Frequent readers of this blog will know that, ever since I learned of the project a couple of years ago, I have followed with keen interest the developments surrounding the upcoming publication of the Greek / Eastern Orthodox Bible (EOB), edited by Fr Laurent Cleenewerck. Although the project website does not appear to have been updated in quite some time, interested parties should note that the final edition of the New Testament seems to have been released last year as scheduled, and is available for download and purchase. The EOB Old Testament still awaits completion.
Of course, the chief selling point of the EOB NT is that it professes to be a translation of the Patriarchal Text of the New Testament, which is thus far the only authoritative edition of the Ecclesiastical Text of the New Testament as used in the Orthodox Church. There are various ways of testing this claim: for instance, one could look at such texts as St Matthew 19:9 or St Mark 9:29 and check whether they conform to the Critical Text or to the Ecclesiastical Text. One may safely assume, however, that any translation that seeks to represent the so-called “Byzantine texttype” will not neglect the places where the Ecclesiastical Text and the Critical Text at more obviously at variance. A better test, I believe, would be to check the translation at places where the differences are subtler.
One such place is Romans 12:1-2, which reads as follows in the Patriarchal New Testament:
Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ, παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν, ἁγίαν, εὐάρεστον τῷ Θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν, καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθαι τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθαι τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν, εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον.
The Critical Text is virtually identical to the Ecclesiastical Text here, except for three small differences in verse 2: for the more polished infinitives συσχηματίζεσθαι and μεταμορφοῦσθαι, it has the rougher imperatives συσχηματίζεσθε and μεταμορφοῦσθε (a variant obviously arising from “faulty hearing,” to borrow Metzger’s charming description), and there is no ὑμῶν modifying νοὸς. Interestingly, the Textus Receptus (which lies behind the King James and New King James Versions) agrees with the Critical Text in the first two instances, and with the Ecclesiastical Text on the third.
The EOB NT has the following:
Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational offering of divine service. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
So it turns out that the EOB reflects here the reading, not of the Ecclesiastical Text, but of the Textus Receptus! A translation of the former perhaps would have run more or less as follows:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational offering of divine service; and to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Further, there is no footnote documenting the textual variant at this point. It is true that the EOB only promises to note significant variants; but this admittedly minor textual variation represents a distinctive reading of the Ecclesiastical Text that was for whatever reason not reflected in the text of the EOB, and it ought to have been at least footnoted.
Fortunately, while the EOB might have failed this particular test, it remains on the whole a successful (if at points peculiar) translation of the Church’s Text—and given the nature of the project, one can trust that as minor blemishes such as the one here discussed continue to surface, the translation will only continue to be improved.