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What is the Bible in Basic English (BBE)?

Bible in Basic English, BBE

Question: "What is the Bible in Basic English (BBE)?"

Bible in Basic English - History
The Bible in Basic English was translated by Professor Samuel Henry Hooke (1874-1968), an English scholar and Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies at the University of London. The BBE was printed in 1965 by Cambridge Press in England. Published without any copyright notice and distributed in America, this work fell immediately and irretrievably into the public domain in the United States.

Bible in Basic English - Translation Method
In an effort to simplify the text, Professor Hooke and his team limited the vocabulary to C. K. Ogden's Basic English vocabulary of 850 words which is said to be able to give the sense of anything which may be said in English. One hundred words that were helpful to understand poetry were added, along with 50 "Bible" words.

Bible in Basic English - Pro’s and con’s
The Bible in Basic English strives to simplify the Bible so that more people worldwide can read and understand the text. By using the Basic English vocabulary, this goal is accomplished. The BBE is certainly straightforward and simple. However, the restrictive nature of the Basic English vocabulary presents two problems. First, the narrow limits of the word list make it difficult to keep the BBE completely parallel to the Greek and Hebrew. Second, the beauty of the poetry of other versions such as the New King James Version and New American Standard Bible is lost in the BBE, as are the subtle shades and nuances of the language that make the Bible rich in expression and meaning.

Bible in Basic English - Sample verses
John 1:1, 14 – “From the first he was the Word, and the Word was in relation with God and was God. And so the Word became flesh and took a place among us for a time; and we saw his glory—such glory as is given to an only son by his father—saw it to be true and full of grace.”

John 3:16 – “For God had such love for the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever has faith in him may not come to destruction but have eternal life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I am.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “Because by grace you have salvation through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is given by God: Not by works, so that no man may take glory to himself.”

Titus 2:13 – “Looking for the glad hope, the revelation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ;”

Recommended Resources: How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions by Gordon D. Fee & Mark L. Strauss and Logos Bible Software.


Related Topics:

What is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)?

Why are there so many Bible translations, and which is the best?

What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?

KJV Only movement? Is the King James Version the only Bible we should use?

Should I use a paraphrase of the Bible?



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What is the Bible in Basic English (BBE)?