The new ESV Bible with Apocrypha by Oxford: let’s take a look

Timothy over at Catholic Bibles has recently been blogging about the new ESV Bible with Apocrypha published by Oxford. I’ve enjoyed his recent posts on how he is finding the new ESV/Apocrypha edition here:

Jeremiah: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library by WJK

Jeremiah: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library.

Author: Leslie C. Allen.
Publisher: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. pp. xxix, 546.
ISBN: 0664222234, 9780664222239

I would like to offer a word of thanks to the people at Presbyterian Publishing Corporation for this review copy.

Westminster John Knox Press has newly released Jeremiah: A Commentary in late 2008. It is an addition to the Old Testament Library (OTL). The author, Professor Dr. Leslie C. Allen, is Sr. Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written commentaries on Ezekiel, Psalms, the minor prophets, Chronicles, and now Jeremiah. This replaces OTL’s 1986 edition by Robert R. Carroll.

In taking the form-critical approach to study the book, Allen typifies its genre as mainly oracles. He also points out various psalms of lament in Jeremiah. When we see the book of Jeremiah through the lens of redaction criticism, one can begin to notice components or units of texts sewn together. Allen says:
In chs. 2-6 units evidently reflecting Jeremiah’s early prophetic activity have been grouped together with the addition of some post-Jeremianic prose. A similar impression of quilting is given by the originally independent collection of chs. 30-31, where some of Jeremiah’s own oracles have been deliberately combined with later poetry and prose of a prophetic nature, and by the foreign oracles in chs. 46-51.” (p. 10).

With this quilting, the writings in Jeremiah are called into question of which can be attributable as the prophet’s own oracles. Many are his, but how many? His explanation of this redaction shows the skills of the redactors who have taken various compositions that are “centered on a single incident, which have been skilfully assembled into blocks with a coherent message,” says Allen. This explains why Jeremiah can be such a complex book to study.

Prior to reading this, I did not see this in Jeremiah but Allen has alerted me notice the various units that have been carefully woven together by the redactors. I am no scholar of Jeremiah but now that I’ve been made aware of this, I can see the literary system of compositions and blocks where they have been placed (e.g. Jer. 30-31). How does this look like?
This new literary block is ‘an anthology of poems and prose pieces that form a tapestry of hope’…; it consists of three compositions, 30:1-31:1; 31:2-26; 31:27-40. The oracle reception heading in 30:1 indicates that a fresh block consists of 30:1-31:40 since the heading next appears at 32:1….The short units in 30:1-31:40 represent an editorial collection of originally independent material. The block cites a series of oracles Jeremiah had delivered concerning the return of the exiles of the northern kingdom and crowns them with a number of post-Jeremianic oracles of hope.” (p. 333)

For example,it is interesting that Jeremiah 25 consists of various foreign oracles in the Septuagint have been slotted into this chapter. This makes Jeremiah kind of fascinating and more fun to analyze, well, at least for a person like me. I don’t think I could have seen this on my own. I love how Allen expressed his analogy of Jeremiah with a house:
The book of Jeremiah is like an old English country house, originally built and then added to in the Regency period, augmented with Victorian wings, and generally refurbished throughout the Edwardian years. It grew over a long period of time.” (p. 11)

Allen says the dating of Jeremiah takes into consideration 33:14-26 as being postexilic Judah. In addition, even though the oracles’ perspectives seem to take a Babylonian setting, the oracles looks forward to the downfall of the neo-Babylonian Empire and its later oracles align with Second Isaiah. Therefore, a reshaping of Jeremiah had to have taken place.

The purpose of Jeremiah is addressed by the author. Allen presents the possibility that one may read the prophecies in Jeremiah with the mindset of looking back into history to the fulfillment of the prophet’s oracles of disaster (rather than prophecy as looking into the future). By presenting a question and attempting to answer it, one may be able to get at the purpose of Jeremiah. One may ask why the disaster happened. Then provide an explanation which may be the pre-exilic pagan worship. Jeremiah is a prophet who warned of worship of other gods (9:12, 13; 16:11; 22:9). I think that is the nature of prophetic writing.

Allen has done a very good job at exegeting the Jeremianic text. This is an excellent commentary on the book and I would recommend getting this for your library to help you exegete and interpret the text for a sermon on Jeremiah. Very well done.

Functional equivalent translations #1: 1 Samuel 3:7 Confusion about young Samuel

The comparison between functional equivalent translations begins with the First Samuel 3:7.

NCV: Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

Message: This all happened before Samuel knew GOD for himself. It was before the revelation of GOD had been given to him personally.

CEV: The LORD had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice.

REB: Samuel had not yet come to know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not been disclosed to him.

NLT: Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.

NIrV: Samuel didn’t know the Lord yet. That’s because the Lord still hadn’t given him a message.

GNT: The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before.

God’s Word: Samuel had no experience with the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

I was studying 1 Samuel 3:7 and noticed something puzzling. I asked myself: Why did young Samuel not know the Lord? Did the writer of Samuel mean that Samuel did not know the LORD because:

a/ he was still young?
b/ he had not yet spent enough time to learn of the LORD?
c/ he had not yet heard from the LORD in a personal way?

