Friday, April 24, 2015

Gematria and the Number of the Beast and the Merkavah of God

"Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast. For it is a human number. It's number is six hundred and sixty-six...."

An interesting post referencing the use of gematria in the Apocalypse of John.

So far as we know, gematria originated as a Babylonian practice of assigning letters with a numerical value. This was full blown numerology and it could be expected that the numerical value of certain words and phrases was indicative of the power associated with said name or phrase.

John's apocalypse has a fairly blatant example of this practice with the number of the beast. The manuscript tradition various between the classic six hundred sixty six and six hundred sixteen. Six hundred sixty six corresponds to Caesar Nero in Hebrew whereas six hundred sixteen corresponds to Caesar God in Greek. There is no clear consensus over which one is correct, although the proposition that John intends his audience to hear the Greek text and then start working in Hebrew seems a shade too complicated.

The interesting point here is not the number of the beast or how we should parse said number. Rather, it is the existence of gematria in the pages of the Canon to begin with. Here we have an ostensibly Babylonian system, adopted by Judaism, and transmitted into apostolic era Christianity.

It is easy enough to forget that something like gematria exists in the pages of the Canon. Frankly, 2,000 years of Christian dogmatics has a way of smoothing over some of the more puzzling passages in Scripture. Yet, these passages remain and every so often one's attention is drawn to them. One recognizes that the Canon contains the memory of a religious environment that would appear strikingly different from our own. We may never aptly appreciate the presence of certain narrative threads in Scripture that challenge the instance upon a neat linear narrative of Judaism or Christianity.

We can take a few minutes to wrap our minds around the author of the Apocalypse of John applying gematria without any reservations. Undoubetly, such highly symbolic literature lends itself to a symbolic use of numbers. The greater question is whether or not the Apocalypse is classical Christian literature. Is it in fact a document that aligns readily with Christianity, or is it something else that for whatever reason was retained in Christian circles? The most recent theory I've encountered insists on setting the Apocalypse in the context of early or proto-Merkavah literature, that mystical strain of Judaism focused on the mystical vision of the throne of God. Certainly, there are narrative devices in John's apocalypse that would seem to lend themselves to being an earlier form of Merkavah mysticism. If this hypothesis is correct, the acceptance of the Apocalypse of John into the Canon becomes more complex as more variant elements bcome identified.  If anything it at least poses the question that perhaps the most famous piece of apocalyptic literature needs to be read more as a piece of visionary literature and less a prophecy of an impending future.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

NET Bible (Review)

As previously recounted, I have a long history with the NET Bible in its pre-printed form. Although, using any text online isn't the same as having a physical book. Particularly with regards to editions of the Bible, engaging the text of a physical book really makes or breaks things. Bible.org kindly sent me a copy of the NET Bible with full translator's notes to review. So, how does the physical reading experience compare to accessing the electronic copy (nostalgia for the Pacific Northwest being noted)?

The first thing one notices is that the physical book is rather large. If one forgets one is dealing with a study bible, one will be taken aback by the girth of this volume. One look at the spine tells you why: approximately 68,000 translators notes. Take a moment and consider that. This a mark that the NET Bible wears like a badge; there isn't any edition of the bible in print that contains so much text data. The presence of copious study notes influence how one utilizes this translation. One should read the NET Bible with the intention of fully engaging these notes throughout.

The translation itself is, courageously, an entirely new English translation. Most English translations follow the direction established by the KJV. The NET Bible is one of a crop of newer translations that decided to embark on their own course, largely due to new understandings of Greek/Hebrew grammar and vocabulary. So, what does this mean for translation quality? Overall, it is well done. The NET Bible leans closer to the New Jerusalem Bible in terms of not avoiding gender inclusive language when the original text, critically speaking, warrants it. Like the NJB, paraphrase is occasionally utilized when the original text is either too convoluted as a one-to-one translation, or when a one-to-one translation would be somewhat jarring for and "English" ear. Overall, the translators have let critical scholarship guide their translation decisions. As I mentioned in my review of the NJB, this is my preferred approach to translating.

