Coming Soon: A Study Edition of the ESV Apocrypha

As many of you know, soon after the publication of the English Standard Version in 2001, lively interest arose in various quarters of its target constituencies for an edition of this translation that would include the so-called Old Testament Apocrypha (more commonly known as the Deuterocanonicals among Roman Catholics, and as the Anaginoskomena among the Orthodox). For quite some time the publishers were at the very least hesitant to entertain this possibility. Demand for such an edition must have been great, however, since in the end they worked out a compromise that allowed the Oxford University Press to commission and publish under their own imprint an edition of the ESV with the Apocrypha. This, in turn allowed Crossway to disassociate themselves from the publication of that particular edition, as the following statement from the FAQs section of the ESV website shows:

Crossway will not be publishing the ESV in editions with the Apocrypha. An edition of the ESV with the Apocrypha is being developed by Oxford University Press and is expected to be available in early 2009.

(It should be noted, of course, that this strict Evangelical opposition to publishing Bibles that reflect the larger canons of other Christian traditions is not unique to Crossway; it also stands behind the unyielding decision of Biblica not to allow the publication of an NIV/TNIV Apocrypha. As I have mentioned before, among Evangelical publishers, Tyndale was perhaps the first to show the initiative to produce an edition of the deuterocanonical books of the Roman Catholic canon as part of the NLT Catholic Edition. I am happy to report that, since then, Baker has also published a one-volume edition of these same books as part of GOD’S WORD Translation.)

While OUP’s promotional materials for this edition coldly state that this would be “the only ESV with Apocrypha available anywhere,” it appears that this will not be the case after all. I have recently learned that Concordia Publishing House is hard at work on a study edition of the ESV Apocrypha that will serve as a companion volume to the recently published Lutheran Study Bible. A short description of the project by its editor, Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, may be read here. Surprisingly, this edition will print the text of all of the books of the Anaginoskomena, though it will provide introductions and notes only for those books included by Luther in his German translation of the Bible. The projected publication date is 2012.

While there are a number of study editions of the full Anaginoskomena now available, most of these are critical scholarly editions which, for that very reason, do not seek to relate the contents of these books to the life of any faith community. (As a matter of fact, it seems as though, for all of its many faults, the Orthodox Study Bible features the only annotated edition of these books that programmatically attempts to do this. [UPDATE: It is not: I overlooked the Life with God Bible, which also features faith-oriented annotations to the entire Anaginoskomena.]) Of course, one of the distinctive features of the Lutheran Study Bible is precisely that it seeks to read the Scriptures both confessionally and ecclesiastically, and it will doubtless be fascinating to see how these twin commitments are brought to bear on what by classical Lutheran standards are edifying and even sacred textsalbeit not canonical.

9 responses to “Coming Soon: A Study Edition of the ESV Apocrypha

  1. Thanks for the info. The opposition to deutero/apocryphal books are too our detriment sadly. The only good thing about excluding them is that a small carry Bible is thinner and lighter without them.


  2. Esteban,

    Very interesting. Looking only at your title to the post, I initially thought maybe Oxford would be producing a study edition of the ESV w/ Apocrypha which would have been, IMHO, very intriguing. Oh well! Should still be interesting to look at.

    You are right about the lack of commentaries on the Deuterocanonicals that focus more on the faith of individuals or communities, as opposed to critical editions. I think the two best example for us Papists would be the Navarre Bible commentary, which takes much of its commentary from the saints, popes, and councils. Also, there is the ongoing Ignatius Catholic Study Bible which just competed the NT and is now moving into the OT. Although this SB is taking a long time to compete, I find that it has a really good mix of historical and pastoral info.

    And of course, when I say ‘us papists’ I do not include you in that! ;)


  3. Is this ESV the translation you would recommend for an Orthodox American attempting to find a faithful translation of the Scriptures to study, commit to memory, and teach his children?


  4. Nathan> You’re welcome, and what a pleasure to have you comment here!

    Good point about the smaller size of a thinline or compact Bible without the Apocrypha, but have you seen the compact RSV-CEs published by Oxford? These are compact Bibles that include the books in the Roman Catholic OT canon, but they’re really no larger than other Bibles of similar size! I think it can easily be done, but that the publishers conspire together against us.

