Reviews by Raoul Comninos
March 5, 2013  |  1:58 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
At first I ignored this new version of the Bible, but began to take notice after I acquired an electronic form of the text. I began to use it as a tool for Bible comparison, and soon found that it is an important new translation that one should not ignore. The HCSB is notable for a number of reasons.

First, it is a completely fresh translation of the Bible, and not a revision of a translation. Most of the translations on the market today are revisions of translations (ESV, RSV, NRSV, ...
At first I ignored this new version of the Bible, but began to take notice after I acquired an electronic form of the text. I began to use it as a tool for Bible comparison, and soon found that it is an important new translation that one should not ignore. The HCSB is notable for a number of reasons.

First, it is a completely fresh translation of the Bible, and not a revision of a translation. Most of the translations on the market today are revisions of translations (ESV, RSV, NRSV, NKJV, NLT, REB). Even the NIV, which claims be a new translation, is greatly dependent upon the language of the RSV and KJV. The last completely "fresh" translation of the Bible was the New English Bible (1972).

Second, the HCSB, despite its independence actually harks back to the KJV in its METHOD, but not in its language. The KJV was mostly a literal translation of the Bible, but not slavishly so. The HCSB is literal where it can be, but not to the detriment of intelligibility. When it translates phrases in a non literal way, it is always careful not to go beyond what the text means, i.e. one will not find expansive interpretation here.

Third, the Holman tries and succeeds in making a translation into English people can understand. That does not mean "kitchen English", but good, literate English, that we use today. A good example is the word "Scribe" which is sometimes rendered in the HCSB as "a student of Scripture" (Matt 13.52).

Fourth, the HCSB took twenty years to make. It has been produced with great care, and has taken advantage of the latest computer technology, which has resulted in a version that is consistent. Many of the scholars who worked on this project were also involved in the NASB. The same dedication to accuracy and care that one finds in the NASB come through in the HCSB, although with the HCSB the approach and methodology, and hence resultant translation is different.

Fifth, the Bible is not afraid to render familiar biblical texts in a different way. For example, John 3.16 reads differently, but more accurately: "For God loved the world in this way ..." Older translations render "For God so loved ..." suggesting that the text is about the EXTENT of God's love, whereas the word HOUTOS shows not HOW MUCH, but HOW God loves. Another example, Psalm 23:3: "He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake." Here we find " right paths" instead of "in the paths of righteousness." The Hebrew is therefore more accurately rendered.
  [ FULL REVIEW ]
November 21, 2011  |  7:00 AM  |  Fantastic (5)
One of the best ways to determine the value of a resource is determine how often one turns to that resource for information. Over the years I have used several Hebrew lexicons, both German and English, including HALOT and more recently the 7 volume work by Clines (offered by Accordance in an updated and abridged version). However, there is no lexicon of Hebrew that I have used nearly as often as BDB, and it is almost always my first port of call.

The merits of this great work are now ...
One of the best ways to determine the value of a resource is determine how often one turns to that resource for information. Over the years I have used several Hebrew lexicons, both German and English, including HALOT and more recently the 7 volume work by Clines (offered by Accordance in an updated and abridged version). However, there is no lexicon of Hebrew that I have used nearly as often as BDB, and it is almost always my first port of call.

The merits of this great work are now fully established, as are some of its minor demerits which include its sometimes archaic English glosses, as well as its sometimes dubious analysis of the roots of certain Hebrew words. That said, BDB remains one of the finest ever scholarly achievements, and one would be naive to think that it is a work that can be ignored in favor of a more modern lexicon. I have found it to contain superior articles on most Hebrew words, especially on the particles. The quality of scholarship is of the highest order. The editors created a legacy that looms large over the world of Hebrew scholarship, and which can be felt in more recent works like Clines, which is rooted in that tradition of lexica.