As is to be expected with any translation, there are a few quibbles one can have with the translation decisions. The decision to translate the sense of certain names of God in Hebrew text is of questionable value. For instance, when rendering El Shaddai as Sovereign God, the NET Bible provides considerable translators notes which provide the rationale for the translation decision. This is in of itself is positive - it provides the reader with insights into the decisions that created this translation. However, in the instance of El Shaddai, we're dealing with a divine name of both uncertain origin and uncertain meaning. The decision and accompanying notes corners the translators into owning a particular translation when the specific meaning is not necessarily certain.

The decision to translate the first line of Psalm 25 as "O Lord, I come to you in prayer," is likely to raise a few eyebrows, especially those familiar with more familiar readings. The NET Bible fully follows the logic of many contemporary translations regarding this verse. The NJB and HCSB both have a similar reading, opting for a interpretive paraphrase. Whether or not the original text is meant to be read as a more literary expression is contested. Again, it is a matter of whether or not the translators want to back themselves into a corner with their interpretation of the text. In this instance, the NET Bible is not alone.

The translation of John 1:1 is perhaps the point at which the NET Bible may take a lot of flack. There will be those who for doctrinal reasons will say the translation is a less-than-clear affirmation of Christian doctrine, possibly verging on subordinationism. Translators may argue that the NET Bible's rendition is too convoluted. The accompanying translators note provides the reader with a lot of data behind the translation decision. This said, the argument seems a little too complex for its own good, delving into the finer, more esoteric points of Greek grammar. The conventional translation could have been retained with an appeal to the greater narrative context of the Gospel of John and more conventional Greek grammar.

The study/translator notes really are what sets this bible apart. Being able to collate as much historical and textual data into one's reading of the text is the hallmark of an edition whose aim is intelligence. Thus, when one reads only the first two or so verses of Genesis and finds a full page of notes that extrapolate upon the text and note the Babylonian parallels (via the combat myth of Marduk and Tiamat), one is, right off the bat, dealing with a translation one should take seriously. The study notes really are the pivot upon which this translation rests. Again, it is possible to quibble with some of them. There are times when the notes appear more defensive of the translation than insights into the text. This said, the NET Bible doesn't pull any punches when it comes to incorporating historical and textual criticism into its text.

Conclusions

Intelligence. I am convinced this is the dominant trait a vernacular edition of the Bible must have in the 21st century. Believer or not, the reader must come away from a vernacular edition impressed with what he or she has found. The greater a bible can incorporate historical and textual criticism, the more likely it will yield such results. Ultimately, despite some points of criticism, the NET Bible reaches that target. 

Currently, the NET Bible has the reputation of being something of a niche translation. This is somewhat understandable. With time and careful development, it may go on to become more of a standard. Considering the scholarship behind it, it is my sincere hope it makes it there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How do you lose a culture war you never really fought?

I don't particularly care for First Things, never have, never will. A recent article by Michael Hanby has generated a bit of a buzz lately.

The fundamental issue: is Christianity segueing into a period of social irrelevance, if not outright rejection and vilification by the larger society?

The increasing acceptance of gay marriage and of legislation in support of it appears to be the catalyst for the article.

Sexual/reproductive issues and legislation to the contrary of traditional Christian mores seems to be the evidence that Christianity has lost the culture. Without positioning either which way on these issues, I will not deny that the culture readily accepts and even demands such legislation. Is this leading us down a black hole? That depends; in the American media, there is a sudden push to envelop children into these issues. No one seems to want to call this development out as inappropriate. Then again, this is same culture that made Toddlers and Tiaras a television hit.

Where is this going? Is it getting worse? Is Christianity becoming the unwanted element in the host culture? Perhaps. This said, it seems inaccurate to say Christianity has lost the culture war. I would ask, did Christianity even engage the fight to begin with?

Conservative commentators highlight the immediate disparity between Christian morality and the change in sexual norms in the West. They at times go so far so as to argue this is a prime example of deliberate social engineering, a concentrated effort to redefine the parameters of normal and accepted behavior. I would not dispute the point. The author contends that recent years have demonstrated that the state is more than willing to breach into realms that it traditionally has no competence in. Again, I wouldn't dispute the point. The West has willfully assented to the state defining the philosophical/metaphysical aspects of the human person, largely due to the pervasive presumption of biological materialism that has largely situated itself as the hermeneutical lens through which the majority comprehends reality.

