Showing posts with label apocryphal books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apocryphal books. Show all posts

August 21, 2015

Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, RSV, CE


Unlike many study Bibles, the Catholic Scripture Study International (CSSI) Bible places its informative charts, maps, and “Faith Facts” in glossy page inserts, rather than footnotes throughout the large print text. This gives you a distraction-free reader edition of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) – beloved by Catholic and non-Catholic Christians from all denominations.

Published by Saint Benedict Press and distributed by Tan Books, who kindly sent me a review copy, the CSSI Bible includes the deuterocanonical books often referred to as the apocryphal books of the Old Testament.

I purposefully said Old Testament rather than Jewish Bible or Hebrew Testament since these books, initially accepted by Jews and Christians alike, have been excluded from Jewish Bibles because they were in Greek, not Hebrew.

However, modern scholarship and findings near the Dead Sea show that the Pharisee community did not accept the Septuagint or Greek Bible, whereas early Jewish Christians (such as the apostles) did. Therefore, more and more Protestants want a Bible with the Apocrypha, which means “hidden” and which Catholics aptly call “deuterocanonical,” meaning outside the Jewish not Christian canon – books originally included, too, in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

Besides the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, what makes this edition uniquely “Catholic” are those glossy inserts, beginning with a “Catholic Apologetics” list of such topics as “Apostolic Succession” followed by relevant Bible verses .

In addition, you’ll find “Faith Fact” page inserts on topics such as “The Biblical Origins of the Mass,” genuflecting, “Signs and Symbols,” and “Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.”

In the latter, for instance, we learn that “no one taught that the presence of Christ was only symbolic until Ratramnus (d.868) and, more notably, Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088).” However, “The Church firmly rejected the teachings of both.” This belief of receiving Christ Himself through the bread and wine is affirmed by each individual partaker of the Eucharist who then receives the elements with a verbal “amen.”

Any Christian who would like to become better acquainted with the Roman Catholic Church will appreciate this highly recommended edition, which came to me in a nice quality bonded leather as shown below but which Amazon erroneously referred to as imitation leather.

Following each testament, a section of “Explanatory Notes” come in a smaller font than the large print used for the biblical text, but, with ample ink, the two appendixes are clear, readable, and informative. For example, the first note states:

“1:1-2:4a: The aim of this narrative is not to present a scientific picture but to teach religious truth, especially the dependence of all creation on God and its consecration to him through the homage rendered by man, who is the climax of creation. Hence its strong liturgical character and the concluding emphasis on the sabbath. It serves as a prologue to the whole of the Old Testament.”

Regarding that “whole,” I’m delighted to have the deuterocanonical books in the RSV translation as it and the KJV are ones with which I and other Christians from diverse denominations are most familiar, especially when it comes to hymn lyrics and memorization of Bible verses. If I want to follow a 3-year cycle of readings, I can follow the “Calendar of Readings” at the back of the book, but I suspect I’ll be eager to read this poetically beautiful text straight through.


©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, a lifelong student of the Bible, is a freelance and assignment writer, who likes to write Bible-based poems and manuscripts.


Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, RSV, CE, bonded leather (which I confirmed by checking the ISBN number of my review copy with this one advertised on Amazon





March 14, 2015

The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, articles, and ESV text


Apocrypha, apocryphal books, deuterocanonical books, literature from intertestamental times, or whatever you call it, this highly recommended edition is unique!

Edited by Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes published by Concordia Publishing House fills the gap between Jewish and Catholic Bibles, between Catholic and Protestant Bibles, and between Old and New Testaments.

Why is that important? Each gap can cause us to slip away from one another or get trapped in debates, but this edition can help us to see where each other is coming from as we build new bridges and do what we can to administer healing to the church.

Similar in appearance to The Lutheran Study Bible, also edited by Rev. Engelbrecht, this slimmer, hardcover edition includes reader-friendly articles on “The Holy Scripture and Other Ancient Writings,” “The Apocrypha in Modern Bible Publications,” “The Historical Setting of the Apocrypha,” and the Judeans during various times in world history.

