Clarity and accuracy in translation are helpful

Over the years I have done a very bad thing in the eyes of scholars. I have drifted more toward translations that work to make the text more readable. For ESV, NASB, NRSV, and RSV lovers… I am a heretic. For KJV only people, I’ve been apostate for years.

I still use “word for word” translations, but for preaching and group study, I look more toward less formal and more readable. I still want “accurate.” But in translation, that is simply a moving target. I just don’t want someone who is fairly new in the faith to try to have to “translate” an English word or phrase!

In my Lenten reading this morning, there is this verse in Gen. 42:

12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” (ESV)

The “nakedness of the land?” What? They came to hit the strip clubs?

One great function of BibleGateway is the parallel translation feature. I put three translation options HERE.

The beauty of several translations is realizing we can have accuracy AND clarity. It’s not always “word for word,” but it WILL communicate the truth of the passage.

The easy distractions of this noisy world

Daniel 7 is a key chapter in understanding all that follows regarding Jesus’ ministry. It is probably here that Jesus draws his use of “Son of Man,” or “Human One” in the Common English Bible.

It is a vision of distractions and a vision that calls us to focus. The distractions are the violent actions of this world. They really are like car accidents. We just can’t help but slow down and watch.

We get overwhelmed.

What DO we do about human trafficking? What DO we do about unjust laws or unjust jury decisions that seem to favor race or economic status? What DO we do about the wars, the protests… and on and on.

There ARE things to do, but it when we regain our focus that we can begin to see the work of the Kingdom once again.

The key for Daniel is seeing the Ancient of Days take the throne and open the books. There is ONE who will take command and control. Yet, even Daniel could get distracted.

11 I kept watching. I watched from the moment the horn started bragging until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed, handed over to be burned with fire. 12 Then the authority of the remaining beasts was brought to an end, but they were given an extension among the living for a set time and season. (Daniel 7:11-12)

We let the bragging of this world get to us. It calls our attention away. But the realization is that all the beasts of this world have is words. Ultimately, everything rests with the Ancient of Days. He passes on that authority to the Son of Man. To HIM belongs the everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:14).

This world IS noisy. The beasts of this age rage and brag. Our attention needs to be focused on the ONE who reigns. There is ONE who rules. And HE will deal with the bragging of the beasts of this world.

What do you treasure?

In all of our searching, and it all of the noise trying to distract us in this world, there is one place we can come back to:

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. (Col. 2:3)

Treasure Christ. In all pursuits, know he is the source and HE is the treasure.

He is the treasure that can never be exhausted.


Common English Study Bible

Cokesbury had a huge sale last week and it included the Common English Study Bible. I was able to obtain this translation when it first came out through the generosity of the publisher, and I’ve found it to be a refreshing translation. It certainly has its “quirks,” but for common reading (and for me it’s so helpful in reading the Deuterocanonical books) it’s a nice translation. I have found myself using the CEB and NIV together the past year or so.

The Study Bible is a nice addition. I would compare it to the NIV Study Bible in purpose. It helps the reader read the Bible. I find the ESV Study Bible gets into some depth that stretches into study and theology. To this point (and it’s early for me) the CEB Study Bible has put together a tool to help the common believer simply read better.

I purchased the hardcover edition with the Apocrypha, so let me start out by saying this thing isn’t going into my briefcase! This picture has my first copy of the Common English Bible (with Apocrypha) on top of the CEB Study Bible. To put it bluntly… this thing is HUGE.



The type font is not too small. There is color everywhere. Pictures are not overwhelming, but useful.






The sidebars offer very helpful insights into definitions or cultural issues or textual issues of the particular passage.



The maps are beautiful.



Typically I am more of a fan of a plain text Bible, so I am grateful I have a black letter CEB with Apocrypha. But this study Bible, I think, is very helpful for those wanting just some basic insights into what is going on in the passage.

While this translation, like very translation these days, will fall victim to labeling (too “Reform,” too “Conservative,” too “liberal”) I think, as a “conservative” Christian, this translation is extremely helpful in reading the text well. I also think this study Bible will be helpful to open up passages a little more clearly, in the vein of the NIV Study Bible.


How’s your forehead look?

Translation fun. The literal use of a word, which the ESV uses in Jeremiah 3:3 is, um, not helpful.

Here is a comparison at Biblegateway.

Strengths and weaknesses of translations are a key reason I like having so much available either online (like Biblegateway) or digitally (like Olive Tree or Logos).

Just watch out for your forehead!


The CEB Study Bible

Since the arrival of the Common English Bible, I have been intrigued by the simple approach to translation. It is designed to make the Bible clear.

For lifelong Christians, that isn’t easy. I have trouble still with calling Jesus “the Human One,” and calling the ark a box.

But where I see how the CEB excels is in the Apocrypha. I’m not familiar with the Apocrypha, so reading the CEB helps me flow in the text much easier than the NRSV. It’s actually a pleasure reading the Apocrypha with the CEB.

The CEB Study Bible is now out and I’ve had a copy of the Gospel of Mark for awhile. The sample CEB Study Bible reveals a simple study Bible. The notes are very simple. They do not try to push “doctrine.” They try to reveal clarity. There are sidebars in the main text that explore a subject a bit more deeply.

