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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

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The Expanded Bible Review

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The Expanded Bible I recently got a copy of The Expanded Bible, New Testament, published by Thomas Nelson. It's text is a modified New Century Version, and the "contributing scholars" are Tremper Longman III, Mark L. Strauss, and Daniel Taylor. I'm new to Strauss, but I've appreciated Longman's writings and thoughts as a biblical scholar for a long time. I first learned about him through Dan Allender (who happens to be a promoter on the dust jacket). Taylor, as far as I've known, is more of a writer than a biblical scholar, but has always worked with biblical material, is contibuting editor to Books & Culture, etc. I had my introduction to Taylor at the Calvin Faith & Writing Conference years ago.

In any case, this is a very interesting resource, and I've already found it quite useful. What these writers/ scholars have done is take the New Century Version and then expanded it within the text to include alternative translations for words or phrases, literal translations of the words, the traditional translation (read KJV), comments, references and textual variants. Rather than have some of these within the footnotes, or expanded explanations (as in a Study Bible), these are included within the text. Doing this allows the reader to see the translation decisions that need to be made, or the possible other meanings, textures of the text, etc. It also allows the reader to see both the formal equivalence possibilities (favoring a more literal translation) and functional equivalence models (favoring words that convey meaning rather than being literal) - choices which most translations make and you never see.

What I appreciate about the Expanded Bible is the ability to really see what's going on a little better without a) having to go to multiple translations or b) having to go back to the original language. Particularly for those who do not have training in Greek or haven't studied the textual variants or semantic range of words or idiomatic renderings, this can be a great help for Bible Study or teacher preparation.

One thing that may be lacking here is a more helpful explanation of textual variants as well as translation in general. There is a good, short explanation of the difference between a formal and functional model, but more information in the introduction could help those who pick this up and haven't been introduced to the issues. What I find in most churches is a relative lack of knowledge about how the bible has been contructed, about additional manuscripts, scribal errors, the decision-making process of most translators (older, harder reading, etc.)

However, overall, I think this is a great addition to or prequel to a Study Bible. It allows you to get into the text with more texture without getting into someone else's decisions about what the correct reading is, or someone else's interpretation. With any translation, many decisions have been made. With a study bible, there is lots of commentary on interpretation.

I would not probably use this Bible as a normal "reading" bible. I would find all the symbols and extra information distracting, but in the right uses, it can be really helpful. I think an Old Testament Version would be great.


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