Thomas Nelson Markets the Orthodox Study Bible

Thomas Nelson has launched a website for Book Review Bloggers [now BookSneeze] in which they offer a free review copy of the Orthodox Study Bible to those who sign up. This, it seems to me, is an effort to offset the severe beating that the unfortunate OSB has taken in the blogosphere on account of the general shoddiness of both its translation and annotations. For links to several reviews of that lamentable volume, as well as some musings of my own, simply search this blog for the term “Orthodox Study Bible.”

Anyone interested in Nelson titles, in any case, would do well to take advantage of that publisher’s “streamlining” of the review copy request process. It should be noted that they offer such copies not only to bloggers, but also to anyone willing to review their books on such retail websites as amazon.com and christianbooks.com. Reviews must be at least 200 words long.

And speaking of Orthodoxy and study Bibles, our good friend Kevin Edgecomb has posted a typically excellent evaluation of Robert Letham’s section on “Eastern Orthodoxy” in an article for the ESV Study Bible entitled “The Bible in Christianity.” Taking Kevin’s comments together with Iyov’s sharp assessment of the corresponding section on contemporary Judaism in the same study Bible, the emerging picture is not particularly favorable to the ESV-SB’s attempted engagement of non-Evangelicals.

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12 responses to “Thomas Nelson Markets the Orthodox Study Bible

  1. One of the benefits of being anonymous is that I don’t have to deal with ethical problems of “free books” for those publishers seeking reviews. I cannot fault those who do seek out free books, but I prefer the freedom that comes with “no strings attached” when I buy my own copies.

    I not that in addition to the OSB, the recent NLT-SB and ESV-SB featured heavy “free giveaways” to blogges — and I must say (with some notable exceptions) most of the reception of these works was uncritical acceptance.

    The disconnect is further heightened because the study Bibles that dominate in undergraduate classes and mainline seminaries (the Oxford New Annotated Bible, Jewish Study Bible, Catholic Study Bible, the New Interpreter’s Study Bible and the HarperCollins Study Bible) are not getting similar attention from the blogosphere, although they clearly dominate the academic market. Study Bibles from Zondervan, Nelson, Tyndale, or Crossway are interesting, but they hardly compete against the far more serious study Bibles that dominate in the classroom.

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  2. Thanks for the the tips. I often vote against myself and bite the hand that feeds me so I don’t see any real ethical problems.

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  3. Robert> You're quite welcome, of course!

    Iyov> I agree that there is a problem with certain bloggers reviewing overwhelmingly positively the books they receive for free, but I think the issue has less to do with the books being free as with the perceived "obligation" toward the publisher that said bloggers often feel. As you know, the practice of sending free "review copies" to journals is very well established, and publishers had very little reason to expect that their books would be favorably reviewed in every instance. Bloggers unaccustomed to the tone of journal reviews, however, come to feel a certain duty to "market" the books they receive when in reality they have no such responsibility: their job is simply to evaluate honestly the book they've received. At least Nelson, in the page linked above, makes a point to state that the reviews can be either positive or negative.

    Of course, there's also the fact that most of us request books that we're bound to like or agree with, and this too results in overwhelmingly positive reviews. I know this is certainly the case with many of the books I've requested, but of course, there are always surprises: two books I recently received are thoroughly disappointing, and my reviews, currently in draft (like all the others, ugh!) will inevitably show that. Of course, one must avoid the well-known pitfall of criticizing a book for not being what the reviewer thinks it should have been.

    I certainly agree with your comments re: academic study Bibles vs. the others, but I think that the reason they don't receive as much attention in the blogosphere is that they are not of recent publication, and their target audiences are already well aware of them.

    Charles> Yet more proof that you are a man after mine own heart. ;-)

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  4. I was not offered a free copy of the Orthodox Study Bible or anything very good. I was hoping to review the NKJV Chronological Bible or even the Voice (I admit it). I would have even settled for the book about Obama. But I settled for “Moon Shines Down.” The kids will be happy at least.

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  5. Esteban,

    I know that you cannot print my pithy rejection of the OSB. However, it is based on the fact that this sorry tome does not follow the Greek ZOE model. There is stuff missing, for God’s sake, let alone the clueless “iconography” (save for the Kontoglou piece, of course). That disqualifies it front-and-centre, no need to go any further.

