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I should point out that my church uses the NRSV as a pew bible, and prays the Lord's prayer accordingly - 'do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from the evil one'.


Hi Damian,

Thanks for chiming in here.

I'm impressed that a NRSV congregation prays "deliver us from the evil one." Here's why: NRSV congregations tend to be allergic to the notion of personal, transcendent evil. In NRSV settings by and large, Satan and his friends are rarely referred to, not out of fear of incurring their wrath, but on the basis of a demythologization principle.

So it's a bit paradoxical that in such a setting, the Lord's Prayer is recited in a version which describes evil as a supernatural being.


I agree with you on the ESV in upholding traditional wording. I'm a strong proponent that bibles should serve different functions. A bible optimized for public reading has to meet different and arguably opposite criteria of one for bible study. But the ESV claims to be accurate, "and that remains trustworthy and true to the original words breathed out by God."

My feeling is for the kinds of liturgical reading you suggest just dial direct and use the KJV. You are going for the sound of the words of their meaning and the KJV crushes the ESV in terms of "sounding like the bible". Certainly though the NRSV is slightly worse than the ESV in this regard, but so what? If the intent is to teach what the bible says the ESV hinders this by mistranslation, if the intent is to merely capture emotional force with some vague allusions to meaning the KJV is much more forceful and likely always will be.

In trying to be both faithful to tradition and accurate they have produced a bible which is neither and moreover at least on some issues objectively less accurate than the KJV.

John Meunier

Is this a living debate many places?

In my neck of the woods the choice is NIV/NRSV.

I'm a little perplexed by your blanket comment about "NRSV congregations," too.

Since your argument seems to have to do with what strikes the ear as familiar, then I am curious why you don't endorse the KJV or NKJV as they go all the way.


It seems the author's argument in support of ESV is that the ESV language is more familiar to English speakers and matches popular Christian tradition, whereas NRSV reflects more of the original Greek and Hebrew context in which the Bible's words were written.

As a Christian with a relationship with Jesus, won't I get to know my God better by reading sources closer to the original meaning than by reading interpretations colored by a tradition which may have inadvertently obscured some of Christ's witnesses?

I think your argument hinges on the question of "what is the Bible used for?" If it is for making worship in the American context easier, then pick an ESV. If it is for pointing readers to Christ and His context, pick NRSV.

Doug Chaplin

John, my response to this and the previous post became so long that I gave it its own home on my site. I'm not trying to start a different conversation, however, only offer a different take on this one from a slightly different ecclesial and linguistic community


OK, I just shot more time on this post and its links than I planned! Gotta finish lunch and get back to work. But before I go:

As CD-Host makes abundantly clear on the post you linked, his real beef with ESV is his perception of an anti-feminine political agenda. I find this odd because what turned me off to the NRSV, which I otherwise greatly enjoyed, was its political agenda of de-genderization. While it usually comes through with harmless stuff like "brother or sister" instead of "brother" for adelphos and its variants, in some cases (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:6-8) they dispense with the filial relationship altogether and just translate it as "believer" (which fits with the individualistic, non-relational notion of faith in America, but hardly with the Body of Christ).

Likewise in the O.T., Mike, where I'd imagine you might weigh in on accuracy, Genesis 1:26-27 are translated "humankind." I have no real knowledge of the Hebrew so I'll defer to you on the accuracy (or not) of that translation.

But as someone who does NOT want to see women demeaned and oppressed, and who is, while not a crusading egalitarian, not a crusading complementarian either, to see such a strong political decision override concerns for faithful translation finally got to be too much for me. I find it interesting that CD-Host's critique of ESV is based primarily in the politics of that same debate, from many far more strident than I who clearly reacted (and not necessarily with gentleness or respect) to the politics of NRSV.

Now, CD-Host has been candid about his own agenda too: "But what I'm really doing is building up towards a treatment of the infamous "malakoi arsenokoitai"" (cf comment #2 on the Isaiah 7:14 post). Now, I'm all for anybody studying the Bible, even if I'm not crazy about their agenda. But it's pretty obvious that CD-Host's "hatred" (his word) of ESV has a political rather than a linguistic root. It's actually rather strange, because most of his posts are quite academic and thoughtful.

And finally (only partly related) I see--or at least I think I see--both in your posts and CD-Host's, a clear preference for the A.D. 100 Masoretic text over the 200 B.C. LXX. While I understand that there are literary nuances to be conveyed in Hebrew, that are different from those available in Greek (as can be said of any two languages), I'm a little confused as to why the relative weight given to texts that differ in age by 300 years. Since you both seem to acknowledge the reality of scribal errors, it seems to me the older testimony--even in a secondary language--might carry a tad more weight in places where the meaning differs. What am I missing here?


Oh, one more thing.

NRSV’s greater commitment to the sense the biblical texts presumably had apart from the meaning they acquired once contextualized in Judaism and Christianity makes it a better choice as a Bible for profane use, as the base text, for example, in an introduction to biblical literature course at a state university.

Really? Given the ubiquity of biblical allusions in even secular English literature, it would seem to me that using the version from which the allusions were derived would be more enlightening. And most of those allusions in the last 400 years would have come from KJV.


Just one more, I promise. You're the Hebrew expert, not I, but something tells me that the NRSV translation of Gen. 2:18 ("a helper as his partner"), while politically more palatable, is less accurate than the ESV's (and everybody else's) "a helper suitable for him." True?



There is no reason I know of to question "humankind" as a translation for adam. In fact, 30,000 girls who had never touched a man, are designated as "adam" on the basis of the fact that they are human. Numbers 31 I think.

Another interesting comparison is in John 1:18.

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. NRSV

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. ESV

I think the NRSV better reflects the original.

And adelphoi was the normal way to refer to siblings in Greek. One can read that Cleopatra and Ptolemy are adelphoi, as well as Electra and Orestes. This is the regular Greek idiom for brothers and sisters. The meaning of adelphoi in any Greek lexicon includes "brothers and sisters." It is not simply that it is harmless, but that it is also accurate. I find the NRSV more accurate overall although I prefer the langauge of the KJV for many occasions.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.


Hi Dan. The word "hatred" came from the "ESV haters". I was making a linguistic play on the phrase. It is a reply to John's editorial. That being said.... yeah I do hate what the ESV stands for.

Now onto the meat and the whole gender neutral issue. Lets take a phrase in modern day English:

1) I would like all the people in this room to stand
2) I would like all the men and women in this room to stand
3) I would like all the men in this room to stand
4) I would like all the males in this room to stand

No question that #1 and 2 is gender inclusive and #4 is gender exclusive. #3 is ambiguous in English by itself. If I were to say it I would expect the women to stay seated. In other words I would expect them to interpret it the same way as #4 because I don't use "men" as a synonym for people commonly. In other words there is an implication that if I'm not using #1 or #2 what I mean is #3.

On the other hand. I know people who do use man or men freely. I got a letter from a PM recently, "I want the man who wrote this code block to fix it" and he was knowingly referring to a woman. From him I would expect the women to stand.

The ambiguity of #3 is ceasing to exist in standard English. Moreover attempts to use it are considered rude. That is using men as a synonym for people carries with it a tone of disrespect. The KJV by always using this and being written in old fashioned language is able to capture the ambiguity.

The ESV by converting many of the KJV's references to people makes the remaining ambiguous references much much stronger. I had an extended debate on 1Tim 3:12, Titus 1:6 "husband of one wife" or "person with one spouse" (.i.e. non polygamist or perhaps never divorced). The Greek is ambiguous, while the English is not. You cannot in modern day English say "husband of one wife" to refer to a woman with only one husband. So that when people read the ESV they see an unambiguous command and not a gender ambiguous phrase (i.e. a #3). Coming from the KJV they might see it, coming from the ESV they don't.

That is the real problem with "gender accurate" is that it isn't accurate. In 2009 English using the word "men" to represent humanity doesn't necessarily work. Now the reality of the changes in English is uncomfortable for conservatives. Because
1) person with one spouse is unquestionably implying female as well as male
2) husband of one wife is unquestionably about a man

so they are being forced to choose in places where the Greek doesn't choose. But if the Greek is ambiguous I see no reason to deliberately translate in the way most harmful to woman. Why not translate in the way supportive and loving of them? That is to say I don't think the NRSV goes nearly far enough. It is 20 years old after all.



For myself, I don't believe that 1 Tim. 3:12 is a good example of gender neutrality in the Greek. It could be, I suppose, but I feel that Greek scholarship would not necessarily support that. However, I am unaware of any Greek scholar who would claim that adelphoi does not explicitly mean all the brothers and sisters as a group.

I do agree with John strongly that the factor of familiarity is in favour of the ESV. This is one reason why I would actually like to see it edited to remove some of the neologisms with reference to women, Junia, for example, and men only in many passages.


CD-Host, I appreciate your response. And where the terms in Greek are appropriately gender-neutral, I certainly don't have a problem with them being so translated into English. I think, BTW, that there are compelling cases for women actually in leadership in the early church, not least Phillip's daughters who were prophetesses, and Priscilla who seems (at times at least) to be the powerhouse half of the Priscilla/Aquila duo.

But I think they got sloppy (and revealed their motives as political rather than faithful translation) in 1 Cor. 6 (referenced above) by substituting the filial "brothers and sisters" (if you want both genders) for the non-relational "believer." That, to me, smacks of abandoning a key doctrinal point--familial community shouldn't be taken to secular law--for the sake of a much more individualistic, but gender-neutral word...and I think that American churches in general are a great illustration of what happens when faith gets so individualized the community of the Body gets lost.

