Tag: Seminary

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

 

 

Click Me for Photos

 

The Academic Standard Text of the English Bible has joined the Premier Collection and I am delighted. New Revised Standard Version (hereafter NRSV) has been finding its way into my studies more frequently as I endeavor to be more well-rounded in my studies and in bringing NRSV to the Premier Collection, Zondervan has offered an edition that is equally suitable to the desk and the pulpit. (Incidentally, Zondervan sent this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own as I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

 

Translation Choice

With Zondervan being the primary publisher of the NRSV, it makes sense that they would bring a spectacular offering to the Premier Collection…

NRSV is what we call an essentially literal translation, like its cousins ESV and NASB. There are some notable differences in the three, but by and large NRSV is pretty literal. It does tend more toward the mediating end of the translation spectrum because it is a little more free flowing. It is more formal equivalent than either the NIV or CSB, the dominant mediating translations on the market.

I have referred to the NRSV as the Academic Standard Bible for two reasons: 1. All of the general reference Study Bibles (the standard texts in most seminaries) and two because that is how it was presented to me. The Translation Committee included Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants and conservative Evangelicals. The NRSV has the broadest spectrum of thought in the realm of textual criticism.

 

Cover and Binding

If you have never handled a Bible in the Premier Collection, you are in for a real treat. To say the leather is a tactile delight is a beautiful exercise in understatement. There are very few Bibles anywhere which are more touchable than the Premier Collection. Previously, I had thought that Harper Collins had used their best leather on the NASB Bibles in the Premier Collection-I was incorrect. The NRSV has the most incredible goatskin that I have ever touched, even beating the leather used by Cambridge University Press, the leader in the Premium Bible Market.

The grain is nicely pronounced; it lights up every nerve ending in your fingertips. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I could sit and just run my fingers over the cover for hours on end. Naturally, as with all of its cousins in the Premier Collection, this is a leather lined cover, making the cover incredibly flexible but still sturdy.

The binding is, of course, sewn, BUT, it is not sewn as tightly as in the rest of the collection. It is almost as if Zondervan had designed this Bible for a peripatetic pastor. It is perfectly balanced for one handed use. Adding to the durability of the Bible, Zondervan has provided overcast stitching on the first and final signatures. This overcasting not only reinforces the binding, it also helps with laying flat in Genesis and Revelation.

Layout

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format with a couple surprises in the layout. Zondervan’s Complete Cross Reference System is placed in the outer margin and that margin, incidentally leaves 1 inch of space for annotations, symbols etc. Previous to receiving my copy, I had not been told that it was wide-margin (my preferred feature in a Bible geared toward study) and I was pleasantly surprised to find wide margins. Margin space has been my biggest complaint with the offerings for NRSV. For a Bible billed as the Academic Standard, wide-margins are essential and I am glad to see that Zondervan has finally added them.

In the footer, you will find the Translator’s Footnotes. Unlike its NASB cousin, the NRSV Single Column  Reference Bible includes the full set of Translator’s Footnotes. You may be asking why this is important and here is why, it is not always possible to go back to the Greek or Hebrew so having an insight as to why a particular choice was made is most helpful. As with all Zondervan Bibles, the Translator’s Footnotes include variant readings from the source text as well as textual variants from other original language manuscripts.

 

Comfort Print Font and Paper

Like the rest of the Premier Collection, this Bible is in Harper Collins’ Comfort Print Font. For reasons unknown to me, I find the NRSV’s Comfort Print the easiest to read followed by the NKJV Comfort Print Font (NKJV is published by Zondervan’s older sister, Nelson Bibles). Ironically I have not seen a comfort print from the 3rd Imprint under Harper Collins Christian Publishing, Harper Catholic Bibles though it is possible that is still in the works.

I was expecting a deep rich ebony for this black letter text and that is exactly what I got. It is no secret that I prefer a black letter text because I annotate in blue or red ink. Besides that, red letter can be a bit distracting in the pulpit, especially since it is, frequently inconsistent. 2k/Denmark plied their trade as master craftsmen and, in the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, gave us the most readable NRSV that I have set my eyes on. Though it is not billed as large print, it most certainly is large print at approximately 10.5-point font. To my surprise I had no issues with reading the text. (I wear bifocals and anything below a 12-point is a challenge). I did not experience the expected eye fatigue, a welcome relief since sermon prep requires I spend hours with any given text every week. I am pleased to say that the text did not stress my eyes at all.

The paper is a crisp white and very opaque, 38 gsm I believe. If you did not know, a higher number on the gsm indicates a heavier paper and one which will stand up better with underlying and annotations. There will be absolutely no issues annotating in pen, colored pencil, or standard pencil. Clearly Zondervan wants you to write in this Bible and, for that matter, so do I. There is no sight more beautiful than a heavily marked up Bible. You will enjoy marking up this Bible and making it your own.

