Saturday, February 23, 2008

Orthodox Study Bible - Old and New Testament

Ironic (but not surprising for me) that, after calling for a vote for the cover of the Orthodox Study Bible, Old and New Testaments, I promptly took it off, much preferring the hansome burgundy with gold trim you see to your right (click for a closeup). We're glad this came in time for Great Lent, so we can read the Church's lectionary from a translation of the Church's Old Testament.

Things I've noticed so far:

Audra and I (and, heads up church school class, y'all too) will need to re-memorize the books of the Old Testament! Not only are there more, but the order of the Septuagint books is different. Law, Writings, Minor Prophets, Major Prophets, with the deuterocanonicals scattered all throughout, within their respective genres.

The notes remind me of study Bibles I had when I was younger (yes, of course I was a Study Bible Dork even from the start), so those of you expecting or desiring half a page of patristic quotes on every page will be disappointed. The notes I've read, though, seem to teach Orthodox faith and doctrine very clearly, which is crucial to those who are new to the faith or to "re-treads" who grew up nominally Orthodox and, having rediscovered a zeal for the faith, need to see how the Scriptures proclaim the truth of Christ, as well as how that truth is properly proclaimed by the Church. The notes center on Trinity, Incarnation, and Church, which is refreshing. Some may decry the notes as being too simplistic. I agree that so-called "study" notes that do nothing but restate the verse on which they are supposed to elaborate are quite frustrating, but a verse may need only very little emphasis to bring out a small but needed nuance. Sepa Dios. God knows. Point is, don't look to this to replace any patristic commentaries you may own or currently be eyeing.

One considerable omission on the part of the editors was a concordance. My priest mentioned this to me and, sure enough, there isn't one. This would be a wonderful addition to a second edition. Perhaps they're counting on folks to own the OSBNT already, which comes with (what I understand is) the standard NelsonTM concordance.

Also--no chain references, not in a middle column on the page or otherwise! I miss that...

The articles are good, and there are more of them. They are, from what I've seen so far, quite well-done. Very handsome icon prints on the other side of article pages.

The Psalms (finally!) are numbered according to our reckoning.

Often the topical divisions within the chapters will correspond to the beginning and ending of lectionary readings.

On the whole, we're very grateful to have this. May God bless this tool to His glory.

Any other reviews of this new addition would be much appreciated.


James the Thickheaded said...

Funny I did precisely the same thing. Put the slip jacket cover on the shelf - it was getting in the way - and got a couple of book marks and went to it. And yes... it looks very tasteful. Our mission-size parish did two cases of hardback and a handful of leather. We're still waiting on the leather... so I'm curious how that will look.

The text is the gift. Renamed Samuel and others take some getting used to. Folding the Apocrypha into their appropriate books... some retraining of the thumbs. On the whole, excellent.

Jnorm888 said...

good review

Ian said...

Nice review indeed: thank you.

Do you happen to know why they have gone for the NKJV? I, and I confess great ignorance on Biblical scholarship, do not find it a pleasing translation to read when compared to some others. But that may just be me. Does the NKJV have some 'official' status in certain areas of Orthodoxy in the US? My thanks.

Jacob said...

My guesses as to why the NKJV was picked:

1. It, like the KJV, uses the so-called "Byzantine" text-type, the Greek text most like the one the Orthodox Church has used. The NASB, NIV, etc., use an eclectic Greek text, usually relying on Nestle-Aland 26/27 / UBS3/4.

2. Thomas Nelson, the publisher of the OSB, owns the rights to the NKJV.

3. The CEO and President of Thomas Nelson is Orthodox - an interesting fact, considering Thomas Nelson is perhaps the world's largest publisher of Evangelical Protestant books: Michael S. Hyatt

christophoros1971 said...

From a discussion list:

I received my copy Saturday.

IMO, it is very good the books of the OT were arranged in canonical
order (as done by the Greeks). But I wish they had rearranged the NT in
the canonical order (as done by the Greeks) at the same time. Oh well.

I /really/ dislike the ugly font used in the running header -- zeroes
are wider than the capital letter O; ones look like a capital I. The
font used for the text has far too high an x-height: lower case letters
are about 3/4 the size of capital letters instead of 1/2. But I can live
with ugly. The content is far more important.

I was checking to see if εκκλεσία was translated as 'church'. To my
delight, it was rendered 'church' in Psalm 21 (vv. 23, 26); Psalm 25
(vv. 5, 12); Psalms 34:18; 39:10; 67:27; and 88:6. I wish they had
maintained that rendering for the remainder of the psalms, but for some
reason did not in Psalm 106:32 and Psalm 149:1.