In general, I agree that "mankind" used to be a gender-neutral word, and due to unfortunate extremists on both sides, it became corrupted. I can be sad that PC has cheapened the English language, but nothing is to be gained by bemoaning what is well and truly lost.

But just as I resist the updating of Shakespeare--I'd rather see notes explaining the context of things that we find offensive today that weren't so then--I resist imposing such a rigid blanket of PC over the biblical text that its nuance gets lost. There's more than just the issue of boys and girls in there, and I'm afraid that by making everything out to be about boys and girls, both the liberal egalitarians and the conservative complementarians have lost a great deal of richness.


And thank you, Suzanne. I'm not arguing for the ESV over against the NRSV. I actually carry in my Palm Pilot:

ASV (1901)
Nestle 27 Greek
Reina Valera Spanish
Kiswahili (NT-all I could get free)

. . .and once in a while I refer to each. I frequently switch back and forth to get alternate readings when I am in a discussion, or in church. I think any one translation as the "gold standard" is likely a mistake, and I have found helpful insights at one time or another in all of these.


"But just as I resist the updating of Shakespeare"

That's all right then. I realize now that we are not having a conversation about fidelity to the original languages.


I didn't mean that to sound abrupt. I appreciate your point of view about language. I am traditional myself.


Hi everyone,

I see that everyone is having a great time. I've been away most of the day.

Whether or not the Tyndale-Geneva-KJV tradition, including its continuations in RSV, NRSV, and ESV, is deemed part and parcel of the work of the Holy Spirit, gifts to the Church catholic, will depend on a lot of things.

As a Nicene Creed Christian whose God is alive and kicking today, not just 1500 years ago, I believe the tradition is anointed by the Spirit. Not to the exclusion of the NIV-TNIV-NLT tradition, or among Catholics, the NAB tradition, and still other translation traditions, but alongside of them.

I have little in common with those who think that defamation of any of these Bible translations, none of which are perfect, all of which nevertheless are being used by God to bring people to salvation, serves a godly purpose.

In that sense, Suzanne and CD-Host, I'm afraid your polemics backfire with me. You convinced me of the need to take a translation like NRSV, which I treasure, down from its pedestal, because of your ideological search-and-destroy rhetoric over against a sister translation of NRSV that you abhor based on your ongoing war with that part of the Christian family which treasures it.

Both of you, I'm guessing, are ex-fundamentalists with a huge axe to grind. That's your story, and I expect you to stick to it.

Those outside of your demographic are no less entitled to their stories. The ESV, like the RSV before it, is succeeding as have all other translations in the KJV tradition in communicating God's Word to the people of God very admirably. Not in your demographic, but in all others. Its success is enormous, and rightfully so. You can spit on this success all you want. It won't change a thing.

I would not recommend ESV to those who are recovering from a poisonous journey within fundamentalism or evangelicalism, anymore than I would recommend the NAB to someone recovering from a poisonous journey within the Church of Rome, or the NRSV to someone who has figured out that liberal Christianity is an empty suit.

I figure, and here I might be wrong, that those who call for a return to KJV are engaging in smokescreen rhetoric. I serve in United Methodist churches. My policy is that I let the appointed reader of Scripture for Sunday read from whatever translation they treasure most (the ESV, in a previous congregation, was the pew Bible; in my current congregation, the NIV is the pew Bible). The only reader I have had who would read from the KJV was an English professor, and I was delighted when she did. She made the KJV sing. She enunciated in such a way that it was understandable. She might even explain an obscure word or two before she began to read. But she is the exception that proves the rule. The KJV just does not work for most people. They cannot digest it. It's as simple as that.

But if continuity with KJV is an objective, ESV is an obvious and excellent choice. All of this stuff about "brothers" and "sisters" are things that average people never notice, or if they do, they just chalk it up as one more example - there are many, after all - of quaint, archaic language in ESV, of the kind they were utterly familiar with already in RSV if they grew up with that.

Only geeks read the ESV preface (I am a geek). Only geeks who are hell-bent on defaming ESV read the translation and the preface as limiting atonement to men.

For the rest, I am aware that there are NRSV congregations in full blossom with a strong commitment to historic Christianity. But I think they are rare.

Furthermore, I wish to emphasize, the basic premise of NRSV runs counter to what the church is, a living organism that has an uninterrupted history in which God in Christ has always been at work. NRSV's hit-and-miss pole-vaulting over two millennia of traditioning in translation (very hit-and-miss, because NRSV after all retains a great deal of the Tyndale-Geneva-KJV tradition, as if to prove Paul and Calvin right, that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable) stands in contradiction to the basic existential facts of the church in the world from a believer's standpoint.

When I teach Hebrew Bible, of course, I want people to understand what Psalm 23 once meant, ex hypothesi, in ancient Israel. But then I turn around and use it at a funeral in terms of its canonical transformation within Judaism first and Christianity second such that we do indeed walk in the the valley of the shadow of death, and we do indeed desire to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. But NRSV is useless for that purpose.

That is a mark against NRSV. Its ferocious but far from consistent commitment to reconstruction of what the text meant once upon a time might have been an effective tool in the ongoing task of the reformation of the church. If it were serving that purpose, then I would welcome it more warmly. But I don't see this happening. People who preach from the NRSV too often seem intent on preaching against the very texts they are reading. Once this kind of dynamic has kicked in, you have a religious tradition in the process of self-implosion. It is a sort of death-wish fulfillment. I don't want to be in that number.


Sue --

I respect your opinion so obviously I'm a bit curious. Obviously the point of mentioning Titus 1:6 / 1Tim 3:12 was to talk a passage which is on the borderline. Are you saying you would exclude something like the CEV's handling of this passage or are you concurring that it is ambiguous or more like almost certainly male only but neutral is theoretically possible or...?

And if you wouldn't mind elaborating, why?


Dan -

I collected the evidence regarding Priscilla. As for female leadership in the early church there is no question about it. Some of the early church father's attacked the practice, so it was definitely happening. Further by the mid 2nd century we have the Thecla cult (which became the convent movement later centuries) formed which is a female only congregational movement (more detail).

As for brother vs. believer. I tend to be liberal on the translator's right to change metaphors, in all but the most literal translations. I understand the frustration with the level of formality in the NRSV & ESV in that neither is close enough; which is why I like the combination of a very dynamic (like Gaus) and a very literal (like Brown & Comfort). Metaphors don't work and in fact can mean the opposite from language to language. So I see your point, but brethren, sibling... I don't like brother because brother could exclude women and I think they were intended.


John --

I agree that either bible can lead to salvation. There are even worse translations that do lead to salvation. But I will say that deliberate lies in Christian writings were what shattered my faith and the faith of many other people I know. In my case the first crack wasn't the bible but rather a bold faced lie by Josh McDowell and lies in "creation science". But once I started to questioning the mistranslations in the NIV fed the fire, "these people are lying about everything". If your bible is lying about "almah" what reason do you have to trust it about the verses related to salvation by faith? It is what made me knowledgeable but it is also what made me reject evangelical Christianity.

So there is an accurate psycho-analysis.

Now in terms of general readers.... heck yeah they notice. In 2006 Barna did a study of people under 30 and their attitudes towards Christianity and the top complaints were (these percentage are the population so it includes Christians):

* antihomosexual 91%
* judgmental 87%
* hypocritical 85%
* old-fashioned 78%
* too political 75%
* out of touch with reality 72%
* insensitive to others 70%
* boring 68%

I don't see how the ESV counters any of that.



The Barna survey sounds on target to me. I deal with all the subjects mentioned head-on in confirmation classes, in sermons, and in private conversations. Of course, I do not hold to your views on human sexuality and gender construction.

I feel for you if you were fed Josh McDowell. I can't stand him anymore than you. I also agree with you about almah, but I do not attribute malicious intent, nor does it change the fact that the appropriation of Isaiah, "the fifth Gospel," by the Christian movement, of which almah has been a useful hook, is imbued with wisdom and has helped make Christianity a positive and transforming force in the world.

Yes, your dishonesty charge about religious apologetics is not completely off, though I feel that the average amount of dishonesty intrinsic to apologetics in American political discourse, including your own if you are an Obamabot, and my own, if I had been a Bush enthusiast (I never was), is far greater.

In fact, I judge you to be more emotionally intelligent than you seem to, based on your auto-analysis. That is, in light of what you've said, I regard your rejection of the historic Christian faith on the basis of ill-begotten apologetics to be an insufficiently grounded decision on your part, a defense mechanism rather than an act of moral courage.

Sorry if I have taken your thoughts more seriously than you wished that I would. It is in my nature to do that.


John --

Just to clarify I didn't reject Christianity because of ill-begotten apologetics. What it did do was shatter my faith in the teachers. In other words I went from a receptive student to a cautious analyst. It put all the supplemental material back on the table. In my case, and an important one in our discussion of the ESV, the next piece to fall off was the consistency between the OT (Hebrew) and the NT. The verses (if one used the Hebrew) seemed violently ripped from their context, and misquoted. Now had the NIV footnotes been honest "for reasons of tradition (sensus plenior) we are using the LXX, the Hebrew actually reads ABC" that wouldn't have happened. Had the footnotes talked about Hellenistic Judaism and not Palestinian Judaism what was really going on would have made sense.

But yes, I was genuinely horrified when I learned about Christological translation of the OT. I had been told what I was reading was a faithful translation of the Hebrew written thousands of years ago. That these bible passages were written as they were understood by Palestinian Judaism (i.e. Pharisees), no one had ever mentioned to me Hellenistic Judaism and the key role it played.

