on 11 January 2009
Rating - As a Bible.
This is a well presented, well bound Bible, made to higher standards than most I have seen. The cover and binding are well made. The paper is thin enough to fit 1800 pages into a 3cm width, but substantial enough so that the printing on the reverse side hardly shows through. The font size and styles make the texts easily readable: both the Bible text and the notes, without eye strain. The book falls open easily at any page. This looks and feels like a Bible that will be a pleasure to use long term. 5 stars.
Rating - As an Orthodox Bible
The Bible contains more `Books' than either the standard Protestant, or the Roman Catholic Bible. This is because it is based on the ancient Greek `Septuagint' Old Testament, which the Apostles were familiar with and quoted from. It does not contain all book used by all `Orthodox' churches. The absence of 4 Maccabees has been noted. It will however be welcomed by many Christians who are looking for a `common' bible they can use in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox settings.
The Bible is based on the New King James Version. This should not be seen as a minus point. Most Bible translations are in fact based on previous versions. The New Testament is left in the standard NKJV form. The Old Testament text has been changed where the Greek of the Septuagint text requires a different reading. Plus of course the direct translation of the Books not in the NKJV. The translators gave done a pretty good job, but they have chosen to translate in a slightly more current, and in my opinion less poetic style to that of the NKJV.
Some Orthodox Christians have expressed particular disappointment with one Book: The Psalms. They feel that its place in Orthodox worship demands a translation more suitable for that worship, and they are surprised to find that the Orthodox divisions of the Psalms are not used. Overall 4 stars.
Rating - As an Orthodox Study Bible
This is not a western Study Bible. The Emphasis here is in reading the Bible as part of an ongoing community of Christians that has existed since the first century AD. In view is communion with God and his people, not detailed critical analysis of the text. All us western Christians need one Bible like this on our shelves to correct our bias towards critical analysis. The Study helps are (1) Brief introductions to each Book (2) Page long 'Study Articles' on about 50 key themes (3) Notes at the bottom of each page of Bible text. A large percentage of these give the views of the early Church Fathers on the text. The Notes have a strong Christological and Trinitarian content, from the Creation in the early chapters of Genesis onwards. The presence of Jesus in the Old Testament text is shown again and again. A high point is the notes on the Psalms, which show the traditional understanding that many of them are prophecies about Jesus. On the other hand there are many passages in the Old Testament that need explanations that have only the scantest notes.
3 to 4 stars.
Rating - the `evangelistic' tone of this Bible.
Simply put. The crude evangelistic propaganda in the introduction should have been left out. Without it this Bible is evangelistic in the best sense - a Study Bible with encounter of God rather than critical understanding as its goal. With it - some readers may read the introduction and be tempted to cast this Bible aside. There is a crude - lets butter up the Evangelicals and do down the Catholics - attitude. No Stars for the `Introduction to the Orthodox Church'.
Rating - This Bible as a Bible for Catholics
Catholics are not the intended audience here, but The Orthodox Study Bible will interest many Catholics. It is nice to see a Bible with all the `Catholic' books in. Once you get past the silly introduction you will find the rest of the Bible to be more to your liking. There is little difference between Catholic and Orthodox on most of what follows. All the quoting of the Early Church Fathers is all to the good, as they are the Fathers of the Western, as well of the eastern Church. Four stars.
Overall - Four Stars
on 31 May 2009
The Orthodox Study Bible (O.S.B.) is the long-awaited completion of a project to provide the full text of Holy Scripture (the entire canon of the Old Testament, with all of its deuterocanonical writings, as well as the New Testament), translated from the Greek texts that are normative for the Orthodox world, to meet the liturgical, devotional, and study needs of Eastern Orthodox laymen and clergy, yet it is also a landmark publication in Christian scholarship of more general application. This assessment of the superb O.S.B. is from the standpoint of an informed Québec layman whose background and research interests, in various ways, encompass Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and even Eastern Orthodoxy.
