Revised English Bible Evaluation

From Tyndale

In 1974, the Joint Committee of the Churches, which had produced the New English Bible, decided to begin a major revision of the text. By this time, there were changes in the composition of the Joint Committee. The Roman Catholic Church, with representatives from the hierarchies of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Ireland, entered into full membership. The United Reformed Church, which was a recent union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church, was represented. Then representatives of the Salvation Army and the Moravian Church joined the committee.

The best available texts of both Testaments were used. Care was taken to ensure that the style of English used be fluent and of dignity for liturgical use, while maintaining intelligibility for all ages and backgrounds. Complex or technical terms were avoided, where possible. There was care that sentence structure and word order would facilitate congregational reading, without misrepresenting the meaning of the original text. “Thou” in addressing God has been replaced by you. A more inclusive gender reference than the male-oriented language was preferred. A more extensive use of textual sub-headings in italics has been used. These are not to be considered part of the text. The traditional verse numbering of the Authorized Version has been retained. Passages that appear in the manuscripts used for the Authorized Version but left out of the Revised English Bible have been reproduced in footnotes. Some modern equivalents of ancient terms are used.

The Joint Committee commends this version with humility, but with confidence that God has yet new light and truth to break forth from his word. The publishers consider the Revised English Bible to be a radical revision of the New English Bible.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities Presses (1989)

[Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom]

My Evaluation

This common effort between various religions is from the beginning fraught with problems. First of all, most religions have a specific set of doctrines that have some in common with other groups (like both Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses would agree against worshipping images), but in which they would “push” their particular set of beliefs, whether these beliefs are biblical or not is the very issue with a joint effort. True is the point that the consensus approach would seem to keep each one from pushing overly much their own particular beliefs and doctrines, but is that really what we want in a Bible? Something that is pleasant to us and people of drastically different faiths? I don’t think so. I believe that most of the religious people who believe in the Bible (in word or in truth) do not care if their Bible is “acceptable” to other groups, but rather does it identify as being “faithful.”

Here I would insist as a Baptist in having a Bible that is faithful to the originals. Since the Roman Catholic church believes it is the instrument of inspired truth now on the earth, they would insist on a Bible that is faithful to the line of the Catholic church. A Jehovah’s Witness wants his Bible to be faithful to the WatchTower’s current teachings (as they change frequently, his Bible needs to be updated constantly as more and more things point out their contradictions with Scripture).

So from the get-go, the foundational concept of a jointly approached Bible translation isn’t going to get a thumbs up from me.