Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CEB Catholic Edition?

I got this email from reader Marc, who was happy to share this with you.

I recently contacted the Common English Bible (CEB) team through their website to commend them for their translation and to inquire about whether they plan to pursue an imprimatur. They sent me the following response, which they permitted me to share with your blog community: 

"Thank you for your kind email. I'm so glad to hear that you are enjoying the CEB. We do not have any plans at the moment to create a printed Catholic edition, in part because we have not had any success even starting the process for the imprimatur. We will continue to look for opportunities to get official approval, but it seems highly unlikely that that will happen any time soon. The focus for the Church is, understandably, on the NAB for the time being."


Anonymous said...

O Human One, for Ezekiel and Jesus? Nah.

Anonymous said...

The "Son of Man" terminology carries a lot of power.
Through these three words, Jesus is giving a concise statement of His role in the Holy Trinity:

Lord YHWH: Father of Heaven
Lord Jesus: Son of Man
Lord Paraclete: Spirit of the Church

Anonymous said...

When I think of more modern, "readable" translations I consider the Good News, The Message, and now the Common English Bible. Of all of these I like the CEB the best. It would be nice to get a Catholic Edition but the edition with the Apocrypha is just fine for my needs.

CWBuckley said...

I just discovered this translation last night, and was wondering if an approved Catholic edition was available.
Interesting to note that, although it doesn't carry an imprimatur, there is an eBook "Catholic" edition available on the publisher's sure (presumably with the rest of the OT in its proper place).
Wonder which will be approved in a full Catholic edition first? The CEV or the CEB? Barring either, I'll stick to GNT Catholic for my first communion gifts.

Agreed too about the Son of Man term. However one option that I've never seen might be "the Human Son." It differentiates the gender-specific noun from the gender-neutral pronoun. Yes, a bit jarring, but arguably less so than the switch from "Holy Ghost" to "Holy Spirit."

Anonymous said...

Not so sure about this translation for myself but the publishers have to be commended on the number or editions available.
Oh that others would follow their example.

Biblical Catholic said...

I doubt that the CEB could ever get an imprimatur because it is a really bad translations which make many very questionable translation decisions. To get an imprimatur, there would need to be a near total overhaul of the text. The Church has never looked too kindly on dynamic translations and paraphrases.

Timothy said...


They have approved a ton of dynamic translations, even some for liturgy: Jerusalem, Knox, Good News; etc..

rolf said...

If I want a dynamic translation, I'll stick with the Jerusalem Bible or the REB.
Just for info, I took my large 1966 Jerusalem Bible off the shelf a couple of days ago and started using it. I bought a Bob Siemon leather Bible cover (non zippered) for another Study Bible but it was a little too big, so I tried it on the big fullsize Jerusalem Bible an it fit like it was made for it. It is the XL size and is a soft full grain leather. So if you have that huge Bible at home and want that hard cover covered in leather, it is very nice. It come in red, black and brown. There about $25.95 at!

Anonymous said...

Rolf, what are the dimensions on your Jerusalem Bible? I'm looking for a cover for my Didache NABRE. Its dimensions are 9.25 × 6.25 × 2.50 inches.

rolf said...

I'll have to get back to later this evening, I am at work right now.

rolf said...

Anon, the Jerusalem Bible measures:
9.50 x 6.50 x 3.25 inches.

Biblical Catholic said...

"They have approved a ton of dynamic translations, even some for liturgy: Jerusalem, Knox, Good News; etc.."

Well, first of all, the Knox translation doesn't even belong in the same category as the other two you mentioned.

Secondly, that was before Lithurium Authenticum which sets some very strict guidelines requiring literal translations of the scriptures.

Timothy said...

Last time I checked, the bishops of the UK and Australia had decided to ditch the ESV, for whatever reason, and are simply going to tweak the JB.

wxmarc said...

Biblical Catholic, you mentioned: " is a really bad translations which make many very questionable translation decisions."

My experience with the CEB has been markedly different. I agree that it makes some non-traditional translation decisions, but in every case I've investigated, there is good scholarly basis for it.

The most common criticisms I've seen relate to "the Human One" instead of "the Son of Man" and "When God began to create..." instead of "In the beginning, God created" in Genesis 1:1. For both of those, there is good scholarly basis for the CEB's translation. I think it's reasonable to question whether a traditional wording is still desirable due to long-standing historical use of those terms, but it's not an inaccurate translation.

As a matter of fact, the CEB strikes me as a rare balance of dynamic equivalence where it is useful for clarifying meaning and formal equivalence where the meaning is already clear. When I compare it with other translations, its rendering is sometimes more similar to the NRSV than the NJB or REB, for example.

Another very positive thing I've found is the CEB psalms. They convey the emotion and imagery of the psalms better than any other translation I've read. I don't know Hebrew, so I can't comment on accuracy, but when I first read Psalm 22 in the CEB, I was nearly in tears. I could feel the psalmist's raw emotion so palpably. In so many other translations, the Psalms feel somewhat distant to me. This is notably different, and I appreciate being able to read the Psalms from a new perspective.

Jay said...