To me this went well beyond Josh McDowell's propaganda, they (my religious teachers) weren't lying about science and history they were lying about the bible. And then of course inside the footnotes of the bible (NIV study bible) there was the bogus history, and archeology ..... So I couldn't trust the NIV anymore. I could go through the whole history as piece by piece by piece my faith fell off for essentially the reason of being propagandized. Josh McDowell and creation science didn't destroy my faith, but they were the first crack and the crack kept spreading.

And I do believe that had I been in an NRSV culture, there wouldn't have been Josh McDowell, there wouldn't have been a creation science and while I might disagree with the NISB/Oxford Study Bible / Harper Collins, I would never have come to believe they were deliberately misrepresenting the truth to me.

As for being less mature, at the time I was much younger and thus less mature. I don't disagree. Today I don't think I'm capable of the sort of trust that would be required to feel the sort of betrayal I felt then. A recent comparison might be the revelations that the US torture program was created for the purpose of collecting false information to feed to congress. I was upset, but I didn't feel personally betrayed. I'm much more capable of being circumspect about it today than I was then. I'm not sure if that is better or worse, but it is more mature.

I will say though that my wife and I have had a policy of never lying to my daughter which we've kept for 10 years. And since you are a parent I think you'll appreciate how difficult that vow is to keep. So maybe that youthful enthusiasm for truth still lives on. :-)



Thank you for taking the time to respond, and with considerable honesty.

I have a number of severe objections to make to your presentation. First of all, the way you throw around the word "lying." It has a pre-Freudian cast. Your use of the term seems to be your way of exorcising demons. There is power in your use of it, I don't deny that. But it is the same kind of power the spell of an exorcist has for those who so believe.

I don't think "lying" is descriptive. It lacks the requisite neutrality the term has in psychoanalysis.
The problem you've identified is about the way people process information.

Did you ever hear those crazy interviews with people on the streets of New York during the last election season? They were a hoot. The interviewer, with the authority we grant a person in that context, asked person after person profiled as Obama supporters what they thought of Barack Obama's take on this or that, and then the interviewer would quote as Obama's take what was exactly John McCain's take. The defense of Obama's (faux) take was universal, heartfelt, and sometimes very clever.

The interviewer also succeeded in getting people to defend Sarah Palin as Obama's choice for vice-president. I'm not making fun of this. This is how everyone processes information and the world, according to binary oppositions and graded hierarchies which are like flow charts: one wrong turn on the chart, and everything is messed up from that point on. We all do it, though we are usually aware of it going on in the way *others* process information, but not so self-aware.

For example, your take on the torture program strikes me as just the kind of thing a left-wing partisan Democrat like yourself might say. I write your comment off immediately as an expression of ideological projection. And if you wrote off my rejection of your position as ideological projection in turn, I would not be surprised.

It requires a great deal of hard work and commitment to vulnerability to get past this kind of impasse. And if one or more of the dialogue partners during the conversation chooses to leave open and fresh wounds received in the past, the dialogue becomes an exercise in the sharing all around of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Instead of starting a constructive conversation, that effectively ends it.

I'll be very frank and say I don't see you as a more honest person than the people responsible for NIV. I don't deny that you have caught on to some problems in the way NIV people tend to process information. But you seem unaware that NRSV people have problems of their own of the same nature.

You yourself have problems of the same nature. So do I.

If I knew what my problems were, I would cease to be human. I would have attained omniscience. But I have not, and neither have you.

Instead, but this is just my opinion, I fear that, since you cast out the demon of evangelicalism, seven liberal demons have taken their place. Though that is unfair to what the terms "evangelical" and "liberal" stand for (both good things, in my opinion). In reality, your approach seems like that of bad evangelicalism in reverse, as if you were in some sense an unreconstructed fundamentalist.


CDH, I'd like to respond from (I think) a less-conservative, but no less concerned, point than John's. I sense that you threw out Jesus because a lot of folks who talked about Jesus were either distorting the truth (possible) or misled themselves (at least equally possible). That there is a lot of disingenuousness among the houses of faith, neither I--nor John, I suspect--will deny. But even assuming the worst: just because Evangelicals and fundamentalists have lied about Jesus (presuming they have), only means THEY were wrong, not that JESUS was/is.

Now, maybe you've rejected "Christianity" and its baggage without rejecting Christ. I don't know. But they are not one and the same.

And honestly, it seems a bit odd for you to argue for your agenda (gender equality, defense of gays in the church) and then turn around and lambast those who ALSO have an agenda that differs from yours, simply on the basis that they have an agenda.

I think it's safe to say I could easily find places where I agree with you and not John; it's also unquestionable that I'll find others where I agree with John and not you. I find that I usually manage to upset "conservatives" and "liberals" with about equal aplomb.

But all labels aside, I appeal you not to reject Jesus just because a lot of uninformed people--as well as some true idiots and liars--have presumed to wave his banner.


OK lets get more objective. I was being sharing oriented because you were asserting that the real reason for the opposition was some past abuse. And I was addressing the fact that these details do matter in apologetics; that the NRSV and the ESV are not equal in this regard.

The criteria I've established for translation I think is very reasonable:

Accurate translation requires faithfulness first and foremost. In the case of formal that means capturing the original languages as best as possible. In the case of dynamic that means capturing the meaning as best as possible.

The ESV and the NRSV are roughly equal in terms of both being clearly formal but not literal (i.e. a formal translation but not an interlinear). The NRSV is more accurate the ESV more traditional as your original post shows.

Now those are the facts. The rhetoric above that breaking slightly more than the ESV with the KJV translation philosophy makes the NRSV unsuitable for liturgical use still strikes me as completely overblown. If you want consistency with the KJV for liturgical use the KJV is readably available. If you want your parishioners to know what the bible says the accuracy wins out. Combine that with the wealth of good study tools and the advantages become more profound. Study tools exist for the ESV but they are so interlaced with propaganda that it becomes a serious problem.

I actually found the John McArthur doing the Sideon vs. Tyre argument from McDowell (including the same 19th century refs)l . Tyre currently has about 120,000 inhabitants. McArthur has been to Israel numerous times which means he was within a short biking distance from Tyre. What processing error do you think led him to conclude (and I'm quoting here), "No man could have looked down the corridor of time and seen that Tyre would be destroyed, never to be rebuilt and that Sidon would stand. Only God could." Or "However, God said the mainland city would never be rebuilt--and it never has. " when there is no prophecy about the mainland and Tyre has always referred to the island. the "mainland city" near Tyre was a suburb called Ushu which incidentally has also been rebuilt.

Call me liberal biased, but no I don't see this sort of stuff in liberal bibles and liberal commentaries. I may have huge disagreements with their conclusions but they don't falsify facts. In other words I don't consider the situation symmetrical at all.



Thanks for the conversation, and you are welcome to continue it if you wish.

You will not be surprised, I hope, if I think that my New Interpreter's Study Bible (NRSV), which I enjoy very much, is just as filled with propaganda as my the ESVSB and NLTSB's are. I enjoy the latter two Study Bibles just as much as NISB..

Each of the three expresses the views and ethos of a specific coalition of faith communities. Each coalition has strengths and weaknesses. The demographic health of the various coalitions is also well-known. The truth-question is another matter, but there again, you award the prize to the NRSV IMHO on insufficient grounds.

It is indeed the case that liberals and conservative tend to make different kinds of mistakes in the processing of information and in evaluating views in cognitive dissonance with their own. There are even excellent studies on those differences, but I can't offhand remember the authors thereof.

For the rest, as I've shown in specific instances, the ESV is both more traditional and more accurate than the NRSV. In other cases, though I have not shown it, precisely the opposite is true.

It is also the case that NRSV is more accurate in the sense of ignoring the canonical sense a biblical text acquired over time a bit more often.

(The NRSV also "lies," to use your diction, in the sense of papering over the sense the text probably had in origin often enough. Paul Jewett, a maverick liberal, has criticized NRSV precisely on this basis. If you wish, I can post on this.)

But is this kind of accuracy a feature or a bug? For a church Bible, the case is worth making that it is sometimes a bug.

You are off a bit it seems to me when you claim that NRSV is just as committed to the "literal as possible, as free as necessary" principle as ESV. NRSV is less committed to that principle, based on observations I've made. The felt need to pluralize in order to avoid 3rd person masculine pronouns is just one example. If that doesn't sound right to you, let me know, and I will write up some posts in that sense.


Dan --

Thanks for the concern. I'm trying not to tun this into CD-Hosts "A pilgrims regress". :-)

There were still a bunch of steps between rejecting the NIV and rejecting Christ. But that had nothing to do with translation anymore. In some sense the NRSV vs. ESV thread is really about liberal vs. conservative Christianity. I never actually stopped in liberal Christianity, so my personal story becomes kinda irrelevant.

I often think now that if I had encountered the Methodist Church earlier in my journey I might have stopped there; today the Wesleyan Quadrilateral is one of my core hermeneutics. But I hadn't been given a broad education, I was trained as a good non denominational baptist :-) The 5 solas defined Protestantism and sola scriptura implied perspicuous and self-interpreting. The struggle for the next 2 years or so, was reconciling the old testament, and the prophesies. I became a sort of neo-Marcionist theologically who believed that Jesus was the savior, but not the messiah. I started educating myself about the history of the church, how people had come to believe what they believed. If you can't trust the church you can't trust the creeds, so I started looking at both sides. I was sort of a late 20th century Theosophist. And I can keep going on how I moved further and further away but the point was not my personal quest but rather the effect of an NRSV culture vs. and ESV culture with respect to salvation. Educating people in alternatives and a spirit of openness would have probably made the difference. It is impossible to know.


