The Orthodox New Testament: The Holy Gospels Hardcover – Oct 2000
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From the Publisher
THE NEW AND EXPANDED SECOND EDITION Our first edition [ISBN 0-944359-13-2] of THE HOLY GOSPELS or EVANGELISTARION of THE ORTHODOX NEW TESTAMENT was highly acclaimed and well received. We thank faithful and conscientious readers of the Scriptures who made valuable recommendations and suggestions which helped to produce an even better text for this second edition [ISBN 0-944359-17-5]. Improvements include greater usage of Orthodox terminology (i.e., Logos, energy), more and/or expanded endnotes, editing and consistency of spelling, enlargement of many icons, greater clarity of endnote and superscript appearance in the text, the addition of a convenient sewn-in ribbon marker. Thus, with the assistance and service of many in the Orthodox community wishing to serve our Lord and the His Church, we have an improved text, both in content and appearance, of The Orthodox New Testament. In addition, we have received the blessing and approval of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, under ! the presidency of Metropolitan Kallinikos of Fthiotidos and Thavmakos.
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First, a bit of self-disclosure: I am not a Biblical scholar or translator, I don't know Koine Greek, I do not posses a broad knowledge of the writings of the Church Fathers, and I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.
The books themselves are of excellent quality. These are the nicest books I own now. The covers are nice and thick with gold embossing. The pages themselves are thick and high quality, with large text. The sewn in ribbon is a great addition. It would have been nice for the icons to have been printed in color, but still they are mostly clear and high quality with great contrast. It is wonderful to read the New Testament with appropriate icons right there on the page with the written text!
The translation is excellent, although somewhat difficult to read. I find it easier to read than the KJV. To me, the ONT reads about like the NASB - somewhat stilted but necessarily so for accuracy. Also, words like "ye", "thee" and "thou" are used when appropriate to distinguish 2nd person singular and plural. Personally I find this distinction quite valuable. Also, I love the distinctive style of translation mentioned by another reviewer (Michael P. Karcher) - "the verse in the Apocalypse, 2:10, in the western translation reads "...Be faithful until death...," whereas in this translation it reads "...Keep on becoming faithful until death..." " I think this peculiar style of translation preserves crucial aspects of the text which are missing in nearly every other translation. This translation may be slightly difficult to read, but I think it is worth it because it preserves important theological points contained in the Sacred Scriptures.
The endnotes for each book are excellent. This is a very valuable edition of the New Testament for this reason alone. So far I have found the Patristic commentary very enlightening. At first I was slightly disappointed that the notes were not contained at the bottom of each page rather than at the end, but it quickly became apparent why it had to be this way. In most cases, the endnotes are so extensive as to be longer than the actual text. The flow of each page would have been severaly disrupted if the notes had been included at the bottom.
The appendices deal mostly with technical details of the translation and textual variants. I find this information helpful and fascinating.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, I find all three currently available Orthodox editions of the New Testament to be valuable for different reasons, although I value the ONT the most right now. Here is a summary of my opinions on all three:
Orthodox Study Bible (OSB) - Modified NKJV New Testament, fresh translation of the Septuagint for the Old Testament. Worth buying for the Old Testament alone, the New Testament is easy to read but not exactly a new Orthodox translation. This Bible is intended for non-Orthodox, inquirers, and Orthodox, so the notes reflect this intention. Thus I did not find the notes very helpful for getting deeper into Orthodox thought, and I actually found them rather annoying at times. This is more of an "Inquirers Study Bible", and although an approved translation, the intention of the translation and notes casts some doubt in my mind as to the trustworthiness. I use this Bible mainly for it's Septuagint, and for cross-referencing the New Testament with other translations.
Eastern Orthodox Bible (EOB) - This was my first "Orthodox" New Testament. I find it very readable and enjoyable. The notes deal almost exclusively with textual variants, which I find helpful and interesting. I also found the appendices at the end very helpful as a new convert. This translation is not an approved translation, which does cast some doubt on the accuracy of the translation, appendices, and the whole endeavor, but I still really like this translation. This is the translation I read for "casual" reading, and for cross-referencing.
Orthodox New Testament (ONT) - This is the most Orthodox translation in English I know of. The translation, iconography, endnotes, appendices and bindings all seem to be born of an Orthodox mindset, and seem trustworthy to me. There may not be a "perfect" Orthodox edition of the Bible in English yet, but the ONT definitely seems to me to be the closest.
NOTE: This review is for the 2-volume New Testament, NOT the single-volume pocket-size edition.
There are black and white icons all throughout the text which enhances the text and makes it a joy to read. Starting from page 559-568 are detailed appendices which cover the background of this bible,the format of this version as well as thorough and detailed comprehensive explanations of English and Greek grammar,for people,like me, who do not know any Greek and who do not speak it or write it, you will find more information in this section about Greek grammar than you ever wanted to know and were probably afraid to ask. From page 569-596 is a section covering texts,bibliography and other references. from page 597 is a detailed list of the icons used throughout the text and page 607 to the rest of the book is a chronological index of the Gospel parallels.
There are amazing and detailed, comprehensive, and thorough endnotes which can be found at the end of each of the Gospels.The reason they are placed at the end of each of the gospels is because there is no room on the bottom of each page to put this extensive amount of endnotes. That would be impossible!..if the authors did that, do you know what size this New Testament would have to be???..so therefore they are placed at the end of each gospel. It's more logical that way. It makes more sense. The endnotes explain Greek grammatical renderings of verbs and verb tenses and other grammar points that occur here and there throughout the text. The endnotes also quote and contain passages written by the various different early church fathers. This shows how they thought and what they taught, how they believed and how they perceived the Gospels.
All of these features combined make this the absolute best bible on the market. You won't be disappointed. It's worth every penny. Another reader above stated it's hard to read because it's a literal translation, well, while that may be that persons' opinion I would have to disagree. imo this New Testament is very easy to read. It contains all of the classical language we have all come to know so well ( ex,... verily I say to you,...and it came to pass,...thee,....thou,...thy,... ) other than those most of the English is modern day English in the language of the common man,for the common layman in laymens terms, it's easier to read than the KJV that's for sure. It has more modern English and the vocabulary is more modern.Other reveiwers claim it is a difficult version to read,or it is stilted or whatever other reason they claim. I assure you,this is not the case.The average person with an average reading ability should find no difficulty at all reading this version. If you can read the KJV then you can read this with no problems.
This version does pay attention to proper and literal Greek verbs and tenses,more than any other protestant bible you may own or read. the authors cut no corners when it comes to Greek grammar and they have done an amazing job. Their extensive and complete knowledge of the proper rendering of Greek grammar shows throughout the text and I am sure any reader will greatly appreciate it. I wish every New Testament was translated with the same due diligence to the proper rendering of Greek grammar, but they aren't and that's what makes this such a treasure to have.
Every Christian,regardless of your denomination, Protestant/Evangelical as well as Orthodox Christians they should all have this New Testament on their bookshelves. I have purchased vol.1 of this 2 volume set so far, but I am already ordering vol.2 of the Acts of the Apostles,21 Epistles and the book of Revelation.
A terriffic 2 volume set !