There is another delightful surprise, one that would go unnoticed by a good many people. The edge gilting is purple under gold. Traditionally, the gilting it either red under gold or blue under silver. The purple under gold is a nod to whimsy {we don’t normally think of academicians as being fun_ but it also a nod to the majesty of the Scriptures. Purple is the color of royalty and, beloved, the Bible reigns over all othre books as King so it is proper and fitting that the color of royalty should be on the most regal of all books.

Which NRSV?

There are 3 Editions of the NRSV: The Protestant Canon, The Catholic Canon, and the Orthodox Canon. Each canon has a different number of accepted books and, for this Bible, Zondervan relied on the Protestant Canon. As it happens, the Protestant Canon is not in dispute which is to say that all 3 traditions will recognize and accept those 66 books. If you are Catholic or Orthodox and reading this article, I would encourage you to not be disappointed that the Protestant Canon was chosen. In doing so, Zondervan can actually get the Bible into the hands of more people since we all know and read those 66 books.

 

For use as a preaching Bible

Many denominations use NRSV for their weekly liturgy and this would be a logical choice for preaching in those churches. I was surprised to find it be easy to use/ There is nothing wrong with a single column; I just happen to not be used to it in the pulpit. The font size and lay out lead me to believe that this Bible is designed to be equally practical for the Expositor as well as the general reader. It is very easy to do what I did-sit in your favorite recliner with this Bible open and just read for a couple hours.

 

Should you buy this Bible?

Decide, first, if the NRSV will be a main translation that you will use. The Premier Collection is not inexpensive but it is worth every penny. Ergo, if NRSV is either your translation or choice or a major use translation, then yes, this is absolutely the NRSV to own.

If you are in seminary, using the NRSV is probably not even a question and I have a twofold recommendation for this particular Bible- get the edition that is not in the Premier Collection for your classwork and get the Premier Collection edition for your time in the Pulpit, your preaching Bible does not necessarily have to be your workhorse.

 

Final Thoughts

I must confess to a gripe- I am annoyed that there are no lined notes pages included in this or any other in the Premier Collection. The Premier Collection is the ideal choice for anyone who teaches the Bible, regardless of whether that is Sunday School, Preaching, Classroom or any other capacity and I cannot fathom a logical reason for the exclusion of notes pages.

Other than that, as I told my contacts at Zondervan, I can sum up my opinion of the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition, in a single sentence: Finally, an NRSV worth the money!

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

I am asked, from time to time, about the use of General Reference Bibles aka Ecumenical Study Bible and, with me being extremely conservative and extremely Baptist, my answer generally surprises people.  As it happens, I do recommend their use by pastors, Sunday School teachers and the like.  There is some content which is available in a General Reference Study Bible that is not available in the Evangelical Study Bibles.  Today I will be highlighting four, all of whihc have been reviewed here…

 

CEB Study Bible

Translation Offered: Common English Bible, a Dynamic Equivalence (Meaning-Based Translation)

Grade Level: 6th Grade for Biblical Text, 10th Grade for Study Notes

Stand-out Feature: Full color study Bible, 1000 Pages, total, of explanatory articles, introductions, and outlines, 10,000 annotations

Major Seminary: Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Oxford Annotated  and New Oxford Annotated Bibles (These are actually two different Bibles, though both are called the Oxford Bible by some)

Translation Offered: RSV for Oxford Annotated Bible, Expanded Edition and NRSV for New Oxford Annotated Bible

Stand-out feature: OAB is offered with the full Apocrypha (including for the Orthodox  church), NOAB is offered in two ecumenical options (protestant canon only and full ecumenical edition including the Full Apocrypha, Catholic and Orthodox editions)

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 12th Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminary: Oxford

Special Note: The New Oxford Annotated Bible is considered the Premier Academic Study Bible and is in use in virtually every mainline seminary.

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Harper Collins Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

Stand-out Feature: Only study Bible endorsed by the Society of Biblical Literature

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 12 Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminary: Unknown

Publisher: Harper One

 New Interpreter’s Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

Stand Out Feature: Condensed version of the Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Set

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 11th Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminaries: Asbury, Duke, Grand Rapids, Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

There is one more to come, the Baylor Annotated Study Bible. However I cannot comment on it as I have not seen my review copy yet.

 

Why do I recommend using a General Reference Study Bible? Franky, there is content that you won’t get in an Evangelical Study Bible. You will see more of a cultural and historical context in a General Reference Bible. You will also be exposed to alternate methods of textual criticism and other interpretive traditions.  There will be other articles on this topic, but for now, this is a good start. 