Most importantly, the definitions offered in BDB are extremely accurate, and unlike HALOT they do not come to the English reader via a translation from the German. The Accordance electronic edition of BDB allows a user to find the exact text one is looking for with the click of a button. The presentation its clear and well ordered. In my opinion, the Accordance module presentation is superior to the so-called ‘Enhanced BDB’ offered by Logos BIble software.
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November 15, 2011  |  2:43 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
One cannot always accurately predict how a work of scholarship might impact its discipline. However, in this case, one can confidently assert that Prof. Robert Holmstedt and Prof. Martin Abegg's syntax will prove to be one of the most important works in the discipline of Hebrew studies for some time to come. It is a groundbreaking and brilliant work which supersedes its two competitors by some way. Logos Bible software have published the Andersen-Forbes (AF) Phrase Marker Analysis and also the ...
One cannot always accurately predict how a work of scholarship might impact its discipline. However, in this case, one can confidently assert that Prof. Robert Holmstedt and Prof. Martin Abegg's syntax will prove to be one of the most important works in the discipline of Hebrew studies for some time to come. It is a groundbreaking and brilliant work which supersedes its two competitors by some way. Logos Bible software have published the Andersen-Forbes (AF) Phrase Marker Analysis and also the WIVU syntax database in their SESB package in association with the German Bible society. Yet, as good as these two works are they do not compare with the new Accordance Syntax, which at this stage is still incomplete.

What sets it apart? It is groundbreaking in so many respects: gone are the 19th century syntactical paradigms based on Greek and Latin (which analyzed Hebrew sentences in terms of cases), gone is the lexicography of yesteryear which treated Hebrew phrases as independent conveyers of meaning, gone is the old fashioned clausal analysis such as demarcating some clauses as ‘circumstantial clauses’, gone is the idea (still prominent in AF) that participles function as finite verbs or that certain prepositional phrases are ‘indirect objects.’ Other innovations include the way direct speech is treated. Unlike AF which treats all direct speech as an object of address, in this syntax direct speech is treated as independent clauses, making them easier to follow. Relative clauses are also unpacked and elliptical elements provided, as are the antecedents of relative clauses. Unlike Andersen Forbes, Holmstedt treats relative clauses and appositional clauses differently. Most significantly, verbs are treated according to their valency. Some words are bivalent, others trivalent. Such limits help the reader to distinguish complements (necessary elements of a clause) from adjuncts (optional elements). The syntactical paradigm is cleaner, smarter and easier.

As far as the visual representation of the syntax is concerned, hats off to the programmers who have worked very hard to achieve the level of clarity that they have achieved. The syntax is easy to follow. At times there are small problems with the display of syntax trees but these will likely disappear in time to come. Where I have disagreed with the analysis, I have at least been able to discern logic and scholarly integrity in the choices.

In conclusion, the Accordance Hebrew Syntax module reveals that the issue of the valency of verbs is the key issue in modern Hebrew scholarship. When this method is applied to every verb in every instance in the text (i.e. when the final product is made available) I foresee that there will be a need for translators to re-translate the Hebrew text along the lines imposed by the new methodology. The danger of this syntax is that all English versions of the Bible may be rendered redundant in a number of years. It is an exciting prospect.
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November 15, 2011  |  1:41 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
This review focuses on the first two volumes in this series, Genesis and Exodus, by Nahum M. Sarna.

Sarna's commentaries are astonishing in depth, scope and clarity. The author has a gift for taking complex ideas and expressing them in a coherent way. His thinking is supremely logical. His comments are never verbose and penetrate to the very issue at hand. Almost every sentence gives one something to think about. Sarna treats the text in a reverential manner and is disinclined to explain ...
This review focuses on the first two volumes in this series, Genesis and Exodus, by Nahum M. Sarna.

Sarna's commentaries are astonishing in depth, scope and clarity. The author has a gift for taking complex ideas and expressing them in a coherent way. His thinking is supremely logical. His comments are never verbose and penetrate to the very issue at hand. Almost every sentence gives one something to think about. Sarna treats the text in a reverential manner and is disinclined to explain away difficulties (like miracles). The plagues for instance are treated as having occurred historically. Attention is paid to the historical and cultural background of the text. I also benefited from the engagement with Rabbinic interpretation which provides an added dimension of depth to the story.

