BBE Bible Translation

The Bible in Better English (BBE) is a Bible translation carried out by English scholar and Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Studies, Samuel Henry Hooke and his team. It was first printed in 1965 without any copyright, and fell immediately into the public domain.

Hooke intended for the translation to be more easily readable by the general English speaking world across the world. As such, there were strict controls of the language used. The usage of the vocabulary was limited to 1,000 words. 850 of the words were from C.K. Ogden's Basic English vocabulary, 100 words were added to help improve the understanding of poetry, with the remaining 50 words specific biblical terms to help people grasp the theology.

The pros and cons of such an approach to biblical translation are easy to unpack. While the general simplicity of language is helpful, especially to lay readers, that same simplicity is also a hinderance when more complicated topics are translated. Often times a forced simpler English leads to a more clumsy interpretation. In places, the usage of the more "advanced" words actually leads to a more easily understandable text. Case in point is 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." - BBE

Now, let's look at the same verses in the NASB:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." - NASB

It's apparent from this example, that the usage of the more complex words actually yields and more natural translation. Still, having the translation simplified does have its benefits. In most cases, the benefits of having the simplified language outweigh the cost of the translation being overly complicated and difficult to understand. Still, the principle of comparing various translations is without peer in getting a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of biblical verses, chapters and larger portions.