In the first post, Henry calls our attention to the awkward English often found in the OSB text by drawing specific examples from Isaiah 64. As he rightly notes there, “[i]t would seem like a few minutes checking with ordinary speakers of English would suggest some alternative” to any number of less than smooth renderings in the OSB, but it is one of the many failures of that project that it did not subject its translation drafts to very many levels of stylistic review and correction. (The contrast at this point with other translation projects is striking; more about this later.)
In the second post, Henry picks up on a lamentable flaw already criticized over a decade ago by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash in his review of the NT edition, and which regretfully also occurs in the complete OSB. Father Ephrem writes:
” [….] The notes to the New Testament are on the whole straightforward and some readers will find them a help in understanding many of the words and ideas in the text. Most of them though are dull and many of them jejune in the extreme. As a friend put it to me, they remind one of the notes to some school editions of Shakespeare. ‘King Lear plans to divide his kingdom between his daughters’, or ‘Hamlet wonders if it would be a good idea to commit suicide.’ In this book we find similar notes all too often, such as that on Luke 16:11: ‘True riches signify spiritual treasures’, or that on Luke 16:25 ‘This conversation is not between God and the rich man, but between Abraham and the rich man.’ The level is that of a not very bright Sunday School class. Critical questions are avoided by simply not being discussed at all. This is unsatisfactory, since many readers will be seeking help on just these questions. What should have been provided is an article setting out clearly how an Orthodox reader of the Bible should approach these problems. The solution adopted here is a further instance of what I call the attitude of the double-headed Byzantine ostrich.
” [….] In general, what Orthodox readers need is to be helped to enter into the spiritual teaching of the Gospel, which is about theology, in the true sense, about the great mystery of the coming of God incarnate into human history, about the response of the sinner to the loving invitation of Christ. They will hardly be helped to any of this by being told that Luke 24:13-35 is ‘a delightful account of a resurrection appearance of Christ’, which sounds more like a description of the visit of the Bishop to the parish sale of work.”
It is no doubt true that the quality of the notes has improved when compared to those found in the New Testament edition, and that patristic quotations appear more readily in them (though, as the much-missed Felix Culpa has pointed out, these are largely useless, since no bibliographical reference whatever is given for citations). So, again, the annotation system in the complete OSB is demonstrably better than that of the OSB-NT, but that is an embarrassing standard for comparison: surely it doesn’t take much effort to outdo the latter! It is much to be regretted that when held to other standards, many of the notes in the new OSB remain “jejune in the extreme.”
In any event, I look forward to Henry’s future observations on the OSB as he continues to work his way through lectionary texts using that volume.