Before you get to the text itself – or even the Introductions and outlines of each book, you’ll discover “Theological Teachings of the Time between the Testaments,” which, as it suggests, gives insight into the ongoing development of theology. Under the heading “The Doctrine of God,” for example, we’re told that “In the Intertestamental literature, there is a tendency to think of God in terms of His transcendence, of His remoteness from the world. There is also a hesitancy to use the divine name directly, and in its place circumlocutions are employed,” such as referring to God as “heaven,” “the Dwelling Presence” (Shekinah), or “the Name.”

Another heading “The Role of Angels,” tells us that “Instead of God having direct contact with creation, the apocryphal writings assign to the angels the responsibility for lightning, snow, rain, clouds, darkness, cold, heat, and frost. As a caution, one should note that many passages of the Old Testament refer to the role of angels and divinely appointed leaders. The change is one of frequency and emphasis.”

In addition, “The literature from the Time between the Testaments of the postcanonical biblical period has many references to the existence of evil spirits or demons.” This biblical era also develops beliefs in life after death, the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic hope, bringing continuity and bridging the gap between testaments.

Other features in this edition include “Apocrypha Prayers,” variations in titles and arrangements of the books, “The Apocryphal Books in Other Christian Traditions,” and “The Apocrypha and the New Testament,” which I found especially interesting as the article charts possible influences of Apocryphal texts on Jesus and New Testament writers.

Also, in the back matter, appendices give a brief summary of such important documents as “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” the development of midrash, and the biblically relevant writings of Philo, Josephus, and others. “Apocrypha Chronology and World History” charts major events from the fall of Samaria centuries before Christ through the martyrdom of the Apostles, destruction of the Temple, and subsequent revolts. And, for a bridge into our times, “Key Terms and Phrases" provide definitions whereas the section on “Apocrypha Topics” lists citations of the relevant book, chapter, and verse beneath the subject of interest.

Although I've read other apocryphal books I recommend, this unique edition, which Concordia kindly sent me for review, not only includes a highly recommended encyclopedia on the Apocrypha, it presents a heavily footnoted translation of the text in the English Standard Version (ESV), known for its accuracy and beauty.


©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.

The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, hardcover



November 18, 2014

Reading The Jerusalem Bible


When the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) stimulated a spiritual awakening that crossed all sorts of denominational lines and stirred a charismatic renewal, Bible study groups became a highly active part of Christian fellowship. By 1966, The Jerusalem Bible (JB) gave us a translation of the original languages in an accurate contemporary text, first in French then English with both approved by the Catholic Church and used by Christians from a variety of backgrounds.

That same year, the American Bible Society published the New Testament in the Today’s English Version (TEV) better known as the Good News Bible (GNB), which I used in the Bible study group that met each week in my home. So, I didn’t even hear of the JB until 1985 when the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) came out, and I readily embraced its dynamic tone, conversational style, and thought-provoking footnotes.

In the 1990’s, a Catholic edition of GNB came out with the full biblical texts including the deuterocanonical books aka Apocrypha. Indeed, from the second half of the 20th century to the present day, Christian scholars and publishers produced such a wealth of English translations and updated versions that the JB went out of print for a decade.

When I finally tracked down the availability of The Jerusalem Bible, I asked for a review copy, and Doubleday kindly gave me the “First Doubleday Reader’s Edition” printed in this century with notes and introductions shortened “to the minimum which are necessary for understanding the primary, literal meaning of the text; to explain terms, places, people and customs; to specify dates, and to identify the sources of quotations. In short, the brief Introductions and Notes are here only to help the ordinary reader to understand what he is reading….”

For example, the “Introduction to Tobit, Judith and Esther” says: “Although these three books have the literary form of historical stories, the events of which they tell are not attested from other sources and the books are found to treat the facts of history and geography with a good deal of freedom. Plainly they were written” as historical novels and devotionals might be today “to teach lessons of another kinds, and some of the early Greek Bibles include them with the wisdom writings.”

The Introduction goes on to say that “Tobit, the story of a dutiful son who is given miraculous help by an angel, was written among the Jews of the dispersion… though the setting of the story is some two hundred years earlier. The book was not accepted into the Hebrew Bible and was recognized by the Church only after a certain hesitancy in the patristic period. In the new translations of the Bible made at the Reformation, it was put in the Apocrypha.” The same is true for the book of Judith while the book of Esther has variations in Greek that do not appear in the original Hebrew versions. Therefore, “the Greek passages are ‘deuterocanonical,’ their history being the same as that of Tobit and Judith.”

