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Category: Hebrew Bible

In Memory of Dr. Brevard S. Childs

In Memory of Dr. Brevard S. Childs

For those who do not read scholarly works it may seem strange to feel bereaved when someone whom you have never actually met dies. I discovered via Levellers that Dr. Brevard S. Childs has passed away. He will be missed in Biblical scholarship, and though I never met him, I am deeply sorry that he will no longer be on the scene.

I encountered his writing first in his wonderful commentary on Exodus, and then in his even more enlightening commentary on Isaiah, both in the Old Testament Library. He manages to bring a balance to Biblical criticism that allows one to enjoy discovering some of the history of the text, but yet leaves one able to wrestle with the canonical form. He wrote with a great interest not just in the historical understanding of each text, but also in how those words had echoed through the communities that read them and passed them on.

I cannot be more personal, as I only knew him through his work, but the depth, breadth, and balance of his scholarship has been a breath of fresh air in my reading.

R.I.P. Dr. Brevard Childs, 1923-2007. (See the obituary at Yale Divinity School.)

Pseudo-Polymath Series on Genesis

Pseudo-Polymath Series on Genesis

I’ve been intending to mention this since last week’s Christian Blog Carnival came out, but I’ve been distracted. Mark Olson at Pseudo-Polymath has started a series on Genesis from a philosophical perspective. The first entry is Reflections on Gensis: Chapter 1, and he has now posted the second entry, Reflections on Genesis: Chapters 2-3 (part 1).

Right now I only want to make one comment and mention a couple of my own related posts. At the end of the first entry, Mark says:

However, Kass suggests that scientific views evolution may deny the intelligibility and primacy of species (the separation noted in Genesis) and the importance and uniqueness of man. And in that sense it might be in opposition, but I’m not expert enough on evolution to know how notions “kind” and “species” which arise from Genesis are denied by evolutionary theory.

I’d simply like to link to two of my previous posts that may relate; Design, Direction, and Evolution and An Evolutionary View of Kinds.

Distinguishing Ideology and Linguistic Differences

Distinguishing Ideology and Linguistic Differences

I located a post on Bible translations through the Methodist Blogs Weekly Roundup (for which I thank John the Methodist for his usual good job). The post is Ideology in Translations, but while I certainly believe ideology is involved in translations, I don’t see a battle of liberal vs conservative ideology here, and I also see some potential problems in the understanding of the linguistics involved.

Conservative Seminarian points to the NIV translation of Genesis 2:19 “had formed,” rather than “formed” as it is in many translations, and seems to believe that this is evidence of bias in the translation committees:

The difference is that the second one seems to have a time order contradiction to the Genesis 1 story (God made man, then the beasts), while the first one switches the verb tense slightly to make it fit (God made man, and had already made the beasts).

Now, the professor admits that “had formed” is within the semantic range of the verb (יצר). But apparently, it is invalid to use that even though it makes the most sense within the text.

. . . [snip]

Now, the question is, doesn’t this make his determination of the verb form actually the one that has a theological axe to grind? The NIV committee seems to have simply chosen the tense of the verb (of the range of valid choices) that makes the most sense within the text. He wants to choose the one that makes the least sense, which just so happens to coincide with what he likes about the way the Hebrews collected scripture.

Now I’m not writing this to beat up on Conservative Seminarian. I congratulate him on choosing to attend a liberal seminary and to learn better to defend his point of view. I also congratulate him on challenging any notion his professor might have that he responds to this topic without any ideological concerns. But the references that he provides also argue this largely on the basis of ideology, taking an apologetic approach. Now there’s nothing wrong with an apologetic approach where appropriate, but it works much better when the problems are correctly identified.

The translations cited here, NIV and NASB, are both very conservative translations. In fact, quite a number of conservative translations support the position of the NASB. A quick list gathered from my Logos software includes CEV, TEV, ASV, ESV, KJV, The Message, NCV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, YLT. Note that the TNIV continues the NIV translation, and Darby also supports it. From my bookshelves let me add that the JPS Tanakh and HCSB support the translation “formed” while God’s Word translation uses “had formed.” Now please don’t count these versions in order to determine which is the best translation. The question is this: Why do quite a number of conservative translations, such as the NLT, NKJV, ESV, and NASB, not take this easy option, and translate with something that “makes the most sense within the text?”

