Easy read for Bible newcomers
The Casual English Bible (TCEB) is an easy-reading paraphrase of the Bible.
It’s written especially for people who don’t read the Bible.
“Folks who don’t read the Bible need a Bible they can read” isn’t just a cute tag line. It guides the translation away from churchy and scholarly words that are familiar and endearing to longtime Christians but make no sense to Bible newcomers.
TCEB gives people who are curious about Christianity a Bible they can understand the first time they lay eyes on it.
A work in progress
It’s in beta form, still being proofed and edited. So, it’s a work in progress, with many Old Testament books waiting the queue for paraphrasing.
Stephen M. Miller is a paraphraser. He’s an award-winning, bestselling Christian author of easy-reading books about the Bible and Christianity. He has been paraphrasing Bible scholars into everyday English for 40 years. His Bible background books have sold more than two million copies. Miller has a bachelor’s degree in news journalism and a seminary degree in biblical studies and religious education. For his bio and list of books and related awards, click the link to the About Steve page.
Some folks wonder if there’s a theological bent to this paraphrase. Catholic? Protestant? Evangelical? Mainstream?
Try to find one.
TCEB tries to help the Bible say whatever it wants to say impartially and truthfully, but in casual English.
Sometimes Catholics will be delighted about what they read, as it relates to their distinctive teachings. Sometimes it’ll be the Baptists. And the Pentecostals. The Bible is that diverse. And TCEB doesn’t try to soften statements that some find uncomfortable.
For instance, many Protestants say the bread and juice of communion are symbolic, though Catholics generally say otherwise, that it’s the real deal. So, some Protestants might find this quote of Jesus a tad unsettling:
“If you eat from my body and drink my blood, you’ll live forever…My body is real food to eat. My blood is a real drink. Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood becomes part of me.” (John 6:54-56)
Bible writers were theologically scattered
Miller is a Protestant. But he says he’s letting the Bible say whatever it wants to say. The late consulting editor, Robert V. Huber, was Catholic. (Miller and Huber co-authored The Bible: A History, which won the Christian Broadcasting Council’s non-fiction book of the year award in the United Kingdom, where it was first published.)
Bible writers were theologically scattered, which is why we have so many denominations. A group of souls will latch onto one oblique Bible statement and grow a denomination around it. Another group will latch onto something else and head off in another direction. Church groups end up with distinctive teachings:
- You have to take communion.
- You have to get baptized.
- You have to pray the sinners prayer with a King James Bible.
- You have to become a pacifist.
- You have to stop saying “have to.”
There’s Bible behind each of those, except the King James Bible requirement.
The difference between Bible versions is sometimes barely noticeable. Other times the comparison is barely recognizable. The original meaning in Greek or Hebrew is sometimes that clear and sometimes that fuzzed up.
TCEB’s typical approach to a fuzzy passage is to make an educated guess and then add a footnote that essentially says, “Folks, this is a guess. Here are other possible interpretations.”
Heaven’s message in human hands
Humans do the work of Bible translation and paraphrase, but they’re only human.
They’re trying to catch a river and nail it to a book. That’s what language is: liquid.
It’s constantly changing.
What’s current today, is downstream tomorrow, carried away by the current.
Words that are kind during one generation can become nasty buzzwords to the next. Finesse, for example. It doesn’t just mean “improve.” To Gen Z it means “manipulate,” “trick.”
Someone should always be working on the next Bible translation or paraphrase. Finessing it—but not in a Gen Z way.
If we want to keep the Bible relevant to every culture in every language in every generation and subset of a generation (go Boomers), Christians will always be working on the next Bible version—whether it’s a paraphrase for Bible newcomers or a literal translation that’s one verb and two nouns above an interlinear.
How many Bible versions is enough?
There’s never enough. Not as long as there are people who have no idea who Jesus is.