Pros and Cons of Common English Bible

Every Christian strives to understand Lord’s message. The best for us to connect with God is through the word of God. Bible is undeniably the ultimate source of guidance for humans. To understand the Bible, we have several versions and translations of the Bible available to us. Each version has its pros and cons. In this article, we will discuss the salient features of the Common English Bible and explain its pros and cons. 

History of Common English Bible

The work on Common English Bible started in 2008 and finished in 2011. It is one of the most recent translations of the Bible. The creation of the Common English Bible was sponsored by several denominational publishers in the United States. This group of publishers operates under a group called the Christian Resources Development Corporation (CRDC). 

The preface of the Common English Bible reads, “it has proved difficult to combine concern for accuracy and accessibility in one translation that the typical reader or worshipper would be able to understand.” We can understand their approach, and they have done a good job of making it easier for the reader. The work of 117 scholars from 22 different faiths went into the creation of the Common English Bible.

The goal of the Common English Bible

The main motivation behind creating the Common English Bible was to produce a translation of the Bible that most of the readers would be able to understand. 

The most popular version of the Bible is the King James Version. However, average readers have trouble understanding that version. The KJV has a word-to-word or form equivalence form of translation. However, the formal translation is less fluent, and readers feel less engaged. The fluency of KJV is also not the best. Hence, for these reasons, the CRDC decided to make another translation of the Bible that would be easier for the people to understand on their own.

Translation Method 

The Common English Bible uses a different translation method than most Bible translations. It uses a mix of dynamic and formal equivalence. According to the Dale-Chall readability formula, the Common English Bible has a seventh-grade readability score. The translators wanted to make a translation of the Bible that had the same readability level as a newspaper. 

The translators used the popular Nestle-Arland Greek New Testament to create the CEB New Testament Bible. For the Old Testament, the translators used;

  • Masoretic Text
  • Septuagint
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Biblia Hebraica Quinta

The uniqueness of the Common English Bible 

Many people might think CEB is similar to NIV, NLT, and CSB because it uses the same translation spectrum, a mix of word-to-word and thought-for-thought. However, many things make the Common English Bible unique from those versions of the Bible. 

One of the main reasons that we consider the CEB to be unique is the similarity among NIV, NLT, and CSB. Conservative Christian organizations prepared all the latter mentioned Bibles. Hence, there is a striking presence of traditional evangelical ideas. The other three translations of the Bible try to be accurate and up-to-date. However, there are many traditional texts where scholarly opinion would have proved to be a better alternative.

Many people find the approach of the Common English Bible to be more unconventional. The translators argue that with time, the traditional renderings of biblical texts can obscure the meaning of the texts rather than explain it. Hence, to avoid confusion and make the text more understandable for the readers, the translators use simple words to explain it. 

The scholars behind the creation of the Common English Bible also argue that some people are attached to particular terms or words in such a way that they consider them self-explanatory. However, the obsolete terms are not easy to understand and might fabricate the intent and meanings of biblical texts. The Common English Bible replaces such terms and phrases with simple and commonly spoken English texts. 

Examples of differences between NIV and CEB 

Here are some illustrated differences that showcase the difference in translation approach between NIV and CEB;

Ezekiel 2:1He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”The voice said to me: Human one, stand on your feet, and I’ll speak to you.
1 Timothy 3:1Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor in the church, they want a good thing.
Genesis 15:6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character.

Some people might find the Common English Bible language too graphic to explain and read in front of others. On the other hand, it also brings the “clarity” that this translation has promised to provide.

“She lusted after their male consorts, whose sexual organs were like donkeys, and whose ejaculation was like that of horses”

Ezekiel 23:20, CEB

Pros and Cons of the Common English Bible

After explaining the Common English Bible’s salient features, we identify the pros and cons of this translation. Like every biblical translation, this book also has some great things about it and some things that could have been better. 

Pros of the CEB

  • The CEB uses easier language
  • It is easily understandable
  • It offers more clarity and less confusion to the reader
  • An average reader can easily pick it up and understand the Bible

Cons of the CEB 

  • The CEB harshly denies the use of traditional renderings
  • In some places it uses inferior explanations instead of the original renderings
  • It desperately removes any word or phrase that sounds “Christianese.”
  • The translators sit in judgment of the choice of words in Bible


The Common English Bible is a good attempt at creating a translation of the Bible that is easier to understand for everyone. An average man picks this book up and understands the message. The CEB Bible has very good readability scores. Hence, anyone who can read the newspaper can also read the CEB. However, this book has flaws, such as an absolute lack of traditional renderings and explicit, graphic details of events.

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