There is another problem. One cannot simply take the semantic range of a word and choose whatever particular gloss one prefers in a particular context. One must consider the syntax involved. Now I’m not going to get into the technical details. One of many excellent sources on the topic would be Paul Jouon’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, Part Three: Syntax, pp. 389-396. The syntax here–a sequence of uses of the “wayyiqtol” form of the verb–is normally used in Hebrew to portray a series of events in sequence. It is not impossible for the sequence to be broken, but this is not normally the way it would be done. The normal procedure would be to interrupt the sequence with a simple perfect, and then continue with the consecutive presentation until the next break in time.

There is one excellent way to alter the translation here, and that is to alter the pointing of the Hebrew text, preserving the older consonantal text, but altering the vowel pointings. Thus one could, simply by changing the vowels, produce the past perfect (English term) meaning here, and create the good order. I would note that there is a certain amount of difficulty with that option, in that the next “wayyiqtol” form “brought” would normally also be translated past perfect, which doesn’t fit nearly as well. But it is a workable option.

And here is the ideological catch. I’ve expressed my ideology in the sentence above, in which I see the vowel pointings of the Hebrew text as having less authority than the consonants. There are many people who would disagree with me, including Orthodox Jews at least. Many conservative scholars are very hesitant to alter the pointing and word spacing of the Massoretic Text without stronger evidence than the fact that it fits better. What they are doing, in fact, is being faithful to their ideology of the sacredness of the text, and putting their best effort at providing an accurate translation of the text they have in front of them ahead of further theological considerations.

What is clear, I think, from the list of translations on each side of this issue, is that this is not a liberal/conservative issue, however much some particular professor may portray it in that way. It is a linguistic issue on which one’s ideology can impact in a variety of ways.

Brief Thoughts on Hebrew Poetry

Brief Thoughts on Hebrew Poetry

A few days ago Wayne Leman blogged about translating Hebrew poetry, and referred to an article by Philip C. Stine Biblical Poetry and Translation. The article is really excellent, and nothing I’m about to say here is intended to criticize that article as such.

I’ve been very interested in translation of Hebrew poetry, but I think successful translation ranges from difficult to effectively impossible. The two translations I think do the best job into English are the Revised English Bible, and New Jerusalem Bible. One key feature of the NJB is the use of the Yahweh rather than “the LORD” for the name of God, which would obviously make it unacceptable to orthodox and conservative Jewish readers. In poetic terms, however, I think that helps just a bit.

Referring to James Kugel, Stine says:

In fact, he examines many traditional classifications of biblical parallelism, including the categories of Lowth, synonymous, antithetical, and synthetic, and finds them wanting. The ways of parallelism are numerous and varied, and the intensity of the semantic parallelism established between clauses might be said to range from zero perceivable correspondence to near perceivable differentiation.

Now this is a good point, and one that a couple of my professors made to me when I was in graduate school back in 1979-1980, though perhaps not so clearly as Stine has done. The problem is that in order to teach this material to Bible students a bit of terminology is necessary. One can’t just say, even to beginning Hebrew students, that there is “some relationship” between the clauses. Nonetheless, a number of errors result from oversimplification. One of these is the idea that one can determine the definition of an unknown word by finding it in parallel with another term. Now such parallelism can contribute to our understanding of a word, and can give us a starting point in studying it, but it doesn’t determine it, as some people think it does. Without knowing the meaning of the word, the very thing sought, one cannot be certain what type of parallelism one is dealing with.

So let me just suggest here that the terms synonymous, antithetical, and synthetic are quite useful. Like any labeling system, they oversimplify. Indeed, any system of labels is by nature less complex than reality and is provided precisely to allow such simplification. In order to improve accuracy, however, students should be taught that the actual parallelism will lie along a line from complete parallelism of thought to either complete opposition or through a synthetic combination.

Now translating this is much harder, and comes back to the issue of how much interpretation the translator should do, and how much should be left to the modern reader. I’ve been playing around with this before, and commented in Reading Psalm 46, in which I also link to a couple of “transformations.”

Hebrew parallelism does not have the same effect on English readers as it presumably did on readers of the Hebrew original. Thus I would suggest there is room for a broad range of translation possibilities, from a version that copies the poetic forms from Hebrew into English, to ones that might take the thought and express it in an English poetic form. I believe Bible translation and exposition would benefit from more transformations, re-presentations of Biblical material not only in new languages, but in new and/or different forms.

