As soon as it became available I ordered my copy of the Mosaic Bible (it has not yet arrived – hence, clearly, this post is a preview, not a review). I have a good collection of translations, I have studied Hebrew and Koine Greek for my theology degree, and I have a number of study and devotional Bibles. I think the Mosaic Bible will be an interesting, and I hope at times useful, addition to my collection.
The Mosaic Bible (and the adjective refers, possibly surprisingly, certainly confusingly, not to Moses but to a composite picture) is a two column edition of the Living Bible Translation with minimal study tools. In the front of this Bible is a clearly separate section with images, quotes, reading suggestions, reflections, and space for notes linked to the church year. . Another of my followers tweeted me that I am quoted a couple of times and this website referenced in this Bible (some other bloggers received a free review copy – I’m not complaining that I didn’t – does that make my preview and possible future review less biased? 🙂 Or does my being quoted and referenced lead to bias…?)
We are promised excellent contemporary and historical writings chosen from Christians across the globe such as St. Augustine, Charles Wesley, and Henri Nouwen (and, apparently, Bosco Peters!). There are icons in the margins of the text to indicate which Scripture passages are linked to which writings. There is attractive full-colour art from contemporary and historical artists. I will be interested to see the Greek and Hebrew word studies resources in the back.
The liturgical year in the Mosaic Bible assigns some readings and a theme to each of 53 weeks in the year. Weeks are assigned in a fairly normal manner from Advent to Pentecost. But in contemporary lectionaries (RCL; 3 Year Lectionary) from Pentecost to Advent (about half the year) readings are not assigned by “Sunday’s after Pentecost” as in the Mosaic Bible, but by the Sunday’s date (closest to an assigned date). This means there may generally be no correlation between readings suggested in the Mosaic Bible and readings read in a majority of the world’s churches for that Sunday for half the year. Furthermore, these contemporary lectionaries (RCL; 3 Year Lectionary) do not work to or from a “theme” but, especially for the half year I am referring to, provide a smorgasbord of readings to nourish the faithful. Finally, contemporary lectionaries provide a three year cycle. The Mosaic Bible only provides a one year cycle – hence, the chances that the readings of the Mosaic Bible are the same as in church would only about one in six!
I do not understand, however, why the official site states “This is the 20th week of Pentecost (“Creativity”), pg m278“. Sunday September 27 was the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. That was “Proper 21” in BCP (TEC USA) organisation of the lectionary – so until I have my hands on the actual Bible, I will have to wait and see how this all pans out – but for those of you holding the book, or looking to purchase it in a shop – these might be some of the questions you could be asking. This may be a way that those who have never experienced the Judaio-Christian discipline of lectionary and church year get a taster for it – but it may also be a major leap from this to contemporary practice in these areas. For those familiar with the contemporary lectionary this may feel very Lectionary Lite.
What we in the liturgical, lectionary tradition could find seriously useful is a Bible which indicated when a particular text is read in church within the text such as is done in The Orthodox Study Bible or differently in The CTS New Catholic Bible A reverse lectionary in the Bible.
New Living Translation
The Living Bible was published in 1971. It was a paraphrase of the American Standard Version of 1901 by Kenneth Taylor. It became highly popular in the early 70s. In 1996 a revision, this time based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts, was published as as the New Living Translation. A complete reworking of this translation, still with the same title, but now called the “second edition” was published in 2004. Even further revisions were made in 2007 – but not only has the title New Living Translation been retained, but this later revision is still, extremely confusingly, called the “second edition”. The “second edition” in the Mosaic Bible excludes the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books of the Bible (so cannot be seen to be the Bible for over half of the world’s Christians). Some quick checks of some important translation texts would get a reasonable but not excellent score from me. Isaiah 7:14 has the translation of the Greek Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Masoretic in the text (which they state is being used). There is a footnote indicating the alternative – but not as in other (nearby) footnotes where there is honesty about which is the Hebrew and which is the Greek. Verses on atonement have not been skewed through a particular theory of atonement. This is worth comparing with the NIV and ESV. My own standard, after the original texts, is the NRSV – keeping a good eye on its footnotes. (I must acknowledge a natural innate prejudice against our English-language tendency to keep multiplying translations; I question whom it profits, whom it glorifies; I question the motivation and the slanting; a handful of different translations following different methodology and for different purposes might be justified, but in English we are well beyond handsandfeetful!)
In this preview I suggest if you have a number of Bibles and are looking for one that has a different devotional approach, consider seriously adding this to your collection. If, however, you are looking for the ONE Bible that will be your primary Bible for study and devotion – then I think that might be a good topic for a future blog post. Meanwhile I enthusiastically look forward to my (non-free, non-review, LOL) copy arriving.