    Tim> But I thought you preferred “Son of Popery”! ;-)

    Roman Catholic editions are the natural exception to my statement above since, after all, your church considers these book as canonical Scripture as well. Still, from my perspective, any Roman Catholic annotated edition is necessarily incomplete, since it does not include the all the books of the Anaginoskomena, but only those canonized at Trent. This is why I suggested that, other than the relevant portions of the lamentable OSB, no other full annotated edition of the Apocrypha seeks to approach these books from a faith perspective. However, I spoke to soon: I had forgotten about the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible (recently reprinted as the Life with God Bible), which does have full annotations for the entire Anaginoskomena from the perspective of the brand of ecumenical Christian spiritual formation that Renovaré promotes. This has its own set of problems, but it does exist!

    Isaac> While ESV with Apocrypha might be good to have as one of only a few editions of the Bible in English that include the full Anaginoskomena, I would instead recommend the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition for the purposes you describe.


  5. Well timed! My copy of the ESV with Apocrypha just arrived today.

    I don’t know about the RSV-CE, but another thing I do appreciate about the OSB, despite its many faults, is that it’s the only Bible I possess that actually puts the Anaginoskomena into their proper place in the OT rather than relegating them to some peculiar place between the Testaments, or worse, as with the ESV, after the NT!


  6. Most Lutherans today for all practical purposes would consider the canon to be the same as the 66 book Protestant list. However, there is nothing within the confessions that would require a minister to hold to that position. As a confessional Lutheran, a person could regard the full Anaginoskomena as canonical. A confessional Lutheran could reject the Apocolypse as canonical.

    As a confessional Lutheran myself, I find the homologoumena/antilegomena distinction very helpful. I regard the Anaginoskomena as sort of a third level (or fourth or fifth) in the canon. I regard the homologoumena (especially the Gospels) as primary in establishing theology. I have no problems with regarding the Anaginoskomena as long as they are read through the lens of the homologoumena and descriptive events contained in them are not read as if they are prescriptive. In my own disputes with Roman Catholics I find that they are almost always quoting from the antilegomena when they are engaged in theological debate which does not seem to give the prominence to the Gospels that the historic liturgy requires.


  7. Aaron> Well, as you know, I have a knack for the kairotic! ;-) What do you think of it thus far?

    The RSV-CE places the Roman Catholic deuterocanonical books in their proper Vulgate order, which is as it should be. And indeed, the OSB must be commended for placing the books in the standard Septuagintal order. That said, I am not sure that having the Anaginoskomena all together “between the Testaments” is such a big problem. For one thing, it is uncertain that something could be made of the ordering of books in the LXX as “canonical shape,” as it has been done for both the Protestant Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible. Then there’s the fact that these books, while interspersed among all the others in the LXX, do belong to a definite corpus and in that sense belong together. Still, I’d prefer to see them in the usual LXX order — and definitely not together after the New Testament!

    Charles> Now there are a couple of fine words you don’t hear much anymore! The notion of various “levels” within the canon is quite sound and helpful, and I used it (I think profitably) in my earlier post on Bible reading, precisely in connection with the primacy of the Gospels. As for the matter of “establishing theology,” our respective approaches to matter understandably differ, but the end result is that we both object (for different reasons) to the use of the Anaginoskomena that you describe. I think it would be helpful to examine patristic and liturgical sources to learn how they employ the Anaginoskomena in various contexts. I am certain, however, that one would be hard-pressed to find the sort of use one finds in traditional Roman Catholic apologetics — or, for that matter, in the scholastic theological handbooks of both Rome and the Reformation. (But this latter point is more connected to questions of theological method.)


  8. Well, of course I haven’t really used it, or even had a chance to examine it thoroughly just yet. I’m very busy at the moment editing a book and getting ready to start teaching in a couple of weeks (and the latest news is that I’m to be preaching once a month at school as well!). I’ll let you know what I think when I do have more time. We use the ESV for corporate Psalm-reading at school, so I should have plenty of opportunity to examine the Psalter.

    I see what you mean about the ‘canonical shape’ of the book order. Still, like you, I prefer to have the LXX order to the sense that you get from the alternatives that we don’t really know what to do with these things!


  9. A copy of The Reformation Study Bible was just delivered yesterday for my personal use at the school where I’m teaching, and I see the infallible Moises de Silva served as the NT editor as well as a contributor! I did find myself quite confused by the distinction between between ‘free agency’ and ‘free will’ spelled out in one of the little mini-essays appended somewhere to the Prophet Jeremiah, but I suppose MdS cannot be held responsible for that.


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