Yet, it is not the case that we've suddenly, or within the last forty or so years, found ourselves staring over the edge of the abyss. Truth be told, post-Enlightenment Western society has, from the beginning, adhered to propositions that are potentially irreconcilable to Christianity. By and large, Christianity readily acquiesced. The state's open efforts to define marriage are hardly anything new. The moment Christianity accepted the state's presumption of authority to require a marriage license was the moment Christianity accorded authority in the matter to state. When Christianity silenced itself on the subject of usury and began benefiting from lending with interest rates, it willfully abdicated its own principles. Although many Christian denominations benefit from the principle of freedom of religion, it needs to be noted that this principle cut both ways, permitting the practice of religion according to one's conscious, but also rendering religious values and morality as a private affair. Corporately, social values would be determined by the political process, and for a time Christianity benefited from this process.

Christianity, it may be argued, never engaged in a culture war over the West. At the very least, it waited until the last minute, at which point the elements it objects to (largely reproductive/sexual) were almost inevitable.

Christianity fails to offer a convincing case against the cultural shifts in the West. In large part, this is because Christianity fails to offer any genuine alternative, either in vision or in practice. Instead of emerging as a counter-cultural response to the post-modern and soon to be post-Christian culture, Christianity at best presented itself as the conservative option against a liberal proposition, both of which were formed on the overarching culture. Christianity took the easy option and exerted little to no substantial effort. It has reaped the results one should expect.

The challenge henceforth is for Christianity to find a way to be a counter-cultural alternative to the West, in both theory and practice. Contemporary trends may be un-amicable to Christianity, but there is always opportunity.

Such trends are typically generational; the zeit geist of a particular generation is in full swing, however, if the 60s are any example, when a particular generation reaches the age when it cannot avoid the fact of its own mortality, it begins to revisit religion anew (as was the case in 1990s).

Additionally, massive cultural movements tend to leave a considerable portion dejected, marginalized, or jaded. The degree to which Christianity offers a tangible alternative to a hyper-consumerist and hyper-sexualized culture (tenets that objectify and dehumanize the human person) is the degree to which it will "set the world afire."

Claiming Christianity lost the culture war is a poor excuse for an abysmal effort. Christianity was never willing to offer a real alternative. Now is the opportunity to do something amazing.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Mozarabic Liturgy in St. Peters and Non-Roman Liturgy

By now, this has made the circuit (among the relevant websites).

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours pouring over the Missal of the Mozarabic liturgy as it was reformed after Vatican II at a local university library. It was then that copious articles and references to this ancient Latin liturgy finally became concrete and I understood why people who study this liturgy tend to become fascinated with it.

It is a cause of great impoverishment for the Western Church that, by and large, the Roman liturgy has displaced or otherwise marginalized the greater portion of the historic liturgies of the West.

It is a shame, and a sign of the rampant liturgical impoverishment in the West, that not a fraction of the effort accorded to various contemporary liturgical controversies has been applied to salvaging the historic liturgies of the West.

Then again, can liturgies that have long since been obsolete, or are well on their way to so being, ever be given a new lease on life? It is hard to find an example of such.

The proscriptions of 1570 and the subsequent politics that applied pressure upon many a diocese to relinquish their local usage (Quo primum may well be as much a liturgical "time bomb" as anything produced by Vatican II) led the Western Church to where it is now. The patrimony of the Latin tradition was, whether intentionally or as an accidental result of the ecclesiology that emerged from Trent, effectively squashed.

Something was lost with Trent and the Counter-Reformation. What is pre-Reformation or pre-Tridentine Catholicism? I'm not sure we really know given that we haven't had it in almost six centuries. The pre-Tridentine and non-Roman litirgies are our only window into it. This is significant. If lex orandi, lex credenti has any veracity, if prayer can shape our conception of things so significantly, then perhaps there is a spiritual necessity to rediscover pre-Tridentine, non-Roman, perhaps even pre-Schism liturgies of the Western tradition.

Perhaps by salvaging non-Roman liturgies, the Western Church can rediscover itself and its Tradition, one that extends past 1962 or 1570. Then again, perhaps it will be nothing more than pristine ceremony brought out for occasional show.

