Review of the CEB Student Bible: A Bible That Helps Teens Understand and Learn More About God's Word

Teaching our kids to desire to read the Bible for themselves has always been a priority for us. One way to make it easier to do this is to choose Bibles that are age appropriate. Having a Bible that is easy to read and that has tools to help the reader learn more is important in cultivating the habit of regular Bible reading.

I was excited to have the opportunity to review the CEB Student Bible, a Bible directed toward students aged thirteen and up. This Bible has lots of features, and I was hopeful that it could help my teens learn more about God’s Word and help them to understand what they’re reading.

Review of a Common English Bible Study Bible for Teens

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About the CEB translation

The Common English Bible translation was completed in 2011 and was a collaboration of over 120 Biblical scholars. The translation is designed to be easy to read while still preserving Biblical accuracy. There were twenty-two different faith communities represented by the translators. My own denomination and some other denominations who hold to more conservative, reformed beliefs and principles are not represented. Some readers from a conservative background may not appreciate the translation.

I won’t argue the accuracy or use of various translations in this review. If you study various translations the CEB is considered a “thought by thought” translation as opposed to a “word for word” translation. Although I didn’t see anything in my reading that was a direct contradiction of other translations I consider to be really good, there are passages that are deliberately vague that may encourage the reader to draw a different meaning than the original one. I enjoy reading a variety of translations to get a better and more complete idea of the meaning of various passages. And sometimes I do really enjoy having a very easy to read translation when my goal is just reading the Bible without lots of in-depth study.

The CEB Student Bible

The general editor of the CEB Student Bible is Dr. Elizabeth W. Corrie. The Bible has some features that make it a good study Bible for teens.

  • Informational charts and graphs explaining such things as Biblical weights and measures and the layout of the Israelites camp throughout their desert journey
CEB Student Bible graphics
  • A detailed overview of each book that gives information about the book and its themes
  • Prayers regarding various portions of Scripture written by real teens 
  • Questions and explanation throughout the Scripture that give an explanation of certain passages.
CEB Student Bible explanations
  • Thinking questions at the end of each book
  • Suggestions at the end of each book for reading and studying Scripture in a different way
  • Indexes and maps at the end of the Bible
CEB Student Bible maps
What I like
There is quite a bit of extra material here to be of use to teens who want to read and study the Bible in more depth. These tools can encourage critical thinking about what the reader has just read.
The translation is easier to read than some traditional translations which may make teens more likely to read it.
The look of the Bible, as well as the wording in the introduction and question and answer portions, will probably make this particular Bible appealing to teens and something they want to pick up and read.
And what I don’t like
As I’ve already mentioned, there may be some concerns here about the translation. I don’t mind reading a variety of translations or letting my kids read a variety of translations. This is a fairly liberal translation. For example, it attempts to be politically correct by using gender-neutral statements such as “human being” in place of “son of man.” There are also subtle or not so subtle messages about politically correct ideas such as caring for the earth and the equality of women in the extra study notes throughout the Bible.
I was also concerned by some of the views of Scripture as not being the literal, inspired Word of God. For example, in the Genesis introduction, the statement is made right off the bat that the six days of creation weren’t literal days but were time periods.
In my opinion, some of the answers to thought-provoking questions throughout the Scripture are very much out of line with the original meaning and intent in Scripture. This discrepancy is found primarily in the extra information and explanations, although occasionally the translation itself will be a little vague. For example in the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, the explanation given in the extra information is that the sin of these cities was its harsh treatment of its visitors and citizens- a sin of inhospitality. The verses in the CEB say that the Lord has heard “cries of injustice” against the cities. In every other Bible translation I’ve read, the sin of these cities is their immorality, not merely being inhospitable. The actual verses in the NIV say that the Lord told Abraham that the cry against these cities was so great and their sin so grievous.
In conclusion
Although the CEB translation doesn’t bother me, I am concerned about the “spin” placed on different portions of Scripture in the added information and explanations. Doctrinally, this Bible is not in line with the beliefs of our family. The setup and great features of this Bible definitely make it appealing to teens. But I would have a problem letting my teens use it because of the doctrinal issues in the “extras.” If you consider it as a study Bible, I would just recommend you preview it before giving it to your student.

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