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'A Critical Review of The Orthodox New Testament'


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#1 Christophoros

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 01:07 PM

From time to time, the merits of The Orthodox New Testament, published by Holy Apostles Convent, becomes a topic of conversation, with a wide variety of opinions. This link provides the most thorough review of the text I have seen. It isn't without fault, but provides some food for thought.

http://www.tricounty...erse/ONTrvw.pdf

#2 John S.

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 07:33 PM

Does anyone know where you can find this review now?

This link seems outdated!

Thank you,
John


From time to time, the merits of The Orthodox New Testament, published by Holy Apostles Convent, becomes a topic of conversation, with a wide variety of opinions. This link provides the most thorough review of the text I have seen. It isn't without fault, but provides some food for thought.

http://www.tricounty...erse/ONTrvw.pdf



#3 Kosta

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:20 PM

I would like to read thid review as well. the link seems broken. I like the 2 vol set better than the OSB but am wary of some of the words translated.

#4 Christophoros

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 09:52 PM

I've attached a copy.

Attached Files



#5 Kosta

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 06:37 AM

Having read the linked review. i think its overcritical. I agree that the word makarios should never have been translated as 'happy'. In fact i've been saying this for years, and threads from this forum and others still contain my posts critical of its translation in the ONT as such.

First off, if your going to buy the ONT, you buy the 2 vol set, because where it excels is in the commentary. The author of the write up admits he only has the single volume leatherette translation without commentary. Yet he published a few of the amazon.com reviews. One of the critical amazon reviews he uses is a non-orthodox nobody who criticises that Augustine was never quoted in the commentary. Why would Augustine be quoted in an Orthodox study bible when more authoratative Fathers are? This is important because the author of the article shows his true colors, using all Orthodox sources for the other reviews he cites.. Gregory of Colorado and holy apostles convent is one of the few that reject Augustine as an orthodox saint, so Augustine would certainly not be used, not that his writings are vital to begin with.
Meanwhile as i said, the author of link shows his true colors that this version is simply not ecumenist enough. Much of his criticism is based upon this mindset. He criticises the translation and compares it to the JW version (which tries to justify this sects belief). He admits its meant to be an exclusive Orthodox translation but finds faults when it favors language that upholds orthodox teaching such as on the essence/energy and ancestral sin, he never claims there false translations. His cover is given away very early when he makes a statement which upholds the branch theory:

But in the earlier centuries, a given church might not even own the entire
Bible, as we know it today, but only certain parts of it. This may seem
strange, seeing that we Orthodox like to tell people that we (i.e., the
historical, One Catholic and Apostolic Church, which, sadly, split into the
present-day Orthodox and Catholic churches) are the ones who produced,
canonized and preserved the writings of the Apostles which we now call the
New Testament Scriptures of the Bible--

#6 Christophoros

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 01:36 PM

While I agree with much of what Kosta writes, I think the reviewer mentions some genuine points. The style is clearly one of overtranslation (particularly in regards to the Greek imperfect and aorist, but not confined to those instances alone) leading to unnecessarily awkward and cumbersome phrasings that simply don't read well. And given the proclivity of Dormition Skete to parse every uttering from "World Orthodoxy" for signs of heterodoxy, I can't help but think they would be extremely critical of degrading the scriptural worship of Christ to mere obeisance.

Also, in some circles, much has been made of the ONT using the only "genuine" Orthodox Greek NT text. However, as the reviewer points out (and it's easily verified with online resources), its a hybrid, eclectic text, which varies from the Textus Receptus and Patriarchal text without explanation.

#7 John S.

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 02:31 PM

It is a well-written critique, but I agree that there are some holes...

First, it's supposed to be a NT written for Orthodox, yet the author seems quite concerned that heretics, specifically Jehovah's Witnesses and other "arians," will use it as a proof text. He states that some of the word choices "mudd[y] the resulting translation theologically, especially to those inclined to looking for proof-texts to support heretical teachings (such as Arians)." But we forget that this is a NT for ORTHODOX, meant to be read in the context of the Church and the Fathers...so why do we even CARE what the JW's think of it??