One further note on Stine. He goes through the problems of defining poetry, and that’s a standard problem with Biblical material. Without a solid, understandable definition it’s hard to discuss what is poetry and what’s not, and how to deal with it. I think the problem with this definition is precisely the same as the problem with labels for types of parallelism. We are putting a small number of labels on a continuum–synonymous, antithetical, and synthetic on the one hand, poetry and prose on the other. But poetry and prose do not exist in well defined pockets in real life, and thus our labels will be problematic. On encountering a Biblical passage one might ask, “Should this be presented divided into lines, or paragraphed?” rather than asking whether it’s poetry or prose. Whether it’s technically poetry or not, if it presents well in defined lines, it might be best to present it that way.

Capitalization and Translation

Capitalization and Translation

One of the categories on which I rate trnslations for my Bible Version Selection Tool is on capitalization of divine names. This has resulted many times in people asking me if I’m not being a bit nitpicky in making an issue of something like that.

Wayne Leman has posted about Psalm 2 and his arguments illustrate my point well. Comparing Acts 13:32-33 with Psalm 2:7 in the NET, Wayne comments:

Notice that the NET translators, theological conservatives who believe that Jesus is God’s Son, the promised Messiah, uppercase “Son” in Acts 13:33, but not in Hebrew Bible passage which this verse quotes, Psalm 2:7. I personally believe that the NET translators have translated accurately in each passage and indicate appropriately authorial intent with this differing typographical notation.

Wayne also shows a list of translations that, he says, “Christianize” the Hebrew Bible in this verse. Included among them are the NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, and GW. All of this is accomplished by means of the capitalization–something that is a choice of the translators and can be merely stylistic, or can, as in this case, be very meaningful. The choice whether or not to capitalize any pronouns referring to the deity is, in itself, stylistic. But if one chooses to follow that practice, then a verse like Psalm 2:7 cannot be neutral because whether you capitalize certain words or not, it will be taken as an indication of your interpretation.

Now the indication that I give in my selection tool doesn’t test this level of detail, but it can give you an idea. And I think that the better choice in modern English is to lose the capitalization of the pronouns throughout.

Wayne concludes:

Better Bibles should use the least amount of “interpretive translation” necessary for conveying the original meanings of the biblical authors accurately to translation audiences.

I couldn’t agree more.

Resources for Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

Resources for Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

I’ve just located a wonderful series of blog entries on Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible online through my own complete laziness and the hard work of someone else! (Hat Tip: Suzanne McCarthy at Better Bibles Blog in her entry Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Suzanne’s entry is worthwhile itself for its list of resources.)

This series covers textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible in much more detail than I have here and with excellent references. I’m sure I’ll go on popularizing the material, but Tyler Williams at Codex has now provided something to which I can refer those interested in spending a little more time. (I’ve found that the attention span of most church members on textual criticism is somewhere between a paragraph and a page, for which I don’t blame them, even though the topic fascinates me.

In any case, the series begins with Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible – An Introduction (TCHB 1), and the most recent entry is The History of the Biblical Text. I list them this way, because if you start with number six, you will find links to all the previous entries. If you’re just interested in the basics of what textual criticism is and why we need to do it, you can just read the first article. The interevening articles are excellent–just follow the links.

Isaiah 24-27 – Interpretation

Isaiah 24-27 – Interpretation

Now that we’ve looked at various critical issues about this passage, and I’ve discussed the dangers and difficulties involved with Biblical criticism, I’d like to summarize some of the things we can learn by examining the passage critically.

We have identified a number of elements in the passage that have been strung together to form a whole, overall message. If we read the passage through without carefully looking for the various sections and the various breaks between sections, we might try to pull the entire thing into a single theme. You can try this as a study experiment for yourself if you like. Try to make a coherent outline of these four chapters that organize the subject matter coherently in the sense, for example, that you might organize a college research paper.

What you’ll notice is that it is very difficult to find any coherent timeline, or to find any good geographical or historical “hooks.” In the previous chapters, especially 13-23, there are numerous references to historical events, locations, and people, and it is normally fairly easy to date a particular oracle and tie it to some particular set of events. These identifications are not without controversy, but there are at least some facts to deal with.

In chapters 24-27 in contrast, there is very little. But if you look at the passages they all deal with material that is somehow related to the end of the age, to God’s judgment on the whole world. That is why this passage is often called an apocalypse, as it deals with material similar to that of Daniel, Revelation, and some of the other apocalyptic literature. But it differs both in that it does not have the same symbolism, and again because it does not tie easily to specific historical events.

