

At 1” thick, this is one of the easier NRSV Bibles that you will try to carry. It is very lightweight, lending to ease of use with single handed carry. I have quite a few books in my bag and this fit in quite nicely. It definitely lives up to Zondervan’s claim of being easy to carry and easy to use.

 

Should you Buy?

Yes, assuming the NRSV is a translation is a translation you use regularly. The price point is very attractive and you receive a good value for the money.

 

Final Thoughts

This particular NRSV Bible guarantees that I will use the translation more. Whether or not it becomes a preaching Bible remains to be seen. I do love the NRSV’s handling of the Old Testament so I am quite happy to have an easy to read edition; it will make my study that much more productive and enjoyable.

 

I would like to this edition available in both hardcover and genuine leather to give it more audience appeal.

Oxford Annotated Bibles Combined Review (Recovered and Updaated)

Oxford Annotated Bibles Combined Review (Recovered and Updaated)

 

 

(There are two version of the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) that are available, NOAB 4thEdition in NRSV, both with and without Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books and the NOAB Expanded Edition in the RSV) .

 

NOAB 4th Edition (NRSV) Photos

NOAB Expanded Edition (RSV) Photos)

Before we get into the review, some technical information:

Product Information

Type: Ecumenical/General Reference/Academic/Seminary-Grade Text

Translation Choices: NRSV (NOAB 4th Edition) and RSV (NOAB Expanded Edition)

 

Number of Pages (NOAB 4th Edition) 2416

Number of Pages (NOAB Expanded Edition) 1904

There are approximately 500 more pages of content in the NOAB 4th Edition vs the Expanded Edition. The Expanded Edition is much closer to the original Oxford Annotated Bible (which was also RSV and which I also own). I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not this is a positive.

 

Features (from the OUP Bibles Official pages)

  • Wholly revised, and greatly expanded book introductions and annotations
  • Annotations in a single column across the page bottom, paragraphed according to their boldface topical headings
  • In-text background essays on the major divisions of the biblical text
  • Essays on the history of the formation of the biblical canon for Jews and various Christian churches
  • More detailed explanations of the historical background of the text
  • More in-depth treatment of the history and varieties of biblical criticism
  • A timeline of major events in the ancient Near East
  • A full index to all of the study materials, keyed to the page numbers on which they occur
  • A full glossary of scholarly and critical terms
  • 36-page section of full color New Oxford Bible Maps, approximately 40 in-text line drawing maps and diagrams
  • 10-point type for NOAB Expanded Edition, 9-point for NOAB 4th Edition

 

Product Description from Oxford University Press

The premier study Bible used by scholars, pastors, undergraduate and graduate students, The New Oxford Annotated Bible offers a vast range of information, including extensive notes by experts in their fields; in-text maps, charts, and diagrams; supplementary essays on translation, biblical interpretation, cultural and historical background, and other general topics. Extensively revised (NOAB 4th Edition)—half of the material is brand new—featuring a new design to enhance readability, and brand-new color maps, the Annotated Fourth Edition adds to the established reputation of this essential biblical studies resource. Many new and revised maps, charts, and diagrams further clarify information found in the Scripture text. In addition, section introductions have been expanded and the book introductions present their information in a standard format so that students can find what they need to know. Of course, the Fourth Edition retains the features prized by students, including single column annotations at the foot of the pages, in-text charts, and maps, a page number-keyed index of all the study materials in the volume, and Oxford’s renowned Bible maps. This timely edition maintains and extends the excellence the Annotated’s users have come to expect, bringing still more insights, information, and perspectives to bear upon the understanding of the biblical text.

Classic but not stodgy, up-to-date but not trendy, The New Oxford Annotated Bible: 4th Edition is ready to serve new generations of students, teachers, and general readers.

 

Initial Thoughts

OUP sent me the NOAB 4th Edition in the New Revised Standard Version, without Apocrypha, free of charge in exchange for an honest review and I acquired, at my own expense, a copy of the NOAB Expanded Edition in the Revised Standard Version. Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with the NOAB and there are a number of things about it that I like.

