Thursday, December 1, 2011

Common English Bible - a good translation of Scripture

When I read of a new Bible translation being introduced, I ask myself, “why” a new translation is needed.  During my formative years, I was reared in a King James Only church and quickly discarded such minimalist thinking when I went to Bible College.  For my studies, I heartily embraced the New International Version. Some professors I had encouraged their particular preferences of Scripture (my New Testament professor mandated a purchase of a New American Standard Bible since that was his favorite).

I recall with great fondness the first glimpses I had into translational theory—where my greatest take away was the primacy of dynamic equivalence translations over literal translations. While ardent supporters specify that a literal interpretation is best, I could never figure out why a more readable version was bad.  Especially when dynamic equivalence indicates that the “thought” is the salient point to translate…not just the wooden nature of what is in the Hebrew or Greek.  Consider the following: as a missionary, you are trying to translate Isaiah 1:18 for a group of people that have never seen (or can conceive of) snow.  Do you do Scripture any injustice by saying something akin to: “…although your sins are as red as blood, they shall be white as talcum powder.”  I do not think so, especially since the word picture is that our sinfulness can be purified – just like the whiteness of snow.

Into the abundance of translations available comes the Common English Bible.  I have started reading it in places to get a feel for the translation, and so far I enjoy it quite a bit.  Consider this comparison of the aforementioned verse from Isaiah 1:18:

Version
Isaiah 1:18
New International Version
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
   says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
   they shall be like wool.
King James Version
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
New American Standard
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
New Living Translation
“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
New English Translation
Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. 
English Standard Version
"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
Common English Bible
Come now, and let’s settle this, says the LORD.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be white as snow.
If they are red as crimson,
they will become like wool.

Usually, when I am trying to ascertain the readability of a new version, I flip over to Hebrews 11:1, since the KJV of that Scripture immediately runs through my head for comparison.  Here is how the Contemporary English Bible fares in comparison:

Version
Hebrews 11:1
New International Version
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
King James Version
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
New American Standard
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
New Living Translation
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
New English Translation
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 
English Standard Version
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Common English Bible
Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.

Just these two verses demonstrate the reliability of the translation. With the holidays upon us, you would not go wrong to purchase this Bible for someone in your family who is looking for a readable version of God’s Word. Or, perhaps you know someone who is new in their faith journey…this version is very readable and highly commended.

For more information:
http://facebook.com/groups/CommonEnglishBible

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