Some commentators, as I have noted before, simply think this passage is incoherent. But let me suggest another option. Our author has taken a variety of elements, including hymns of praise, oracles of judgment, and promises of victory, and has strung them together. (To see my previous comments on this passage, start with my entry Isaiah 24-27 – Overview.) This seems to offend our sense of order. Surely a prophecy should be more coherent!

But will the end times be all that coherent? I’m often struck by the extreme order of prophetic timelines presented by many preachers. The end of the world will happen on a precise, easily perceived schedule. If you follow the particular preacher’s interpretation you will be OK, because you will know what is going to happen. But times of God’s judgment and of his redemption, such as the time of the exile to Babylon and the restoration under Cyrus and his successors often does not work in that coherent of a fashion.

I think that rather than being incoherent or accidental, these chapters portray the feeling of being in the midst of the end times. There will be times when it seems victory is in sight, and we will sing songs of praise. There will be times when it will seem that all is dark. There will be times to recite the oracles of judgment: God will deal with the wicked. At other times we will need to remember promises of praise. (Please note that I am not a pre-tribulationist, in case you couldn’t tell!)

Isaiah 24-27 presents an excellent picture of that time, and if you read it out loud, and let the changes of attitude sweep over you, you may come to better understand some of the nature of living in a time when God is coming both in judgment and in redemption.

[This conludes my series of blog entries on Biblical criticism. There is obviously much more that could be said, but I have to draw a line somewhere. I mentioned in an earlier post that I might post some on critical issues in the book of Daniel, and I probably will, but I will do so over on the Participatory Bible Study blog.]

Isaiah 24-27: Basics of Criticism

Isaiah 24-27: Basics of Criticism

Now that we’ve looked over the text and found a set of transitions in it, we can start looking at how critical methologies will apply to this material. Will they help us interpret and apply the passage?

This is a moment to look at some of the reasons I’ve been writing this series. Frequently, Bible students are confronted with the results of critical scholarship, but with very little support, documentation, and reasonsing provided to help them determine whether they should accept a particular critical position or not. On the other hand, they will often see denials of the results of criticism with equally little background provided. One can’t avoid the types of questions that Biblical criticism asks, even though one can have widely varying positions on the answers. Whatever commentary or study Bible you choose, there will be statements about the date of writing, the authorship, and the historical and cultural circumstances of the book.

What do you do when one set of notes tells you that the gospel of Mark was written around 45 CE, while another says it was written between 70 and 80 CE? In relation to our particular exercise, what do you do when one source tells you that Isaiah was written by a single author in the 7th century BCE, while another says it has at least three authors dating from the 7th century to the 4th century BCE? Again narrowing in on Isaiah 24-27, how do you respond when one source says this is a scattered collection of unrelated sayings that has obviously suffered in editing and transmission, while another tells you that this passage is a coherent whole with a single theme carefully presented?

You can, as some people do, take the word of the scholar who is most similar to your theological viewpoint, you could throw up your hands and say, “Nobody knows!” or you can dig in and ask a simple question: How do each of these scholars know what they claim to know? That is the purpose of delving into critical methology. How does someone come to any of these conclusions?

Let’s think briefly about the gospel of Mark. There are two major areas of disagreement that alter the way scholars date Mark. The first is their solution to the synoptic problem. If someone believes that Mark is one of the sources for Matthew and Luke, he will clearly have to date it before Matthew and Luke. The second major issue is found in the relationship of the text to the destruction of Jerusalem. This is not only an issue of whether predictive prophecy is possible, but also whether the text of Mark reflects a situation in which the temple has been destroyed or not. Based on these criteria, you’ll find that more conservative scholars who believe that Mark was written first tend to date Mark very early. More liberal scholars tend to date Mark a bit later, even if they believe Mark was written first. Conservative scholars who believe Matthew wrote first tend to date Mark a bit later, though often still before the destruction of Jerusalem. (This can get tricky depending on how one dates Matthew.) Some scholars who are moderate or liberal believe Matthew was written first, and this results in a very late date for Mark, since in general the same scholars would date Matthew shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. If you look carefully in each introduction to Mark, you will probably find the reasons even though they may not be clearly set out for you.