 

I find myself being surprised at liking the Apocrypha. Some of it is fictional but there is a wealth of historical information regarding the segment of world history that transpired between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Update (May 2020): Many conservative/evangelical readers are almost entirely unfamiliar with the Apocrypha. After reviewing it for a couple years, I am convinced that there is historical value that informs our understanding of the period between the Old Testament and the New. I recommend all Christians read it, keeping in mind of course, that it is not canonical Scripture.

Translation Choice:

The NOAB is available in both Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version. Let’s look at some information on each translation:

RSV: (from Wikipedia and other sources)

The Revised Standard Version (RSV) is an English-language translation of the Bible published in several parts during the mid-20th century. The RSV is a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV) authorized by the copyright holder, the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

The RSV posed the first serious challenge to the popularity of the Authorized (King James) Version (KJV). It was intended to be a readable and literally accurate modern English translation, not only to create a clearer version of the Bible for the English-speaking church but also to “preserve all that is best in the English Bible as it has been known and used through the centuries” and “to put the message of the Bible in simple, enduring words that are worthy to stand in the great Tyndale-King James tradition.

 

The Isaiah 7:14 dispute 

The RSV New Testament was well received, but reactions to the Old Testament were varied and not without controversy. Critics claimed that the RSV translators had translated the Old Testament from a non-Christian perspective. Some critics specifically referred to a Jewish viewpoint, pointing to agreements with the 1917 Jewish Publication Society of America Version TaNaKH and the presence on the editorial board of a Jewish scholar, Harry Orlinsky. Such critics further claimed that other views, including those of the New Testament, were not considered. The focus of the controversy was the RSV’s translation of the Hebrew word עַלְמָה (‘almah) in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” rather than the traditional Christian translation of “virgin”.

Of the seven appearances of ʿalmāh, the Septuagint translates only two of them as parthenos, “virgin” (including Isaiah 7:14). By contrast, the word בְּתוּלָה (bəṯūlāh) appears some 50 times, and the Septuagint and English translations agree in understanding the word to mean “virgin” in almost every case.

 

NRSV: (from nrsv.net and Wikipedia)

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Christian Bible is an English translation released in 1989. It is an updated revision of the Revised Standard Version, which was itself an update of the American Standard Version.

 

The NRSV was intended as a translation to serve devotional, liturgical and scholarly needs of the broadest possible range of religious adherents. The full translation includes the books of the standard Protestant canon as well as the books traditionally included in the canons of Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity (the so-called “Apocryphal” or “Deuterocanonical” books).

The translation appears in three main formats: an edition including only the books of the Protestant canon, a Roman Catholic Edition with all the books of that canon in their customary order, and The Common Bible, which includes all books that appear in Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox canons. Special editions of the NRSV employ British spelling and grammar.

Principles of revision for NRSV

Improved manuscripts and translations

The Old Testament translation of the RSV was completed before the Dead Sea Scrolls were available to scholars. The NRSV was intended to take advantage of this and other manuscript discoveries, and to reflect advances in scholarship.

 

Elimination of archaism

The RSV retained the archaic second person familiar forms (“thee and thou”) when God was addressed but eliminated their use in other contexts. The NRSV eliminated all such archaisms. In a prefatory essay to readers, the translation committee said that “although some readers may regret this change, it should be pointed out that in the original languages neither the Old Testament nor the New makes any linguistic distinction between addressing a human being and addressing the Deity.”

Gender language (This is what makes the NRSV somewhat controversial, though it is no secret that NIV and NLT do similarly)

In the preface to the NRSV Bruce Metzger wrote for the committee that “many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text”. The RSV observed the older convention of using masculine nouns in a gender-neutral sense (e.g. “man” instead of “person”), and in some cases used a masculine word where the source language used a neuter word. The NRSV by contrast adopted a policy of inclusiveness in gender language. According to Metzger, “The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.”

 

As it happens, I prefer the RSV though it is hard to explain why. The NRSV’s Old Testament is very well done, perhaps even better than the NIV as is its parent, the RSV. NRSV feels somewhat more like a Dynamic Equivalence translation even though both RSV and NRSV are essentially literal.