KJV Perfected: Westminster Reference Bible (Recovered)

KJV Perfected: Westminster Reference Bible (Recovered)

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In an earlier review that I wrote for Bible Buying Guide, I mentioned that I felt there were very few Bibles that deserved to sit on the same shelf as the venerable Thompson Chain Reference Bible (TCR). Imagine my surprise at not only finding a Bible worthy of the same shelf as the TCR but actually a rival to the throne. Enter the Westminster Reference Edition of the King James Bible from the Trinitarian Bible Society…

This is doubtlessly one of the top three reference Bibles available and with all the positives to discuss it is hard to know where to start.

 

References

On their website, Trinitarian Bible Society makes the bold claim that there are over 200,000 references. On this fact alone the Westminster rivals the Thompson and bests the NASB Side Column Reference Edition and its 95,000 cross-references. I call it a rival because, even though it has 100,000 more references than Thompson, it does not offer the topical chains that Thompson offers.

Ordinarily, I do not use the reference features in most of my Bibles, as they generally do not follow my train of thought. The Westminster, however, not only has references consistent with my train of thought, it also took me in a couple directions that I had not originally planned to go.

Translation

The Westminster uses the King James Version. Say what you will about the KJV, it is the perfect pairing. It feels distinctly pastoral; my first impulse after I opened it was to reach for my macbook and begin taking notes and that is the first time that has happened. Usually I go for my favorite passages of Scripture to capture that feeling of familiarity.

This particular version of the KJV has notes that have been preserved from the original translators and carried forward to this edition. It is quite fascinating; not only do you get an introduction to each chapter, but you also get a peek into the minds of the most learned men who crafted what would become the dominant Bible in the English speaking world for over 400 years.

The Cover

Calfskin. Do I really need to say more? Well yes. While this is a genuine calfskin cover it is not floppy like a Side Column Reference. I will leave it up to you to decide it that is good or bad. For me it comes down to this, it feels just right in my hand. I don’t really have a better way to say it than that. When I hold this Bible, open or closed, it feels like it was meant to be in my hand.

Font, Text Layout, Readability

This is a very readable 9.6-point font. The layout is double-column verse by verse with the references in the side columns. Because of the generous font and amount of references, you are, sadly, left lacking a useful margin (By now you know that I love wide margins). On the other hand you do get what is probably the most readable handy sized Bible.

The Paper

The paper is a major win for this Bible. It’s cream colored with excellent opacity. Unfortunately, TBS does not offer much in the way of technical details on their website and, at the time of my writing, I have not successfully reached them to find out the specifications on the paper, though I am not certain that it matters unless, like me, you are a total nerd and cannot properly geek out without knowing such things.

I have used this Bible in several settings with various lighting conditions: at church with the bright lights in our massive auditorium, the break room at work, the restaurant with breakfast, and in the soft light of my bedside table (40W Bulb); in every instance it was totally successful. Sometimes, I enjoy a Psalm or two before bed and this is where I would usually find ghosting. There are one or two spots but if I were to complain about that, it would be nothing more than ungrateful nitpicking.

The texture and feel is amazing. Some paper feels abrupt, coarse and heavy. This paper, though, is quite soft and (if you will pardon the cliché) smooth like ice cream fresh from the churn. It begs to be touched, to caress the hand, to draw you into an interaction with the Word. I said earlier and I will repeat myself, this Bible, to my hands, feels like someone came and noticed every flaw, every callous, every ridge on my hands and then custom crafted a Bible just for me.

Actually, to say that it has excellent opacity was an understatement. From a normal distance I could not distinguish any ghosting or see through. I could see a little when I held up a single page, but as I said to go any further on that would be ungrateful nitpicking.

A Pastoral Perspective

The church I grew up in used KJV almost exclusively (NIV came to the mainstream in 1984 when I was 2), my first sermons were preached from KJV, and I still reach for it quite often. Until the Westminster Reference Bible, my choice of KJV was a cowhide Giant Print Reference Edition from Holman Bible Publishers and while it does have larger font, I am happy to say that my Westminster will replace it for most, if not all, KJV related needs.

You will find it to be an excellent pulpit Bible, a faithful companion during visitation, and an able companion for your study.

If you can only buy one more Bible, get this or the Thompson. If you can get both, do not hesitate to do so. At a price of $65-$80 for a calfskin you cannot go wrong. I also encourage the giving of this as a gift for your pastor. It will be a resource he treasures and uses well for a lifetime.

Until next time, Beloved, Worship Vigorously, Serve Actively, Teach Faithfully, and may mercy, grace, and peace be with you.

 

 

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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.