Showing posts with label Jesus Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus Bible. Show all posts

January 16, 2019

Jesus' Bible: A Concise History of Hebrew Scriptures

This concise history of the Hebrew Bible by Christopher Dost shows the development of the Old Testament in the biblical texts Jesus and the Apostles would have known. 

As the Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible at Alliance Theological Seminary in New York and author of related books, Dr. Dost documented a wide range of resources to give us this slim paperback, chocked with information.

For some, the Jesus’Bible might challenge thinking or even offer more information than wanted! Despite the scholarly nature of the book, however, the author writes in an accessible style that keeps the text from being as dry as an old scroll.

As Dr. Dost quickly points out in the introduction, “There was no Bible in Jesus’ day. The Torah and the Prophets – the first two sections of what would become the Hebrew Bible – were essentially canonized (i.e., accepted as authoritative), but they were still textually fluid. The third section, however, the Writings, was not fixed.”

Another aspect of fluidity arose because of the Hebrew manner of writing words in consonants only with no vowels included.  Dr. Dost gives examples of this, but if we look at the same situation in English, that might help to clarify problems that arise in translation. 

For instance, take the English words “mite,” mate,” “mote,” or “moot” and remove the vowels, as Hebrew scribes would do, and you’d have “mt.” As you can see, each of those words has an entirely different meaning to be determined only by the context in which the word is found. 

In addition, the connotations and denotations of a word can change over time. For example, a “mite” in Jesus’ day brings to mind the widow with a single coin left to her name, while in our era, the word might mean we need to put protective covers on our pillows and mattresses to keep out dust mites!

Besides the fact that a living language does not remain static, there’s the regional dialect to consider. In Virginia, for instance, “a run” doesn’t mean a 5K race but a brook, a creek, or, as some parts of the country say, a crick, which, for me, means an achy neck.

Similarly, “The Hebrew Bible was penned over the course of the first millennium BCE in what is known today as the Middle East. Many of the biblical tests were written in Israel and Judah (roughly modern-day Israel and Palestine), while others were written in Babylonia (southeastern Iraq) and in Egypt.” The author also goes on to say, “…we cannot overstate how significantly foreign domination impacted the growth, development, and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures.”

Along those lines, we learn “…that the oldest extant (i.e., still in existence) Christian Bible was not limited to the modern Protestant Canon. In fact, when we examine a list of the New Testament’s quotations and allusions to sacred Jewish texts, we see that the writers of the New Testament have a much bigger ‘Bible’ than do twenty-first century Protestant Christians….”

 We’re talking now about the “apocryphal” books (a misnomer, as they’ve never been hidden), which are part of the Greek scriptures (aka Septuagint.) As Dr. Dost explains:

“Because the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, one might expect early Christianity to have revered the ‘original’ much as the Reformers did, but such was not the case. The Septuagint was for all intents and purposes the Bible for many Jews in antiquity. And since early Christianity was really no more than a movement within first-century Palestinian Judaism, it should be no surprise that the Septuagint was immensely important for the writers of the New Testament. In fact, those who regard Paul as the author of 2 Timothy must conclude that ‘all scripture,’ which the letter’s author regards as ‘inspired and profitable,’ includes both the Hebrew and the Greek, since Paul quotes extensively from the Septuagint in his writings.”

If these well-researched thoughts seem at all upsetting, lovers of the Protestant version of the Bible might be glad to know that the beloved King James Version originally contained more books than it does now.  In addition, publishers of the accurate and evangelically oriented English Standard Version of the Bible typically omit the apocryphal books in both reader and study editions, but the ESV translation of the Apocrypha is available as a separate volume, well worth reading – not only for the wisdom to be found but for the historical accounts of events that occurred between the Old and New Testaments.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-author and Bible reviewer

To order, click this link

February 11, 2014

The Jesus Bible for children

An eye-appealing format and two-color sidebars that interact with young readers make this edition of the New International Version (NIV) a good choice for children 8 and up to read by themselves but also for teachers to use in small churches where Sunday School classes cover a range of ages or varying number of children. The color maps and thorough concordance will aid learning too. More exceptional though, The Jesus Bible from ZonderKidz includes an “Index of Hints of the Savior/ Jesus Revealed,” which marks the theme of this edition that highlights the many references to Christ throughout the Bible.

Other unique features include glossy insert pages that nicely highlight key concepts in the Christian faith. For example, “The ‘I Am’ Statements of Jesus” help young readers begin to see Christ as the Good Shepherd, Who guides them, and The Way, The Truth, and The Life to call upon in their own lives. However, I wish that important page had been placed in the Gospel of John, rather than the book of Daniel. Similarly, “Jesus in the Psalms” might be placed more effectively in the book of Psalms, rather than the OT book of Second Chronicles.

Hopefully, such publishing matters can be addressed in future editions and possible errors corrected, such as one found on page 28. In the sidebar to a story in Genesis 20, Abraham made the mistake of tricking King Abimelek, but the “Live Like Jesus” insert mistakenly says Moses did the trickery.

Therefore, in reviewing this review copy which Zondervan kindly sent, I’m a little concerned about the publisher's effort to do too much or hurry to publication, but I’m also greatly impressed by the earnest desire to find ways to reach people of all ages and backgrounds for Jesus Christ. That’s what the Gospel should do – must do to reach the ends of the earth as the Lord commands.

Clearly and correctly, this edition demonstrates we can and will “Discover Jesus in Every Book of the Bible.” Amen! Yes, for in every page of God's Word, Jesus Christ is there, and, as we read the Bible, Jesus is here. Wherever we are, Jesus Is God with us.

©2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer

The Jesus Bible, hardcover