Canonical translation initiation in eukaryotes begins with the Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4F (eIF4F) complex, made up of eIF4E, which recognizes the 7-methylguanosine cap of messenger RNA, and eIF4G, which serves as a scaffold to recruit other translation initiation factors that ultimately assemble the 80S ribosome. Many eukaryotes have secondary EIF4E genes with divergent properties. The model plant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) encodes two such genes in tandem loci on chromosome 1, EIF4E1B (At1g29550) and EIF4E1C (At1g29590). This work identifies EIF4E1B/EIF4E1C-type genes as a Brassicaceae-specific diverged form of EIF4E. There is little evidence for EIF4E1C gene expression; however, the EIF4E1B gene appears to be expressed at low levels in most tissues, though microarray and RNA Sequencing data support enrichment in reproductive tissue. Purified recombinant eIF4E1b and eIF4E1c proteins retain cap-binding ability and form functional complexes in vitro with eIF4G. The eIF4E1b/eIF4E1c-type proteins support translation in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) but promote translation initiation in vitro at a lower rate compared with eIF4E. Findings from surface plasmon resonance studies indicate that eIF4E1b and eIF4E1c are unlikely to bind eIF4G in vivo when in competition with eIF4E. This study concludes that eIF4E1b/eIF4E1c-type proteins, although bona fide cap-binding proteins, have divergent properties and, based on apparent limited tissue distribution in Arabidopsis, should be considered functionally distinct from the canonical plant eIF4E involved in translation initiation.