Other introductions provide equally helpful information that ground us in the circumstances and history of each book. For example, the ”Introduction to The Psalms” informs readers that “The Psalter, or Book of Psalms, is a collection of hymns used in the liturgical worship of the Temple.” Arranged in five parts, “the 150 psalms represent the work of several centuries.” Although some psalms shock readers today, “in their own time there was nothing improper about violent curses against enemies…” Most of the Psalms, however, can be categorized as hymns of praise, thanksgiving, prayer, or lament.

One lament sometimes voiced about the JB has been its use of the sacred name “YHWH” rendered as “Yahweh” – the Name Which was once anglicized as “Jehovah.” Since the Hebrew alphabet does not contain all of those letters, newer versions of the Bible often translate the sacred name as "the LORD" in capital letters or small caps.

In its aim for accuracy and clarity, the JB clearly demonstrates its own goals, for example, by translating the opening lines of the 23rd Psalm in this way:

Yahweh is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.


As another example of clarity, the “Introduction to The Minor Prophets” offers brief explanatory notes “in what is most probably their true historical order.” This chronology places Amos first with Joel and Jonah last in the introduction but their typical positions retained in the actual text, ending the minor prophets with Malachi.

Finally, the “Introduction to The Book of Revelation” informs us that “The framework of a Revelation is always a vision of hidden supernatural events; the language in which the vision is described is richly symbolic and so allusive that the message can be interpreted in more ways than one.” Therefore, “the Book of Revelation is not to be accepted simply as an allegory which can be directly translated into other terms. It contains the author’s vision of heaven and of the vindication of the Christian martyrs in the world to come, but it must be understood first and foremost as a tract for the times, written to increase the hope and determination of the Church on earth in a period of disturbance and bitter persecution…,” such as we might be facing again.

Praise God, though, for this and other excellent translations of the Bible that let us know how this book and The Book end.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the traditionally published author of 27 books in all genres, including the Bible-based poetry book Outside Eden.


The Jerusalem Bible, reader edition



October 22, 2014

New Jerusalem Bible, reader edition


The first time I read The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), I had a study edition with footnotes that were hard to see because of the small font but were so interesting, I got sidetracked from the Bible text! Recently, however, Image Books kindly sent me a review copy of their NJB reader edition, which rarely adds any footnotes, but has a nice, clear font and bonded leather cover.

The main additions in this edition are a brief but important-to-read “General Editor’s Foreword” by Henry Wansbrough in the front of the book and, in the back, black and white maps showing Palestine in Old and New Testament Times. Being somewhat geographically challenged, I wish a modern-day map had been included, too. Nevertheless, those of us who customarily lug around plump study editions will find this regular book-sized Bible highly refreshing.

Most importantly, the NJB translation itself is refreshing.

Instead of telling you about this, I’ll try to show you some examples of well-known passages in favored forms followed by the fresh, sometimes startling way NJB has of getting us to see, hear, and think about things we’re apt to glide by without realizing it.

Isaiah 60:1-3

"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (King James Version, KJV)

"Arise, shine out, for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen on you. Look! though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples, on you Yahweh is rising and over you his glory can be seen. The nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"For this is how God loved the world:
he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in
him may not perish
but may have eternal life."
(New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 8:28

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." (Revised Standard Version, RSV)

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 12:2

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (New International Version, NIV)

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." (King James Version, KJV)

"Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

Romans 12:4-5

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (King James Version, KJV)

"For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." (New American Bible, Revised Edition, NABRE)

"Just as each of us has various parts in one body, and the parts do not all have the same functions: in the same way, all of us, though there are many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another." (New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)

I Corinthians 12:4-6

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." (KJV)

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." (NIV)

"There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all." (NJB)

I Corinthians 13:4-7

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (KJV)

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (NIV)

"Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited; it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes." (NJB)

Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (NIV)

"Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (NABRE)

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (NRSV)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV)

"Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen." (NJB)


[Note: The Bible verses chosen as examples can be found on Bible Gateway along with Holy Scriptures from many other translations and other languages too.]