"Human One" was just too much for me. It makes Jesus seem like an android from Star Trek. Jesus was a huios, not a huion :)

And by the way, I tried the ESV, but when I read that archaic euphemism "knew", I groused "If I wanted to read the King James Bible I would have gotten a King James Bible!"

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rolf! I'll give the Bob Siemon cover a try.

rolf said...

Anon, the large Bible cover fits a Bible up to 9.5x6.5x1.75, so if the XL cover is too loose you can go with the large. The measurement for the Bible covers are on the site.

Biblical Catholic said...

"Knew" is an accurate translation of the Hebrew idiom, and there are many reasons to retain it, the first and most important of which is that it reflects the Biblical understanding of sexuality as being something intimate and personal, whereas modern euphemisms like 'slept with', 'had relations with' or (God forbid I ever see this in a Bible translation, but I probably will one day) 'hooked up with', all which make sexual relations into something impersonal.

hoshie said...

A Catholic edition of the CEB does exist as an eBook that is available on the various eBook sites. It doesn't have the approval of the Church (i.e., no imprimatur). I posted a Facebook comment om their page asking about a print edition in 2013; they told me at the time it was only available in the digital format.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Biblical Catholic for that excellent defence of "Knew." Very helpful.

Unknown said...

Glad to see the CEB on your blog! I have been using this translation almost exclusively this year (with a little dipping into my 1966 JB) and absolutely beautiful love it! It's new, fresh, thought provoking, and real.

Anonymous said...

Dynamic translations are a relief for Bible readers, as long as it is done with caution.

wxmarc said...

Biblical Catholic: Even though "know" may be a literally accurate translation of the Hebrew, I'm not sure if it had the more personal connotation to ancient Hebrew speakers that you're describing. Theophrastus and Timothy had a detailed discussion of this in the comments on this post:

Theophrastus pointed out that "know" is also used in Genesis 19:5 when the men of Sodom wanted to rape the visitors who were staying with Lot. I think this is a case where it's easy to see more shades of meaning in an ancient euphemism than native speakers would have seen.

In the far distant future, I can imagine people reading translations of modern English literature and having similar problems with our own idioms.

Carl Hernz said...

It may be just me (as I haven’t been feeling well lately), but something about this explanation from the CEB team doesn’t sound right.

“The focus for the Church is…on the NAB for the time being”?

First of all the Apostolic See or the local episcopal conference (in the United States that would be the USCCB) or any other like body (for example the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) can approve a Bible in English for the Catholic reading public. Any episcopal body can approve this English translation (English-speaking bodies of bishops from Wales, South Africa, UK, etc., etc.), but am I to understand that none of these are available to give the CEB the time of day? It can be submitted to any legitimate Church authority according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (c. 825, §1), am I right?

And the focus of the Church as a whole is not on the NAB, not in even in America. While there is a revision of the NAB New Testament going on, not all the bishops of the USCCB are tied up with it. Select scholars chosen in union with the CBA are working on this. Simultaneously the USCCB has just been considering revised New Testament canticles developed with the same sprung rhythm found in the Revised Grail Psalter for the new version of the Liturgy of the Hours. The bishops may have the final say in the approval process but even these are being rendered by Conception Abbey and not the bishops themselves. Things are supposedly so tied up with the US bishops that there is no one who can be bothered to consider the CEB?

Because all Bibles produced for even the most private Catholic use REQUIRE Church approval, whatever lack of success in starting the process of approval is irrelevant. It HAS to be done, otherwise it is misleading to offer it to the Catholic reading public as a “Catholic” edition, even if it is just available as an E-book. Catholics have a personal obligation to be obedient to Church authority, and every publisher who offers an unapproved so-called “Catholic” edition of Scripture makes it look as if they do not care enough about Catholics being faithful to direction in this matter. This isn’t because these publishers are more interested in a Catholic’s dollar more than a Catholic being faithful to the Church, is it? I hope not. For now I give them all the benefit of the doubt that this is just a very serious oversight that requires their immediate attention.

But what ever happened to “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? You gotta do what you gotta do, no matter how long it takes.

rolf said...

Anon, I just received the large Bible cover as described above and it fits the Didache Bible (RSV-2CE) nicely. There a little spare room but I dont know if it will accomadate the thicker NABRE Didache, it might be close.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Timothy
.Owing to version overload I had laid the CEB aside, but have been prompted to look at it again in the light of some of the comments made about it.
I have concluded I was too hasty in my previous decision and that it is certainly worth trying again.
By the way, "human one, " much as it certainly jars, is no more than "Son of Man." Would we mind " "Divine One" instead of "Son of God.?"

Just a thought.
Peace to all.

Mark in Spokane said...

Merits of the various translations aside, I think it is notable that the US hierarchy has gone all in with the NAB as far as promoting it goes. I use the NAB and like it, despite some of its idiosyncratic renderings in spots (I never get used to seeing "holy Spirit," for example -- I hope that gets changed in the 2025 revision). When I was in college back in the day, there were tons of Bibles that were floating around that Catholic publishers in the US embraced for Catholic-oriented products (I used to have a prayer book, for example, that used the New English Bible translation, but alas it wore out long ago). Now, things are pretty uniformly NAB as far as stuff like that goes (unless you are using older Missals that employed the Douay Bible or Confraternity NT.).