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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

REB (Revised English Bible)

about the REB:
"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 "Thou" in addressing God has been replaced by you."


At Tue Apr 12, 12:43:00 AM, Anonymous Michael Glass said...

The Revised English Bible is a revision of the New English Bible. It is therefore interesting to see how the two Bibles cope with material that challenges our usual way of thinking.

Take Genesis 37:36. The New English Bible tells us that the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's eunuchs, the captain of the guard. The REB revises this to "Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's court officials..." The challenging information that Potiphar was unable to father children is thus suppressed, and our understanding of the possible motivation of Potiphar's wife is therefore impoverished.

A second instance of sanitizing is in Isaiah 8:2-3. In the New English Bible, Isaiah is instructed to get two witnesses. Then he lay with the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son. The challenging possibility that Isaiah conceived the child in front of two witnesses is suppressed in the REB. In this version we read that the witnesses witnessed some writing, and then he lay with his wife and she conceived and bore a son.

A third instance is in a footnote to Matthew 1:16 in the New English Bible. It points out that there are two versions of this verse in the documentary tradition, and one manuscript says that Joseph was the father of Jesus. This footnote is absent from the Revised English Bible.

These three instances suggest that the Revised English Bible is a bowdlerized revision of the New English Bible.

At Wed May 04, 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Prov. 6:33 "he will get nothing but blows and contumely"

Granted, this is a British version and I am an American, but I have never heard the word "contumely." I would think that versions written in American English should have vocabulary which will at least be understood by British speakers, and vice versa, even if the vocabulary is not the most commonly used for that dialect.

At Thu Dec 08, 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, I just spotted your last comment on "contumely". This word is not understood by most British English speakers, including myself. So this is a real problem in this version.

At Wed Oct 24, 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

I actually do know the word 'contumely', just because the word came up in Latin class (contumelia). And, really, it's a very appropriate word to use there. This brings up an important question, though: is it better to use a single word that really encapsulates the meaning, even if the reader might have to go look it up in a dictionary?
Even if this isn't the best translation, though, it actually shows one of the things I really like about the REB: they're not afraid to use a wide vocabulary when appropriate.


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