On Matters Biblical, Translational, and Silvanical

I.

Readers will undoubtedly recall my previous notices of Michael Asser’s excellent KJV-LXX Psalter, which is happily now available both online (here and here) and in a beautiful printed edition from CTOS (albeit with some notable modifications). Mr Asser, it will be remembered, set out to conform the Old Testament of the venerable King James Version to the ecclesiastical text of the Greek Old Testament, hoping “as far as possible . . . to make a translation such as King James’ translators might have made had they been working from the Septuagint.” This, I believe, he has achieved with a remarkable degree of success. It is therefore with a great deal of enthusiasm that I note the completion of his Old Testament project, which is now available in full at the Orthodox England website. I encourage one and all to download these files and make frequent use of them, with due gratitude to the reviser for the priceless gift he has given the English-speaking Orthodox Church.

I have read somewhere that Mr Asser has tentatively started to work on the KJV’s Gospel of St Matthew in order to bring it into conformity with the 1904 Patriarchal Greek New Testament. While he has not committed himself to a full-fledged New Testament project, I, for one, hope that he does carry out a full revision of the KJV New Testament to supplement his KJV-LXX Old Testament. In this way we would have, at long last, an accurate and stylistically consistent English edition of the entire Church’s Bible suitable for use at the Divine Services.

II.

Of course, the appearance of a fine edition of the Church’s Bible in what may be described as hieratic English does not at all remove the need for an accessible Orthodox translation of the Scriptures into contemporary standard English. While I have high hopes for the EOB in this regard, I have often wondered why an Orthodox edition of at least the RSV New Testament was never produced, especially in view of the fact that the Roman Catholics prepared just such an edition for themselves in 1966.  I was therefore thrilled to learn through a comment in our friend Kevin Edgecomb’s blog that a diglot edition featuring the 1904 Patriarchal Greek Text and an Orthodox revision of the RSV New Testament is in the works and will be published by the American Bible Society. I have often recommended to others the RSV-CE for the purposes of private reading, study, and memorization, and I’m simply delighted to know that in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future there will be an Orthodox edition of the RSV New Testament to recommend instead. The fact that the Greek text will be printed alongside the English translation only makes this forthcoming publication all the more appealing!

III.

In other matters, I would like to direct your attention to an excellent interview with New Testament scholar Gordon D. Fee in which he discusses rather at length the interpretation of the book of Revelation. [H/T: Near Emmaus.] I do not often watch interviews with scholars, as I tend to find them tedious and contrived; frankly, this is not a natural medium for most academics. I had therefore expected to skip around the interview and perhaps catch a soundbite or two worth hearing, but I ended up committing my undivided attention to the video for the entire 32 minutes of its duration. I fervently recommend that you do the same. Fee’s commentary on Revelation for the New Covenant Commentary Series is set to appear later this year.

(It should be noted that my ringing endorsement of this interview with Fee does not in any way suggest that I condone his odd and often unwarranted antagonism to the infallible Moisés Silva’s published views on the interpretation of Philippians. The rather astonishing exchange may be read throughout Fee’s 1995 commentary on that epistle for the NICNT, with responses in the second edition of Silva’s commentary on the same epistle for the BECNT.)

IV.

And speaking of our Infallible Hero, it is my solemn and glorious duty to inform you that Westminster Theological Seminary has made available through their Audio Archive, entirely for free, eighty-one MP3 files containing various sermons, lectures, and even complete courses delivered by Silva at that institution from 1977 to 1996. These include his courses on New Testament Introduction, the Gospel of St John, and the Epistle to the Galatians, the CDs for which otherwise sell for a combined $300 (!).  Use of the Westminster Audio Archive only requires a quick and painless registration, which is really nothing to ask for access to such a massive repository of absolutely first-rate resources. Enjoy!

I have yet to download all of the recordings of our Infallible Hero, but I have been listening to his New Testament Introduction course, which is also available through Westminster’s iTunes U page. In the very first lecture of this course, there is a line at the 10:00 minute mark that I know could give rise to doubt in the hearts of weaker brethren, for which reason I have decided to discuss it here. Silva says:

“I don’t try to give you every bit of information, and some may get garbled; not everything that I tell you is absolutely infallible.”

But of course, we know that Silva is infallible. How then can we reconcile this with a propositional statement from our Infallible Hero himself in which, of all things, he seems to claim that he is not?  The crucial thing to be remembered by those troubled weaker brethren who may be tempted to abandon Silvanic infallibility is that, above all, the wise pedagogue is here offering his students a tremendous lesson in humility. But note that his statement above is very carefully worded so as to avoid any formal contradiction: in stating that not everything he says is “absolutely infallible,” he is in fact implying that most everything else he does say is. And when one remembers that even this quite limited protestation is born of the noblest modesty, one can easily discern that our Infallible Hero did not actually contradict the fact of his infallibility here.

(For some reason not at all clear to my mind, after the foregoing I feel compelled to tell you the following apocryphal story. It is well known that, in addition to the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience common to all Roman Catholic religious, the Jesuits profess a fourth vow of special obedience to the Pope of Rome. Legend has it that, immediately after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI communicated to the Jesuit General Congregation of 1965-6 his desire that the this fourth vow be abolished, but that the Jesuits politely declined to do so.)

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2 responses to “On Matters Biblical, Translational, and Silvanical

  1. You’re welcome, Nick! And it’s not only Silva, of course, but also Van Til, Young, Clowney, Frame, McCartney, Poythress, Longman, and a host of others who have served in what has historically been a stellar faculty. To say the WTS Audio Archive is a treasure is to significantly underestimate its value!

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