September 21, 2015

CEB Student Bible

The CEB Student Bible, which Abingdon kindly sent me to review, is a great find for young people, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it too!

The contemporary and ecumenically-minded CEB (Common English Bible) translation makes a good choice for children, teens, young adults, and virtually any-aged Bible student who wants to grasp the complexities and paradoxes of God’s Word.

Added to the easy-to-read text, this edition includes several unique features about which the “Introduction” says:

“As you read, you’ll notice textboxes throughout. Some are written by scholars – pastors, seminary professors, and students who have devoted a lot of time over the years to wrestling with the difficulties of the Bible. They’ve highlighted certain passages, provided a bit more information about the context for these passages, and asked some questions that these passages raise. Other textboxes are written by young people – people who aren’t experts but are just faithful people like you who are willing to dig into the Bible and ask God what it means.”

Each book begins with an overview, which includes “Key Themes,” “Tips for Reading,” and “Quick Facts" about the author, setting, and approximate date. Then each book ends with a relevant “Wresting With” section.

In Psalms, for example, the overview tells us that this anthology of “150 favorite songs of ancient Israel…. express a tremendous range of feelings, from guilt to adoration, exaltation to utter misery. After thousands of years, we’ve lost the tunes to these songs. Though only lyrics remain, these songs still have the power to speak for us and to speak to us today about the way we live our lives in relationship with God.”

The key themes list various types of psalms such as lament, wisdom, and songs of trust followed by “Tips For Reading,” which urge readers to “Pay Attention to the Unique Style of Hebrew Songwriting” such as structure, placement, and figurative language.

At the end of the book, the section “Wrestling with the Psalms” asks such pertinent questions as “How does the particularly human perspective of the Psalms influence your interpretation of them as part of the biblical canon? What is their purpose within the large biblical text?” and “What do these prayers teach us about how we relate to God?”

Following this, another unique feature “Reading Differently” encourages readers to write their own psalm, try putting the lyrics of a favorite psalm to a familiar tune, and practice lectio divinia (meditation or contemplative prayer) with Psalm 8:1 or 139:8-10.

In addition to suggestions for interaction with the text, sidebars include prayers by young people and info by Bible scholars to enhance reader involvement and comprehension. For instance, a sidebar in the Gospel of John discusses “Doubting Thomas,” who has a bad rep despite being a faithful follower of Jesus.

The insert also reminds us that “All the great Christian saints, from Martin Luther to Mother Teresa , have faced doubts. But rather than letting your doubts drive you away from faith, consider Thomas and how his doubts drew him closer to an encounter with God in Jesus.”

To find these sidebars on all sorts of topics important to our faith, the back matter of this highly recommended edition includes an “Article Index,” divided by testament and book, followed by the locations of “Well-Known Bible Passages and Stories” and “Less Well-Known Bible Passages and Stories.” These additions help to deepen faith, lift spirits, and even show that a delightful sense of humor begins with God.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, author, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, poetry, and the church. Her latest writings are posted as Praise Poems.

The CEB Student Bible, paperback

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