When I received notice from Booklook.com that they had a new BIble version up for review, I was excited. When I got the epub copy of The Expanded Bible and began to read it, I was confused. While I have some familiarity with The Amplified Bible, I wasn’t sure what to make of the bracketed words and phrases in nearly every verse in The Expanded Bible, as there seemed to be a code system in place. Here’s a fairly typical example of what I’m talking about. Genesis 1:6-8 reads as follows:
Then God said, “Let there be ·something to divide the water in two[La firmament/dome/expanse in the midst of the waters to separate/divide the waters from the waters].” So God made the ·air [L firmament; dome; expanse; C rain clouds] and placed some of the water above the ·air[L firmament; dome; expanse] and some below it [C referring to the rain and the oceans, lakes, and rivers]. God ·named [called] the ·air[L firmament/dome/expanse] “·sky [heaven].” Evening passed, and morning came [1:5]. This was the second day.
I tried to read the text through without stopping, but I stumbled over the bracketed info quite a bit.
In retrospect, I now know that I have should have first read the Introduction to the text, since the editors very clearly spell out their intentions in making The Expanded Bible. Here’s what they have to say about this new translation:
The Expanded Bible…allows the reader to see multiple possibilities for words, phrases, and interpretations. Rather than opting for one choice, it shows many. It can, for instance, show both an original metaphor and a more prosaic understanding of that metaphor. It can show a second or third way of understanding the meaning of a word, phrase, verse, or passage. It can provide comments that give the historical, cultural, linguistic, or theological background that an English-language reader may lack. When helpful, it provides the most literal renderings to show what a translator has to work with.
The bracketed text of The Expanded Bible is, in other words, more than simply a listing of all the meanings of the different words used in the Bible. This is not a new version of The Amplified Bible. Rather, it is a careful, scholarly translation of the Bible, as well as a carefully determined listing of contextually legitimate alternative translations falling within the semantic range of certain words in each verse of the Bible.
For the reader of Scripture who is not familiar with Hebrew and Greek, this is an invaluable tool. While I would not recommend this Bible for casual reading, as the visual flow of text can be a bit distracting in certain passages, I think that it can greatly assist the Christian who wants to study and have a better grasp of the Scriptures.
As I prepared for my sermon this Sunday, I used The Expanded Bible alongside another translation, and I found that the extra information in The Expanded Bible helped to further flesh out the text I was working with.
There are many lexical tools online that provide insight into the original languages used in Scripture, but without knowing the limits of, say, an etymological analysis of a given word, it is difficult to know just how to use the information provided by these online sources. This is why I find The Expanded Bible to be a very helpful tool.
Tremper Longman III, Mark L. Strauss, and Daniel Taylor (i.e. the scholars responsible for this great study tool) have done the hard work of narrowing the interpretive possibilities by showing contextually legitimate alternative translations of many words in Scripture, identifying Old Testament cross references in the New Testament, and, overall, providing a translation that is neither overly complex nor overly simplified.
To the serious student of Scripture who hasn’t yet learned Greek or Hebrew, who isn’t able to work with a lexicon, concordance or a dictionary, or who is just looking to have a more fully fleshed out understanding of the words used in Scripture, The Expanded Bible is a great tool. I heartily recommend this text.
Soli Deo Gloria.