The Common English Bible: “Son of Man” or the “Human One”

One of the newest Bible translations to appear is the Common English Bible. As with any new translation it will have to find its niche in order to survive the plethora of options available to the English speaking public. It is slowly gaining visibility but not always for the best reasons. Even though it has replaced the TNIV at Fuller Seminary, [UPDATE: Dr. Green has commented that Fuller did not replace the TNIV but approved the CEB along with the TNIV. See comments.] the talk of the town concerns one of its most unique translations: the phrase normally translated as “Son of Man” is translated as “Human One.”  Joel Hoffman, from the blog, God Didn’t Say That, offers a nice summary of the pros and cons on the translation. The post is well worth reading. His conclusion is as follows:

I understand the motivation behind “human one” in the CEB. And I think that in isolation it’s a better translation than the traditional “son of man.” But in the broader context of the full NT, I think the association with “son” is too central to give up, and so the CEB misses more than it captures.

Of course, no translation should be judged on any one passage or phrase. The list of translators is impressive by any measure with such notables as: Joel Green, Richard Hays, Richard Hess, Michael Bird, Bill Arnold, Luke Timothy Johnson, Tremper Longman, and David deSilva. According to the website “more than 500 persons from 22 faith traditions participated in the development of the CEB translation, which includes 120 translators, 10 editors, and 77 reading group leaders.”

We have copies in the store now of the New Testament. The complete Bible is due out this August. What about a free copy? Glad you asked. I will give a free copy of the New Testament to the first five people who comment on this post. On top of that to the first three walk-in customers that mention this post I’ll give them a copy as well. So come on in or leave me your name (I’ll contact you via email for the shipping information. Oh, I’ll pay for the shipping.) If you would like to compare the CEB to some other translations look here.


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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8 Responses to The Common English Bible: “Son of Man” or the “Human One”

  1. craighurst says:

    Looks interesting….Am I first on here -:)


  2. Clay Knick says:


    I think this assessment is spot on.

    Since the CEB is published by Abingdon there have been a lot of UM pastors interested in it. There are places I like it, but I’ve seen nothing in it to move me away from using the NRSV, NIV, &
    RSV as my “go to” translations. “Human One” has been and will continue to be a stumbling block for a lot of readers familiar with the NRSV/RSV tradition. Those translations, along with the NIV, have been heavily used and promoted in the UMC.

    Oh, I don’t need a free copy. Save it for others. I received one last year.


  3. FYI, Fuller Seminary has not replaced the TNIV with the CEB. This was erroneously reported by “The Christian Post.” Their headline is misleading, though they have corrected the copy in at least a couple of their articles. Most biblical studies courses at Fuller require Greek and Hebrew. For those courses that are English-based, the faculty have approved certain translations that can be required of students. In the past, this included the NRSV and the TNIV. The biblical studies faculty has now also approved the CEB — alongside (not instead of) the NRSV and the TNIV. (At the time of their decision, the biblical studies faculty had not yet reviewed the new edition of the NIV.) (See

    Regarding the translation “Human One,” you might be interested in seeing Scot McKnight’s comments on his blog, Jesus Creed (see Comment #8, See also the CEB blog, “From Son of Man to Son of God” — — which includes material from the preface to the CEB, which I helped to write.

    (No need to provide me with a free copy.)


  4. Mark says:

    I’ll take one of those freebies to peruse. Thanks so much!


  5. Sherry Firestone says:

    Interesting – I am number


  6. Chris Sayer says:

    And me as well. I saw six comments so I thought there was no way. So you. I will take one.


  7. Michael Snow says:

    I, too, understand the motivation behind the translation, ‘human one’ to replace ‘the son of man’ and the reviewier does not spell that out. The reason is the politically correct feminist idealogy that will have nothing to do with “Son” or “Father” and wishes to expunge such terms to whatever extent they can get away with it.

    Some have accepted this term as a more “human” treatment of Jesus, oblivious to connection to Daniel’s apocalyptic figure:
    “I saw in the night visions,

    and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
    and he came to the Ancient of Days
    and was presented before him.
    And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
    that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
    his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
    and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed”


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