Bible Review 12:5, October 1996
Point/Counterpoint: Pros and Cons of the Contemporary English Version

The Contemporary English Version: inaccurate translation tries to soften Anti-Judaic sentiment

By Joseph Blenkinsopp

Many BR readers will by now have a copy of the Contemporary English Version of the Bible (CEV), published last year by the American Bible Society. They may even be using it for teaching or preaching. It is being actively sponsored by the American Interfaith Institute and is recommended by the chairman of the institute, Irvin J. Borowsky, as the first Bible to contain no anti-Judaism.

The claim is presumably based on the retranslating, or in some cases the paraphrasing or simply omitting, of certain prejudicial allusions to Jews in the New Testament, especially, of course, in the Fourth Gospel. So, for example, “hoi ioudaioi” (the Jews) in the original becomes “the people,” “the Jewish leaders” or simply “the leaders.” “A great crowd of the Jews” becomes “a lot of people” (John 12:9). In the chapters dealing with Jesus’ execution, it is simply “the crowd” that calls for his death.

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