The highlight of the commentaries is the attention given to interpreting the complicated instructions for the building of the Tabernacle. Some commentaries treat the chapters after Exodus 20 with less seriousness than they treat 1-20. Sarna does not succumb to that temptation. He explains every detail and made this writer understand for the first time what these complex texts mean. Sarna proves that discipline and temperament are as important as learning.
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November 15, 2011  |  1:33 PM  |  Good (4)
The CEV falls into the "meaning for meaning" category of translations. On the whole it succeeds as it avoids the tendency among similar translations to elaborate where there is no real need to do so. The economic use of the English language is a triumph. I also appreciate the way in which the text has been set out, particularly, in poetry passages.

My objections to the translation have more to do with my general reservation about the type of translation than with the CEV in particular. ...
The CEV falls into the "meaning for meaning" category of translations. On the whole it succeeds as it avoids the tendency among similar translations to elaborate where there is no real need to do so. The economic use of the English language is a triumph. I also appreciate the way in which the text has been set out, particularly, in poetry passages.

My objections to the translation have more to do with my general reservation about the type of translation than with the CEV in particular. The desire to render the Bible in modern English can result is a great deal of de-theologizing. Key theological terms like "redemption" and "justification" are rendered by such English phrases as "set free" and "put right". This type of translation has its benefits but often the result is oversimpification. At times the translation fails, such as in John 3:5 CEV "You must be born not only by water but by the spirit". Here the CEV sets birth by water against birth by the spirit and yet in Greek they can only be taken together since a single preposition governs the phrase.

Despite these misgivings, I am pleased to have been introduced to the CEV. I have tried it out and it sounds good when read aloud. Take note of the translation of Deut 6.20 where the parent's language to his child is rendered in a childlike manner. Also Luke 8 where Legion is translated as "Lot" because there are "Lots" of us.
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November 15, 2011  |  1:28 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
At first I ignored this new version of the Bible, but began to take notice after I acquired the electronic form of the text. I began to use it as a tool for Bible comparison, and soon found that it is an important new translation that one should not ignore. The HCSB is notable for a number of reasons.

First, it is a completely fresh translation of the Bible, and not a revision of a translation. Most of the translations on the market today are revisions of translations (ESV, RSV, NRSV, ...
At first I ignored this new version of the Bible, but began to take notice after I acquired the electronic form of the text. I began to use it as a tool for Bible comparison, and soon found that it is an important new translation that one should not ignore. The HCSB is notable for a number of reasons.

First, it is a completely fresh translation of the Bible, and not a revision of a translation. Most of the translations on the market today are revisions of translations (ESV, RSV, NRSV, NKJV, NLT, REB). Even the NIV, which claims be a new translation, is greatly dependent upon the language of the RSV and KJV. The last completely "fresh" translation of the Bible was the New English Bible (1972).

Second, the HCSB, despite its independence actually harks back to the KJV in its METHOD, but not in its language. The KJV was mostly a literal translation of the Bible, but not slavishly so. The HCSB is literal where it can be, but not to the detriment of intelligibility. When it translates phrases in a non literal way, it is always careful not to go beyond what the text means, i.e. one will not find expansive interpretation here.

Third, the Holman tries and succeeds in making a translation into English people can understand. That does not mean "kitchen English", but good, literate English, that we use today. A good example is the word "Scribe" which is sometimes rendered in the HCSB as "a student of Scripture" (Matt 13.52).

Fourth, the HCSB took twenty years to make. It has been produced with great care, and has taken advantage of the latest computer technology, which has resulted in a version that is consistent. Many of the scholars who worked on this project were also involved in the NASB. The same dedication to accuracy and care that one finds in the NASB come through in the HCSB, although with the HCSB the approach and methodology, and hence resultant translation is different.

