What is The Contemporary English Version?
The Contemporary English Version (aka CEV or the Bible for Today's Family) is an English-language translation of the Bible, published by the American Bible Society. The CEV project began as a result of studies conducted by Barclay Newman in 1985 into speech patterns used in books, magazines, newspapers, and television. These studies focused on how English was read and heard. (Learn more about the American Bible Society here.)
This led to a series of test volumes being published in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among the volumes published were Luke Tells the Good News About Jesus (1987), The Good News Travels Fast – The Acts Of The Apostles (1988), A Few Who Dared to Trust God (1990), and A Book About Jesus (1991). In 1991, the 175th anniversary of the American Bible Society, the CEV New Testament was released.
The CEV Old Testament was released in 1995. In 1999, The "Apocryphal" or "Deuterocanonical" Books were published. While the CEV is sometimes mischaracterized as a revision of the Good News Bible, it is a fresh translation, and designed for a lower reading level. The American Bible Society continues to promote both translations.
The translators of the CEV followed three principles. They were that the CEV: (1) must be understood by people without stumbling in speech, (2) must be understood by those with little or no comprehension of "Bible" language, and (3) must be understood by all. The CEV uses gender-neutral language for humanity, though not for God. The translation simplifies Biblical terminology into everyday words and phrases. An example can be found in Exodus 20:14, where the prohibition against committing adultery is rendered positively in terms of being faithful in marriage.
Moreover, the CEV often paraphrases in order to make the underlying point of a passage clear, rather than directly translating the wording. For example, compare Psalm 127:1 in the (much more literal) New International Version: Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. with the much shorter summary given by the CEV: Without the help of the LORD it is useless to build a home or to guard a city. Or verses 4 & 5 in the New International Version: Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. are rendered in the CEV as: Having a lot of children to take care of you in your old age is like a warrior with a lot of arrows. The more you have, the better off you will be, because they will protect you when your enemies attack with arguments. Here, rather than shortening the original, the CEV has introduced new material by way of explanation, such as 'to take care of you in your old age'.
The CEV translates the Greek phrase hoi Ioudaioi (literally, "the Jews") as "the Jewish leaders," especially in the Gospel of John (as in John 18:14). The CEV translators believe that the Greek phrase hoi Ioudaioi in the Gospel of John primarily refers to the Jewish leadership (as in John 6:41). They believe that their translation of hoi Ioudaioi as "the Jewish leaders" is accurate and that it "will reduce the perception of Anti-Semitism in the New.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the American Bible Society published a special booklet titled God Is Our Shelter and Strength. The booklet contained passages from the Psalms and other parts of the Bible. This booklet was also published after the Hurricane Katrina disaster in September 2005. In October 2005, the Bible Society in Australia launched a project called SMSBible, which was the entire CEV in SMS text messages. News reports about the service claimed that the Bible spanned more than 30,000 text messages.
On October 25, 2005, a church in New Zealand began a project called PodBible to produce an audio version of the CEV available via podcast or webcast. In 2009, through the UCCF 'FREE Gospel Project' 400,000 copies of the book of Mark in CEV were handed out, at over 150 Universities in the UK.
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