The word εκκλεσία was also translated as 'church' in Job 30:28, Proverbs
5:14, and Lamentations 1:10. I really wish they had also used 'church'
in the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy (vv. 2, 3, 4, and 9) and Joel 2:16,
but, alas, they did not.

When I was checking to see the rendering of εκκλεσία in the four books
of Kingdoms, I ran into a problem finding the verses. So I started
digging into verse numbering.

What a mess!

The standard numbering of the books of the Old Testament are, like it or
not, based on the Masoretic text.

The ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text I have adapts to this by skipping verse numbers where
the Church's text does not have the equivalent of the Masoretic. Thus,
in 1 Kingdoms, the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text numbers the first eleven verses of
chapter 17 which basically parallel the Masoretic text, then skips
numbers 12 through 31, numbers verses 32 through 40 which parallel the
Masoretic text, skips verse 41, numbers verses 42 through 49 which
parallel the Masoretic text, skips verse 50, numbers verses 51 through
54, and omits numbers 55 through 58. (Note: the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text includes
the omitted verses from the Masoretic text in footnotes rendered in a
distinct font.)

When there are verses present in the Church's text that are not in the
Masoretic text, the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) edition numbers verses with added letters.
Thus, in Chapter 2 of 3 Kingdoms, it numbers the first 35 verses which
parallel the Masoretic text, and then numbers the following verses 35α,
35β, 35γ, 35δ, ... 35μ, 35ν, 35ξ. The next verse is numbered 36 as is
the parallel verse in the Masoretic text.

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint basically uses the same
numbering system as the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text, but instead of appending letters
it has no verse numbering (effectively making 3 Kingdoms 2:35 a great
long verse!).

The Orthodox Study Bible doesn't follow either of these methods. Instead
it uses what is, IMO, the worst possible method. It numbers verses
sequentially regardless of the standard numbering of verses. Thus, where
the Church's text does not have text which parallels the Masoretic text,
the Orthodox Study Bible ends up with few verse numbers than other
editions. For instance, 1 Kingdoms 17:32 in the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text and the
Brenton translation and 1 Samuel 17:32 in the NASB, is rendered in the
OSB as 17:12! The same thing is done where there are additional verses,
only this results in more verse numbers than other editions. For
instance, what the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) edition counts as 35, 35α, 35β, 35γ, 35δ,
... 35μ, 35ν, 35ξ, 36 is counted in the OSB as verses 35 through 49. So
3 Kingdoms 2:36 in the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text and the Brenton translation and 1
Kings 2:36 in the NASB becomes 3 Kingdoms 2:50.

Like I said, it is a mess. Worse, there is no 'conversion table' that
will allow a reader to find the equivalent of a verse found in any other
translation/edition. Perhaps some enterprising soul(s) will create a web
page with a conversion table.


In looking at 1 Kingdoms chapter 17 (the story of David and Goliath), I
found two things which bothered me. The OSB has a verse 29 which
parallels 1 Samuel 17:50 in the same place as it appears in the
Masoretic text, but that verse DOES NOT EXIST in the Church's text. I
wonder if someone, working from the NKJV Old Testament (which was used
as this project's boilerplate), inadvertently left that verse in.

The second thing was the OSB's note to 1 Kingdoms 17:4 -- 'Goliath is
over nine feet tall.' This would be true if one is following the
Masoretic text which gives Goliath's height as six cubits and a span (a
cubit being about 18 inches makes six cubits approximately equal to nine
feet), but the Church's text -- properly translated in the OSB -- gives
Goliath's height as FOUR cubits and a span (which works out to about six
feet plus a 'span', i.e. about 6'4" instead of 9'4")! It appears notes
from the NKJV Old Testament may have been retained without checking.

The icons included in the OSB are quite good (and traditional). The
Lectionary will be very useful. Of course, the patristic comments are
important. The Index to Annotations looks like it will be helpful, but I
haven't had much chance to look through it.

Back to looking at the OSB.

David Bryan said...

Thank you all for comments thus far.


Thanks for the VERY thoughtful review. Please continue to share anything else you may find out here.

Any ideas as to why the OSB folks divided up the Kingdoms books in a way foreign both to the MSS and the LXX?

Lucian said...

Hi there! I think You might just want to "study" this a bit also:

And God bless! :-)