The First Testament: A First Testament Professor’s Review

Jesus Creed | 2/18/2019 | Staff
Mandyixus (Posted by) Level 3
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Review of John Goldingay’s The First Testament by David Lamb, OT (ahem FT) professor at Missio Seminary.

What is your go-to translation for teaching, for preaching, for writing? How does FT compare with your go-to translation?

Translations - ESV - NAS - NIV - KJV

I have 4-5 English translations that I use regularly (ESV, NAS, NIV, KJV), but my primary Bible is NRSV. If one compares all of the modern translations, the differences between them are usually very slight. Goldingay’s First Testament is distinct, fresh, almost shockingly so at times. You encounter freshness in the first sentence of the FT, “At the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth…” (Gen 1:1), in the most famous psalm, “My shepherd being Yahweh, I don’t lack” (Psa 23:1), and in many people’s favorite verse, “I myself acknowledge the intentions that I’m formulating for you (Yahweh’s declaration), intentions for your well-being and not for bad things, to give you a future, a hope” (Jer 29:11). Some may find the FT too literal (particularly with Jer 29:11), but I love it because it sounds different. The newness gets your attention, and makes you think, to wonder why he expressed it that way. Usually, it’s because he is following the Hebrew closely.

How can this translation help students, pastors/preachers, and Bible readers in general?

Translators - Job - Translations - Readers - Bible

Many contemporary translators do such a great job of making their translations understandable, readable, and accessible, that it can be easy for modern readers to forget that the Bible was not originally written in English. Because of the literalness of the FT, one is more aware of the Hebrew (and occasionally Aramaic) background behind the text, which is a really good thing. Familiar names are often transliterated, not rendered as we may be accustomed (e.g., Egypt = Misrayim; Israel = Yisra’el; Judah = Yehudah). Hebrew word order is often followed, which allows...
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