He is upset also over what he calls the "overuse of capitalizations of reverence," by which he means that the pronouns for Christ are capitalized even when used by people who, in the Gospels, at the time doubted Christ's divinity:

Matthew 9:3 - "This One blasphemeth"
Matthew 13:55 - "This is the carpenter's Son, is it not?"
Matthew 15:2 - unbelievers asking "Why do Thy disciples..." referring to Christ

But why is this surprising? These are the SCRIPTURES as preserved by the Church, NOT a stenographer's transcript or a record kept by those unbelievers themselves. The words were recorded by the Church in the Gospels and are meant to be read by believers who KNOW that Christ is God . . . so why wouldn't WE as believers capitalize the pronouns? I don't see the glaring inconsistency.

As far as his complaint regarding the "over-translation" of the Greek tenses, I'd have to agree that sometimes it's a bit odd or awkward. Nevertheless, sometimes it is quite helpful: Unlike many protestant sects, the Orthodox do not believe that salvation is a one time thing. That is, you can't just "assent" to Christ and then live however you want and expect to be "saved." Thus, salvation/deification is a lifelong process that we are constantly working out. So what is the problem with verses like "But be seeking first the kingdom of God..." and "On this account, ye also keep on becoming ready..." Perhaps they are a bit wooden and not as pithy as the KJV, but they do convey much better the idea that we must CONTINUOUSLY be on guard, the Orthodox concept of VIGILANCE.

Finally, in Chapter 6 the author greatly criticizes the use of the word "energy" in lieu of the word "works" in other English translations. I am no NT scholar and cannot comment on the appropriateness of the translation, but the author seems to even doubt the authenticity of the TEACHING itself regarding God's energy, saying that he is "still in the process of researching
the writings of the fathers...to fully understand the history and extent of this teaching of the 'Energies of God.'" I am no theologian, but almost every book I've ever read has referenced the Divine Energies, up to and including side-articles in the Orthodox Study Bible itself! (see, e.g., the article on the Transfiguration on p. 1301").

Finally, I was quite disturbed in his conclusion when he was describing his own idea of the "ideal" Orthodox Bible. He wrote, among other things, that "[w]e don't need to slavishly follow LXX/Vulgate naming conventions and numbering of the Psalms, given that most Orthodox don't know how to quote from the Bible like so many Protestants do, anyhow." This is where I think Kosta has hit the nail on the head: The Orthodox New Testament seems to be TOO ORTHODOX for this writer. It is perhaps not a tool for evangelism, but it IS a tool and a blessing to the Orthodox themselves. The author's comment on how the Church should forgo the LXX numbering of the psalms that she has used for 2000+ years in order to kowtow to the protestant West is absolutely ridiculous and puts his aforementioned critiques into a new light.

All in all, I also thought it was rather overcritical..

Any thoughts?

- John


Meanwhile as i said, the author of link shows his true colors that this version is simply not ecumenist enough. Much of his criticism is based upon this mindset. He criticises the translation and compares it to the JW version (which tries to justify this sects belief). He admits its meant to be an exclusive Orthodox translation but finds faults when it favors language that upholds orthodox teaching such as on the essence/energy and ancestral sin, he never claims there false translations.



#8 Jason H.

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 04:56 PM

This paper on The Orthodox New Testament was originally Part II of a
research paper on Scriptural Theology, written as course work for

St. Elias
School of Orthodox Theology


I say we contact the school and see what grade he got for writing this =-)


Edited by Jason H., 19 August 2010 - 04:59 PM.
Fixing font size, and adding quotation marks


#9 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:02 PM

Well, admittedly this is an academic paper that was intended as a critical review - as specifically opposed to a sympathetic review. You can hardly fault the review for being what it is. It was never intended to be anything but critical. It's not intended to be balanced in and of itself, it's intended to balance the enthusiatic rave reviews that others write.

Now, I have to admit that I too, am rather puzzled about the ONT's allergy to the name "James". They seem to translate "Iohannes" into the English "John" readily enough (along with almost all other personal names), but I can't figure out the rather awkward refusal to acknowledge that the English "James" is the proper linguistic equivalent to "Iakovos". That's my biggest beef with this translation. It's simply jarring to come across when you're reading it.

But, yes, their notes are top-notch (although they would be improved if they were footnotes as opposed to endnotes) and I greatly enjoy the size of font they use (in both versions) and the thickness of paper used. A common problem I have with many Bibles and New Testaments is that the font is too small to read comfortably (which may just a problem with me getting older! :) ), and the paper being so thin that I can see the text written on the page beneath it, making it still more difficult to read!