    Now, for a “public” version of my comment to you: “Time to take out the trash!” BTW, Esteban, I have come to agree with you. The OSB is NOT fit fuel for a weenie roast. It would spoil good ol’ fashioned hot dogs.

    ¡Salud!

    Vara
    “still puckish after all these years”

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  6. I think it’s so convenient that there are sensible people who will read the OSB and let me know that it is, in fact, as useless as it appeared from a quick perusal before someone bought it, when I was selling books at our church bookstore. The icons and the lack of sources in in the notes had me deciding not to buy it, and I haven’t changed my mind yet. And I don’t think Nelson would be wanting to give a free one anyway. I hardly count as a blogger.

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  7. I do daresay there is only way to go. Metropolitans Jonah and Hilarion should appoint a board to look over the ZOE edition, then, amend the AV accordingly. Jordanville could oversee the project and print the result. The MP should be brought in, then, we could use the resources of the MDA, amongst other institutions. It should be an all-Orthodox affair, with no participation of the heterodox. Let’s get real! The heterodox are not part of the Church, and all we are interested in is the Recieved Text, in any case. THAT is what the Church has approved, full stop.

    We are either in obedience to the Church or we are in thrall to scholarly windbags. I prefer the first, what about you?

    Vara

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  8. That sounds like a good idea to me. From the AV, I do think a certain amount of language updating, as well as corrections of meaning, would be warranted, though it might open a bit of a Pandora’s Box. I think translations that are true, good English are very important, and the AV is certainly that, if a slightly older version—I wouldn’t want that tampered with. Jordanville overseeing/publishing sounds better that SVS at any rate. But an all Orthodox project sounds good to me. It seems that the current project accomplished both too much (those icons! no, but other things too) and too little; I would be happy just to have an accurate translation of what is available in Greek and Slavonic. (Icons do not belong in Bibles, except as illuminations included with the text. IMHO.)

    I prefer your first option, as I hope most sane people do, but I also have very little patience for most modern Biblical scholarship, which probably a failing on my part.

    (By the way… Metropolitan Jonah!! Eis polla eti, despota!)

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  9. The icons are the very same ones included in the earlier version of the Orthodox Study Bible that had only the New Testament and Psalms. They included them even after years of people having complained about them!

    There are some other pan-Orthodox small groups and various individuals working on translations now. I’ll have to dig up links on them all. Peter Papoutsis comes to mind, and Fr Cleenewerck’s Eastern Orthodox Bible, but I know there are others, whose names I can’t remember. Fr Cleenewerck’s people include Orthodox from various jurisdictions; I’ve spoken to him on the phone, and he’s very conscientious. His project is nothing like the OSB fiasco. Peter Papoutsis is Greek Orthodox, of course, and he’s doing a splendid job alone.

    The problem that would happen with an approach that is simply editing the KJV would be the very great differences throughout the Hebrew texts and Greek texts in the Old Testament. That’s the biggest complaint about the problems with the new OSB, that they did just that: tried to alter the NKJV toward the Septuagint, but they didn’t alter it enough, missed tons of differences, and just ended up with something that’s just plain all-around ugly, as much from a scholarly as an aesthetic standpoint. That is vastly disappointing, as the OSB project did not originally start out that way; it would’ve been a much better product if they’d stuck to the original plan. Too bad about that.

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  10. The “Orthodox New Testament” published by Holy Apostles Convent is probably the closest thing to a revised AV based on the ZOE. It is also hyper-literalistic and overtranslates at times. Strangely, in a few instance I found that there was an intentional deviation from the ZOE noted in the footnotes. But the patristic commentary is well worth it.

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  11. Esteban is certainly correct about bloggers requesting books that they are likely to enjoy and review positively. I can say that 85% of my reviews are positive, not because the books are free, but rather because the titles are those of interest written by scholars of interest. The free books will keep coming no matter how positive or negative the review is (at least for most publishers).

    Concerning “marketing” these products, there’s really nothing wrong with that if that’s what a blogger feels compelled to do. They’re under no obligation to be critical in their review, and let’s face it, blogs are not academic journals. I’d also point out that some reviews in academic journals are as unhelpful as some reviews on blogs, but rather than marketing the book in question they’re marketing a certain theory or rant that the “reviewer” probably couldn’t get published elsewhere. The “review” just becomes the springboard to sneak a journal article in where it didn’t belong in the first place.

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