Did my reply to Dan get moderated? And if so, why? I can't think of any objectionable content in it at all?


John --

Fell free to delete the question about moderation post. I had trouble with the blog interface seeing the 2nd layer of comments. As a tip you may want to make the arrow bigger.

As for "church bible" I think it makes more sense to talk about the variety of activities of a church: casual bible study, devotional reading, liturgical use, public reading, deep bible study, sermons....

So my list:
casual bible study -- NRSV because of more accurate materials, I'd definitely go with a dynamic translation over either.

devotional reading -- Both are sub standard, they read to slow. I'd go with a paraphrase here.

liturgical use -- I don't disagree with the ESV has a slight edge. But again the KJV is so much better than either in using "churchy language" that its hard to make the case for the ESV here. Also the REB reads so much better than either I'd tend to go that.

public reading -- Both can be awkward, the NRSV slightly less so. The Voice is so far the best translation I've seen for this. Otherwise the NLT or CEV because they keep sentence length down.

deep bible study -- Clear cut win for the NRSV. I'm not even sure you would debate this one. Here is where accuracy really matters and quality materials really matter.

sermons -- I'd say it is a tie, but use in sermons is going to look like endorsement and the politics of the ESV are well evil.

As for the comments about different types of errors, yes I would be interested in the links about different types of errors. At least from my standing point you haven't really made an argument that liberals do the same kind of thing just as much. I'm not seeing it, it seems very one sided to me. I just gave you a good example to work with. Do you really find McArthur's treatment defensible? Let me just show you a link where I picked on a non ESV bible for essentially the same sort of factual inaccuracy but in much greater quantity than you would find in any of the ESV's I know of HCSB Apologetics Study Bible (review).

I can blast liberals for things like: impressive ignorance about history or a contempt for ideas that aren't current. Conservatives are much better about engaging people outside their time frame respectfully. But to have propaganda you have to have an intent to deceive and that is what I find entirely lacking in the NISB. I don't agree with everything they say, but I do believe the NISB authors agree with everything they say.



I'm not going to repeat my previous objections to your framing of the debate, but now you have qualified your earlier formulations, and if you qualified them a little bit more, we would not be far apart, except that your notion of what a "fact" is seems pre-Kuhnian and pre-Wittgensteinian to me. Your notion has a neo-positivist ring.

I don't entirely agree with your study Bible recommendations.

For Christians of whatever stripe, my first recommendation is the Jewish Study Bible, and, for a template with respect to how to do exegesis, Michael Fishbane's volume on the Haftarot in the JPS Bible commentary series. He is attentive to the historical-critical meaning of the text, but that is only *a* point of departure. He integrates the historical-critical meaning into a symphony of meanings in which traditioned meaning from a variety of epochs is given the consideration and love it deserves.

All you seem to care about is what the Bible meant, insofar as we can reconstruct it, at the time its individual components were first written down. Or something like that. It is at that level that the NRSV in its revisioning engages the text. But that is way too limiting.

The Jewish Study Bible is much more attentive to the history of reception. Furthermore, the NJPSV translation incorporates insights from Jewish tradition wherever possible, as its translation team points out. Its translation is deliberately "traditioned." Really, NRSV is a traditioned translation too, insofar as it often preserves KJV-RSV renderings which reflect a specifically Protestant Christian construal of the Bible and its message.

I know, CD, that you reject fundamentalism, but your take on the Bible reminds me of the one fundamentalists have. That is, the Holy Spirit apparently left the church after the generation of the apostles only to come back again in their conventicles. They relate to the Bible as in "me, [their construct of] Paul, and the Holy Spirit." Since I am a Nicene Christian who believes in the holy, catholic church, that strikes me as heretical. I read the Bible in the presence of and in dialogue with the Church Universal. I read the Old Testament in the presence of the Jewish sages and in dialogue with the Church Universal.

That, BTW, is a great strength of the KJV tradition, preserved to a greater extent in ESV than NRSV. The translation choices of the KJV were made in full awareness of the history of interpretation, and without resort to the ridiculous modern premise that Church Fathers and the Jewish sages misunderstood the Bible whereas we moderns, who have lost the ability to read the texts canonically (in terms of a specific and highly ramified metanarrative), have rediscovered their true meaning.

What does it mean to read a text from the Old Testament in the context of the whole canon and within the coordinates of a specific Christian tradition? You have a first answer to those questions by using an ESV, NIV, or NLT Study Bible. That is, in an ESV, NIV, or NLT Study Bible, you have an entryway into the evangelical Christian tradition of reading the Bible. The Catholic Study Bible (NAB) serves the same purpose. The Orthodox Study Bible (NKJV, NT and Psalms) is analogous.

What does it mean to read an individual passage from the Tanakh in the context of
the entire Tanakh and the whole Jewish tradition? There the Jewish Study Bible is of help.

If instead you are interested in the *pre*-canonical meanings of the *components* of the Bible, what they meant in their *pre*-history, before inclusion and traditioning in metanarratives which eventually became those of rabbinic Judaism on the one hand and Nicene Christianity on the other, by all means, a HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV) is the way to go.


Well I will say the next time I have to defend the emerging church movement against people who argue that post modernism is incompatible with orthodoxy I'm going to give them your name :-) I generally consider myself a post-modernist but comparatively I'll plead guilty to neo-positivism, I concede I'm being more neo-positivist in my criticisms than you are.

Let me clarify a bit here on your comments regarding tradition. I think there is huge gap between these statements:

1) The greek text X means Y
2) Paul meant X when he said Y
3) The church has always taken Paul to mean X in passage Y
4) The church interprets Paul to mean X in passage Y

I have no objection to a bible being written in terms of #4. I have huge objections to conflating #1 with #3 or #4. In other words a church is free to say what they believe they aren't free to rewrite history. With respect to #4 I have no problem talking about the living church developing its theories over time, I'm a good Catholic. With respect to #1, yep I'm a fundamentalist. I expect bibles to be very careful about their language and not conflate those two.

Lets pick a low passion verse that to choose your example the Harper Collins screws up, 2Cor 12:2 "third heaven"

1) The greek text means "Venus". (i.e. in order they are: moon, mercury, venus, sun, mars, jupiter and saturn).
2) I think Paul meant Venus, but he was bringing with him a Hellenistic notion of layers of heaven in a metaphorical sense (as per the Secrets of Enoch). The third heaven would have been above the land of the Archons but not quite there with God, the abode of Raphael where great mysteries like the Tree of Life resides....
3) The church has always taken this to mean "with God" or "elevated / greatly honored" (and elevated or greatly honored is correct).
4) The modern church takes him to mean a vision of being with God.

I have no trouble with a bible saying in a note, "This is understood by the church as being a spiritual vision of being with God". I have a huge problem with a bible saying "The Greek means a place where God lives". The Greek means Venus, and Hellenists including Jews did not believe the 3rd heaven was where God lived.

Now in the case of Harper Collins and the Reformation Study Bible I think they were just being lazy. 20th and 21st century educated people don't know their astrology and they didn't bother to check. That doesn't make a false statement true, but it reduces the guilt. I freely bash all the major bible translations for screwing up Paul's frequent use of astrology. One of the reasons I gave this example because it is a perfect example of where the ESV is no worse than any of the major translations and I think if you look back over my writings you'll notice I'm as forgiving to the ESV as a I am to all the others because with regard to astrology, I think they are honestly mistaken. Lazy but mistaken. And not only that I'll even be more forgiving to the NLT Study Bible or the CEV Learning Bible because their audience doesn't need to get caught up in this level of detail.

Now the NISB actually gets this right. They explain this is being used in the sense of Jewish mysticism, they make no false claims about where God lives. And that is a perfect example of why I recommend the NISB.

Now, imagine that I believed the Harper Collins knew what 3rd heaven really meant and made this mistake on purpose? What would you call it? That is where the framing issue is coming from.

The problem with the ESV is they claim to be true to the Greek, not false to the Greek and true to conservative politics. The argument is whether this stuff that is used to harm women is in the bible or not. If you are saying it isn't there but should be then we are done discussing translations and the debate is pure politics. The Voice translation for example includes all sorts of material for readability that isn't in the original. Take Mark 3:13 "Jesus called together a select group of his followers and led them up...". But they shift fonts just like I did for stuff that they think that should be in the bible but isn't. Your example of Isaiah 1:6 and bleeding was a good example in the NRSV.

The ESV makes stuff up and then takes out advertisements about how other translations are being unfaithful to the text for not including their revisions. That is they quite explicitly claim to hold #1 not #4 as their standard.



Neo-positivist you are, indeed.

I've seen this vitriol before against the ESV. But, as you have made abundantly clear in other contexts, the reason behind all other reasons you hate the ESV has to do with your journey out of the kind of Christianity ESV represents. You have the wonderful animus typical of an ex-member of a religious or political formation toward his or her rejected mentors.

Very interesting exegetical stuff. On the details, you will not be surprised if I say that I have a web of agreements and disagreements with you, and one big non-exegetical disagreement: the liberty you concede yourself in giving non-evangelicals a free pass when they mess up exegetically, and the impossible standards to which, on the contrary, you hold evangelicals. Given the free pass you gave to TNIV, a thoroughly evangelical translation, I have no choice but to conclude that your actual litmus test is a version of political correctness.

You add insult to injury by implying that non-evangelicals have wonderful intentions (that is, they have the same intentions you do), whereas evangelicals are dishonest and make stuff up.