Fifth, the Bible is not afraid to render familiar biblical texts in a different way. For example, John 3.16 reads differently, but more accurately: "For God loved the world in this way ..." Older translations render "For God so loved ..." suggesting that the text is about the EXTENT of God's love, whereas the word HOUTOS shows not HOW MUCH, but HOW God loves. Another example, Psalm 23:3: "He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake." Here we find " right paths" instead of "in the paths of righteousness." The Hebrew is therefore more accurately rendered.
  [ FULL REVIEW ]
November 15, 2011  |  1:24 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
A person can only appreciate the Revised English Bible (REB) if they have some knowledge of its origin. The REB is a revision of the New English Bible (NEB), which was pioneered by the late C.H. Dodd. Before the NEB was published only two English translations were regarded as significant: the King James Version and the Revised Version (1881). The NEB was pioneering in that it was the first entirely fresh translation of the Bible based on the Greek and Hebrew texts since Tyndale. It was not ...
A person can only appreciate the Revised English Bible (REB) if they have some knowledge of its origin. The REB is a revision of the New English Bible (NEB), which was pioneered by the late C.H. Dodd. Before the NEB was published only two English translations were regarded as significant: the King James Version and the Revised Version (1881). The NEB was pioneering in that it was the first entirely fresh translation of the Bible based on the Greek and Hebrew texts since Tyndale. It was not merely a revision of a tradition of English Bibles. What made it arguably the century's greatest translation was the fact that it was done by the finest biblical scholars in Britain and at a time when a biblical scholar was someone who specialised in more than the first verse of John's Gospel. Dodd's razor mind is evidenced in his "Historical Tradition of the Fourth Gospel", a work of dazzling brilliance, which presupposes knowledge of at least ten languages. Although the NEB was pioneering, often its readings were too bold for general acceptance. The REB serves as a healthy corrective and as a balanced regression from the bold scholarship of Dodd's day. It keeps all that is best in the NEB and improves things too, by taking out the Thees and Thous and by adding a polished literary style present in no other modern English translation. The REB also irons out several inaccuracies in the NEB.

