New Bible Aims for ‘Common’ Language, Gender Neutrality

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We didn’t know Jesus being called the “Son of Man” was so confusing. But the publishers of the Common English Bible translation want to clear up anything and everything that can confuse those inclined to dive into the Bible, so “Son of Man” now reads “the Human One.” Not exactly poetic, but arguably modern.

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In an effort not only to make the Bible more accessible to modern readers, but also to appease both conservative and liberal denominations, the multi-denomination publishers of the new Bible translation—the Common English Bible Committee, an alliance of five publishers—out digitally now and in print in the next few weeks didn’t just toss together a few new catchy phrases, though. They took the task seriously.

With more than 200 biblical scholars and church leaders representing more than 20 denominations, the committee translated straight from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts, says associate publisher Paul Franklyn. When field-testing showed passages appeared confusing, project staff worked in modern phrasing. USA Today notes the committee was made up of “a coalition of Protestant denominational publishing houses owned by the United Methodist Church, one of the nation’s largest denominations, and the Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.”

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Along with switching out Jesus’ well-known descriptor, the new $3.5 million Bible translation that took four years to complete, also tossed out “alien” and “foreigner” in places (read Exodus 22:21) in lieu of “immigrant”; shifts toward a more gender-neutral approach (“brother or sister” versus just “brother” when Jesus teaches to “warn,” not “rebuke” in Luke 17:3-4); adds in plenty of contractions; uses words such as “insulted” instead of “defiled” (1 Samuel 17:45); and eases up the language of the Lord’s Prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13) by switching out “hallowed be thy name” for “uphold the holiness of your name,” among other shifts.

To help catch a few eyes along the way, the CEB includes maps from National Geographic. There must be some proven science showing everyone loves a great map.

All the academic work has the Christian community talking (and reading), as the Fuller Theological Seminary in May made the new translation required reading for its students. New copies of the paperback edition will come out in August.

While the vocabulary may deviate slightly, the meaning coming from the Son of Man or the Human One remains the same. Ultimately, it’s all still the Bible.

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Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

11 comments
ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

The modern Bible should include the problem in Ukraine as well. Putin as Lucifer and Obama as the Angel of Light. That will bring i it up to modern times.

namro
namro

The US and EU should help Ukraine recover moneys stolen from Ukraine by the Yanukovich/Putin kleptocracy - more than enough to pay all bills and leave lots for infrastructure building.


Ukraine as had enough of Russia since 1656, and needs the opportunity for full sovereignty (as was guaranteed in the Budapest Memorandum, 1994).  Forget the idiots and morons who defend Putinism, they know little of history and even less of the real world.  Russia's legacy in Ukraine is one filled with millions deported to Siberia, 7-10 million dead in the Holodymyr of 1932-33, looting of Ukraine's resources and treasures, and Chernobyl ( the world's largest nuclear disaster.


Putin must be brought down!

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

Seventeen billion which might as well fall to Russia`s hands if Ukraine falls and Putin re installs the previous President. Just how stupid this Administration is. Will not supply much needed arms for the Ukrainians could hinder Putin making it more expensive for the Russians to maintain control over a conquered territory but will supply MREs. Obama just wants the Ukrainains soldiers to die at least with stomachs full. 

LaurenCleaver
LaurenCleaver

Looks like Russia may make our really well!  The Ukraine plus 17 Bil.  Nice!


darkmax1974
darkmax1974

EU and US are abusing their powers to interfere with internal politics, instead of helping out improverished countries. WTH?!

bonkim2003
bonkim2003

@namro  the US - enjoy your support for the illegitimate government in Kiev. The EU - not with my money - the EU is defunct, not wanted. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverde Rene you are an idiot. Ukraine's problem isn't a lack of weapons. Their problem is that many of their troops simply don't want to fight for the current government in Kiev. This was clearly seen last week, when a number of the armored fighting vehicles sent to Eastern Ukraine, promptly turned around and defected to the separatist cause.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde  Sometimes once in a lifetime you meet somebody so stupid that it begs beyond belief. And unfortunate for me and fortunate for the world that idiot is you Mantis. If there is a Nobel Prize for idiocy you would win it, hands down just like Peace Award to Obama. The President of Ukraine when he was here specifically asked for weapons, Mantis. SPECIFICALLY. Nowhere does it make it more clearer than that. Go somewhere and nip at somebody`s heels Mantis. You disappoint me.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @ReneDemonteverde  Kiev freely admitting it cannot defend

East Ukraine vs Ukraine`s President coming over and asking for weaponry to defend themselves. And only Mantis cannot see the difference. That is right Mantis only you.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ReneDemonteverde @mantisdragon91Ironic you accusing any one else of idiocy. More importantly you still haven't answered my question. The Kiev government freely admits that they can't quell the insurgency in Eastern Ukraine because they can't trust the military and security forces not to aid the insurgents. How would giving these same people that they can't trust now more weapons help things? That money is much better spend in helping the current government get legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Eastern Ukraine than in helping to fight of an imaginary Russian invasion that they couldn't stop even if they didn't have a large percentage of the country not ready and willing to help the invaders.