As an evangelical, I take your polemics as a back-handed compliment. We must be doing something right, for all our faults, given the blatantly one-sided criticism we attract.

I think you overlook a few things in your free passes and swipes.

(1) First of all, liberal Christians, when they interpret the Bible in accord with their politics, are not necessarily being true to the text, before or after its contextualization in the ongoing stream of the Christian faith. Far from it.

(2) Secondly, conservative Christians, evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox, are not necessarily wrong when they interpret the Bible in accord with their politics. Far from it.

You have arranged the furniture in your ideological living room such that these "minor" details are buried under the rug in the closet behind the sofa.

That's not very helpful in a dialogue context. Mutual vulnerability is a prerequisite to genuine dialogue.


There may be some confusion in your response. The Reformation Study Bible is an ESV by Ligonoir ministries. I gave them both the same free pass in this example.


I don't remember, CD, referring to your review of the Reformation Study Bible. I do remember referring to the positive review of TNIV you have given, which I took to be positive in general, not just in a particular detail. Perhaps I misread you there.

Perhaps I am confused about your take on the Reformation Study Bible. Do you recommend this ESV Bible to others? That's very kind of you, if you do, given the other things you have said.


OK so it is now confirmed we criss-crossed somewhere. Let me reconstruct this conversation from my POV

1) I make an argument that the ESV is especially inaccurate in its Greek translation.

2) You defend arguing that the ESV is consistent with tradition, and argue that the position I'm taking is fundamentalist.

3a) I argue for a distinction between what the Greek means, and the church teachings based on the Greek.

3b) By way of example I pick an example where the liberal bible you had mentioned (the Harper Collins) and an extreme conservative one (Reformed Study Bible) both make the same error. I indicate that in both cases I don't think there was malice but rather laziness.

4) You say that I'm holding the evangelical translation to a different standard, based on my reading of their intentions.

5) Based on (4) being a non sequitur I suspect you don't realize the Reformation Study Bible is evangelical and indicate that.

OK so I'll stop after the reconstruction since I'm not sure where the disconnect happened.



That's a hilarious reconstruction. I don't remember ever addressing (1). Sorry if I misled you! The same applies to (3a). Once again, I have no idea why you would think the flow of the argument included your node (3a). My (4) was based, not on (3b), but on other comments in which you call ESV and NIV people dishonest. Maybe you are backing away from that, which would be great by me.

As for (5), no, I even know some of the authors of the Reformation Study Bible personally. What I still can't figure out is if you wish to recommend this Bible to others. Apparently you are, which is nice of you.


Yep, I'll even praise the ESV for things they get right. You can see an example of that recommendation on BBB-Best uses for different bible versions.

As for the dishonesty. No I'm using the same standard for both liberals and conservatives, statements which the author knows to be factually false. And just for clarification the problems of dishonesty IMHO are mainly in the NIV study bible notes (especially the chapter introductions). I have mixed feelings about the translation but it most of those were corrected in the TNIV so I have less problems.

I gave the McArthur example to pick something I thought was a fairly clear cut case. I'd like to hear a plausible explanation for how that could have been an honest mistake. He's saying a with the population of Savannah doesn't exist after giving a detailed history of the city. This is the sort of thing that I wouldn't tolerate from liberals either. I just don't see any hypocrisy here.


Wow, CD. TNIV did not correct that much from NIV. So NIV is not too bad in your book either. I'm not familiar with examples of statements which the author knows to be factually false. I'm not sure how you know these things.

Please give two specific examples of what you are claiming from the NIV study notes, and evidence that the authors knew that what they were claiming was false.

Claims of dishonesty are seldom made in civil conversation. I am against such claims on principle. A very high standard of proof needs to be in play. I very much doubt that you can meet it.

You cannot shift the burden of proof onto the accused, by the way, as you do with MacArthur. He is innocent until proven guilty. Sorry, those are the rules of civil discourse, at least as I understand them.

On the other hand, if all you are saying is that someone like MacArthur makes factual errors, something you don't tolerate in liberals either, well, I'm more tolerant than you.

It's not factual errors that bother me so much as systemic errors. There I think liberal Christianity is more flawed than more conservative, classical versions thereof. I don't expect you to agree with me, but the systemic errors are the ones that are worth paying more attention to. For example, how much does the God of liberal Christianity have in common with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or the God of Jesus and Paul? Far less than I think conscionable, IMHO. Treasures old and new is the way to go, IMHO. I see liberals constantly throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


For example, how much does the God of liberal Christianity have in common with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

Very little, but I also don't think the God of conservative Christianity has much in common with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of Genesis is a tribal diety, "I am the only god you will worship" who is backing his tribe against other gods and other tribes in a very earthly sense. He is focused on a sacrificial system and a covenant of obedience. The differences between the liberal Christian conception of God and the conservative Christian one don't begin to span the spread of what Gods were like 3000 years ago.

This on top of the fact that as a matter of actual history (rather than biblical history) I don't think there was an Abraham, Isaac or Jacob.

As for MacArthur, I can point to more examples like this. But the fact that you can't come up with a plausible explanation I think wraps this up. If it were the only incident like this maybe something implausible had occurred, but there are dozens if not hundreds of similar statements. That combination of: unlikely to be accidentally false and repeated is my criteria for establishing intent. The Truth War is another example where we decides to write an entire book on postmodernism without as far as I can tell having read a single postmodern author or bothered to check any facts at all.

For that matter since you've been accusing me of hypocrisy, MacArthur is someone who has built a career on demonizing opponents:
The truth war
Charismatic Chaos
Right thinking
The gospel according to Jesus
Ashamed of the gospel

I would think as one of the foremost demonizes you would feel obligated to correct him. Lets turn this around for a second. By the standards you've established for civilized discourse this guy is way way over the line.



You are the first person on these threads to even mention MacArthur. He is not standard fare in the reading of academically-oriented Bible students. For all I know he is as reliable on his historical facts as is the guy who wrote the Da Vinci Code, who convinced John Shelby Spong that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

But I wouldn't call any of these people dishonest. Certainly not MacArthur. My differences with Spong, for example, are deep and wide. I admit I have to struggle to keep myself from thinking that Spong is a dishonest person. How couldn't he be, given the unbelievable stuff he believes in?

But in the end, I don't think he is. Both Spong and MacArthur, not to mention the Scientologists, are honest when they err. They all major in polemics, I'll grant you that. I assume that is what attracted you to MacArthur, since polemical apologists are a type of author you mention often.

Even if I have suspicions that someone is dishonest, it would not be fair to suggest as much, unless I had ironclad proof. But you have none, nor have you offered any. I note that you shift the burden of proof onto to someone like me who regards MacArthur as sincere unless proven otherwise. That shift is quite unacceptable.

If anyone on these threads argues that MacArthur gets something right whereas Fishbane or Levenson or Heschel got it wrong, then I'll perk up and take a look at the arguments. Somehow I don't see that happening.

I have grave and deep disagreements with you about who the God of Genesis is. On God, I am Pascalian and Kierkegaardian through and through. Whatever God of the philosophers you believe in, I have no interest in him. If that is the God who exists, why is he is worthy of worship? Answer me that. I do not understand.

Or perhaps your God is some kind of very large warm fuzzy. Personally, I use warm fuzzies as pillows. I don't worship them. Yuck.

I think it goes back to the fact that you are a neo-positivist. Personally, it's not clear to me how a positivist, paleo- or neo-, can be a theist of any sort. Maybe, just maybe, a deist.

As for history, Genesis deals in deep history, in which the life of an entire nation, spiritual and political, is collapsed into the life of a single patriarch, like Abraham or Jacob. This is history with a capital "H," the only kind of history worth paying attention to.

I have no idea what kind of history you are interested in. All of the great modern universal historians, from Gibbon to Toynbee and Collingwood, are interesting only because they are also highly ideological. The great historians of the Hebrew Bible had far fewer banal facts upon which to construct their understanding of the existential drama of the human race. In Genesis, they mostly had myths and legends to work with as raw material. It could not have been otherwise, and it turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

I think your rejection of the God of the Bible is quite wrong-headed. Instead of your neo-positivist deism, give me that old-time religion.


OK lets work this example. I'd consider Spong roughly equal to MacArthur from the left. I actually think MacArthur is quite a bit smarter than Spong. If I believed that Spong were as intelligent as MacArthur then yes I'd consider Spong dishonest.

In terms of Dan Brown (author of the daVinci code). I love the effect he has had in popularizing the New School and in particular Elaine Pagels. Now lets take an interesting point from the daVinci Code where Brown takes Pagel's book and attributes it to the ancient world. Now Pagels book is a undergraduate level introduction to Gnostic Gospels and their main themes in preparation for reading them, authored in 1978; with all sorts of references to writers and events in the 1940s, 60s and 70s. Now of course this put Pagels in rather embarrassing position, there are even scenes in the movie where the main character is handling leaves of her book written in an ancient codex. An order of magnitude more people have heard of her book from daVinci Code book and movie then would ever have heard of a Princeton classicist otherwise.

So how does she handle it? Well she honestly presents problems with Brown's theories and then expounds on the New School and her areas of agreement The Truth at the Heart of 'The Da Vinci Code'. A very classy response to an embarrassing situation. That's the kind of integrity I respect in a religious leader.

As for Dan Brown himself, I love his effect on popular culture. He's a very popular apologist for the New School; possibly accidentally he seems mainly motivated by anger towards the Catholic Church. He's a fiction writer who doesn't clearly differentiate between historical fiction and pure fantasy. I've never heard of any non fiction from him. I personally wouldn't call him a liar but if he isn't over the line he's very close. I've heard lots of evangelicals and Catholics call him one it and I don't have a huge problem with their assessment. So there you go, you picked a guy on my team and I'm holding him to the same standards.

