Revised English Bible

Revised English Bible
Full name Revised English Bible
Abbreviation REB
Complete Bible
Derived from New English Bible
Textual basis NT: 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 type Dynamic equivalence
Reading level High School
Copyright Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press 1989
Religious affiliation Ecumenical
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 and updates the New English Bible, of 1970. As with its predecessor, it is published by the publishing houses of both the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Translation philosophy

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 New English Bible, moving the REB more in the direction of standard translations such as NRSV or NIV.

The translation is intended to be somewhat gender-inclusive, 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 traditional translations, such as the KJV and the ESV, that use the word "man" and the masculine singular pronoun in Psalm 1. The ESV, for example, has "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 gender-inclusive translations such as the NRSV that avoid any masculine nouns and pronouns 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." In between these two approaches is the translation of Psalm 1 in the REB, which avoids using a male noun ("man") but retains 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 by several people as more "literary" than 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 has led Stephen Mitchell and others to compliment it as one of the best English renderings. The translators of the REB gave particular attention to its suitability for public reading, especially in the Book of Psalms.[1]

The NEB "had a considerable British flavor". The REB "removed much of this distinctiveness and aimed to be more accessible to an American audience".[2]

Churches in the Anglican Communion in which the REB is authorized for liturgical use include the Episcopal Church,[3] the Church of England,[4] and the Anglican Church of Canada.[5]


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

Revision committee members

Chairman of the Joint Committee responsible for translation: Donald Coggan[6]

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




Coggan, Donald (1989). "Preface". The Revised English Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-7982-0884-0. 
Marlowe, Michael D. (1989). "The Revised English Bible (1989)". Bible Research. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
Suggs, M. Jack; Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob; Mueller, James R., eds. (1992). The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-529000-4. 

Further reading

Coleman, Roger (1989). New Light and Truth: The Making of the Revised English Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-101441-3. 
 ———  (2008). "A Contemporary Bible". English Today. 5 (4): 3–8. doi:10.1017/S0266078400004260. ISSN 0266-0784. 
Elliott, J. K. (1991). "Review of The Revised English Bible with Apocrypha and New Light and Truth: The Making of the Revised English Bible by Roger Coleman". Novum Testamentum. 33 (2): 182–185. doi:10.1163/156853691X00213. ISSN 1568-5365. JSTOR 1561489. 

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