Teaching a New Testament class on some of the “general epistles” I keep several translations with me. I will use my Nook and the Olive Tree Bible Reader to compare, take notes, etc.
While the Common English Bible certainly has a lower reading level than more “literal” translations, what continues to impress me about the CEB is it is truly a translation. They have not aimed for common language alone. It is about clarity. They don’t stretch for common language by paraphrasing.
Some word choices in 2 Peter are intriguing me.
2 Peter 2:1-4 (CEB):
1 But false prophets also arose among the people. In the same way, false teachers will come among you. They will introduce destructive opinions and deny the master who bought them, bringing quick destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow them in their unrestrained immorality, and because of these false teachers the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will take advantage of you with lies. The judgment pronounced against them long ago hasn’t fallen idle, nor is their destruction sleeping.
4 God didn’t spare the angels when they sinned but cast them into the lowest level of the underworld and committed them to chains of darkness, keeping them there until the judgment.
Two places specifically are interesting when compared with a more “literal” translation like the ESV:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, butcast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
The first is the phrase “destructive heresies” in v. 1 (ESV). The phrase takes the meaning of Peter a bit too far. The CEB goes with “destructive opinions” (as does the NRSV). It’s a translator’s choice, but probably staying more in line with what Peter is getting at.
The second is “hell.” That word has more permanence attache to it in our own minds (unless you’re an annihilationist, of course). Even in that sense there is the thought of finality. The ESV footnotes it, but only to use the Greek word “Tartarus.” (Well, now, THAT is helpful!)
Tartarus was a place in Greek mythology, a subterranean abyss where disobedient gods and rebellious human beings were consigned. It is not a place of permanent judgment. Thus, the New Jerusalem Bible, and CEB, using “underworld” might be a better fit.
Again, just interesting notes that keep me intrigued with the CEB. Certainly there is disagreement on which words to use in translation, but it shows me it is truly a translation. They are not trying to “dumb down” Scripture. They are really trying to communicate clearly.