The "Orthodox Study Bible" (O.S.B.) is a marvellous choice for Catholic and Orthodox believers who are attached to the phraseology of Anglicanism's Authorised "King James" Version Bible tradition, for whom the O.S.B. is a good and wise choice. The O.S.B. includes the deuterocanon of the Old Testament (O.T.) as well, of course, as the other writings of the O.T., and it uses the N.K.J.V. in the New Testament (N.T.) part. The editors of the O.T. amended the N.K.J.V. to conform to the Greek Septuagint version's renderings. With the O.S.B.'s study notes, a Roman Catholic or Eastern (Uniate) Catholic reader, concerning doctrinal and exegetical matters, only has to ignore the annotation on perhaps one single passsage, St. Matthew 16:18 (which Catholics interpret to defend the role and alleged infallibility of the Papacy, the so-called "Petrine Office"), so Catholics and Eastern Orthodox alike can pretty much agree on everything else in the commentary of the notes.
The "Orthodox Study Bible" is quite different from other study or otherwise annotated Bibles, and in the most marvellous faith-affirming ways, integrating as it does Orthodox-Catholic tradition into the study of Holy Writ. The textual base of the translation is a welcome choice, too, the Septuagint (LXX) Greek O.T. and Byzantine Greek N.T., the latter entirely free of the serious flaws of the textual basis of Protestant and more or less recent Roman Catholic translations which are based too uncritically upon the late Hebrew Masoretic O.T. and the vilely corrupt "Critical Texts" (U.B.S., Nestle-Aland, and worse) of the Greek N.T. Refreshingly, the N.T. of the New King James Version (N.K.J.V.), to which the editors wisely resorted for a modern English usage translation, is based on that already mentioned Byzantine Text (also called "Textus Receptus"), so it is refreshingly free of the faults of so many other late 19th and 20th century translations from Greek "minority text" manuscript sources.
The ample study notes of the O.S.B. for the most part are taken from, or based upon, the writings of the great Fathers of the Church ("Patristic" writings) and of other early Christian theologians and saintly figures of post-Patristic times. These notes deal with only few of the subjects to which other study/annotated Bibles devote much space, but the notes are also free (hooray!) of the speculations on chiliasm (so irksomely prominent in Fundamentalist and Neo-Evangelical sectarian study Bibles), of misleading text critical notes (common to alike too many Protestant and Catholic study Bibles), or notes of the "higher critical" sort which so toxically and misleadingly deny the Bible's reliability factually and historically, and/or its faithful transmission across the ages. Conservative, "confessional", and believing Christians (of whichever labelled type) of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, and sectarian traditions alike will find the O.S.B.'s annotations faith-affirming and full of the deep Christian wisdom of the ages.
Whereas the O.S.B. incorporates its own freshly completed new translation of the Greek Septuagint O.T., known as the "St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint" English Version (S.A.A.S.), of which the translation project director is the estimable Jack Norman Sparks (who also is the principal editor of the O.S.B. as a whole), another recent translation into current English of the Greek LXX O.T. also appeared on the market only one year before the publication of the O.S.B. I am referring to "A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title" (N.E.T.S)., edited by two Protestant scholars, Allen Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (Oxford University Press, 2007; ISBN 978-0-19-528975-6). As the O.S.B. had taken the N.K.J.V.'s O.T. as the point of departure (in editing it to conform to the LXX Greek O.T.), the N.E.T.S. chose to rework the New Revised Standard Version (N.R.S.V.) of the O.T. to conform it to the Greek LXX O.T.
The results of the editors' work for the N.E.T.S. English translation of the Greek LXX O.T. are remarkably fine. The N.E.T.S. translation is crisply clear and freer of the slight ambiguities here and there that one finds even in in the S.A.A.S. English rendition of the LXX O.T. The traces of "feminist-speak" (or "inclusive language") and of other flaws in the N.R.S.V.'s at times too trendy translation seem, from what I can tell in having used it fairly intensively along with the O.S.B.'s S.A.A.S., to have disappeared entirely, so meticulously thorough has been the work of Pietersma and Wright in reworking and conforming the N.R.S.V.'s O.T. to the Greek LXX.
