Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Orthodox Study Bible: A Positive Review

In order to balance my own criticism of The Orthodox Study Bible (more of which is coming soon) I encourage you all to read Kevin Burt's positive review here. Kevin also responds to some of my own criticism, as well as that of others. Here's how he sums up:
I do hope that converts to Orthodoxy will not use this Bible to replace better sources, such as St. John Chrysostom’s texts, sets like Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and the various Fathers’ writings. I hope that none will think they no longer need their priest, or the bishop, or the Church and Her Tradition. I can only speak for myself here, but reading from this Bible has done anything but that. It has actually excited me to pull out some of those Fathers to read them in their entirety, and to make sure I am faithfully attending the Liturgy and all services I can, so that I can hear the treasure of the Scriptures proclaimed in the midst of the Eucharistic assembly, the Church of God.

I think the message from the editors, early in the Bible, is well put: “The prayer of the editors and contributors of The Orthodox Study Bible is that it presents an understandable Bible text and commentary to (1) English-speaking Orthodox Christians the world over and to (2) non-Orthodox readers interested in learning more about the faith of the historic Orthodox Church.” (side note: I really think this aim of the editors is the central aim of this Bible, not the flashy blurbs on the dustcover).

Over all, I am glad to have acquired this Bible. I’m doubtful that it will replace my Oxford RSV as my normal reading Bible, but I think I’ll use it considerably. And I have little doubt that many Orthodox will find their reading of the Scriptures renewed through this resource. If that happens, I can hardly understand why the OSB is a bad thing. Thank you to those who labored on this resource; I know one or two of them and have found them to be genuine Orthodox Christians who are desirous to follow Christ and serve His One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Orthodox Church.

While I certainly don't agree with everything Kevin says, I'm very glad to see that our online disagreements are argued in an irenic and charitable manner. For my part, I can promise you more substantial criticism of the OSB in coming days, which I promise will involve a much deeper engagement than that which I've written so far. (And please do bear in mind that my post about "judging the book by its cover" was written not without tongue planted firmly in cheek.) The more pro et contra, the better!

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the fine folks at Conciliar Press have launched a preemptive attack against Esteban.


Kevin B. said...

Dear Father,

Thank you, too, for your affable tone. As I expressed on my blog, I have deep admiration for many of those who have criticized the OSB (I suspect you detected yourself as one of those I read from frequently and admire deeply).

I hesitated to say anything at all, given my complete lack of any academic credentials and my only recent reception into the Church. I hope that what I said was not a novice's exercise in temerity.

What I truly hope will happen is that the OSB will start a conversation among Orthodox that will lead to the future printing of fine Bibles. In Protestantism, companies like Zondervan are printing increasingly artistic and attractively bound (partial)Bibles.

I long for the day when Bibles will be available for Orthodox with beautiful covers, archival quality paper, etc. Perhaps I'm asking for too much, or perhaps there already are such books. Or maybe I just need to stop talking/writing and pray more. That's what my good priest usually tells me!

Thank you for your kind words, and especially for your superb blog. Rarely a day goes by when I don't feel some bit of exhilaration at having such good resources to help me grow into Christ's image.

Thomas Kevin

Felix Culpa said...

Thank you very much for your kind comments. I, like you, hope that the ongoing discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the OSB can lead to increasingly better and more authoritative Bibles designed for Orthodox in the future.

I'm very glad you did write your review, because ideally I'd like to help people be able to evaluate the merits of the OSB themselves, and for this different voices and perspectives are needed.

Keep up the good work!