As far as history same as my attitude towards scripture.

1) There is a real history of a material earth. And that is all a bunch of details, the realm of fact, events with no meaning.
2) There are theories and themes that can drawn from subsets of these details weaving them together into narrative, the realm of history.
3) There are narratives which are fictional but still contain important truths, this is the realm of myth
4) There are narratives which are pure fiction and have no importance, pure fiction

Genesis lives on level 3.
On level 1 Abraham did not exist. I don't object to the existence of level 3, I object to conflating it with level 1. Yeah, again I'm being a logical positivist.

And I already told you I'm not a Christian. But I was much more of a positivist when I was a Christian. Back then I would have rejected the distinction between level 3 and 4 all-together. Every story was on level 2 or level 4. It was only in the mid 1990s when I encountered postmodernism that I accepted level 3 as valid. So yes it is possible to be a theist and a positivist if you believe the evidence for Christianity.



Wow, that was a pleasant dig you got in on Spong. I'm going to have to ask forgiveness in bedtime prayers for finding joy in that one. I owe you dinner, CD. If you come to SBL-New Orleans, look me up and I'll make good on that.

I find your four categories very interesting.

4), to begin with, is a null set. Name one work of "pure fiction." There is no such thing. Fiction simply corresponds to reality in non-direct, less imitative ways. Picasso's art, I suppose, is about as close as possible to pure fiction as one can get - or Paul Klee, of "no importance" both, I realize, to a positivist. How I fear for your soul.

Either your actual epistemology is out of sync with your real epistemology (my working hypothesis), or you really must have one foot in hell. If you believe that Picasso and Klee, Eliot and Poe, traffic in "pure fiction," of "no importance," no wonder you are an unbeliever. We have zero in common, epistemologically.

Art, as Picasso said, is a lie which tells the truth. Better than a photograph ever will. From your four categories, I take it you do not understand this most basic of truths.

2) and 3) technically speaking, are not far off, and they are in the right order - in the direction of greater truth-bearing capacity. But something tells me you missed this.

You apparently locate truth in 2). As in the story my son told me about why he didn't keep curfew. He's very smart, you know. He had all his facts right. He inter-related them with great skill. But it was history that tells a lie, and he knew it.

Luther got that right about reason. Paraphrasing to avoid charges of sexism, humans have a habit of pimping out reason. Reason turns tricks for pimps. I admit that there good and bad examples of 2), but you can't build anything of importance on the good examples. They just give you more events without meaning. I thought positivists knew that.

The motors of real knowledge, as theologians know, are faith, hope, and love, the greatest, of course, being love. CD, I regret very much that these truths are not grasped by you.

Someday, you will wake up and say with T. S. Eliot, "we are the hollow men." But will you know where to turn? I suggest 1 Corinthians 13, in the KJV version (since you will have no trouble understanding it).



It is of course a tremendous compliment that you, an unbeliever, pay ESV by singling it out for criticism. The net effect of your criticism for a believer like me: you have upped my esteem for ESV higher than it has ever been. Isn't that funny how human psychology works?


I see I missed out on a whole lot of fun between you two yesterday ;{)

Reading over the comments today, something dawned on me that knocked me over...because with the rest of your intellectual horsepower, I wouldn't have thought it from either conservative John or liberal CD: YOU GUYS ARE FIGHTING OVER STUDY BIBLES!!!

Now I disclose up front that I was raised to distrust commentaries as one man's (usually a man) opinion dressed up to look like gospel. My own experience has certainly magnified that perspective. In my own approach I flatly refuse to use a "study bible" for the very reason that in my estimation, by placing the commentary on the very pages of the Bible (and not infrequently, there's more commentary on the page than there is Bible), the distinction between the divine message and the fallible (or agenda-driven) human interpretation gets hopelessly muddied. . .particularly for the less-studious reader who doesn't think about the difference.

Now I don't expect either of you (necessarily) to agree with me, but it seems you're getting a little sloppy if (as both of you have done) you compare the relative value of translations on the basis of the "study bible" notes in each. IMO a responsible translation is one that sticks to translating the text, and restricts footnotes to linguistic and translation issues (including legitimate alternate readings, textual discrepancies, etc.). The commentary that masquerades as "study notes" belongs in a separate volume, to be consulted (or not) and critiqued (or not) separately from the translation.

I would also suggest that in your recommendations of what constitutes a "good" study bible, you're remiss in suggesting that a singular answer is ever a good answer. "Good" biblical study (whether or not the student has access to original languages as we all agree s/he ought) should involve consulting multiple translations--preferably translations that come from different perspectives and grind different axes. Thus when they agree you have a good sense that they're on the right track; when they disagree, it drives you to the original language, to wrestling with the text and with other students of the text.


Hi Dan,

The best study Bibles have notes which lay out alternatives as much as, or more so, than laying down the law. For example, ESVSB often presents alternatives, though I think it betrays heavy-handed editing at times in pointing too insistently toward one of two or more alternatives.

In short, I agree with you. I want a Study Bible that discusses the debated alternatives out there. In fact, a truly excellent study Bible in this sense has yet to be produced. There are those who find the NET Bible the best available.


Dan --

Yes we've been both pretty casual about moving between translations and commentaries on translations. I would disagree on the footnotes that come from the translations committee. Those can be a very important part of the translation. The HCSB would be the most notable example where they often handle tricky verses by being very dynamic in the text and very literal in the footnote. I've slammed the ESV for failure to footnote Mark 1:41.

You actually were the cause of the shift in focus from translation to study bibles. You had started asking about my own personal journey which had far more to do with the NIV Study Bible notes than the NIV translation which led to the whole discussion of the cultures around these bibles.

As you mention though, commentary changes how people read the text. John and I don't disagree on that. Pair the ESV translation with the NISB study notes and you would have a liberal bible. Price's translation (see recommendations list) is generally rather formal. It is the extra materials that make it an "atheist bible".


You actually were the cause of the shift in focus from translation to study bibles.

Then for that I humbly apologize! ;{)

I guess I have to agree with John that a good study Bible has yet to be written. I was first turned off to the genre by Scoffield-quoting bible thumpers, and while the focus has changed, I have yet to see one that changed my opinion. So when I bought the ESV to add to my digital collection I went for the version without the "study helps."

One more plug, though, for keeping multiple translations on hand for serious study. It is those alternate readings that can really stimulate serious thought and inquiry.


I would disagree on the footnotes that come from the translations committee. Those can be a very important part of the translation.

I don't think that's a disagreement. I said in my comment "IMO a responsible translation is one that sticks to translating the text, and restricts footnotes to linguistic and translation issues (including legitimate alternate readings, textual discrepancies, etc.)."

By that I meant--honest translation issues are legitimate content for footnotes. Interpretive commentary is not. Certainly there's some overlap and lines will need to be drawn; I have yet to see a "study bible" that doesn't draw the lines far too much on the apologetic side (liberal or conservative) instead of reserving that stuff for the editorial pages.


Hi Dan --

I agree on the multiple translations and even more so translations from wildly different perspectives. As for study bibles and commentary I actually think they are very helpful. I don't necessarily know every place the bible mentions having maps scattered throughout the text helps. Same with pointing to a verse where an OT quote happens. From there it starts to depend on the quality of the commentary. I find virtually any study bible (including the ESVSB and Reformation SB) preferable to a bible without those sorts of quick pieces of information.

I will admit that information can be distracting. The Unvarnished NT (Gaus) doesn't even have verse markings. This format encourages you to just read. It flows a chapter at a time rather than a verse at a time.

But I don't need to sell you on study bibles. I would agree with John though that if you want a translation oriented Study Bible the NET translation is an excellent choice. Because of the number of translation notes and the depth it is essentially a study bible. Also I should mention the NET is my favorite evangelical translation and is free.

Ray McCalla

I think John originally lifted up an excellent point that has gotten trampled underfoot. The point was that certain versions of the Christian Bible (OT+NT) are translated with different underlying philosophies and end up being more useful in different settings. E.g., ESV in church = natural; NRSV in academia = natural.

To further elaborate on John's astute point: The NRSV, striving to be an ecumenical (even interfaith) translation approaches the OT (in my Oxford Annotated, 3rd Ed., it says "Hebrew Bible" with the page numbers...) as a uniquely Jewish product, usually without respect to later Christian interpretations and even the NT itself. Therefore, "holy spirit" is always treated with small letters, which makes internal sense for the NRSV translation but may seem strange to church-going Christians who think of the Holy-Spirit-the-third-Person-of-the-Trinity when they read "Holy Spirit" anywhere in the Bible, OT or NT. The ESV, on the other hand, has consciously chosen to be a thoroughly Christian, ecclesial Bible (Christ in the OT and NT). This just naturally fits a little better in the worshiping lives of, dare I say, most Christian churches, while the NRSV--with its own unique approach--is a better fit within academia.

It's still a valid point. And that's why it's tricky to judge a translation according to our own preferred philosophy if it never intended to be that kind of Bible.



That's an interesting topic: capitalization. Thanks for restating so well a point I was trying to make.


I suppose this is probably a wasted exercise coming to this discussion so late, but why not? It's only 2 am and I only have to get up in four hours. :-P I came to this discussion because I was looking for an old article I read on the ESV (which is my translation of choice, though I also dislike study notes in the text and value multiple translations (like the NAS and NAB and NRSV))

I found the link but also found this wonderful discussion.