Update (May 2020) I have warmed to the NRSV more than at the time of the original publication of this article. However, I still prefer the RSV to the NRSV. I have neither qualitative nor quantitative explanation for this fact other than to state it as a fact.

 

Content:

The supplemental articles are essentially the same in both editions, despite the fact that the last update on the RSV was in 1977. There are articles on interpretation of the text, source materials (original language texts used), contemporary methods of Bible study and others.

An estimated number of footnotes is not provided; I would guess at between 8,000-10,000 notes. They are comparable to the Harper Collins Study Bible (Incidentally a much better name is needed for this) or to the NIV Study Bible, but nowhere near the monstrous 20,000+ study notes that are provided in the ESV Study Bible. I would say that the closed comparable Bible in terms of content would be the New Interpreter’s Study Bible from Abingdon Press.

The Book Introductions are fairly brief in both versions, no more than just a couple paragraphs really. They cover mainly historical background information. I have to say that the introductions were a major disappointment for me. In a Bible that bills itself as the Academic Standard, there are some points that I would expect to see treated in the book introductions that are just not there. I would expect to see interpretive challenges being addressed, especially the “disputed” letters from Paul (Colossians and Ephesians which some question Pauline authorship of), such as in the Reformation Study Bible or the MacArthur Study Bible. I would also expect, in the Academic Standard, that you would see a section in each book introduction of how Christ is portrayed in that book and how that book fits, overall, into the Scriptures. Perhaps I am over reacting but if the point of studying the Bible is to better know Christ, then a section on how each book of Sacred Writ describes Him seems to be quite essential.

 

There are no conspicuous cross-references (center-column or end of verse) and I am completely annoyed by that fact; yes there are references in the footnotes but that is hardly the point. I have a number of reference Bibles that I use (first choice is Thompson Chain followed by KJV Westminster) and so, the lack of obvious cross-references is not a deal breaker for me; this too is beside the point. Most of America has only one Bible and they use that daily. Oxford certainly has enough room to include center column references or end of verse references; they could even go in the gutter.

I realize that in an edition with the Apocrypha, the inclusion of references will make it gigantic but there are other study Bibles (NIV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, ESV Study Bible) which all include extensive references and, frankly more content, than Oxford includes in its Annotated Bibles

 

Paper, Layout, and Binding

Like Cambridge University Press, Oxford still sews its Bibles and this is an absolute must with a study Bible. The paper has a slight feeling of cotton when you touch it and I love that. The paper is more opaque in the RSV Expanded but the NOAB 4th Edition has nothing to complain about. I did not see any ghosting and I feel safe in saying that you can write in this Bible with no issues.

 

The text, in both Bibles, is black letter for optimum visuals, especially if you color code your notes. We have a double column for the text notes and a single column for the annotations. I actually prefer this layout as it breaks up the page nicely but still gives me that solid textbook feel.

I really wish there were wide margins; AMG was able to pull off serviceable margins for their study Bible and I am confident that if they tried, OUP could as well.

Update (May 2020) The lack of wide margins and/or notes pages continues to aggravate me. Again, Oxford bills the Annotated Bible as the Premier General Reference Bible so why is such a glaring omission made, especially in light of the fact that the college and seminary student is almost guaranteed to add their own notes in the text.

Overall Impression

My minor complaints notwithstanding, these are fairly good Bibles to own. I like it better than the Harper Collins and the CEB Study Bibles, and for no other reason than ease of carry. NOAB 4th Edition is slim enough to fit in my laptop bag with a handbook, dictionary, and some other tools while NOAB Expanded Edition, being more of a hand sized Bible can be easily carried outside of my bag, allowing me a larger complement of study resources.

For daily use (Added May 2020)

I find the NOAB Expanded Edition to be the version that gets the most use. The larger font is easier on my eyes for longer periods of study. Additionally, I have the NOAB 5th Edition in Accordance Bible Software so I am never without the notes since I always have Accordance with me (iPhone, iPad, or MacBook -one of the three is always within reach).

