Bible Translation: CEV & CEB

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The American Bible Society (ABS) used the dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought translation) method to create the Contemporary English Version (CEV) translation, also known as Bible for Today’s Family. Their stated principles are:

  • must be understood by people without stumbling in speech

  • must be understood by those with little or no comprehension of "Bible" language

  • must be understood by all.

Bible scholar Dr. Barclay M. Newman studied speech patterns in 1984 focused on how English is read and heard, especially in children, that resulted in some test volumes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Over a 10-year period, a creative process involved over 100 scholar consultants and reviewers from a wide range of church traditions providing expertise from the Old Testament, New Testament, Hebrew, Greek, and English language along with linguistics and poetry. Constant prayer and guidance from the Spirit of God was used to ensure “accuracy, integrity and trustworthiness”.

CEV is written in easy to read and easy to understand contemporary English. The New Testament was released in 1991, the Old Testament in 1995 and the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books in 1999. There is an Anglicized version for our friends across the pond in Britain.

Find CEV Bibles here:


Balancing dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence (word-for-word translation), the Common English Bible (CEB) translation’s goal was to make the bible accessible to all English readers. 120 translators were assigned portions of scripture who handed off to a co-translator for review and modification followed by 77 different reading groups from over a dozen denominations helping review the text for a “natural reading experience” that would help enhance church worship and participation.

Sponsored by an alliance of several denomination publishers, the CEB was started in 2008 and completed in 2011 and include the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books.

Some denominations have replaced the NIV with the CEB as one of the approved bible translations in seminary or church services.

As a final note, both the CEB and CEV are not in the top ten bestseller’s list of bible translations.

Find CEB Bibles here:



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