This Week’s Winner of a Copy of the Common English Bible Is…

Esteban Vazquez!  Congrats, Estee!

I’m giving away ONE MORE COPY– with the winner to be announced next Thursday.  This is your final opportunity to get one of the best, most accurate, and most readable copies of the Bible in English published in the last 20 years.

The Common English Bible is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. To achieve this, the CEB represents the work of a diverse team with broad scholarship, including the work of over one hundred and twenty scholars—men and women from twenty-four faith traditions in American, African, Asian, European and Latino communities. As a result, the English translation of ancient words has an uncommon relevance for a broad audience of Bible readers—from children to scholars.

Once again, this will be the last copy I give away- so comment away as to why it should be yours.  And, Estee, email me your address so I can have your copy sent!

The Winner of This Week’s Copy of the Common English Bible Is…

Jeremy O’Clair!  Congrats to Jeremy and to the several who entered I say, try again this week!  There are only two more chances so your opportunities are running out.

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.

Again, enter to win a copy for yourself or someone you know.  Winners are announced each Thursday.

A Satisfied Common English Bible Reader

Laine Clayton emails-

Thanks for recommending the CEB…I finally tried it and I LOVE IT!

Laine is a sweet person and what I guess you’d call the ‘average Bible reader’. She’s just the sort of person the CEB had in mind, I think, when they did their work. Her’s is the very sort of endorsement that the publishers of the CEB should value most. My opinion and the views of other professional biblical exegetes are skewed by years of intense and meticulous work and our perspective isn’t the same as the folk who read the bible a chapter a day or a few verses at meal times. Laine is normal, and we are not.

If you’d like to experience the CEB for yourself and would like a copy the contest here continues. Comment here if you want to and you may end up the chosen.

Christian Book is Carrying the Common English Bible Now

They’ve got the whole collection, at their typically excellent (beating Amazon the greedy) prices.  And speaking of the CEB, the winner of this week’s copy (in my weekly giveaway) is Dennis Gray!

If you’d like to throw your name in the hat for a copy, all you have to do is say so in a comment.  The next winner will be announced next Thursday.

And if you’re just now hearing about the CEB you can learn a lot more here.   And if smaller print isn’t for you, you’ll be happy to know that Large Print Editions arrive in March 2012!   It’s a grand translation and I’m glad to help them spread the word.

The Winner This Week of a copy of the Common English Bible

Is Steven Shipley!  And yes, I’m still giving away copies (as authorized by the good people at the CEB).  Each Thursday I announce the week’s winner.  If you entered and didn’t win, try again.  Just tell me why, in comments, you want a copy.

The CEB is a grand translation and quite useful indeed.  Especially for persons unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid to use older translations because they make little to no sense.  I’ll be giving away one copy each week for quite a few months (through the end of January).

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook orTwitter.

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Every Christian a Missourian

Missouri is called the ‘Show Me’ State.  Every Christian should be a Missourian. At least that’s what 1 John 5:1-2 (CEB) suggests:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the parent. This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep God’s commandments.

Those who are Christians and worthy of the name love God.  And, they do what God says.  They ‘show’ the world that they aren’t simply simple minded ‘spiritualists’ who ‘love God’ in some sort of immaterial and inconsequential non-concrete way.  They prove their love for God by doing what God commands.

It stands to reason, therefore, that those who do not keep God’s commandments do not, in fact, love God.  Oh sure, they may stomp their feet and protest their ethereal ‘love of God’ but the proof is in the pudding.  If it were true, they would ‘show me’, and you, and everyone else.

But, and most importantly, Christians have to ‘show me’ to themselves.  Infelicitously put as that is, what I’m suggesting is that Christian folk are required to put up or shut up by first ‘examining themselves’.  Only then will they be able to help remove the speck from their less than sincere brother’s eye.

The Common English Bible Doesn’t Always Get it Right

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.’

And The Winner Is….

Dan Krabach!

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby, Luke Chandler, and  Bacho Bordjadze.   I’ll be giving away one copy each week  for a couple more months (through the end of January).

If you haven’t won don’t despair.  You can always try again next week.

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook or Twitter.

Yes, You Can Still Win A Copy of the Common English Bible

I’m still giving away copies (as authorized by the good people at the CEB).  Each Thursday I announce the week’s winner and this week that’s Boch!  If you entered and didn’t win, try again.  Just tell me why, in comments, you want a copy.

The CEB is a grand translation and quite useful indeed.  Especially for persons unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid to use older translations because they make little to no sense.

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby, Luke Chandler (and now Boch too).   I’ll be giving away one copy each week for quite a few months (through the end of January).

