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The New Jerusalem Bible: Standard Edition Hardcover – March 16, 1999
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In 1956, scholars from L'Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem set their minds to translating the Scriptures from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, hoping they could preserve the most sacred Christian traditions and stories. By 1966, the first English-language Jerusalem Bible was published. Since then it has become a favored text for lay readers and scholars alike. The accessible language and richly recounted stories, poetry, and letters in this edition is consistent with previous versions. However, this latest version stands out because of its clear format--clean double columns with easy-to-read type and quick reference headings.
From Library Journal
Catholic readers have made The Jeru salem Bible (1966) a perennially popu lar study Bible. The Jerusalem-based French scholars, upon whose transla tion the work is based, published a re vised French edition in 1973, incorpo rating recent research. General editor Wansbrough and his colleagues base The New Jerusalem Bible on this revi sion, though they have depended less on the French version and more on the original languages than did the English translators. They have thoroughly re vised everything. The biblical text is loftier, more literal, and less colloquial. It is also less gender-specific, when this approach does not do violence to the original. A worthwhile purchase wher ever the earlier edition is popular. Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This translation does not stand in the Tyndale tradition and lacks the familiar English Biblish. The editor opines that literary fidelity has been everywhere preferred to literary quality, but the translation is by no means wooden. It reads smoothly, and in some cases sacrifices familiar phrasing for correct interpretation:
For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
The most useful aspect of the translation is the treatment of God's names in the Old Testament. I know of no other modern translation that maintains the distinction of God's OT names so assiduously. El and Elohim are (depending on context) rendered God, god, or gods. El Elyon is rendered God Most High. Yahweh and El Shaddai are transliterated. Readers acquainted with the documentary hypothesis, or bronze age religion as it was practiced, will appreciate this distinction. Two examples:
God spoke to Moses and said to him, 'I am Yahweh. To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai, but I did not make my name Yahweh known to them.'
When the Most High gave the nations each their heritage, when he partitioned out the human race, he assigned the boundaries of nations according to the number of the children of God, but Yahweh's portion was his people, Jacob was to be the measure of his inheritance. (Following the Septuagint.)
The textual basis of the Old Testament is the Masoretic Text, but as you can see from the Deuteronomy excerpt, the translators availed themselves of other sources which they felt represented a more ancient tradition, or solved problems with the Hebrew text. Editorial emendations have also been made. The deuterocanon (presented in the Roman Catholic order) and New Testament are taken from modern critical texts, with reference to other versions. Footnotes identify anything in the text taken from the versions or created by editorial emendation. Longer questionable passages, such as the ending of Mark and the pericope of the adulteress, are kept in the text, but footnotes discuss the problems with these sections. Shorter spurious passages, like the Johannine comma, are removed to the footnotes.
The text is presented in a single-column, paragraphed format. Poetry is formatted as such. Major divisions within books are given numbered headings (Roman numerals, naturally), and subsections or pericopes have bold headings. Chapter numbers are large and bold in the text, while verse numbers are to be found in the inner margin. If two or more verses begin on the same line, a dot or bullet point is used to separate them. While this is a rather unusual layout, it is very easy to find things in this Bible, by chapter and verse or subject. It combines the best aspects of the traditional chapter and verse bible with the best aspect of the numberless “reader's Bibles” that have recently been (re-)introduced.
All footnotes are found at the bottom of the right-hand page. Footnotes comprise mainly translation information, textual variants, and historical notes. These notes usually take a historical-critical approach, and do not assume we possess a completely inerrant text. Doctrinal notes are rare, but there are some. A notable example can be found in Luke 22:32k, which reads in part, “This saying gives Peter a function in directing faith with regard to the other apostles. His primacy within the apostolic college is affirmed more clearly than in Mt 16:17-19, where he could simply be the spokesman and representative of the Twelve.” The text, of course, says nothing of the sort. It only says Peter will “strengthen” his brothers.
There are various other features along the margin of the page. At the top of the left-hand page, a page number, the name of the book, and the chapter and verse of the first verse on the page. The top of the right-hand page has the same information, but the chapter and verse are those of the last one on the page. The outer margin has references to parallels, quotations, and allusions. (Quotations in the text are helpfully italicized.) While all this could make the page seem very busy, it is very easy to ignore the marginalia and concentrate on the text due to the single-column format described earlier.
Several groupings of books, and several individual books, have introductions of at least several pages each. Like the notes, these are full of historical information. There are fairly detailed discussions of the documentary hypothesis and the synoptic problem, the authenticity and dating of the epistles, etc. The introductions are fairly meaty, as these things go. They compare favorably to other study Bibles.
There is also some interesting back matter in this volume. The chronological table presents two or three chronologies in parallel, displaying various events from Biblical and secular history. It runs for about 20 pages. There is a family tree of the Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties. There is a page devoted to the calendar, and two pages devoted to measures and money. There are indexes to footnote subjects, to persons, and to the maps—of which there are seven, in full (if tastefully muted) color, one spread over two pages.
The Physical Construction
Removing the somewhat ostentatious dust cover, one is presented with a slightly-less ostentatious blue hardcover, with a big gold foil JB on the front and more restrained markings on the spine. The paper is thin and there is bleed-through. Text lines are not matched with those on the opposite side of the page. The maps are on thick, glossy paper. It lays flat for reading.
The language is a very beautifully poetic translation in modern English, but certain original Hebraic words have been retained, as explained in the text; notably "Yahweh" for the sacred Tetragrammaton; this is better than "the Lord" in that it signifies a proper name rather than a common noun, but obscures the fact that "yahweh" is actually a Hebraic verb functioning as a noun: do, act, become or happen. This is symptomatic of certain idiosyncrasies in translation that may puzzle the reader accustomed to other standard translations (and here I am using the RSV - second Catholic edition as a comparison). Thus, in Exodus 3:14, "I AM WHO I AM", becomes "I am he who is"; in 1 Kings 19:12, "(the Lord is) a still small voice", becomes "(Yahweh is) a light murmuring sound"; and in Isaiah 7:14, "a virgin shall conceive and bear a son", becomes "the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son"; remember all the furore the original RSV caused when it changed "virgin" to "young woman"?
Aside from the above minor quibbles, this is the greatest of the modern translations since the RSV; the judicious balance between formal and functional equivalence makes it very easy and a pleasure to read, and it also has a wonderful set of footnotes, introductions to all the books and appendices that alone would make it worth the money. The NJB stimulates interest in, opens up and explains the Bible in an enlightening and engaging manner, so that anyone can get to know and understand the living Word of God in the comfort of their own home. We should be thankful to the dedicated team of researchers under Henry Wansbrough that we have such a wonderful resource at our service.