Contemporary English Version

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The Contemporary English Version or CEV (also known as Bible for Today's Family) is a new translation of the Bible into English, published by the American Bible Society. An anglicized version was produced by the British and Foreign Bible Society, which includes metric measurements for the Commonwealth market.



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. 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/Deuterocanonical Books were published.

While the CEV is sometimes mischaracterized as a revision of the Good News Bible, it is in fact a fresh translation, and designed for a lower reading level than the GNB. The American Bible Society continues to promote both translations.

Translation principles and features

In translating the CEV, the translators followed three translation principles. They were:

  • must be understood by people without stumbling in speech
  • must be understood by those with little or no comprehension of "Bible" language
  • must be understood by all.

The CEV uses gender-sensitive language for humanity and not for the Godhead. The translation also takes care to simplify "Bible" terms into more understandable words and phrases. An example can be found in where the word adultery is translated Be faithful in marriage. The translators have also taken great care to translate 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, along with many (but not all) biblical scholars, that the Greek phrase hoi Ioudaioi in the Gospel of John primarily refers to the Jewish leadership, not to the Jewish people, as a whole. Therefore, their translation as "the Jewish leaders" is intended to increase translation accuracy. One result of this translation decision is a reduction of the perception of Anti-Semitism in the New Testament.


  • In 1997 the British Plain English Campaign awarded the BFBS anglicized CEV a Crystal Mark award in appreciation of the clarity of its language.[][]


  • 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.[]


  • Sheeley, Stephen M. and Nash, Robert N. Choosing a Bible. pp. 55-56.
  • Metzger, Bruce M. The Bible In Translation. p. 171.

Some of the information in this article comes from an email inquiry by Wikipedian Joshua Holman to Jacquelyn Sapiie, Supervisor of Library Services at the American Bible Society on February 9, 2004.


Further reading

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