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook or Twitter.

The Common English Bible with the Apocrypha

I’ve been using the Common English Bible since the New Testament paperback edition first appeared in my post office box some months ago.  I joined their ‘blog tour’ to help spread the word.  And I’m, I have to say, more than happy to help.

They haven’t required that I endorse it (though I do) and they’ve not asked me to say anything about it in a positive light (though I have).  And when I’ve opined that in my studied opinion the grandest of all the English translation to have appeared so far is the Revised English Bible they’ve not sent along an angry email (as once happened when I reviewed a book several years back and which publisher essentially ‘cut me off’ for speaking the truth as I saw it).

Today in the mail I received a copy of the CEB with Apocrypha and – once again – I’m happy to recommend it.  Even as a non-Roman Catholic believer (though I refuse to give up being a catholic Christian) I find much to commend the Apocrypha to Protestant and Reformed Christians.

Indeed, there is much that is fine in it.  Ben Sira is peerless for his wisdom, surpassing much in other wisdom texts.  The Wisdom of Solomon is essential for a basic understanding of early Christian thought.  And the Maccabees, Susannah, Tobit, and Bel and the Dragon are just fantastically fun reads.  The Apocryphal literature isn’t ‘scripture’ but it sure is excellent theology (by and large).

Hence, even Reformed and Protestant Christians ought to read it.  And in the CEB those readers have an exceptionally accessible rendering. Take this bit from Ben Sira, for instance-

5:1 Don’t be preoccupied with your money,
and don’t say, “ I’m self-sufficient. ”
2 Don’t follow your inclination
or your strength,
in order to walk in the desires
of your heart.
3 And don’t say,
“ Who’ll have power over me? ”
When the Lord punishes,
he will punish.
4 Don’t say, “ Sure I sinned,
but what happened to me? ”
The Lord is patient indeed.
5 Don’t be too confident
of being forgiven,
adding sin upon sin.
6 Don’t say, “ His compassion is great;
he will forgive the whole heap
of my sins. ”
Mercy and wrath are with him,
and his anger will rest on sinners.

The Apocrypha isn’t just for Catholics anymore.

It’s Very Clear That Students Don’t Read the Bible Enough

Take this gem from a student paper (via P. Long on the twitter) –

“After killing a Hebrew slave, Moses fleas Egypt to live in the Sinai dessert.”

1- Moses didn’t kill a Hebrew slave, he killed an Egyptian.
2- He didn’t ‘fleas’ he ‘fled’.
3- The Sinai isn’t a ‘dessert’, it’s a desert.
4- Moses fled to Midian, the text says nothing about his fleeing to Sinai.

Such student blunders could easily be avoided if only they actually bothered to read the Bible (and spell).

Ex 2:11 One day after Moses had become an adult, he went out among his people and he saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 He looked around to make sure no one else was there. Then he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When Moses went out the next day, he saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other. Moses said to the one who had started the fight, “ Why are you abusing your fellow Hebrew? ” 14 He replied, “ Who made you a boss or judge over us? Are you planning to kill me like you killed the Egyptian? ” Then Moses was afraid when he realized: They obviously know what I did. 15 When Pharaoh heard about it, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses ran away from Pharaoh and settled down in the land of Midian.

You Can Still Win A Copy of the Common English Bible!

I’m still giving away copies (as authorized by the good people at the CEB).  Each Thursday I announce the week’s winner and this week that’s Luke Chandler!  If you entered and didn’t win, try again.  Just tell me why, in comments, you want a copy.

The CEB is a grand translation and quite useful indeed.  Especially for persons unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid to use older translations because they make little to no sense.

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby (and now Luke too).   I’ll be giving away one copy each week for quite a few months (through the end of January).

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook or Twitter.

You Can Still Win a Copy of the Common English Bible

All you have to do is let me know why you want it and I’ll announce the winner next Thursday.  It’s a grand translation and quite useful indeed.  Especially for persons unfamiliar with the Bible and afraid to use older translations because they make little to no sense.

Doug Iverson has already won and so has Kyle Owenby.   I’ll be giving away one copy each week for quite a few months (through the end of January).

If you’d like to learn more, visit here.  And if you’d like to interact with the CEB folk, you can do it on Facebook or Twitter.

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When the Prince of Peace Comes…

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Or, as the Common English Bible has it- ‘Then they will beat their swords into iron plows and their spears into pruning tools.’

I like very much what Keil has to say about this saying from Isaiah 2:4-

Since the nations betake themselves in this manner as pupils to the God of revelation and the word of His revelation, He becomes the supreme judge and umpire among them. If any dispute arise, it is no longer settled by the compulsory force of war, but by the word of God, to which all bow with willing submission.

