I do enjoy, and appreciate, the CEB (which is why I’m taking part in their ‘blog tour’). But it sometimes misses the boat. For example
When God began to create the heavens and the earth— the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters (Gen 1:1-2).
First, the verb translated ‘began to create’ is a perfect tense verb in Hebrew, not an ingressive. It can only properly be translated ‘created’ implying, as only a perfect verb can, past action with present implications. That is, God created and creation continues to this moment. Certainly not, however, ‘God began to create’. I suspect this rendition was chosen as an accommodation to modern scientific theory. Such theory may or may not be right but there is no reason at all to believe for half a second that the author of Genesis didn’t believe God created creation directly through personal intervention and not through some modern idea of evolutionary process.
Second, ‘over the deep sea’ is both cumbersome and unnecessary and even a bit misleading since ‘al peney tehom’ is literally ‘over the face of the deep’ and speaks not of the ocean per se but the ‘dark depths’ – that is, the uncontrolled, unexplored, mysterious realm where men couldn’t go. The sea is certainly included here but it isn’t just the sea that houses the formlessness and emptiness the author has in mind.
Third, and finally, ‘God’s wind swept over the waters’ is unfortunate. Better would be ‘God’s breath hovered over the waters’ because it isn’t some sort of wind described here but the breath, the life giving power of God who breaths not just into the nostrils of man but over the whole of chaotic creation itself.
So, in somewhat of an amplified rendering, we end up with
‘By way of beginning: God created everything. The earth was mis-shaped and chaotic and then God exhaled on it.’