John (if I may call you that), I agree with almost everything you say, especially about what seems to me to be essentially hermeneutical points (though you don't express it that way), especially point 4 on clayboy's blog which you more fully developed here on 06/25 at 8:49 am.

I do not know Greek or Hebrew, so I am useless on that front. Likewise, after a promising academic start on my part crashed and burned after I adopted two older special needs children in addition to my three biological ones and I spent 12 years with little scholarship as I stayed home with them, took their wounds into myself, both bodily in stress and emotionally and spiritually, I doubt I have the ability anymore to usefully contribute to such high level discussions. I barely maintain my own blog.

But after reading all this in one sitting, I would like to make a comment about something I found intriguing in CD's musings.

CD, I agree with John assessment that you have more in common with the Fundamentalist insistence in the inerrancy of the autographs. You both share a desire for a literalness which is simply unobtainable. I may be wrong, but I think this critique could be almost equally used in answer to you belief and desire to get the text as it exactly was:

I am curious as to how much Greek you do know. It may be quite considerable, but you write about the Greek as though you have both the autograph and the exact same mastery of the language as it was then, including all the cultural and linguistic tools available to an educated first century Greek. In other words, the meaning simple, fixed and understandable outside of community or discourse by those with an absolute command of the Greek, which you apparently have, and, when the translators agree with you they are right.

Heck, my wife of 22 years and I misunderstand one another's plain English every day.

To gibe an example of what I mean. Whay up above you wrote:

"1) The greek text X means Y

With respect to #1, yep I'm a fundamentalist. I expect bibles to be very careful about their language and not conflate those two.

Lets pick a low passion verse that to choose your example the Harper Collins screws up, 2Cor 12:2 "third heaven"

1) The greek text means "Venus". (i.e. in order they are: moon, mercury, venus, sun, mars, jupiter and saturn). "

While I definitively value trying to get the translation precise, what you seem to not realize is 1) X does not have to mean only, exclusively and always Y and 2) because we think X means Y does not tell us what Y means.

OK, so the Greek text means Venus. If I give you that, and again I am in no position to know, so what? What does Venus mean? It doubt it means the actual physical 2nd planet from the Sun (i.e. astronomical and scientific).

If the meaning is astrological, can we discern the meaning (not translation) of that from the actual word alone? If it has an astrological meaning in that time and place which would have likely been understood by the reader can we fully recover it. Even if it has a likely meaning we can discover, that does not answer the question What does it mean for me?

It seems to follow with you that that if we understand it exactly as he wrote it he will have communicated perfectly with us with no signal loss or degradation leaving us unable to add or detract from it based on our own readings in community or by reading in light of something written afterward.

You are the same sort of literalist with history, but I share John's views on that. what John did not address is that there also you really seem to judge the actuality of history from some omniscient perspective. You write "1) There is a real history of a material earth. And that is all a bunch of details, the realm of fact, events with no meaning."

Again, I agree with John that no event is without meaning and that myths can be quite truth-bearing, but that's not my point. You assert that "On level 1 Abraham did not exist." You seem to know this, epistemological, in the same way you know when translators translate the word precisely as the original writer meant it to mean in his time and place and with the meaning he ascribed to it.

Given both your positions on history and language it is impossible for the Christian to read the Old Testament in light of the New. If I held your convictions I doubt I could even read Luke in light of Acts.

I am amazed that you have spent as much time as you have on this conversation, let alone Bibles and Greek and Old Testament history.

early on you wrote "I agree that either bible can lead to salvation. There are even worse translations that do lead to salvation. But I will say that deliberate lies in Christian writings were what shattered my faith and the faith of many other people I know." and a little later: "The point was not my personal quest but rather the effect of an NRSV culture vs. and ESV culture with respect to salvation."

How can either lead to salvation? How can the Scriptures as you view them lead to salvation even in the originals? What exactly does salvation mean to someone who has rejected Christianity? don't we need to sort out precisely what we mean by that before we have a conversation about it? I mean saved from spiritual death by the God-man Jesus, The Christ, through faith in the grace that was made possible by his Incarnation, death on the cross, and bodily resurrection empowered by the indwelling and transformative presence and power of His Holy Spirit.

What do you mean? If you and I can not even use that word to communicate meaning (it has a real, vital meaning for me, but that word does not have that meaning to you) then what makes you think you can determine meaning from a correctly translated Greek word? And why care?

I do not believe you are completely out the door, else you would have walked away by now. Your "crusade" has long passed the point of exorcising psychological processes. You are dropping bread crumbs along the way so you can find your way home when you think that is intellectually possible.

Don't let the wound scab over. Keep it open. He will heal it, but not with any incantation said exactly right.

(And please don't think I don't value rigor in translation. If I were discussing this with someone else I might seek to address what I saw an the opposite imbalance. My adopted son is borderline retarded with dyslexia to boot. God will not abandon him just because he listens to a flawed translation and is never able to read the Bible well, especially not in Greek. The Bible is not the Logos Himself.)



Thanks for commenting, and putting things into perspective.

The psychological processes at work are understandable. An ex-fundamentalist or an ex-atheist may spend the rest of their lives disputing their past. In the process, curiously, they retain many features of the world-views they reject. Only by maintaining a significant amount of common ground with their former positions can they keep on rejecting what they used to be. There is an obssessiveness about it that is very striking.


Even in the light of only a few hours sleep I can see my typing was atrocious. Only one thing really concerns me, though. My definition of salvation has a line "through faith in the grace." I do not believe we are saved by faith in grace, so let me try again.

Saved to me is saved out of spiritual death into spiritual life by faith in the God-man Jesus Christ, through the grace of the Father that was made possible by the Incarnation, death on the cross, and bodily resurrection of the Son and which is empowered by the indwelling and transformative presence and power of His Holy Spirit.

I know you'll probably never read this, CD, but I'd love to hear what you mean when you speak of the Bible facilitating salvation.


Oh, Wow, even as site administrator who gets notified of comments, I didn't really expect any reply.

One other thing occurs to me, and I have to be tread lightly here because I doubt CD is returning to this thread, and I don't want to talk about him behind his back or engage in shallow characterizations.

I admire his intellectual honesty. I share a deep commitment to it myself, but I have changed much in the past 25 years, and I have learned that 1) True intellectual honesty is impossible without deep humility, and 2) a rigid commitment to purely intellectual honesty will often obscure as much as it reveals ad hinder belief.

I feel that second point needs some elaboration. For me as a younger man, intellectual honesty meant accumulating as much data in it's purest form as possible, objectively and dispassionately evaluating it rationally and/or empirically (if it was empirical data) and drawing only the conclusions "forced" on me, as it were.

Surprisingly, for a self-avowed post-modernist, CD strikes me as holding a similar approach as the modernist, but then he's also a self-described positivist. I think this led to some of the debate regarding lies and liars above.

For me now, intellectual honesty and integrity demand I do not make statements I do not believe to be true; thus, I would not call some of the people liars that CD does. But, my concepts of true and belief have been tempered by engagement with post-modernism, Zen and mysticism, among others. While I am thoroughly orthodox, Nicene Christian within the Protestant tradition, I believe that there is a difference in kind between knowledge and truth, and what constitutes warrant for belief is not bound up in data, empirical analysis, language and reason, all of which were as thoroughly implicated in the Fall as the people who use them, which is to say, all of us.

This is not to suggest that I do not believe rigorous scholarship, the scientific method, the study of language and other disciplines are not useful--they have been to me and will continue to be--but with them no one will ever have any warrant for belief about anything intangible, and the warrant for belief about that which is tangible will shift often and sometimes drastically. Thus, humility-- which should be the most prominent quality of the post-modernist, but is mostly absent.

It seems odd that my epistemology seems more post-modern to me than CDs, at least as it comes across to me either explicitly as he has stated it or implicitly as I read into it. To me, one can be completely and totally intellectually honest when trying to speak about something which is incomplete, non-falsifiable and undecidable on strictly positivist grounds. What is self-evident for me may not be self-evident to you. It is precisely at the level of belief-forming mechanisms that CDs epistemology breaks down, but that is understandable since he operates outside a doxastic community, or rather a consistent one as he has one foot in the positivist camp, another in post-modernism, allegedly, and another in progressive Christian scholarship, but, then I would only really call the positivist a doxastic community, a discredited and empty one, but one none the less.

I don't know how else to understand the position of a word-for-word literalist for the need to know the exact translation of words not inspired by a God who does not exist which are contained in what he can only believe is an empty document containing false history with no meaning or relevance and void of any truth-bearing capacity.



I'll contact CD. He may return yet.


That would be great, and relieve me of many feelings of guilt. I didn't want to presume to email him, but he should have a chance to respond.

That said, I probably won't be back until next week. I am starting a new adult Sunday school class and giving a Stewardship talk this Sunday, so I have to shift gears.

I was just in your neck of the woods in July at the ELCA Youth Gathering. (You mentioned to CD where you are at; I'm not stalking you :-) ) It was great! As an ELCA member I am about to begin a series on my own blog about homosexuality in light of the Statement recently adopted by my church, and which I sympathize with but reject entirely. The Catholic church seems to have it exactly right on this issue, and your own is also sound.

I hope to be engaged in that fully next week as well, so don't think I just left the discussion. I'll try to be back.

You blow me away. I can not image how you do it. My own efforts at blogging have been both sporadic, inconsistent and deeply ambivalent. Sometimes it feels like intellectual self-gratification; I get bogged down in presentation (spending inordinate amounts of time on CSS and PHP to tweak templates); I can't seem to balance it into my other life commitments, and I have a hard time winnowing down what to write on and end up being too focused on the news of the day, and that tends to be in a more shallow and polemical way than I would like because of time. It's simply easier, but not gratifying.