There are those who would argue the West has forgotten the "language" of worship; the West no longer knows how to worship, how speak of worship, and how to think of worship. Every liturgy, every liturgical family, has its language of worship. If the west has forgotten the language of worship, it is partly due to the fact that its language has been so impoverished for so long. It's a lot like Orwellian new-speak, really. At some point the language for the liturgy in the West became so restrictive with its thought and expression, it became gradually more difficult to formulate expansive speech.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review : ESV Student Study Edition


Reading any translation of the Bible for the first time is a funny thing. If one has familiarized oneself with another translation, adding an additional translation invariably requires time for acclimation. At the very least, it requires one devote a solid amount to time to learning the translation, appreciate it for what it is, and determine if and how one could incorporate it into one’s reading. When I received this review copy from Crossway, I made it a point to take time with it so as to appreciate it from two perspectives, that of someone who can translate from the original languages and that of someone placing the English Standard Version firmly in the tradition of English language bibles.

Truth be told, in modern times, there is no “terrible” translation of the Bible. Yes, a quick internet search will likely land on a more than a few pages who swear (on a stack of Bibles no less) that such and such a translation is corrupted for whatever reason. However, anyone with a background in the original languages will tell you something quite different. There are more or less literal or literary translations of the Bible. Every translation leans in one direction or the other, the text usually demonstrating both tendencies at points.

The ESV is firmly situated in the English pedigree established by the King James Version and continued by the RSV. The translation leans overall towards a literal, one-to-one technique, however, the translators, being familiar with both the original languages and their host language, know when to smooth over the translation. The ESV therefore makes restrained use of gender inclusive language and paraphrase. In every case I examined, these decisions were hard to contest; it simply makes the most sense to render the particular word or passage the way the translators have chosen. Like the RSV and NRSV, the ESV is set at a higher reading level than some contemporary translations. Unlike the NRSV, it avoids tortuous applications of inclusive language. As someone who is at home with the original text, I find impossible to complement the translators of the ESV enough for the sound judgment they applied when producing this text.

There are some minor quibbles one could raise. I am in favor of transliterating the names of God in Hebrew text as much as possible (cf., the New Jerusalem Bible). This perspective is, however, the minority opinion and runs contrary to what appears to have been the aim of the translators. As mentioned above, the ESV is designed to falls firmly within the lineage established by the KJV and continued down to the NRSV and its aims are similar.

The ESV takes account of the manuscript tradition. Alternate readings are noted and notes are provided where the translation defers to the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, or another textual tradition instead of the Masoretic.

This particular version, as noted in the post title, is the Student Study edition. It is designed primarily as a bible that can serve as a first approach for persons (high school, college, or church) who do not necessarily have much background with Scripture or with Theology but want to increase their understanding. The format works well for this purpose. The introductory matter is easily accessible and there is plenty of “Did You Know?” content to elucidate points of Biblical Theology for the reader who is still attempting to grasp the subject. The binding seems pointedly designed for this purpose. It comes as a simple, but well bound hardback, with sewn binding. In point of fact, it is bound better than many Study Bibles and leather bound editions today – something to consider.


Conclusions


I first encountered the ESV a little after the turn of the millennium. At the time, it seemed like a curious offering; I had no idea where it had come from or what it hoped to achieve. I noted, however, that it sided with the LXX over the Masoretic in its reading of Deuteronomy 32:8 (a wise decision). I thought it would be interesting to see where the translation goes. In that short time, it has become, as it originally claimed, a standard among available English translations. It is impossible to convey how well established the ESV has become among readers and among churches with the freedom to evaluate versions of the bible for congregational use. Given that this is a student version, I cannot say what features are provided in the study or personal editions. I suspect, based upon the reviews circulating, the personal and study editions are worth consideration when looking for an edition of the Bible. Returning to this edition, Crossway has published an edition I would not hesitate to recommend for anyone who wants to begin a more sustained engagement with Scripture and the foundational elements of Christian theology.

Suffice it to say, I would like to see more of the ESV. There are a myriad of editions coming from Crossway (the copyright holder), Cambridge University Press, R L Allan, and Schuyler. Simply put, the ESV’s growth continues and justly so.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Origin of Lady Wisdom

"Yahweh created me, first-fruits of his fashioning,
before the oldest of this works." - - - Proverbs 8:22 (New Jerusalem Bible)

For those with the dedication, eye for detail, and a voracious reading appetite, there is always something to be gleaned from the judicious textual notes provided in the fully annotated editions of the New Jerusalem Bible. For those with background in the ancient languages, there is enough material for you to go back and trace the logic behind a given decision.

