Revised English Bible

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Revised English Bible
Full nameRevised English Bible
Complete Bible
Derived fromNew English Bible
Textual basisNT: Medium correspondence to Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition, with occasional parallels to Codex Bezae. OT: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1967/77) with Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint influence. Apocrypha: Septuagint with Vulgate influence.
Translation typeDynamic equivalence
Reading levelHigh school
CopyrightOxford University Press and Cambridge University Press 1989
Religious affiliationEcumenical
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a vast waste, darkness covered the deep, and the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not perish but have eternal life.

The Revised English Bible (REB) is a 1989 English-language translation of the Bible that updates the New English Bible (NEB) of 1970. As with its predecessor, it is published by the publishing houses of both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It is not to be confused with the Revised English Bible of 1877, which was an annotated and slightly emended King James Bible.[1]

Translation philosophy[edit]

The REB is the result of both advances in scholarship and translation made since the 1960s and also a desire to correct what have been seen as some of the NEB's more egregious errors (for examples of changes, see the references). The changes remove many of the most idiosyncratic renderings of the NEB, moving the REB more in the direction of standard translations such as the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or the New International Version (NIV).

The translation is intended to take account of gender-inclusive usage, though not to the same extent as translations such as the NRSV. Psalm 1 offers an illustration of the REB's middle-ground approach to gender-inclusive language. On one side are more literal translations, such as the King James Version (KJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), and the English Standard Version (ESV), that use the word "man" and the masculine singular pronoun in Psalm 1. The RSV/ESV, for example, read "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked...; but his delight is in the law of the Lord." On the other side are more dynamic translations aiming for gender-inclusivity, such as the NRSV, that avoid exclusively masculine English nouns and pronouns. For instance, in Psalm 1, the NRSV uses plurals: "Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked...; but their delight is in the law of the Lord." By comparison, the REB walks a middle path between both approaches. In Psalm 1, the REB avoids using a male noun ("man") while also retaining the masculine singular pronouns ("his"): "Happy is the one who does not take the counsel of the wicked for a guide... His delight is in the law of the Lord."

The style of the REB has been described as more "literary" than that of the NRSV or NIV. It tends slightly further in the direction of "dynamic equivalence" than those translations, but still translates Hebrew poetry as poetry and reflects at least some of the characteristics of that poetry. The REB's general accuracy and literary flavour have led Stephen Mitchell and others to praise it as one of the best English language renderings. The translators of the REB gave particular attention to its suitability for public reading, especially in the Book of Psalms.[2]

According to the American Bible Society, the NEB had a "considerable British [flavour]" but the REB "removed much of this distinctiveness and aimed to be more accessible to an international[a] audience".[3]

Churches in the Anglican Communion in which the REB is authorised for liturgical use include the:


The churches and other Christian groups that sponsored the REB were:

Revision committee members[edit]

Chairman of the joint committee responsible for translation: Donald Coggan[7]

Director of revision: William Duff McHardy

Revisers: G. W. Anderson; R. S. Barbour; I. P. M. Brayley; M. Brewster; S. P. Brock; G. B. Caird; P. Ellingworth; R. P. Gordon; M. D. Hooker; A. A. Macintosh; W. McKane; I. H. Marshall; R. A. Mason; I. Moir; R. Murray; E. W. Nicholson; C. H. Roberts; R. B. Salters; P. C. H. Wernberg-Moller; M. F. Wiles

Literary advisers: M. H. Black; M. Caird; J. K. Cordy, Baroness de Ward; I. Gray; P. Larkin; Doris Martin; C. H. Roberts; Sir Richard Southern; P. J. Spicer; J. I. M. Stewart; Mary Stewart



  1. ^ Revised English Bible. The Holy Bible According to the Authorised Version, compared with the Hebrew and Greek Texts and Carefully Revised. London: Eyre & Spottiswood. 1877.
  2. ^ Coggan 1989, p. viii.
  3. ^ "A Brief Description of Popular Bible Translations". American Bible Society. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  4. ^ The Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church: Canon 2: Of Translations of the Bible at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 June 2015)
  5. ^ Versions of Scripture at the Wayback Machine (archived 14 November 2011)
  6. ^ "List of Bible Versions Approved by the House of Bishops for use in Public Worship in the Anglican Church of Canada, on Recommendation from the Doctrine and Worship Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ Suggs, Sakenfeld & Mueller 1992, p. xvii.


  1. ^ i.e. American


Further reading[edit]

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