In the case of Isaiah, we don’t have an issue of copying, except in a small number of cases. We have two categories of issues: 1) That some portions of Isaiah are written presuming Assyria to be the main enemy, 2) that some portions are written assuming Babylon to be the main enemy, 3) that Cyrus is specifically named as a deliverer (which even some who like a 7th century date in general find a little hard to accept), and 4) that there are also passages that appear to apply to a time of rebuilding. This is not the time to evaluate all those issues in detail, but you should be aware of them. The deutero- and trito-Isaiah theories are based on an analysis of the text itself, along with a small number of external references. You need to consider the details about the text in order to express a valid and convincing opinion on the topic.

As we start on Isaiah 24-27, I want to call your attention to a couple of my own experiences in studying other books. I did a full quarter independent study in college on Ezekiel’s call vision (Ezekiel 1). One commentary guts the call vision of repetitions and things that seem not to fit into a coherent description of the vision. As I read this commentary (see the paper for more details), I began to ask myself whether the original report of the call vision would, in fact, have had the characteristics of brevity, organization, and clarity that this commentator supposed it would have? I decided that this was unlikely. A vision, after all, is not an ordinary experience. One might be slightly incoherent in describing the vision. By making the chapter more organized, that commentator was, in fact, losing the feeling of excitement and awe, along with the difficulty of describing a vision of this nature. I encountered the same thing using R. H. Charles’s commentary on Revelation in the ICC series. Charles rearranges the last chapters of Revelation because he thinks they are so horribly disarranged. He even suggests the following:

. . . John died either as a martyr or by a natural death, when he had completed i.-xx. 3 of his work, and that the materials for its completion, which were for the most part ready in a series of independent documents, were put together by a faithful but unintelligent disciple in the order which he thought right. (Charles, Revelation Vol II, p. 147)

Again we have to ask whether the order that the modern student thought right is the order that would have appeared right to the original author.

The assumption behind the interpretation of the passages I cited (Ezekiel 1, Rev. 20:4-22) is simply that a description of an end time vision should be clear, orderly, and in perfect sequence. The problem I have with this assumption is that there don’t seem to be any examples in scripture of such a clean, orderly work that would allow us to conclude that this was the “normal” form for such a vision report. The apocalyptic speeches of Jesus are more orderly, though not much more forthcoming with the data, than these, but it isn’t the report of a vision. A similar assumption has been made about Isaiah 24-27.

If you did your own outline of these four chapters, showing transition points, take a look at it again. If not, use the one I did earlier in this series, and then read the passage again. What kind of feeling do these chapters give you? Is it necessarily true that in a time of crisis, however resolved, we would feel a clean sequence of events, or would we have a slower transition?

Each of the “forms” we identified (though I used ad hoc names, rather than those you will find in many commentaries) contributes to the feeling of these chapters. We can use form criticism, identifying a passage as a hymn or a prayer, for example, to help us understand the pieces, but they form a portion of the word picture that the author is painting. They come from different places and situations, but they are combined into one theme.

In my next entry I’ll look a bit more at the theme and how it is brought together, and we’ll use a little bit of methodology from redaction criticism. While some scholars do try some source criticism on this passage, generally theories that combine some of the elements into sources prior to the final composition generally rely on extremely thin evidence, and I am unconvinced that such sources can be identified. The best picture of authorship, in my view, is that a single author takes elements from worship, devotional life, existing literature, and his own visions and compositions, and combines them into a passage heralding God’s final victory. The elements may look scattered to us, but that is largely because we come with the wrong questions, asking what historical events are in view, what is the sequence of age-ending events pictured, and so forth, when the author is answering the question of what it will be like when YHWH makes his final intervention in human history.

Isaiah 24-27 – Starting Form Criticism

Isaiah 24-27 – Starting Form Criticism

Form Criticism involves identifying smaller units in a composition that might have been transmitted separately, especially orally, prior to being included in the composition you are studying. There are quite a number of sections in our selection (Isaiah 24-27) that can be examined in this way.