In the passage cited above, the NJB follows the Septuagint in translating the Hebrew root. The root can be translated variously as "to possess/acquire", "to father/begat" or "to create." The LXX's reading (ektisen), to which the NJB looks to clarify the Hebrew text, seems justified based upon the history of the Greek text and parallel Semitic literature. One necessarily thinks of the verb bara as the principle example of verbs meaning "to create" in Biblical Hebrew.

The traditional Western translation (possessed) is attested since at least the production of the Vulgate. One would have to consult the Vetus Latina volumes to see if it goes back prior to the attempts to align Western translations with the Hebrew text.

So how valuable is the Septuagint's rendition of the text? It largely depends upon the scholar you consult or one's own reading of the Hebrew or the Greek. If one believes the LXX has a considerable claim to representing a different but equally authentic textual tradition for which the Hebrew originals have been lost, or if one sees the LXX as a reasonable cultural linguistic indicator of how Jews with knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek interpreted their texts, then leaning on the Septuagint is a justifiable decision. Admittedly, however, preference for the LXX reading of a given passage is often a seemingly esoteric exercise. While there are times the Hebrew text is so corrupt so as to leave little doubt one should consult the Septuagint, there are other times where the reasons for appealing to the Septuagint rest on an extremely fine argument, delicate in its construction and precise in its details.

This is mere speculation, but the significance of the LXX's reading may be very subtle and may throw some light into how the above passage was received in antiquity. Generally speaking, bara indicating a creating action of God that was entirely new, with no previous reference point. It is also one of the verbs in the Hebrew Bible used exclusively in relation to God. The Septuagint text may indicate that the use of the root in Proverbs provides a subtle clue that before creation of new things by God, Wisdom was already there, making her presence as either a creation event that is part of an unfathomable past or as indicating her co-eternal nature with God. Again, speculation, nothing more.

It should be noted that historical criticism sees the personification of Wisdom as a remnant of pre-Monotheistic religion. This is very much a matter or scholarly speculation; the bold face evidence appears somewhat more ambiguous. I could be very much mistaken, but it seems to me that we do not have a definitive account of Wisdom's role (as a personified figure) in pre-Christian Judaism. We know the figure features in certain literary works, notably the Wisdom of Solomon, and one could considerable work construction the narrative of Wisdom in these texts, perhaps going so far as to outline a tentative mythology. It remains to be seen how Wisdom, as a feminine figure, actually functioned in Jewish observance outside of a strict literary corpus.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia : A Reader's Edition

Anything that lends a hand towards utilizing the Hebrew text is always appreciated, and, frankly, much needed. Earlier this year, Hendrickson released the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia : Reader's Edition. This, like the Biblia Graeca, is a much needed tool at the right time.

As someone who cut his teeth on Hebrew while slogging through the BHS with a lexicon, I can tell you that the BHS Reader's Edition would have been an amazing edition to have had at my disposal a little over a decade ago.

If you're thinking of picking up Hebrew and are willing to invest studying the language, you should consider adding this as way of re-enforcing your studies and expanding your vocabulary. Again, anything that equips more readers to work with the Hebrew text (even on a limited basis) is to be lauded.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Jerusalem Bible Review

The New Jerusalem Bible, Hardcover


In its third millennium, Christianity finds itself needing to respond to a pervasive dismissal of religion in Western culture in addition to assimilating the results of historical and textual criticism into its presentation of self to a skeptical world. One of the obvious places to start is in the presentation of its canonical scriptures. The New Jerusalem Bible is a refined attempt at an English translation that can present the holy canon in an intelligent manner to a culture that has grown distant from Christianity. Ultimately, this edition succeeds in achieving its goal, even if there are a few minor criticisms to be noted.

The New Jerusalem Bible is the result of the renowned scholarship of the École Biblique in Jerusalem. This Dominican institution has been at the forefront of some of the most important scholarship in Biblical Studies. The New Jerusalem Bible therefore bears all of the hallmarks of the school; it is sound scholarship that avoids most liberal and conservative excesses. The tendency to avoid extremes is observable in both the translation itself (whether English or French) and the notes.