©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts. She’s the traditionally published author of 27 books in all genres, including the Bible-based poetry book Outside Eden.


The New Jerusalem Bible, Standard Edition, bonded leather



October 13, 2012

Which books go in which Bible?


Christians from all denominations often ask me which Bible is which and why, and I’ve been explaining away – incorrectly! Well, not totally wrongly, but I was under the forgetful impression that any Bible “with Apocrypha” is the same as a “Catholic edition” – not!

With apologies to all, I’ll try to set things straight, confusing though it may be, but important too, so please bear with me.

As I’ve also mentioned over the years (and, yea! – gotten right) – the order of the books in a Bible “with Apocrypha” differ from a “Catholic edition” most noticeably by placement.

Each edition approved for Roman Catholic readers has the “extra books” woven into the “Old Testament” according to category. For example, Tobit and I and II Maccabees go with historical books whereas The Book of Sirach (one of my favorites) wisely goes with Wisdom Books and Baruch goes with the Prophets. However, Bibles labeled “with Apocrypha” typically place the extra books between the Testaments or after Revelation.

That can be confusing if you enjoy interdenominational Bible study groups, as I do, but otherwise, it’s no big deal. Right? Well, at least not until you come to some extra “extra books” with no clue what to do, which is what happened recently to me.

Reading my new copy of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) with Apocrypha, I ran across books I did not recall ever reading in my Catholic Study Bible or Revised English Bible with Apocrypha or The New Jerusalem Bible. Just to be sure, I double-checked the lists and saw that some of the books “with Apocrypha” are not part of the deuterocanonical books of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church does not consider books labeled “apocryphal” as such since “Apocrypha” means hidden, which those books clearly are not. Rather the Roman Church deemed the “extra books” to be “deuterocanonical” or outside the canon established by Jewish scholars who canonized the Hebrew Scriptures sometime after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D.

When Protestants left the Catholic Church, the Jewish Bible went, too, as the “Old Testament.” In the ecumenical environment we now have, however, most Christians want to see all the books inspired by the Holy Spirit. But, surprise! Most new editions of the Bible “with Apocrypha” have books the Catholic Church never included.

Let me quickly add:

The New Testament (NT) is the same for every Christian.

The NT books are the same; the order is the same, and only the footnotes might differ.

Before I leave you hanging in confusion and despair of knowing, here’s a list of deuterocanonical (aka apocryphal books) included in Bibles approved by the Roman Catholic Church:

Tobit
Judith
Additions to the Book of Esther
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus aka the Wisdom of Jesus aka Sirach
Baruch
The Letter of Jeremiah
The Additions to the Book of Daniel – Prayer of Azariah
(aka Abednego)
Susanna
Bel and the Dragon
1 and 2 Maccabees


In addition to those “extra books” in the “Old Testament” (OT) of a Catholic Bible, the Greek and Slavonic Bibles include all books above plus:

1 Esdras
Prayer of Manasseh
Psalm 151
3 Maccabees


Finally, Slavonic Bibles include:

2 and 3 Esdras
4 Maccabees


To recap: “with Apocrypha” Bibles include all the “extra books” just listed, which, together, equal the length of the entire New Testament. Therefore, having done my extra reading, I think I’ll focus on the NT, OT books of Wisdom, and the Prophets to see what’s coming next!

~~

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler reserves all rights to correct her mistakes and be corrected, so if I still got it wrong, feel free to tell me – nicely, of course :)

March 26, 2012

King James Version with Apocrypha

In 1604 King James I of England authorized a translation of the Bible into English, and 47 scholars from the Church of England set to work with the Bishop’s Bible as their guide. The translators also referred to the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts as needed, approving one another’s work as they aimed for accuracy in a translation that would promote church unity and meet church approval. Indeed, James instructed the team to use the word “church” instead of “congregation.”

To abide by other instructions provided by the king, the translators included no marginal notes unless a word or phrase in the original language needed further explanation. In addition, the translation included all of the books canonized by Jewish scholars as well as the deuterocanonical books written in Greek between the testament eras. Eventually referred to as the “Apocrypha,” which means “hidden,” those books remain clearly in sight in Catholic, Orthodox, and other Bibles but, a couple of centuries or so ago, were removed from most editions of the King James Version (KJV) published for Protestant readers.