Since I am writing this series to help people examine the results of critical Biblical scholarship critically, let me suggest that you try at least part of this process on your own. I will assume you are working from English Bible versions, though I will comment some from the Hebrew text. Here’s a simple process to use:

  1. Read the entire passage a couple of times to get used to it.
  2. Read the entire passage more slowly, looking for transitions. Transitions might include:
    1. Change from prose to poetry and vice versa
    2. Change of topic, such as from praise to warning
    3. Transitional phrases, such as “thus says the Lord”
    4. Substantial changes in style and vocabulary (these are usually very hard to detect in the short units involved in form criticism)
  3. Check your work reading from another version. It is possible for transitions to be obscured by translation. It is also sometimes quite arbitrary whether passages are rendered as prose or poetry
  4. Examine each section marked off by the transitions you noted, asking:
    1. Is this a passage that could have existed independently? Would it have made sense either without context or in multiple contexts?
    2. How tightly is it integrated into the passage?
    3. What might you call this? Don’t be worried at this point about formal names of Biblical forms. Just come up with something descriptive, such as “hymn/poem of praise,” “oracle of judgment,” “Promise of blessing,” and so forth.
  5. Ask yourself how each of these sections advances the theme of the passage as a whole

Once you have done these things you are ready to look at commentaries, or just at the discussion below. As you examine these passages as part of the whole, consider that someone, somewhere thought they worked together, otherwise we would not have them edited into a substantial document such as the book of Isaiah, or this large section of it.

Now for a look at transitions (I add “user friendly” titles for sections in bold):

  • 24:1 – changes from prose to poetry at the beginning of the passage as a whole
  • 24:3 – verse ends with “for YHWH has spoken this word” creating a section of 24:1-3. Note, however, that the topic continues in verse 4
  • 24:14 – Topic change from destruction to a song of praise, though it ends on a negative note
  • 24:1-13 could be called an oracle of judgment
  • 24:17 – Topic change to judgment again.
  • 24:14-16 could be called short hymn/poem of praise to God, though consider the last half of verse 16 and just how it relates to the rest.
  • 25:1 – Topic change again to a hymn of praise.
  • 24:17-23 could be called either an oracle of judgment, or a prediction of end-time events
  • 25:6 – Topic change, prediction, promise of future blessing
  • 25:1-5 could be called a hymn of praise
  • 25:10b – Topic change, prediction of judgment on Moab
  • 25:6-10a could be called a promise or prediction of blessing
  • 26:1 – Topic change, the song to be sung in Judah
  • 25:10b-12 could be called an oracle of prediction of judgment
  • 27:1 – Topic and form change, punishing of Leviathan, turn to cosmological imagery
  • 26:1-21 could be called a song of lament for the community.
    (Note that treating this whole chapter as a unity is not accepted by many commentators. I will look at some of the differences in my next post as well as explaining why I see it as a unit
  • 27:2 – Form change back to poetry
  • Despite the change in form from prose (v1) to poetry (v2), 27:1 doesn’t appear to be a separate unit, but rather an introduction to verses 2-6
  • 27:7 – Topic change, poetry now describes a situation of judgment
  • 27:1-6 could be called a promise of restoration
  • 27:12 – Change topic and form from judgment expressed as poetry to promise expressed as prose
  • 27:7-11 could be called both a warning and description of judgment
  • 27:12-13 contain a promise of restoration in prose form.

Now all of this may seem rather complex, but it is the type of work, in very summary form and with selected terminology, that Bible critics do. If you think I am attempting either to support or to oppose the value of such work in this example, you’re missing the point. I am simply attempting to show you the nuts and bolts that go into critical claims, claims that are both asserted and rejected often without consideration of how their proponents arrived at them.

In my next post I’m going to look at some of the suggested divisions by commentators, and I’m also going to discuss what, if anything, we have accomplished in all this activity. As we proceed through the other critical methods we will continue to ask just what of value each one has contributed to our understanding of this passage.

First Reaction to ‘The Scriptures’ Bible Translation

First Reaction to ‘The Scriptures’ Bible Translation

Someone kindly e-mailed me a question about this Bible version, so I decided to take a look for myself. This is just a preliminary look, but you can find my notes at The Scriptures, and you can compare my results on this version with others using my Bible Translation Selection Tool.

I would say that this version is a specialty Bible, specifically aimed at the Messianic Jewish audience, and those gentile believers who have a strong interest in it. The extremely literal style, and the use of transliterated Hebrew names, as well as the tetragrammaton and the Hebrew version of the name of Jesus, printed in Hebrew characters, will probably drive away many other users.

One very positive point is that the translators/publishers are very straightforward about just what they are trying to do. You can read their own preface to the translation at Institute for Scripture Research. If you read their list of features and think you will like it, very probably you will. I do hope to spend some more time with this version, as it has interesting characteristics. It would be nice to work through a few chapters and critique them in detail. I’ll try to do that as I have time.