 

Should you buy the New Oxford Annotated Bible

If you are a student of the Word, yes. Any student or teacher should have multiple study resources to use when approaching the Scriptures and I can see why many seminaries consider this to be the Academic Standard. Should it be your primary Bible? I cannot answer that, except to say that I think your main Bible should be as free of commentary as possible. As my mentor Doug tells me, “I want to hear what God has to say to me first. Then I will see what he told someone else.” I could not agree more. Study Bibles are a good, valuable tool when used properly but no source of commentary should ever be consulted before the Holy Spirit; if He can write the book and preserve it for thousands of years, He can certainly tell you what he means.

 

CEB Study Bible (Updated) Review

CEB Study Bible (Updated) Review

The CEB Study Bible is as interesting as it is inconspicuous. Its cover is not loud or busy; it looks like it belongs on the shelf in your pastor’s library. We will get into the translation in a few minutes, but first, I want to point out a few things that stand out to my eyes.

  1. The CEB Study Bible is very similar in size and weight to the CSB Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers as well as the Thompson Chain Reference, just slightly larger than the MacArthur Study Bible and slightly smaller than the ESV Study Bible. Why does that matter? Well, size affects portability, which can impact use. Given that it is not as heavy as some of my other study Bibles, portability should not pose a problem.
  2. The font size is 8-point. While this is not my first choice in a font size, it is quite readable. Besides that, with the amount of content that is on each page, a larger font would make this Bible too cumbersome to take with you.
  3. This is a full color Bible, including the charts and illustrations. Aside from making it easier to see, it also makes the CEB Study Bible more fun to engage.
  4. In the front there is a list of abbreviations and textual resources including Greek Manuscripts that were used. I do not think I have ever seen that before and I have to say that I like that feature. When you decide on a translation for personal use, you want to be sure that you are using the best manuscripts available, which certainly looks to be the case here.

If I only knew those four facts, I would certainly be curious enough to pick up a copy to investigate. However, as with every study Bible, there is much more to discuss.

Let’s start with the translation:

CEB is a Dynamic Equivalence/Thought-for-thought/meaning based translation.

From the Common English Bible Website

“What is the CEB?

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 was 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. As the translators did their work, reading specialists working with seventy-seven reading groups from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. 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.”

There is one glaring issue that I want to deal with. The CEB translates bar-enos/ben-adam as the “Human One.” When I originally reviewed the CEB Study Bible, I did not call attention to this and that was a mistake. Jesus used the term, Son of Man in reference to Himself and a look at the usage is clearly messianic in nature. I will not go so far as to call the translation a blasphemy (because I do not know what is in the heart of the translators) but I will say that it is troublesome at the least and an attack on the deity of Christ at the worst.

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. The translators and editors that worked on the Bible are from various denominations and locations around the world. 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). Abingdon Press is the sales distribution partner for the CEB.”

Abigdon Press features the NRSV and NIV in the translation comparisons on the CEB website which leads me to believe that CEB is probably meant to be more ecumenical as opposed to more conservative (NASB would be the conservative example). The notes feel somewhat similar to the New Interpreters Study Bible, not a surprise since both are published by Abingdon Press, but we will get more into that later.

The Johannine Comma is not in this translation and the ending of Mark is marked off as is the first part of John Chapter 8. Let’s look at a couple verses. We will compare with NRSV, NIV, and NASB. (the first two are provided by the publisher. The third is mine.

The Model Prayer

CEB

Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

NIV

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

NRSV

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

NASB

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 10:23

Common English Bible (CEB)

Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

New International Version (NIV)

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

New American Standard Version

23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

            As I referenced earlier, I am totally annoyed at the choice of “the Human One” instead of the “Son of Man” The Son of Man, in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, is an eschatological term and denotes the Messiah in His role as Divine King and Judge in the end times. (I will get into more detail on the Son of Man in another article.) I am saddened by the fact that this translation choice was used as opposed to Son of Man.

