Interview with Paul Franklyn project director for the CEB
Paul N. Franklyn, associate publisher and project director for the Common
English Bible (CommonEnglishBible.com) in Nashville, TN, earned the PhD in
Old Testament from Vanderbilt University. Since 1983 Paul has acquired,
edited, or produced more than 600 books, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and commercial
websites. Paul specializes in planning and launching new business ventures,
and his product development emphasis is in Bible, Reference, and resources
for leaders of congregations.
What is the Common English Bible?
The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It’s a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A key goal of the translation team is to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level (similar to USA TODAY) for most people who read English.
How is the Common English Bible unique?
It’s uncommon in that it’s the newest translation by the largest number of biblical scholars & church leaders in words 21st century readers use every day, aligning academic rigor with modern understandability, proven through extensive field-testing with, and acting on feedback from, hundreds of readers. The new Common English Bible is the only translation to combine and balance highly respected ecumenical biblical scholarship necessary for serious study with responsiveness to 21st century clear communication requirements for comprehensive clarity. The Common English Bible is the only translation to extensively use contractions where the text warrants an engaging conversational style (not used in divine or poetic discourse).
And among all Bibles available today, the Common English Bible is the only one that includes exclusive, detailed color maps from National Geographic, well known for its accurate topographical map making.
Explain the translation process.
Combining scholarly accuracy with vivid language, the Common English Bible is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, and Latino communities, representing such academic
institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. They translated the Bible into English directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Additionally, more than 500 readers in 77 groups field-tested the translation. Every verse was read aloud in the reading groups, where potentially confusing passages were identified. The translators considered the groups' responses and, where necessary, reworked those passages to clarify in English their meaning from the original
languages. In total, more than 600 people worked jointly to bring the Common English Bible to fruition.
How long did this translation process take?
We began in 2007. The complete Bible—Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha—was just released in 2011. We were able to accomplish so much with so many people because of using a matrix schedule, coordinating in realtime translators with reviewers, and using Internet communication technology.
Who Is It For?
The Common English Bible is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. That’s reflected in the dedicated work ofa diverse team with broad biblical scholarship. As a result, the English translation of ancient words has an uncommon relevance for a broad audience of Bible readers—from children to scholars.
Why do we need another Bible translation?
The Common English Bible is a non-polarizing Bible translation. It’s the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; teens working with retirees; men working with women; conservatives working with liberals; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a translation that unites rather than divides, with the ultimate goal of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world. The Common English Bible is also needed today because the digital revolution is accelerating changes in the English
language and its everyday usage and understandability. This translation is necessary to clearly communicate God’s Word because 9,000 new words & meaning revisions are added yearly to the English lexicon. The Common English Bible is today’s freshest translation and uses natural, 21st century English.
Why would pastors and teachers want the Common English Bible?
Professional communicators (preachers, professors, speakers, leaders, etc.) who use this authoritative translation (not a paraphrase) will be great communicators, effectively reaching their audiences with biblical text their audiences readily understand because the text is written the way they naturally talk.
Why is the Common English Bible translated to be gender-inclusive?
Present-day writers and speakers of the English language are no longer taught to use only male pronouns when referring generally to other human beings. Instead of referring to persons in general as “he,” “him,” or “his,” we’re taught to use third person pronouns, such as “we,” “they,” or “them” in our general communication. So, rather than referring only to "brothers" in the Bible when the context includes both genders, the Common English Bible says "brothers and sisters." The Common English Bible contains unbiased gender language because the Bible message itself teaches that God's love and grace must be clearly available to every woman, man, and child. Pronouns can be translated inclusively, accurately, and smoothly without changing the meaning of the source language with respect to general human beings. Pronouns for God, Lord, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit are translated as he, his, or him.
What are some examples of the translation style?
The traditional term “Son of Man” as a reference to Jesus’ self identification with humans, is translated in the Common English Bible as “Human One” to accurately reflect Jesus’ fully human nature; and the term “God’s Son” is used to accurately reflect Jesus’ fully divine nature. Likewise, “happy” is used in place of “blessed” in the Beatitudes to
communicate the original language’s intent of human flourishing and community commitment (similar to the meaning behind “happiness” as it’s used in the US Declaration of Independence). Other terms used in the Common English Bible include “change your hearts and lives” for “repent,” “immigrant” for “alien,” “solemn promise” for “vow,” and
“funeral clothing” for “sackcloth.
Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?
The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets
periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).
What evangelical school was the first to endorse the translation?
Fuller Theological Seminary approved the new Common English Bible as a translation for use in biblical studies courses for its more than 4,000 students, and particularly for all master’s-level instruction in the seminary’s School of Theology, School of Psychology, and School of Intercultural Studies on all eight of its campuses.
What Common English Bible products are available?
The Common English Bible translation is available in multiple print and electronic editions, with and without the Apocrypha. Reference books supporting the translation are also available. See the website for the entire list.
Where is the Common English Bible available?
At your favorite bookstore, at online stores (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble), BibleGateway.com, or by visiting