With or without the deuterocanonical books aka apocryphal books aka Apocrypha, the poetic KJV has been a best-seller for four centuries, greatly influencing art, literature, and poetry in England, America, and other cultures too. A variety of editions (with or without the study articles and footnotes added in the last century or two) can be found in most bookstores, but I wanted a copy of the entire KJV as first published, so I purchased the one shown in the ad below.

Binding: This thick, slick-surfaced paperback has nice quality pages tightly affixed with glue. Since I use my copy for a desktop reference rather than straight reading, the pages have not separated, but then, they don’t get very rugged treatment.

Size: At 5” wide by 7.5” long, the book stand over 2” thick! And, it really does stand up on its own! The plump size, however, will not open flat or stay opened but works just fine when hand-held.

Font: Somewhat on the small side, the font provides clear black ink on stark white paper for easy reading.

Notes: In addition to upfront introductory information about the history of KJV and other English translations, this edition groups explanatory notes to each book of the Bible at the back of the book.

KJV: Most Christians of all church backgrounds know the KJV very well as a beautifully poetic translation with gorgeously quotable verses! Most also think of the KJV as being highly accurate since, unlike many new translations, scholars aimed for a word-for-word rendering into the contemporary language of the time. But times change, and so do the meanings of words.

To many readers the use of “thee” and “thou” for “you” is quaint and readable, but the unfamiliar verb forms with their “ith” endings can slow comprehension the way well-written poetry often does. Nevertheless, the KJV remains beloved to anyone who loves literature or grew up with this familiar version.

This particular edition, which includes all of the books of The Book, also provides Christians with a less familiar look at deuterocanonical books, such as one by Baruch – the scribe who assisted the prophet Jeremiah. Since Baruch wrote during the Babylonian captivity, he often addressed reasons for the exile, lamenting the misery of their predicament, but calling the people of God to repentance, praise, and prayer.

For example, Baruch 3 begins: “O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, the soul in anguish, the troubled spirit, crieth unto thee.”

After asking God to hear his prayer and the cries of his people, Baruch 3:4 continues with an unusual prayer I triple-checked to be sure I’d correctly quoted words and spelling: “O LORD Almighty, thou God of Israel, hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites, and of their children, which have sinned before thee, and not hearkened unto the voice of thee their God: for the which cause these plagues cleave unto us.”

Other books in this edition of the full KJV include wisdom sayings, inspiring stories, and additions to such books as Esther. You’ll also find the KJV translations of I and II Maccabees as well as other historical writings that fill the gap between testaments and provide an interesting “read.”

~~

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you share the article with your church, Bible study, or other group, please tell everyone where you found it. Thanks. For more Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary.

~~



March 15, 2012

A study Bible with an ecumenical view


The Oxford Study Bible contains the full Revised English Bible with Apocrypha (aka deuterocanonical books) and “A Complete Guide To The World of The Bible” in such articles as “Historical Contexts of the Biblical Communities,” “The Contribution of Archaeology,” and “The Social World” in both Testaments.

As a Christian writer and poet, I especially appreciate the articles on “Early Christian Literature,” “Literature of the Ancient Near East,” and the “Literary Forms of the Bible.” The latter, for example, talks about the biblical forms used for Bible poetry in the Psalms, of course, but in wisdom books and books of prophecy too. The article also discusses genres such as narratives, parables, and proverbs as well as the literary form prophetic books often took, and the general format found in epistles or letters.

Binding: Thick, glossy paper is my preference for the Oxford REB edition, and the cover has held up well. In other translations such as the Revised Standard Version (RSV) or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), my Oxford study Bibles have top quality leather, but on each, the spine bowed or pulled away slightly. Since the pages were sewn together, none fell out, but pages on this paperback edition (as shown in the ad below) seem to be strongly glued to the cover.

Font: The highly readable font in the text decreases slightly in size for the footnotes, but they’re still easier to read than most.

Format: In addition to the study articles already mentioned, each section of the Bible has an Introduction as does each of the individual books.