That's just my two kopecks. Your mileage may vary.

#10 Father David Moser

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:50 PM

Now, I have to admit that I too, am rather puzzled about the ONT's allergy to the name "James". They seem to translate "Iohannes" into the English "John" readily enough (along with almost all other personal names), but I can't figure out the rather awkward refusal to acknowledge that the English "James" is the proper linguistic equivalent to "Iakovos".


If you knew the translatress - and the "bishop" who oversees the translation - you would understand. They are both exceedingly correct and their monasteries form the core of an old calendrist Greek micro-jurisdiction. Thus you might understand that there is a very rigid and uncompromising understanding of the "right way" to do things.

Fr David

#11 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:09 PM

Father Cyprian, I think you misunderstand the term 'critical' when applied to scholarly writing: a critical review is not one that is negative or opposed, but one that critically (read carefully) analysing the approach, methods, conclusions, etc., of a piece of writing. It may, in fact, be wholly positive and sympathetic, but it is so in a critical manner, rather an uncritical - which proceeds largely by emotion, personal preference, and the like.

#12 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:20 PM

Father Cyprian, I think you misunderstand the term 'critical' when applied to scholarly writing: a critical review is not one that is negative or opposed, but one that critically (read carefully) analysing the approach, methods, conclusions, etc., of a piece of writing. It may, in fact, be wholly positive and sympathetic, but it is so in a critical manner, rather an uncritical - which proceeds largely by emotion, personal preference, and the like.


It seems I truly have misunderstood the term. :) Just in case it isn't clear to all and sundry that I am relatively uneducated and a rather dim bulb to begin with! I'll spend the next hour or so laughing at myself about how thoroughly I can make an idiot of myself on monachos! Oy!

Thank you Fr Irenaeus for the clarification. And, yes, Fr David, I suspected as much. I've heard Metropolitan Jonah describe the ONT as "reading like someone's Greek homework" - and after recalling the one semester I took of NT Greek, I think he's right.

But, I think I'll be quiet now before I make a bigger fool of myself... :)

#13 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:14 AM

The problem with Jacob/James is that they're translated into English in different ways: the Patriarch is 'Jacob' whereas the brother of the Lord is 'James' - these are the same. The same is true with Joshua/Jesus and other examples. It would be helpful (in my opinion) to have a consistent translation of names in one edition of the bible (although of course there are problems with this).

In Xp

Alex

#14 Christophoros

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 04:07 PM

The abbot of Dormition Skete has publicly stated the reason "Iakovos" was not translated as "James" in the ONT is because of a conspiracy perpetrated by King James I of England (of King James Version fame). He supposedly wanted his name inserted into Scripture, so ordered Iakovos to be translated as James instead of Jacob. Since James has been accepted by the English-speaking Christian world, to use Jacob would cause confusion, so Iakovos was left untranslated.

This is, of course, nonsense. When it was pointed out to the abbot that the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament, which was translated into English prior to the KJV and outside of England, translated Iakovos as James, there was no response.

#15 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:02 PM

This is, of course, nonsense. When it was pointed out to the abbot that the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament, which was translated into English prior to the KJV and outside of England, translated Iakovos as James, there was no response.


Ah, yes, conspiracies, and the ever present logic that any and all evidence to the contrary is part of the conspiracy. Real open minds there!

#16 Daniel Williamson

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 07:50 PM

I just ordered the two part set for myself. I am excited to check it out. I hope they don't translate phelonion as cloak...

2 Timothy 4:13 (New International Version)

13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

#17 Kosta

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 10:49 PM

I just ordered the two part set for myself. I am excited to check it out. I hope they don't translate phelonion as cloak...

2 Timothy 4:13 (New International Version)

13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.


Unforunately they do.

#18 David Hawthorne

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:24 AM

I call this version the KIV: King Iakovos Version. Also, when chanting it in Church, I always say James because I find their transliteration Iakovos to be irritating.

#19 Daniel Williamson

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 02:19 AM

Unforunately they do.



Yeah, I was afraid of that. The EOB based on the Partriarchal Text gets it wrong as well. I have yet to see an English translation get that one right.

So, for those who own this do you mind giving you own review. What do you like and don't like?

#20 Nathaniel Woon

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:39 AM

I can't say I find the translation engaging - I love the endnotes mainly. I was thinking of getting a one volume ONT though and now I am in two minds about it...




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