The Common English Bible is quickly expanding its appeal among believers, establishing itself on multiple websites and celebrating its second consecutive month as a best-seller.
Described as being “built on common ground,” the new translation is attracting many Christians who appreciate the text’s clear and understandable 21st century English, which was the result of collaboration between opposites (scholars working with average readers, conservatives working with liberals, men working with women, and etc.).
The CEB is expected to become one of the most used Bible translations, becoming as widespread as the NIV, Paul Franklyn, the associate publisher of the CEB, told The Christian Post.
“Our message, built on common ground, is appealing to many Christians who agree that the Bible is not a weapon but should be an instrument for spreading God’s grace to all seekers and believers,” he shared.
Translators from 24 denominations came together from evangelical to liberal traditions to create the CEB, working hard to reach a consensus on the words chosen. The Bible was written in contemporary idiom at the same reading level as the USA TODAY newspaper.
“The smoothness and naturalness of the English was improved by field testing (reading the text aloud) during the translation process in 77 reading groups,” Franklyn explained.
Thirty-four percent of people on the translation team were women, out of conviction that common ground was possible and that God’s grace was available to any person regardless of gender, age, identity or color.
Given the number of Christian leaders and congregations that are already drawn to the new Bible for its common ground and language, Franklyn predicted a promising future for the CEB.
Currently, the Common English Bible is on the January CBA Bible Translation Best Seller list after debuting in stores less than three months ago, based on actual unit sales in Christian retail stores in the United States.
The translation is also being featured on several accredited websites including BibleGateway.com, the highest ranked website in the world for Bible search activity, and Patheos.com, an international online hub for faith communities.
Additionally, more than 150 international bloggers are participating in a three-month long “Thank You-Come Again-I Promise” blog tour, where bloggers are given the opportunity to use the new translation to write about their favorite seasonal verses or stories.
The completion of the translation in 2011, which took four years in total, was featured in several newspapers and publications, becoming one of the top 10 religion stories of the year according to the 30th annual Religion Newswriters Association survey and by editors of the Associated Baptist Press.
“The reach of the CEB might become as widespread as the NIV,” Franklyn revealed to CP. “But the extent of the CEB use is of course difficult to predict.”
The new Bible was not as dependent on KJV vocabulary as the top 5 translations, the publisher stated.
“The NIV appeared in the 1970s at a time when print publishing and retail distribution, as well as character of denominational groups, were aligned very differently than the influential partners are now lined up in the digital era.”
“In addition, for more than 50 years now it is apparent that leaders in every generation will put the translation of the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible into the fresh, natural and common idioms that are spoken by God's people,” Franklyn revealed.
“While some people prefer not to change their reading habits for understandable reasons, but these continuing acts of Bible translation show that the divine word is just as relevant now as it was when the Bible first began appearing in English (through John Wycliffe) 630 years ago.”
Overall, Franklyn explained that his team was just happy to witness people sharing the Good News in the translation of their choice, whether CEB or ESV or NIV.
“We try not to imagine that the Common English Bible is a contest to make other translations obsolete,” he clarified. “If we apply the business principle of competition too literally to the distribution of the Bible, we easily slip into the same error that Jesus' disciples made when they asked Jesus who will be the greatest disciple?”
“We are pleased to hear when any person reads their preferred translation.”
As of now, many editions of the Common English Bible are available with many more planned for the near future. The two most important editions for the new translation will include the CEB Deep Blue Kid’s Bible, which will appear in August of this year, and the CEB Study Bible, which will debut in the fall of 2013.
“In general, when a new translation appears, people start reading the Bible again because the fresh language motivates passive or weary readers to take up the discipline of digesting God’s Word,” Franklyn concluded.
“Living the common ground is the next objective.”
For more information on the Common English Bible, click here.