Rather disappointing (though not of course surprising, given the source) is the fact that only the protocanonical books of the Old Testament are included. An edition of this type including the full Syrian canon would be a fantastic accomplishment, but needless to say, the wise should not hold their breath. This edition (along with, I believe, all other B&H Bibles) also prints Christ’s words in red. To quote Fr Ephrem Lash once again on this point, “I must protest most vigorously against the wholly unorthodox inverted Arianism of the typography whereby the words of Christ are printed in salmon pink, while his heavenly Father has to be content with mere black along with Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate.” Also printed in red are the “Messianic prophecies” of the Old Testament (not whole passages, naturally: only verses, and in some cases, even less than that; cf. Genesis 12:3). I’m quite unsure as to what advantage(s), if any, this crypto-Marcionite practice may present to the reader.
A peculiarity of this translation is that it uses the name “Yahweh” (and not “Yahveh,” which would be a more natural Spanish transcription) for the Tetragrammaton—and this not only in the Old Testament, but even in the New (and, in the latter case, even outside quotations from the OT; cf. II Peter 3:9). According to the relation of names in the back, this is because the translators understand the Aramaic Marya to be a contraction of Mar Yah, that is, “Lord Yahweh.” I am told, however, that R. Payne Smith’s standard lexicon indicates no such roots for Marya; and, as I recall, Aramaist extraordinaire Sebastian Brock specifically notes that it is merely an emphatic form of mar. I wonder, then, at the appropriateness of the use of this idiosyncratic translation. As I understand the matter, the use of Marya in the Peshitta simply parallels that of the anarthrous Kyrios in the LXX as a replacement of the Tetragrammaton (and indeed, the standard replacement of Adonai for YHWH in Hebrew reading). And of course, it should be noted that failing to render Marya as “Lord” throughout the Old and New Testaments makes it exceedingly difficult to read the Peshitta as the foundational text of the Syriac Patristic tradition, which no less less than the Greek, relies on this use of “Lord” for YHWH in the Old Testament to read it christologically.
In spite of the limitations and problems listed above, this new translation of the Peshitta into Spanish (the only one, in fact, readily available in print) remains a valuable contribution to the advancement of Biblical knowledge in the Spanish speaking world, and for this we are greatly in the translators’ and the publishers’ debt.
II. Have you ever wondered about what kinds of projects the infallible Moisés Silva is up to from his retirement in Litchfield, MI? I, for one, often lie awake at night pondering this question. Well, during a recent trip to the local office of the United Bible Societies, I came across a copy of Un Comentario Textual al Nuevo Testamento Griego (shown to the left), a Spanish translation of the second edition of the late Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary by Alfredo Tepox and, you guessed it, Moisés Silva. This volume has been published by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, and therefore should be available through the United Bibles Societies anywhere around the globe. This is yet another important addition to the body of technical literature in biblical studies available in Spanish, and will surely be greeted with enthusiasm by both scholars and students alike. While I cannot comment on the quality of the translation as I didn’t acquire a copy (being that I have both the first and second editions of Metzger’s Textual Commentary already sitting on my shelf), readers of this blog are well aware that I haven’t yet met a project of Moisés Silva’s that I didn’t like, and so might suppose (rightly or wrongly) what my assessment would be! But of course, it may be that in a joint project such as this we might encounter a translated text of uneven quality; in that case, we would have recourse to the old rhyme regarding the Liddell and Scott lexicon, which goes:
Two men wrote a lexicon, Liddell and Scott;
Some parts were clever, but some parts were not.
Hear, all ye learned, and read me this riddle:
How the wrong parts wrote Scott, and the right parts wrote Liddell.
Naturally, in that imagined scenario, the right parts of Spanish Textual Commentary would be Silva’s, which would make Tepox the culprit, in the end. But of course, I only jest: I have no reason to doubt that this is an excellent translation, and hope that it will prove eminently useful throughout the Spanish speaking world (and beyond—I note that, so far, I have only been able to find it available for sale in German and Portuguese language websites).