Book Review: The Expanded Bible (New Testament)

ExpandedThe Expanded Bible

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718019164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718019167
  • Many thanks to the fine folks at Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy of their “The Expanded Bible (New Testament)”. The Expanded Bible is the product of three scholars: Tremper Longman III of Westmont College and Mark Strauss and Daniel Taylor of Bethel College. With so many Bible translations out there, why would anyone create another? Their explanation can be found in the Introduction. Essentially, the authors argue that because most people do not read the original languages, they are not privy to the many words available to translators while translating. Thus, to aid the reader in studying the Bible, they have created a translation that gives a multiplicity of readings in any given verse. The translators have chosen a formal equivalence translation theory for the text itself, but show traditional, literal, and alternative readings within the text by placing them within brackets. The volume also utilizes the brackets for short commentaries on particular passages. To show how this works, I’ll copy Matthew 1:1  here:

    This is the -family history [record of the ancestors; genealogy; (L) book of the offspring/family; (C) perhaps a title for the entire book] of Jesus -Christ [the Messiah]. -He came from the family of David, and David came from the family of Abraham [(L)…the son of David, the son of Abraham; (C) “son” can mean descendant].

    As you can see, a literal translation is marked by an suprascript “L” (which I’ve put into parentheses) and commentary by a “C”. Alternative readings are marked similarly by an “A”, traditional readings by a “T”, and so forth.

    Aesthetically, the Bible is very pleasing to the eye. I like the simple design on the front, the binding, the page color, font, etc. Headings such as “Who will enter God’s Kingdom?” (Lk 18:15) appear in the margins as well as cross-references. This makes it easy to track down a particular section of verses. As far as actually sitting down and reading the text goes – I originally thought that I wouldn’t like it. I thought the pages looked too cluttered with alternative readings or bits of commentary. However, I sat down and read the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. I found that I read with  more intent because I had to slow down and read over all the information. I can see how this would be extremely beneficial for the reader of the Scriptures who does not read the original languages. If anything, the brackets almost serve as little visual speed bumps, encouraging the reader to slow down and really take in what they’re reading. What I thought would be my least favorite thing about this translation is actually my favorite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to have a greater appreciation for the numerous word choices that translators can and do utilize when translating the Scriptures.

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