In conclusion, the REB is utterly faithful, modern and beautiful. You will read several books before you realise it is time to stop. If you must choose only one translation, this is a noble choice.
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November 15, 2011  |  1:20 PM  |  Good (4)
The Life Application Study Bible perfected a trend in the production of Bibles that began about thirty years ago. Prior to that most of the Bibles published were plain text or reference editions. These were limited in that they provided the uninformed reader with no explanatory guide through the difficult pages of Scripture. Two types of Bibles then began to emerge. First, study Bibles, which focused primarily of historical, literary and theological questions. Second, "devotional" Bibles, w ...
The Life Application Study Bible perfected a trend in the production of Bibles that began about thirty years ago. Prior to that most of the Bibles published were plain text or reference editions. These were limited in that they provided the uninformed reader with no explanatory guide through the difficult pages of Scripture. Two types of Bibles then began to emerge. First, study Bibles, which focused primarily of historical, literary and theological questions. Second, "devotional" Bibles, which catered primarily for personal spirituality (i.e. what does this mean for ME?). The Life Application combines both these approaches and is perfectly suited to anyone with no special expertise in biblical studies and especially helpful to those who want to read the Bible as a way of deepening their own spiritual life. The notes are not exclusively "spiritual" and "personal" but do provide answers to difficult critical biblical questions. The format is clear and easy to read.
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November 15, 2011  |  1:08 PM  |  Fantastic (5)
The third edition of this standard Greek-English Lexicon does not disappoint. It is a significant improvement from its predecessor in at least two respects. First, specific Greek words have been given general definitions even where the word covers a wide semantic domain. This was not the case in previous editions where the reader was left with the meaning of a word only in its particular occurrence. Now readers can draw conclusion about the basic meaning of any given Greek word. The approach ...
The third edition of this standard Greek-English Lexicon does not disappoint. It is a significant improvement from its predecessor in at least two respects. First, specific Greek words have been given general definitions even where the word covers a wide semantic domain. This was not the case in previous editions where the reader was left with the meaning of a word only in its particular occurrence. Now readers can draw conclusion about the basic meaning of any given Greek word. The approach suggests a regression in the approach to biblical words spearheaded by James Barr in his "Semantics of Biblical Language" and a return to the approach of older lexicographers to the effect that words have meanings. Second, the range of Greek authors has been expanded and now includes noncanonical (especially apocryphal) Greek writings of special interest for the study of early Christian origins. The type set and publication of this electronic edition is outstanding, making it a pleasure to read.
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November 15, 2011  |  8:02 AM  |  Fantastic (5)
DCH is a concise lexicon based on an incomplete set (only six volumes have been published) by Clines, The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Clines approaches his definitions in a way quite different from HALOT in that there is no comparative philology. Clines believes that the meanings of words are determined by their use in a given context (in the tradition of James Barr). Some see this as a disadvantage. (Notably, Richardson, in a critical review in JSS.) The great advantage though of DCH over ...
DCH is a concise lexicon based on an incomplete set (only six volumes have been published) by Clines, The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Clines approaches his definitions in a way quite different from HALOT in that there is no comparative philology. Clines believes that the meanings of words are determined by their use in a given context (in the tradition of James Barr). Some see this as a disadvantage. (Notably, Richardson, in a critical review in JSS.) The great advantage though of DCH over HALOT, is that it is careful in every instance to set words in their syntactical relations, making it easy to locate a word, and to understand how it functions in a sentence. Students who want to know more than just a word's meaning will greatly benefit from this. In this respect, DCH is ahead of its competitors. Also, the glosses given under each entry make it a treasure trove for students, who wish to learn basic definitions. There are no such glosses in HALOT, where the ordering of words also, is not in terms of frequency of use, but in terms of concreteness. In addition one finds statistical analysis of words in DCH, which is not the case consistently in HALOT. Another advantage of Clines over HALOT is that every word and phrase in DCH is translated into English. Finally, one should say that the definitions offered in DCH, have a natural English flow, always makes sense, and stand in the great tradition of English Bibles and that of BDB (the definitions in BDB and Clines often correspond). If one wants definitions that stand wholly outside this tradition, one ought to turn rather to HALOT. In an ideal world, one would like to own both HALOT and DCH. But if one cannot afford both, the choice, as far as this reviewer is concerned, is clear.
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November 15, 2011  |  7:43 AM  |  Fantastic (5)
I began using this intermediate Greek Lexicon in my first year of Greek. Twenty five years later, it remains one of the most important resources I own. No student of Classical Greek or indeed of New Testament Greek can afford to be without it. Although it is an abridgment of a larger work, it is by no means incomplete in its intermediate form, and in some respects is a better option than the larger edition, which is full of long citations from classical authors.

As far as using this ...
I began using this intermediate Greek Lexicon in my first year of Greek. Twenty five years later, it remains one of the most important resources I own. No student of Classical Greek or indeed of New Testament Greek can afford to be without it. Although it is an abridgment of a larger work, it is by no means incomplete in its intermediate form, and in some respects is a better option than the larger edition, which is full of long citations from classical authors.

As far as using this lexicon for the study of the New Testament, it remains an excellent lexicon even for New Testament studies. My reasons are as follows:

First, the glosses offered in Liddell/Scott are extremely accurate. I have never found them to be wrong and seldom found them inadequate. The men who put this work together had a masterful knowledge of Greek.

Second, Liddell/Scott provides concrete definitions that the student can memorize, unlike Bauer/Danker, which sometimes provides too wide a range of semantic possibilities (often entrees are clouded with dozens of possible meanings, none of which are necessary if a student has basic definitions with which to work).

Third, with Liddell/Scott, one can see what the word meant in classical writers and can see how it developed in Hellenistic Greek. Classical usage remains common even in the New Testament.

Fourth, this is not a bulky work.

Finally, the electronic edition is of a very high standard.

Although the student of New Testament would naturally incline to Danker’s Greek-English Lexicon, a student ignores this masterful work to their own loss.
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