Footnotes: Whether in the RSV, NRSV, or REB, the footnotes avoid denominational differences and aim for a wider, ecumenical view. This is not to say the information straddles fences, but the emphasis is on providing readers information about wordplays, historical settings, and cultural backgrounds, rather than rhetoric aimed to sway readers toward one stance or another.

REB: The Revised English Bible translates thought-for-thought rather than word-for-word, providing a highly readable text that flows well in public or private reading. Some spellings and word choices reflect a British accent, rather than American English, but then the same can be said for the King James Version, which British scholars produced (word-for-word, deuterocanonical books included) over 400 years ago.

~~

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler


Oxford Study Bible, REB, paperback



~~

March 5, 2012

Which Bible would Jesus choose?


Since Jesus spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, He probably read scrolls written in those languages. Most likely He and the apostles were also familiar with the Septuagint or Greek Bible since, during their lifetimes, the extra books contained in that version were generally read, accepted, and quoted by the peoples of God.

After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., scholarly leaders among both Jews and Christians wanted to canonize Holy Scripture, so everyone could, figuratively speaking, be on the same page. But, Jewish scholars decided to stick with Hebrew Scriptures exclusively, which meant excluding books written in Greek, whereas Christians initially kept all of the books in the Septuagint. In fact, not too long after Latin and other European languages morphed into English, the King James Version of the Bible came into being (1611) with all of the books still intact.

After the Reformation, however, Protestants took out the books now referred to as the Apocrypha. The word is a bit of a misnomer, though, since it means hidden, and, well, the apocryphal books have always been highly visible in Catholic and Orthodox editions of the Bible. So, when Catholic and Orthodox Christians refer to apocryphal books, they mean those such as the Gospel of Thomas that were never, ever part of canonized scripture. Nevertheless, the extra books in the Septuagint remain outside the Jewish canon, so Catholic and Orthodox Christians sometimes refer to them as deuterocanonical books.

Yeah, it’s confusing at first! But the important thing is whether you want a Bible with all of the books.

To find out, read Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus) on the Internet, especially my favorite verse Sirach 2:18: “Let us fall into the hands of the LORD and not into human hands, for equal to God’s majesty is the mercy that He shows.”

To most readers, I and II Maccabees just won’t seem as inspired as wisdom books because they’re not always inspiring! However, they do provide us with an interesting record of historical events that occurred in the few hundred year’s gap between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Deciding whether to get a Bible with the Apocrypha will not be your only choice though! You have other choices to consider too:

Word for Word Translation
This option gives you the closest possible meaning of the original texts when Bible scholars translated the Hebrew, Aramaic, and/or Greek manuscripts into English. If you want biblical accuracy, these choices give you that, literally, but you may need footnotes to explain what now-archaic phrases initially meant.

In alphabetical order, the more literal translations of the Bible into English include: Amplified, Douay-Rheims, English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and New King James Version (NKJV.)

Of these, the Douay-Rheims and KJV with the Apocrypha will give you all of the books.

Thought for Thought Translation
This option gives you the most readable text with each thought kept as close as possible to the original intent as shown by overall context.

Again alphabetically, these translations include: the Common English Bible (CEB), Contemporary English Version (CEV), Good News Bible (GNB) also known as Today’s English Bible (TEB), New American Bible (NAB), New Century Version (NCV), New International Version (NIV), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), New Living Translation (NLT), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Revised English Bible (REB), and Revised Standard Version (RSV.)

Reportedly, the CEB, CEV, ESV, GNB, NAB, NJB, NLT, NRSV, REB, and RSV can now be found with all of the books that were originally included in the Septuagint and early Christian Bibles.

Paraphrase
This choice provides an easy-reader especially helpful to children and readers of English as a second language. Although most Bible students want more accuracy and fewer words than paraphrases have, both the Living Bible (LB) and The Message continue to be very popular.

But, to get back to our first question:

Which Bible would Jesus choose?

I cannot prove this, of course, but His tender regard for peoples of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, and levels of faith show me that He has most probably chosen them all!

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© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. If you want your church, Bible study, or other group to have this information, just promise me you will tell people where you found it. Also, I hope you remember to name drop my blogs and websites to your friends. Thanks. For more Bible topics, poetry help, and writing tips, see Blogs by Mary.

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