The interpretations provide by these translations are indeed numerous with each one including a slightly different connotation. Personally, this brings more confusion rather than clarification. The interpretations for this verse can vary quite a lot (see translations below).

The NLT, NIrV, GNT, and GW translations add “because”, which makes Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD conditional upon a prior revelation from the LORD. The original Hebrew does not contain the word owdowth (“because”, “on account of|). This is very different from the rendering provided by NCV, The Message, REB, and CEV, which do not contain this conditional clause. The two ideas expressed are independent upon one another but may also be taken as conditional (depending on how you wish to read it).

GW’s rendering expresses the idea of Samuel’s “inexperience” with the LORD, whereas, other translations stick with the idea of “knowing the LORD.” GNT’s rendering expresses that even though Samuel had heard, he did not know who it was. The Message ‘s rendering expresses Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD in a more personal way: “for himself” and “personally.”

There are many places in the O.T. where the original Hebrew lacked “because” but have been added by translators to add clarification. However, in this instance, I would prefer not adding “because.”

Psalms 8:5 – Are we only a little lower than God? Or heavenly beings?

Some of us may have the idea that humans are just a little bit less than God. Do we humans deserve this elevated status? I prefer to not think so because I know how depraved we human beings really are. I wonder if perhaps our renderings of Psalm 8:5 may have given us this false impression. Here is how the RSV and ESV rendered Psalm 8:5

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (ESV)

Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. (RSV)

In this context, the ESV has this correctly rendered Elohim (מֵאֱלֹהִים) as “heavenly beings” rather than “God”. This can also be translated as “mighty ones” or even “a god”. Some also translate this as “angels”. This TNIV has also used “heavenly beings”, but the NRSV stuck with “God” but included in footnotes “divine beings or angels.” The NASB also used “God”. In this regard, I think the ESV made an improvement over the RSV.

Quiz: What is your theological worldview

I do not know how reliable this quiz. I think misses out on other important things and does not cover everyone. I did not know I was Wesleyan. Well, some dispute the quiz saying that it does not accurately describe them…but have a try. HatTip: Byron.
Here is the link to the quiz here. [added]

You Scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God’s grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

79%

Reformed Evangelical

71%

Emergent/Postmodern

57%

Modern Liberal

54%

Roman Catholic

54%

Neo orthodox

54%

Classical Liberal

43%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

39%

Fundamentalist

29%

Search for a functional equivalent translation

In the future, I will be blogging on functional equivalent translations (or dynamic translations). The plethora of functional translations seems to be a recent phenomena. It really seemed to have taken off in the last ten to fifteen years. I have decided to cover all the main functional equivalent translations in this comparison. This is a continuation from the formal equivalent translation and mediating translation comparisons.

I have included the six main functional equivalent translations:

  • New Living Translation (NLT) by Tyndale House (1996, 2004, 2007)
  • New Century Version (NCV) by Thomas Nelson (1987, 1988, 1991, 2005)
  • New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) by International Bible Society (1996, 1998)
  • God’s Word (GW) by God’s Word to the Nations, Baker (1995)
  • Contemporary English Version (CEV) by American Bible Society (1995)
  • Good News Translation (GNT) by American Bible Society (1966, 1976, 1992)
  • Revised English Bible (REB) by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses (1989)
  • The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress (1993, 2002)

This type of translation is the most readable. However, they tend to be the least literal but that’s the character of functional equivalent translations. Personally, and generally speaking, I don’t feel comfortable using it in a serious bible study; however, there are a few I would feel comfortable about using in a bible study. I will tell you what they are at the end of this series of comparisons between functional translations.

I learned that most of these translations began from a vision of a single person, which then, later expanded to include other people, or a larger committee. To my knowledge these were:

  • New Living Translation (Kenneth N. Taylor)
  • The Message (Eugene H. Peterson)
  • God’s Word (William F. Beck)
  • New Century Version (Ervin Bishop)
  • Good News Translation (Eugene Nida)
  • Contemporary English Version (Barclay Newman)
  • Revised English Bible (G.S. Hendrey)

God does like to use individuals to do the work of his kingdom. Thank God for these servants who wanted to bring the bible into the contemporary language of the people.

Note: Rich resources about the history of various bible translations can be found at:

Happy New Year in 2009

I can’t believe it’s a new year. Happy New Year everyone! 
This year is going to be a new year for me. I hope to see new things happen in my life, and in my family, in the not too distant future. 
I also wish that everyone out there will be able to sense God’s peace, love, and joy, and God’s presence in your lives, and in your families.  Blessings to everyone.  🙂

John 1:13, TNIV – It’s man, not husband

As I was reading John 1:1-18, a Christmas reading related to Christ birth into this world, I came across a word that stuck out for me in John 1:13:

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13, TNIV).

T/NIV’s rendering of ἀνήρ (anēr) as “husband” is very peculiar. Other translations render this quite differently. They all render it as “man.” Aner (ἀνήρ) can be rendered as “husband”, or “man”, or even as “man” in the context of “sir”. However, in this context, it seems to make more sense as “man” or even “human”. If someone could enlighten me on why the T/NIV rendered this as “husband”, I would appreciate it. If I am correct on this, I hope TNIV will make a correction in v. 13 in its next edition.

_________________
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (NLT)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (NRSV)
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. (HCSB)