Romans 3:22-24

Common English Bible (CEB)

God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace, because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ* for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

New International Version (NIV)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

New American Standard

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

More comparisons can be found at commonenglishbible.com and you can compare to your favorite translation at biblegateway.com

Helps

I don’t normally comment on perceived bias, but in this case it seems almost unavoidable. Looking at the denominational list of the translators and contributors, I would have to suggest that there will probably be a liberal bias in the notes. In an effort to show as much grace as possible, I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that the notes would be simple ecumenical, but the presence of the “progressive (read-ultra liberal)” United Church of Christ suggests otherwise.

To my surprise, there is a tremendous amount of content provided in terms of the helps.

  • There are approximately 10,000-15,000 notes (a definite number was not provided for me)
  • 21 Maps are provided in conjunction with National Geographic.
  • There is a picture that is relevant to each book of the Bible included in the introduction. This is a very nice feature to help you visualize the environment.
  • There are approximately 200 charts, graphs, illustrations and pictures and 300 sidebar articles to help you did deeper into the message of scripture. These sidebars are actually my favorite feature. During the time I have been using this Bible, I have encountered a few points that I did not know before and that IS the key with a Study Bible; it has to help you understand the Bible more than you did when you sat down to read it.
  • At the end of the Bible text, there are several articles on the unity of the Bible and some helps for studying the Bible. IF you have never attempted study before, you will find them a great stepping stone. After 20 years, I have my own methods I follow.
  • References (around 50,000-70,000) are in the side column alongside the text.

I am frequently asked, “Matt, as a very conservative Baptist, why do you fool around with these ‘ecumenical’ study Bibles?” I use “ecumenical” resources alongside conservative resources because I tend to find more offered in the way of textual criticism as well as historical background information in the helps. Some of the reading guides and study aids also tend to be very helpful.

I do need to caution you, though, that I do not recommend that you use any ecumenical resources unless you are very solid in your theology.

Text & Paper

We are presented with a black letter text (you want this in a study bible so that when you make markings in a different color they will stick out.) As I said earlier I make it a (7 or) 8-point font, small but still readable.

The paper is creamy white and fairly opaque. While there is not a ton of room for writing, you should be able to make your notations and other markings with minimal trouble. Ghosting is minimal and I commend Abingdon Press for this, especially since there is nothing more annoying than ghosting when you are trying to study.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I can only give the CEB Study Bible a 7.5 and this is solely based on a few translation choices with which I have major problems.

 

More Photos

 

 

 

The CEB Study Bible is as interesting as it is inconspicuous. Its cover is not loud or busy; it looks like it belongs on the shelf in your pastor’s library. We will get into the translation in a few minutes, but first, I want to point out a few things that stand out to my eyes.

 

  1. The CEB Study Bible is very similar in size and weight to the CSB Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers as well as the Thompson Chain Reference, just slightly larger than the MacArthur Study Bible and slightly smaller than the ESV Study Bible. Why does that matter? Well, size affects portability, which can impact use. Given that it is not as heavy as some of my other study Bibles, portability should not pose a problem.
  2. The font size is 8-point. While this is not my first choice in a font size, it is quite readable. Besides that, with the amount of content that is on each page, a larger font would make this Bible too cumbersome to take with you.
  3. This is a full color Bible, including the charts and illustrations. Aside from making it easier to see, it also makes the CEB Study Bible more fun to engage.
  4. In the front there is a list of abbreviations and textual resources including Greek Manuscripts that were used. I do not think I have ever seen that before and I have to say that I like that feature. When you decide on a translation for personal use, you want to be sure that you are using the best manuscripts available, which certainly looks to be the case here.

 

If I only knew those four facts, I would certainly be curious enough to pick up a copy to investigate. However, as with every study Bible, there is much more to discuss.

 

Let’s start with the translation:

 

CEB is a Dynamic Equivalence/Thought-for-thought/meaning based translation.

 

From the Common English Bible Website

 

“What is the CEB?

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 was 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. As the translators did their work, reading specialists working with seventy-seven reading groups from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. 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.”