This isn’t the ESV Study Bible, to be sure. It’s not trying to overwhelm you with notes. It’s trying to get the reader a bit more engaged in the text.

The approach to Scripture is revealed in an intro article by Joel Green. It’s called “The Authority of Scripture,” and I thought it was well done.

Here is part of the last paragraph (using 2 Tim. 3:16-16 for the base):

This text is helpful for anyone thinking about scripture’s authority, for two reasons. First, it reminds us of the claim of our faith, that scripture has its origins in the aims and voice of God… Scripture beats witness to God because God enables speech about God and God’s activity in the world. Second, it reminds us of the purpose or direction of scripture’s authority. The role of scripture isn’t to teach us lessons about history, medicine, archaeology, architecture, science, geography, and so on… Instead, engagement with scripture should produce this: “that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.” We exhibit our best beliefs about the Bible not so much by what we say about the Bible but through scripture-shaped hearts and lives.

This is a Bible that might be considered as a good alternative to the NIV Study Bible.

I will still utilize the NIV far more, but the CEB continues to impress me with their aim in getting people INTO the Scriptures.


The Common English Bible — A Year Later

Last Advent season I was part of the blogger series for the Common English Bible. They extended their blogging series through Lent, then to Pentecost, so I spent many months using the Common English Bible along with the NIV2011 in my teaching and preaching.

Once the blogging event was over last spring, I still found myself drawn to the Common English Bible. While my main teaching and preaching continued to be from the NIV, I would always refer to the Common English Bible for a fresh look. The more I kept using the Bible, the more I have grown to really admire this translation. It is completely “modern,” in that the vernacular will wear out in about ten years or less. It means fresh updates frequently. That’s one downside.

I’m still getting through that “Human One” vs. the “Son of Man” thing. That’s another downside.

But this translation is really a decent read for me. I rarely trip up over words if I read it publicly. The reading is very smooth. Also, I am desiring more and more to have access to the Deuterocanonical Books, and my edition of the CEB in print and on my Olive Tree Reader has that. While I don’t access those books often, I want to have them available. Reading the Deuterocanonical Books in the CEB is refreshing.

I think this is a good translation to give to people who can’t slog through a King James like experience. It is easier to get into the text, and that should be the point. It is a faithful translation, in my view, of Orthodox Christianity, and useful for study and reading.

Verse of the Day, or Why I Like the Deuterocanonical Books

Reading through the Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible (which Protestants, especially Pentecostals aren’t “supposed” to read) really provides some insight.

When people are dead, 
they inherit maggots, vermin, and worms.” (Sirach 10:11, CEB)

That was in yesterday’s reading.

Today’s reading offers some other nice tidbits:

“Don’t praise people
for their beautiful looks,
and don’t despise people
for their appearance” (Sirach 11:2, CEB)

Basic facts of life, and good advice to boot.

Spiritual DNA

This is a repost from last year. As I am reading 1 John for “Eat This Book” at our church, I was reminded of the Common English Bible’s rendering of this passage.

9 Those born from God don’t practice sin because God’s DNA remains in them. They can’t sin because they are born from God. 10 This is how God’s children and the devil’s children are apparent: everyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not from God, including the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister. 11 This is the message that you heard from the beginning: love each other. (I Jn. 3:9-11, CEB)

The life of God is found in abiding in him. Our abiding in him bears fruit. Our NOT abiding in him bears fruit. You can compare the fruit.

Are we living in righteousness? Are we living to please him?

1 John 3:22 is such a great verse… if we ignore v. 23 and 24!

We receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (I Jn. 3:22, CEB) What a powerful verse. Take it and run with it!

But don’t forget the verses following…

23 This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love each other as he commanded us. 24 The person who keeps his commandments remains in God and God remains in him; and this is how we know that he remains in us, because of the Spirit that he has given to us.

Too often we want the rewards of God without the requirements of God.

His commands are simple: Love Jesus. Love your neighbor. When those things are coming out in action then you know you are abiding. Then you can go ahead and ASK.

Am I abiding in my Savior? Am I loving my neighbor? Are my actions portraying the DNA of God… or the DNA of mere humanity?


The Living and Active Word of God

We are on our way as our church starts into reading the New Testament this summer.

The order of how we will read the New Testament is HERE.

It was exciting to have our “launch” last night. We discussed the issues we are facing as believers in today’s culture. We talked about the struggles of communicating faith effectively, living out the power of the Kingdom in today’s world, and our struggles with getting into the Word of God.

Our goal is to make this something that everyone is involved with, and as we meet our “goals” we find a way to celebrate it together.

The most exciting takeaway for me as we met last night was we have a group of people who are ready to hear from God. We are ready to engage the Scriptures and then talk about it. We need to get back to what has been written and join in the adventure again of hearing the Word of God in a fresh way. Something special can happen in a group like this.

11 Therefore, let’s make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience, 12 because God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. 13 No creature is hidden from it, but rather everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to give an answer. (Heb. 4:11-13, CEB)