BTW, I have yet to successfully post a comment with the most up-to-date Firefox, and often have to try multiple times with IE (with I deplore.) I get a dialogue box saying "We sorry. We can not accept this data." Don't know if it's your end or mine, but I thought I'd mention it.


Hello Bo.

Well first off it is good to see that we all seem to agree that 2Cor 12:2 works as a good test case. I'll take the agreements where we can get them. I also read the Carlos Bovell article you pointed to I think there is a lot to discuss there. I had trouble though understanding Bovell's conclusions or evidence or how it relates. Perhaps I'm being dense but I'm not following how this answers what I was discussing. As far as I can understand Bovell he is essentially asserting that
1) the biblical authors did not have nearly so clear lines on canon
2) nor believe in sola scriptura
3) nor would likely have agreed with Protestants on the definition of canon

I would agree with all of that. Bovell isn't answering my objections to what the ESV is doing.

OK, so the Greek text means Venus. If I give you that, and again I am in no position to know, so what? What does Venus mean? It doubt it means the actual physical 2nd planet from the Sun (i.e. astronomical and scientific).

No actually that is precisely what it means. There is a visible light in the sky thrown off by the 2nd planet from out sun. That is the light to which "3rd heaven" refers. I'm pretty sure Paul doesn't believe that the planets orbit the Sun but yes they are both talking about the same light. In every sense that Paul could have meant "Venus" given his understanding of astronomy he does.

If the meaning is astrological, can we discern the meaning (not translation) of that from the actual word alone? If it has an astrological meaning in that time and place which would have likely been understood by the reader can we fully recover it. Even if it has a likely meaning we can discover, that does not answer the question What does it mean for me?

We know quite a bit about 1st century Jewish mysticism. We may not know all the connections of information about 3rd heaven but we are not ignorant. We can't fully recover it, but we can recover it enough to credit the NISB for their treatment and accuracy.

As for what it means for you, that depends on which of the 4 levels you want to address.
1) The greek text X means Y
2) Paul meant X when he said Y
3) The church has always taken Paul to mean X in passage Y
4) The church interprets Paul to mean X in passage Y

I assume your personal meaning comes from level 4, which is fine. But level 4 has no impact on level 2, what I object to is conflating level 2 and level 4. So what you choose to make it mean for you has 0 impact on what Paul meant. A church or an individual is free to interpret Paul as talking about the filling in a Hostess Twinkie. What Paul meant is essentially a matter of history not a matter of theology.

If I held your convictions I doubt I could even read Luke in light of Acts.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean here. I personally hold Acts to be much latter than most of Luke. And the canonical Luke/Acts to be a responsible to Marcion. I haven't really done a whole series on this but you can get a taste with

What do you mean? If you and I can not even use that word to communicate meaning (it has a real, vital meaning for me, but that word does not have that meaning to you) then what makes you think you can determine meaning from a correctly translated Greek word? And why care?

I don't think I disagree with your understanding of the word "salvation". I disagree with your understanding of the nature of the soul.
For example if Mr Alpha were to say a false sentence like "I believe the first President of the United States was Steve Jobs". You and I and Alpha are not in disagreement about the meaning of "Steve Jobs", "First President", "United States" we are simply disagreeing about a historical occurrence. In the same way I don't disagree with you about the meaning of salvation (in an evangelical context) I disagree about the actuality of it.

Which is why I could talk about salvation in that context. The actuality of salvation was irrelevant to the translation dispute John and I were having. So I could freely, for the purpose of argument, grant the actuality of salvation.

I get a dialogue box saying "We sorry. We can not accept this data." Don't know if it's your end or mine, but I thought I'd mention it.

That's because you are timing out (notice the CID string in the address). Copy the data from the text box and create a new thread.


Hi John good to be talking again.

I don't know how else to understand the position of a word-for-word literalist for the need to know the exact translation of words not inspired by a God who does not exist which are contained in what he can only believe is an empty document containing false history with no meaning or relevance and void of any truth-bearing capacity.

I wouldn't call myself a word for word literalist. I'm a big fan of dynamic translation. :-) A concept by concept literalist. :-)

That being said the main point stands and the reason is because those uninspired words have a great deal of material impact on the people in my society and culture. There is a good chance those words are going to sink health care reform this year. Those words are preventing us from implementing a transition to wind based power. Those words cause millions of millions of neurosis as people confuse the inevitable with their personal failings. They are still very powerful words.



Always fun to chat. I enjoy the way you mix your unfaith and politics. It reminds me ever so much of what I hear from fundamentalist friends. A reverse image thereof.

"Sink health care reform." Thank goodness. We need health care reform desperately, but not the kind the Democrats are peddling. Follow the links in this post if you care about this issue:

I accept that others may see things along different lines. What I do not accept is that differences of opinion about health care reform and wind-based power have anything to do with the words of the Bible. Show me, as they say in Missouri.


The timing out problem is a nuisance. If your comment is not accepted, copy it, hit "reload," paste it, and push "post."


Well the argument in your link is basically that high profits from the USA lead to high levels of innovation. It certainly is true that the US is subsidizing the world's pharmaceutical research. I'd rather just price drugs globally in a more reasonable fashion consistent with their development costs. And going even further separate research from sales, manufacture and distribution. Research is a one time cost for the planet;

it might make sense to have this be actually paid for by government agencies, health agencies globally; where the current drug company labs could play a useful part. I see no reason to connect the research to the actual act of getting bottles of pills made in a safe and high quality fashion and distributing them to pharmacies The latter should be what the drug companies are focused on.

If you mean what does the bible do properly understood to create this, nothing. If you allow for as popularly understood, just to pick an example:

John Hobbins

Now I understand you better. BTW, the links I referenced are far more
radical in their critique of current reform efforts than your summary - a
fine example of wishful thinking - would suggest.
You don't like the fact that someone builds an argument from the Bible, the
mirror, so to speak, of their most deeply held convictions (the temptation,
therefore, to engage in eisegesis is great), to support a political position
you disfavor.

But unless you demonstrate the same distaste for the fact that someone else
builds an argument on the basis of their most deeply held convictions,
specious though that argument might be, to support a political position you
favor, I do not find your approach credible.
For example, I have many friends who say the debate is about health care as
a right. When I point out that one of the chief planks of the reform is to
eliminate people's right not to purchase health care, they pause at least
before searching for a justification. For these same friends, all of the new
mandates for employers, and the unintended consequences that will follow,
are not a concern either. When I point out there is zero reason to think
that the costs of the proposals to the taxpayer have been adequately
forecast, they pause again, but figure apparently that it will all work out
in the end. At least, I say, no one can accuse you of being afraid of taking
leaps of faith. I certainly find the spectacle of people who put their
critical faculties on hold for partisan political reasons to be a cautionary
tale. Sorry, CD, if I'm not about to jump on your bandwagon.

On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 5:10 AM, wrote:


This is health care specific, moved discussion to healthcare thread

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  • Lingamish
    delightful fare by David Ker, Bible translator, who also lingalilngas.
  • Looney Fundamentalist
    a scientist who loves off-putting labels
  • Menachem Mendel
    A feisty blog on rabbinic literature and other Judaica by Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator at the Academy for Jewish Religion and adjunct instructor at Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • mu-pàd-da
    scholarly blog by C. Jay Crisostomo, grad student in ANE studies at ?
  • Narrative and Ontology
    Astoundingly thoughtful comment from Phil Sumpter, a Ph.D. student in Bible, resident in Bonn, Germany
  • New Epistles
    by Kevin Sam, M. Div. student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon SK
  • NT Weblog
    Mark Goodacre's blog, professor of New Testament, Duke University
  • Observatório Bíblico
    wide-ranging blog by Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica/Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, Brasile (in Portuguese)
  • Observatório Bíblico
    Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia, para Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica / Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, SP.
  • Occasional Publications
    excellent blogging by Daniel Driver, Brevard Childs' scholar extraordinaire
  • old testament passion
    Great stuff from Anthony Loke, a Methodist pastor and Old Testament lecturer in the Seminari Theoloji, Malaysia
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog
    A weblog created for a course on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, by James Davila (archive)
  • On the Main Line
    Mississippi Fred MacDowell's musings on Hebraica and Judaica. With a name like that you can't go wrong.
  • p.ost an evangelical theology for the age to come
    seeking to retell the biblical story in the difficult transition from the centre to the margins following the collapse of Western Christendom, by Andrew Perriman, independent New Testament scholar, currently located in Dubai
  • PaleoJudaica
    by James Davila, professor of Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland. Judaism and the Bible in the news; tidbits about ancient Judaism and its context
  • Pastoral Epistles
    by Rick Brannan and friends, a conceptually unique Bible blog
  • Pen and Parchment
    Michael Patton and company don't just think outside the box. They are tearing down its walls.
  • Pisteuomen
    by Michael Halcomb, pastor-scholar from the Bluegrass State
  • Pseudo-Polymath
    by Mark Olson, an Orthodox view on things
  • Purging my soul . . . one blog at a time
    great theoblog by Sam Nunnally
  • Qumranica
    weblog for a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, taught by James R. Davila (archive)
  • Ralph the Sacred River
    by Edward Cook, a superb Aramaist
  • Random Bloggings
    by Calvin Park, M. Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA
  • Resident aliens
    reflections of one not at home in this world
  • Revelation is Real
    Strong-minded comment from Tony Siew, lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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