 

There is one glaring issue that I want to deal with. The CEB translates bar-enos/ben-adam as the “Human One.” When I originally reviewed the CEB Study Bible, I did not call attention to this and that was a mistake. Jesus used the term, Son of Man in reference to Himself and a look at the usage is clearly messianic in nature. I will not go so far as to call the translation a blasphemy (because I do not know what is in the heart of the translators) but I will say that it is troublesome at the least and an attack on the deity of Christ at the worst.

 

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. The translators and editors that worked on the Bible are from various denominations and locations around the world. 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). Abingdon Press is the sales distribution partner for the CEB.”

 

Abigdon Press features the NRSV and NIV in the translation comparisons on the CEB website which leads me to believe that CEB is probably meant to be more ecumenical as opposed to more conservative (NASB would be the conservative example). The notes feel somewhat similar to the New Interpreters Study Bible, not a surprise since both are published by Abingdon Press, but we will get more into that later.

 

The Johannine Comma is not in this translation and the ending of Mark is marked off as is the first part of John Chapter 8. Let’s look at a couple verses. We will compare with NRSV, NIV, and NASB. (the first two are provided by the publisher. The third is mine.

 

The Model Prayer

CEB

Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

 

NIV

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

NRSV

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

 

NASB

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Matthew 10:23

Common English Bible (CEB)

Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

New International Version (NIV)

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

New American Standard Version

23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

 

            As I referenced earlier, I am totally annoyed at the choice of “the Human One” instead of the “Son of Man” The Son of Man, in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, is an eschatological term and denotes the Messiah in His role as Divine King and Judge in the end times. (I will get into more detail on the Son of Man in another article.) I am saddened by the fact that this translation choice was used as opposed to Son of Man.

 

 

Romans 3:22-24

Common English Bible (CEB)

God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace, because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ* for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

 

New International Version (NIV)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

 

New American Standard

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

 

More comparisons can be found at commonenglishbible.com and you can compare to your favorite translation at biblegateway.com

 

Helps

 

I don’t normally comment on perceived bias, but in this case it seems almost unavoidable. Looking at the denominational list of the translators and contributors, I would have to suggest that there will probably be a liberal bias in the notes. In an effort to show as much grace as possible, I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that the notes would be simple ecumenical, but the presence of the “progressive (read-ultra liberal)” United Church of Christ suggests otherwise.

 

To my surprise, there is a tremendous amount of content provided in terms of the helps.

 

 

  • There are approximately 10,000-15,000 notes (a definite number was not provided for me)

 

  • 21 Maps are provided in conjunction with National Geographic.

 

  • There is a picture that is relevant to each book of the Bible included in the introduction. This is a very nice feature to help you visualize the environment.

 

  • There are approximately 200 charts, graphs, illustrations and pictures and 300 sidebar articles to help you did deeper into the message of scripture. These sidebars are actually my favorite feature. During the time I have been using this Bible, I have encountered a few points that I did not know before and that IS the key with a Study Bible; it has to help you understand the Bible more than you did when you sat down to read it.

 

  • At the end of the Bible text, there are several articles on the unity of the Bible and some helps for studying the Bible. IF you have never attempted study before, you will find them a great stepping stone. After 20 years, I have my own methods I follow.

 

  • References (around 50,000-70,000) are in the side column alongside the text.

 

I am frequently asked, “Matt, as a very conservative Baptist, why do you fool around with these ‘ecumenical’ study Bibles?” I use “ecumenical” resources alongside conservative resources because I tend to find more offered in the way of textual criticism as well as historical background information in the helps. Some of the reading guides and study aids also tend to be very helpful.

 

I do need to caution you, though, that I do not recommend that you use any ecumenical resources unless you are very solid in your theology.

 

Text & Paper

We are presented with a black letter text (you want this in a study bible so that when you make markings in a different color they will stick out.) As I said earlier I make it a (7 or) 8-point font, small but still readable.

 

The paper is creamy white and fairly opaque. While there is not a ton of room for writing, you should be able to make your notations and other markings with minimal trouble. Ghosting is minimal and I commend Abingdon Press for this, especially since there is nothing more annoying than ghosting when you are trying to study.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Overall, I can only give the CEB Study Bible a 7.5 and this is solely based on a few translation choices with which I have major problems.