With such power as this in the peace-sustaining word of God (Zec 9:10), there is no more need for weapons of iron: they are turned into the instruments of peaceful employment, into ittim (probably a synonym for ethim in 1Sa 13:21), plough-knives or coulters, which cut the furrows for the ploughshare to turn up and mazmeroth, bills or pruning-hooks, with which vines are pruned to increase their fruit-bearing power. There is also no more need for military practice, for there is no use in exercising one’s self in what cannot be applied. It is useless, and men dislike it.

There is peace, not an armed peace, but a full, true, God-given and blessed peace.

It is in war that the power of the beast culminates in the history of the world. This beast will then be destroyed. The true humanity which sin has choked up will gain the mastery, and the world’s history will keep Sabbath. And may we not indulge the hope, on the ground of such prophetic words as these, that the history of the world will not terminate without having kept a Sabbath? Shall we correct Isaiah, according to Quenstedt, lest we should become chiliasts?

“The humanitarian ideas of Christendom,” says a thoughtful Jewish scholar, “have their roots in the Pentateuch, and more especially in Deuteronomy. But in the prophets, particularly in Isaiah, they reach a height which will probably not be attained and fully realized by the modern world for centuries to come.”

Yet they will be realized. What the prophetic words appropriated by Isaiah here affirm, is a moral postulate, the goal of sacred history, the predicted counsel of God.

Sometimes the ‘oldies’ really are the good ones. And I don’t know about you, but the cessation of all conflict would be very welcome.

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Comparing Translations: REB v. CEB v. Everything Else

Sirach 22:13 is translated thusly in the CEB

Don’t talk a lot with fools, and don’t go to the unintelligent. Be on guard against them so that you don’t have trouble and don’t get dirty when they shake themselves off. Stay away from them, and you will find rest, and their senselessness won’t make you weary.

In the REB

Do not prolong talk with a fool or visit one who is stupid. Beware of him, or you may be in trouble and find yourself bespattered when he shakes himself. Avoid him, if you are looking for peace, and you will not be worn out by his folly.

Here’s the underlying Greek of ben Sira so you can see for yourself the text these versions have been working with:

μετὰ ἄφρονος μὴ πληθύνῃς λόγον καὶ πρὸς ἀσύνετον μὴ πορεύου φύλαξαι ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἵνα μὴ κόπον ἔχῃς καὶ οὐ μὴ μολυνθῇς ἐν τῷ ἐντιναγμῷ αὐτοῦ ἔκκλινον ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ εὑρήσεις ἀνάπαυσιν καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀκηδιάσῃς ἐν τῇ ἀπονοίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

I’ve said before how much I admire the Revised English Bible and in this case too it handles the Greek in a way which is just superb. The Common English Bible gets the sense and does a great job of communicating it in clear and precise language too. But look at the way each manages the phrase

καὶ οὐ μὴ μολυνθῇς ἐν τῷ ἐντιναγμῷ αὐτου.

The CEB has it – ‘and don’t get dirty when they shake themselves off’
And the REB has it – ‘and find yourself bespattered when he shakes himself’

Notice that the REB translates μολυνθῇς passively and is correct to do so. The CEB also renders it passively with its ‘get dirty’ but, to be fair, isn’t ‘find yourself bespattered’ more evocative than ‘get dirty’?

And that, to me, is the difference between these two versions in a nutshell. The CEB gets it right and it’s reliable and dependable. The REB gets it right more evocatively.  And both get it better than the NIV or the ESV or any of the other modern renditions.

If you don’t read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, get a Revised English Bible or a Common English Bible.  You’ll be as close as you can get to the underlying originals.

National Bible Week Wraps Up Today

And what better way to bring it to a close than to cite Psalm 119:9ff

9 How can young people
keep their paths pure?
By guarding them
according to what you’ve said.h
10 I have sought you with all my heart.
Don’t let me stray
from any of your commandments!
11 I keep your word close, in my heart,
so that I won’t sin against you.
12 You, LORD , are to be blessed!
Teach me your statutes.
13 I will declare out loud
all the rules you have spoken.
14 I rejoice in the content of your laws
as if I were rejoicing over great wealth.
15 I will think about your precepts
and examine all your paths.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget what you have said.

The only ‘rule for life’ or ‘guidebook’ that young people need to chart a clear and responsible course is the Bible.  Without it not even the best intentioned will find peace or joy.  Instead, without it, people only find death in hopelessness.  Choose life.