Revised English Bible

What is the Revised English Bible?

The Revised English Bible (REB) is a 1989 English language translation of the Bible and updates the New English Bible, of 1970. As with its predecessor, it is published by the publishing houses of both Oxford University and Cambridge University.

The REB is the result of both advances in scholarship and translation made since the 1960s and also a desire to correct what have been seen as some of the NEB's more egregious errors. For examples of changes, see the references. The changes remove many of the most idiosyncratic renderings of the New English Bible, moving the REB more in the direction of standard translations such as NRSV or NIV.

The translation is intended to be somewhat gender-inclusive, though not to the same extent as translations such as the NRSV. Psalm 1 offers an illustration of the REB's middle-ground approach to gender-inclusive language. On one side are more traditional translations such as the KJV and the ESV that use the word "man" and the masculine singular pronoun in Psalm 1.

The ESV, for example, has "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked . . . ; but his delight is in the law of the Lord." On the other side are more gender-inclusive translations such as the NRSV that avoid any masculine nouns and pronouns in Psalm 1.

The NRSV uses plurals: "Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked . . . ; but their delight is in the law of the Lord." In between these two approaches is the translation of Psalm 1 in the REB, which avoids using a male noun ("man") but retains the masculine singular pronouns ("his"): "Happy is the one who does not take the counsel of the wicked for a guide . . . . His delight is in the law of the Lord."

The style of the REB has been described by several people as more "literary" than NRSV or NIV. It tends slightly further in the direction of "dynamic equivalence" than those translations, but still translates Hebrew poetry as poetry and reflects at least some of the characteristics of that poetry. The REB's general accuracy and literary flavour has led Stephen Mitchell and others to compliment it as one of the best English renderings.

The translators of the REB gave particular attention to its suitability for public reading, especially in the Book of Psalms. These days there are few differences between evangelical and non-evangelical translations. The best-known difference is probably Isaiah 7:14, where evangelical translators often have "virgin" instead of "young woman". The REB is a non-evangelical translation. Like the NEB, it is primarily presented to the British and British-educated public, although it has some American users and admirers (as indicated by the sales of it within the USA).


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