July 30, 2018
Using natural English and the closest equivalent to the primary languages of the Bible, God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society has provided a contemporary version of The Apocrypha, which they kindly sent me to review.
The word “apocrypha” means “hidden” or “secret,” but the books really weren’t. They first gave hope and inspiration to God’s people during their exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, where the people learned to speak, think, and read in Greek, rather than Hebrew. However, Jewish scholars decided not to include the books written in Greek when they canonized the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) many centuries later.
Nevertheless, during the time of Jesus most people - both Jews and early Christians - accepted the books as inspired, and New Testament writers even quoted them. Many more centuries later, the King James Version (KJV) of an English translation of the Bible included the books, where they remained until the Reformation.
Happily, these “deuterocanonical” books are now being returned to many English versions, giving us a clearer view of biblical times and situations that occurred between the old and new testaments. In addition to those historical texts, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees, the apocryphal books include wisdom writings relevant to today. Consider, for example, this passage from the God's Word translation of the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 1:
Verse 1. “Love justice, you rulers of the world.
Consider that the Lord is good.
Be sincere in your search for him.
Verse 2. Those who don’t test him will find him.
He will reveal himself to those who obey him.”
Verses 6b-7. “God is a witness to people’s hidden feelings.
He has keen insight into what they think,
and he listens to what they say.
The Lord’s Spirit fills the world.
The Spirit holds everything together
and understands everything people say.”
For another example, Wisdom 3 begins, “People who worship the true God are in God’s hands.” And verse 9:
“Those who trust the Lord will understand what truth is.
Those who are faithful will live in a loving relationship with him,
because he is kind and merciful to the people he has chosen.”
Another spiritually insightful book, Sirach, (one of my favorites) has this to say in Chapter 1, verse 13:
“Everything will end well for people who fear the Lord.
They will be blessed on the day of their death.”
Or Chapter 4:20 & 21:
“Don’t be ashamed to be yourself.”
“Don’t remain silent when one word could make things right.”
Or Chapter 10:11:
“All authority on earth is in the Lord’s hands.
He will appoint the right leader for the right time."
Mary Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer
God’s Word: The Apocrypha
June 23, 2018
Translated directly from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, GOD’S WORD Translation Large Print Bible: The Bible in Clear, Natural English comes to us as CNE:
Clear, Natural English
Closest Natural Equivalent
Even the title of this translation is clear, natural, and the closest equivalent to the anthology of books we call the Bible -- God’s Word (GW.)
To produce the fresh, reliable, relevant translation aimed for, biblical scholars and reviewers followed these guidelines established by God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society:
“The first consideration for the translators of GW was to find equivalent English ways of expressing the meaning of the original text, ensuring that the translation is faithful to the meaning of the source text. The next consideration was readability; the meaning expressed in natural English by using common English punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and vocabulary. The third consideration was to choose the natural equivalent that most closely reflects the style of the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text.”
What more could we ask?
And yet, there is more! Not only does this quality paperback use a 12-point font that aids our eyes and understanding, the single-column format provides the natural flow of text with which we’re familiar as we read any book in English. Chapter headings and sub-headings then help us to locate a passage easily and keep our place as we read privately or study with a discussion group. The book lays flat when opened too.
Free of distracting footnotes, the “Bible Study Helps” in the back of this reader edition offer such unique features as an A to Z topical guide with scriptural references on “The Teachings of Jesus” followed by an “Application Index” of Bible verses and the topics to which they refer.
But it’s the translation itself I love and appreciate. For example, Jeremiah 17:14-15 says:
“Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed.
Rescue me, and I will be rescued.
You are the one I praise.
People keep asking me,
‘Where is the LORD’s word?’
Let it come’.”
Yes! Let it come! And, as it does, may we truly listen and readily understand what God is saying to us.
Mary Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer
God’s Word: The Bible in clear, natural English, paperback
January 2, 2016
Christians from almost every church denomination have loved the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) for centuries. Our hearts beat to its iambic rhythms. Our breath holds its pentameter when we read the words aloud, and when we memorize a favorite verse or passage of scripture, the KJV is the default setting we often seek for familiarity and a lift of poetic beauty.
The vocabulary in the KJV inevitably lifts us too! Translated in the time of Shakespeare, one can readily speculate on the identities of the members of the translation committee, but regardless of who helped, the English language itself was still in the making, which contributed to the KJV as surely as the KJV has influenced poetry and the English vocabulary ever since. Thus, hence, and therefore, every English-speaking poet, writer, and all-around Christian doth well to hath a KJV.
The vital next step, though, is reading it! And here’s where many have fallen away, thinking they’ll never get what it says. True, you will find most contemporary versions to be an easier read. Without the fullness of vocabulary, though, readers may miss the deeper meanings subtly packed into a Bible verse or story.
So, what’s the solution? If you want it all, the Holman KJV Study Bible has it.
The full-page color illustrations, photographs, and maps ground you in Bible times, places, and original intent, while a “King’s English” glossary defines words that might otherwise be unclear.
With the same outstanding features found in the award-winning Holman Christian Study Bible that I previously reviewed, this edition is one to turn to for in-depth study, Bible research, and the pure joy of reading God’s Word, silently or aloud.
As the only full-color KJV study Bible out there, you can expect to use this edition for many years, so a genuine leather cover makes a wise choice. But, since Holman Bible Publishers kindly sent me a free copy to review, I didn’t have that option. In case that’s your preference, too, I’ll include a link below to the leather, indexed option I normally consider the ideal. However, my review copy of the Holman’s LeatherTouch™ far exceeded my poor expectations for imitation leather. In other words, I like it!
The LeatherTouch™ feels sturdy yet silken to the fingertips. More importantly, unlike every other “fake leather” cover I’ve received, this one lays wide open on my desk or one my lap – the place this excellent edition is very likely to be.
©2016, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the Church in all its parts.
Holman KJV Study Bible, leathertouch
Holman KJV Study Bible, genuine leather, indexed