The translation uses moderately gender inclusive language where the original text justifies it, the literal Hebrew or Greek translation being provided in the study notes. The study notes and translation do not convey a strictly Roman Catholic bias. This is most noticeable with passages that have historically been used as the basis for points of Roman Catholic that do not have acceptance among the Orthodox or Protestant churches. As such, the NJB follows the LXX as opposed to the Vulgate in Genesis 3:15.  Romans 5:12 follows Orthodox and Protestant readings/translations of the Greek, the study notes providing a background in to the various ways the Greek text can be translated. Even at Matthew 16:18, the Roman Catholic interpretation is presented as an option, not the definitive interpretation. This is all in keeping with a biblical school that followed the principle of going where the evidence (archaeological, linguistic, textual etc.) led them, and rightly so. Any credible translation simply must account for the historical critical method and produce a text that appears, even to the religiously unaffiliated, as educated.

As any translation informed by historical scholarship should, the New Jerusalem Bible takes into account the variety of textual traditions when establishing its text. Readings from the LXX and Qumran are favored when the data warrants it. There are also a number of notations of other variant readings (Vetus Latina, Syriac, etc) throughout the study notes. The usage of other textual traditions, or even the notation of other traditions, is one of the appealing aspects the NJB. The aim of text critical studies is to establish the earliest text of the canon. As such, vernacular translations require a degree of fluency with the reconstruction of the biblical text. This is a considerable strength of the NJB. One could write a fascinating expose on the variant readings incorporated into the text of the NJB, the Dominicans at École Biblique were/are that knowledgeable of the manuscript tradition.

The New Jerusalem Bible's greatest strength is its treatment of the Old Testament, in particular its decision to transliterate the many divine names in the Hebrew text. Genesis and Job are appropriately filled with archaic names of God, vestiges of what may have been a more ancient Semitic pantheon. This adds a new depth to many familiar books as one becomes familiar with the change of names running through the text. In ancient Judaism, name conveyed being. As such, the various names of God found in the Hebrew text but so often glossed over in conventional translation are an occasion to step back from the narrative and discover what the name conveys about the Deity behind the Jewish and Christian traditions. Once again, the NJB's study notes lend assistance by providing insight into scholarly thinking concerning the meaning of these oftentimes forgotten names of God. The most notable is the use of Yahweh and El Shaddai (presumably an ancient divine name) in the text. Yahweh is used as frequently as it occurs in the Hebrew text. Familiar texts take on a new and perhaps more intimate quality with the use of the name of God, as opposed to the more impersonal "LORD" that has been customary in English Bibles.

The overall translation methodology is one which I came to appreciate more as I learned the original languages over the years. The NJB straddles the line between one-to-one formal equivalence and more interpretive dynamic equivalence. The goal is to produce a study bible that is intelligent and literary, in short, something that will credibly address the cultural challenges before Christianity in the post-modern world. As translators, we naturally quibble with some of the decisions, yet the justification for the NJB's methodology exists and will persist. This is, above all, an intelligent edition of the Bible for an age where access to education and information is rampant. Once again, the judicious text notes in the NJB supplement the translation where necessary, providing either a more literal translation where needed, or more detailed information behind a puzzling text. There are literally too many examples of this to write an accurate summary. For now, I will direct your attention to the NJB's treatment of Genesis 16:7-17:3 and the appearance of the divine names El Roi and El Shaddai. In both instances one can refer to the study notes for the linguistic background behind the text.

Conclusion

Years ago I walked into a Barnes & Noble looking for a Bible. I scanned row upon row of synthetic leather covers and then noticed the New Jerusalem Bible. It was a think blue hardcover with the image of the Transfiguration on the dust jacket. Reading back and forth between the text and the notes triggered the switch to learn the original languages and enter Biblical Studies. Languages have been learned (a few need a little rehabbing), many editions of the Bible have been read, but without fail I always recommend the NJB to the interested reader, regardless of previous exposure to the Bible. Christianity has entered its third millennium needing a comprehensive text that can provide an intelligent, literate and educated edition of the Bible. I strongly recommend the New Jerusalem Bible as an edition exemplifying such an edition - educated, intelligent, and literate. 

Most sincere thanks to Doubleday for providing this review copy.