For this lay reader, there only a few real obstacles to, or reservations about, using the N.E.T.S. version of the O.T. confidently for daily reading. One is the slighter impediment of the N.E.T.S.' pedantic use of exactly transliterated forms of personal and place names, which differ (sometimes markedly) from the better-known forms of name in other English Bibles, which the O.S.B. wisely chose to retain as being more reader-friendly. Another and more serious failing is the presence of some passages where translation choices of dubious doctrinal orthodoxy occur, in part due, very likely, to Pietersma and Wright acceeding to pressures from Jewish scholars among their collaborators to downplay the Christian implications of certain readings which occur in the LXX text of the O.T. Apart from this sort of thing, the translation occasionally does resort elsewhere to peculiar or awkward wording which is less pellucidly clear, or that is more doubtfully pertinent, than what characterises most of the N.E.T.S.' admirably elegant prose. Also, of course, for the Christian reader, having the O.T. in a separate volume from the rest of the Bible, the N.T., makes it more convenient to use the O.S.B. for both of the Testaments as a principal choice for a practical edition of the Bible for constant use; in any case, the S.A.A.S. translation of the O.T. in the O.S.B. is free of the risky and hazardous readings which here and there occur in the otherwise so admirable N.E.T.S.
Hail to the successful completion of both of these translation and publishing projects, the Orthodox Study Bible and the N.E.T.S. English translation of the Greek Septuagint Old Testament. The Orthodox Study Bible, for its part, makes the complete Greek Bible translated into English available for today's Anglophone readers, especially for the Orthodox faithful among them, as well as for other Christians!
on 22 December 2008
I am an Orthodox Theologian, and as such I find it somewhat strange to find that in an "Orthodox" Bible, the editors have chosen to use the NKJV version of the NT. The NKJV is based on the "Textus Receptus" (TR) mss tradition, which is not what the Orthodox Church is using. The TR is often (mistakenly) viewed as the most authentic text, but the Great Church of Constantinople published in 1912 the Greek version of the NT which is used in the Greek Orthodox Church today. It was drawn up directly from 128 (I think) mss, most of them dating from the 8th-12th cent. This text is the official text used in the Greek Orthodox Church today. Regarding the LXX version used here, I haven't been able to find out what mss were used for the translation. To the reviewer who were upset that the editors expressed theological opinions in their comments - please understand that a critical apparatus is distinctly a different thing from a commentary! I must admit that I find the commentary section rather feeble, and not very clarifying as to what the Holy Fathers say. Personally I prefer to go straight to the huge body of commentaries from the Tradition of the Fathers of the Church. This edition is very reminiscent of Protestant study Bibles that I've seen. It even has the same typographical setup. The editors spent 15 years preparing this edition - and they still didn't include 4th Maccabees, which is so important for understanding the Church's experience of martyrdom! In the Greek Bible, 4th Maccabees is included in the appendix. So "Orthodox Study Bible"? I'm not impressed. This book presents itself more like a missionary tool made to prevent unhappy american protestants from converting to the Latin Roman Church! This edition reminds me very much of certain mid 19th century Russian publications, made to battle the Uniate church, and if you like those versions, you'll probably like this one too. Those Russian editions btw used the same basis for the NT as this one. And the editorial design is almost identical. As an Orthodox Christian adult, if you are an English speaker, you might as well get any other NKJV at a much lower price. Two stars for trying.
on 15 November 2014
This is not just some study bible, this is the Septuagint in the OT, and a newly crafted NKJV, it's quite similar to the KJV in its references rather than where the NKJV went with the critical text, its been edited back to greatness. In Galatians 3:16 this bible says Seed instead of descendant, fitting with Genesis 12:7.
Update: When I first came to this bible in 2014, I was wholly unaware of how different this was to the NKJV. A lot of people read "based upon the NKJV" and assume its NKJV until it hits a massively different verse. This is not true, they laid down the NKJV, looked at the LXX and rewrote the NKJV. It will in some places read identically to the protestant bible, but in a large section of places its not the same.
What does surprise me is that whilst the LXX is different to say - the KJV, the two tend to be in agreement on doctrine, now whilst the Orthodox or an Evangelical would obviously balk at the idea of doctrinal similarity between both religions, this study bible does at least allow one to see where the Orthodox differ. This is like a toe into the water, giving a western evangelical a taste of something different, yet ancient.
The OSB is used in many Orthodox churches in lieu of something official. If the Priests are using it, it can't be that bad!