The Jerusalem Bible

The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Alexander Jones, ed., The Jerusalem Bible. Garden City, New

York; London: Doubleday; Darton, Longman & Todd, 1966.

ISBN: 0232481865.

This is a version prepared by Roman Catholic scholars in Great

Britain, under the general editorship of Alexander Jones of

Christ’s College, Liverpool, assisted by twenty-seven

colleagues. (1) It is notable as being the first English version to

be done by Roman Catholics on the basis of the Greek and

Hebrew texts rather than upon the Latin Vulgate. In 1943 Pope

Pius XII had issued an encyclical letter on Biblical studies

called Divino Afflante Spiritu in which he gave permission for

this departure from Roman Catholic tradition.

The Jerusalem Bible derives its name and its character from an

earlier French version, called La Bible de Jérusalem. This French

version (published in 1956, and revised 1961) was prepared by

the faculty of the Dominican Biblical School in Jerusalem, on the

basis of the Hebrew and Greek. An introductory note

acknowledges this indebtedness: “The introductions and notes

of this Bible are, with minor variations and revisions, a

translation of those which appear in La Bible de Jérusalem (one

volume edition, 1961) published under the general editorship of

Père Roland de Vaux, O.P. by Les Editions du Cerf, Paris, but are

modified in the light of subsequent revised fascicules.” The

annotations of the French edition were remarkably full and

helpful. The Editor’s Forewordexplains that the idea of the

English Jerusalem Bible was to turn the French version, together

with all of its annotations, (2) into English, with constant

reference to the Hebrew and Greek. And so the translation is

based upon the Hebrew and Greek as interpreted by the French

version.

We give now a sample of the translation with its annotations.

Below are the text and notes of the first chapter of the Epistle to

the Hebrews.

1 At various times in the past and in various different ways, God

spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; 2 But in our own

time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the

Son that he has appointed to inherit everything a and through

whom he made everything there is. b 3 He is the radiant light of

God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, c sustaining the

universe by his powerful command; and now that he has

destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in

heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. 4 So he is now as far

above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher

than their own name. 5 God has never said to any angel: You are

my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him

and he a son to me. 6 Again, when he brings the First-born into

the world, d he says: Let all the angels of God worship him. 7 About

the angels, he says:He makes his angels winds and his servants

flames of fire, e 8 but to his Son he says: God, your throne shall last

for ever and ever; and: his f royal sceptre is the sceptre of

virtue; 9 virtue you love as much as you hate wickedness. This is why

God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness, above all

your rivals. g 10 And again: It is you, Lord, who laid earth’s

foundations in the beginning, the heavens are the work of your

hands; 11 all will vanish, though you remain, all wear out like a

garment; 12 you will roll them up like a cloak, and like a

garment h they will be changed. But yourself, you never change and

your years are unending. 13 God has never said to any angel: Sit at

my right hand and I will make your enemies a footstool for you. 14

The truth is they are all spirits whose work is service, sent to

help those who will be the heirs of salvation. i
  a. To be a son implies having the right to inherit, cf. Mt 21:38,

Ga 4:7. Here, however, God is credited with the handing over of

the whole creation because the inheritance in question is

messianic and eschatological.

  b. Lit. the ‘eaons’, hebraism for the whole of creation.

  c. These two metaphors are borrowed from

the sophia and logos theologies of Alexandria, Ws 7:25-26; they

express both the identity of nature between Father and Son,

and the distinction of persons. The Son is the brightness, the

light shining from its source, which is the bright glory, cf. Ex

24:16+, of the Father (‘Light from Light’). He is also the replica, cf.

Col 1:15+, of the Father’s substance, like an exact impression

made by a seal on clay or wax, cf. Jn 14:9.

  d. Either at the parousia or, more probably, at the incarnation.

  e. The author, thinking perhaps of the theophany on Sinai,

2:2+, takes this LXX text as a description of the nature of angels,

subtle and changeable and therefore inferior to that of the Son

reigning from his eschatological throne.

  f. Var. ‘your’, cf. Ps. 45 LXX.

  g. Following Middle Eastern custom the psalm attributes

divinity to the King-Messiah by hyperbole; here it is attributed

literally, cf. v. 3. The divine Messiah is to reign for ever.

  h. Vulg. omits, ‘like a garment’.

  i. Compared with the Son, angels are only servant employed to

save human beings.

Although it was prepared by Roman Catholics, the version does

not serve to promote traditional Roman Catholic doctrine. The

translation is little influenced by dogma (if at all), and even the

annotations are of an ecumenical-scholarly character. This is a

consequence of the fact that the scholars who produced both

the French and the English versions were guided by the same

principles of modern secular scholarship that many Protestant

scholars have adopted in the more liberal theological schools.

Traditional Roman Catholic exegesis is therefore largely absent

from the Jerusalem Bible, just as traditional Protestant exegesis

is absent from the Revised Standard Version.

There are some notable exceptions to this rule. The note on 1

Timothy 2:4  (translated “he wants everyone to be saved and

reach full knowledge of the truth”)  reads, “This is a statement

with enormous theological implications, and it provides the

correct interpretation of some passages in the letter to the

Christians at Rome, cf. Rm. 9:18, 21.” The idea here is that 1

Timothy 2:4, interpreted in a universalistic or semi-Pelagian

fashion, “provides the correct interpretation” of Paul’s teaching

concerning election and predestination in Romans 9. But by any

ordinary standards of biblical hermeneutics, Paul’s argument in

Romans 9 cannot be controlled or overshadowed by any such

interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4. The annotator of Romans

apparently recognizes this, because in the notes to chapter 9

we find nothing along these lines, not even a passing reference

to 1 Timothy 2:4. The assertion found in the note to 1 Timothy

2:4 would appear reasonable only to one who is schooled in the

old tradition of Roman Catholic or Arminian polemics.

An example of departure from Catholic tradition may be seen in

Luke 1:28, in which the Annunciation to Mary is, “Rejoice, so

highly favored! The Lord is with you.” This is a significant

departure from the traditional “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is

with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” The final phrase

(from the Vulgate) is omitted, and the traditional rendering, “full

of grace,” which is so familiar to Catholics through recitation of

the Hail Mary, (3)and which has been the basis of Roman

Catholic teaching concerning the sinless grace of Mary, is boldly

departed from. The traditional rendering is not even mentioned

in the footnote on this verse.

The introductions to sections of the Bible (also from the French

version) reflect modern critical scholarship. The introduction to

the Pentateuch sets forth details of the Graf-Wellhausen

hypothesis of composite authorship (JEDP sources). The

introduction to the Prophets concludes that Daniel was not

written by Daniel, but by a much later writer (167-164 B.C.) who

wrote of things past as if they were yet in the fututre. Isaiah is

said to be of composite authorship. The discussion of New

Testament books is conservative by comparison. The theory of

Markan priority and the existence of a “Q” source are rejected,

and instead Matthew (in a hypothetical Aramaic original) is said

to have been the earliest Gospel. The introduction to Paul’s

epistles asserts the Pauline authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy and

Titus, against the grain of most secular scholarship. 2 Peter is,

however, said to be pseudonymous. These introductions will

make the version unacceptable to conservatives.

The text of the Old Testament is treated with great freedom.

Frequently the traditional Masoretic text is departed from, in

favor of readings from the ancient versions, and many

conjectural emendations are also adopted rather arbitrarily.

One academic reviewer (Gleason Archer) has described the

Jerusalem Bible’s emendations of the Hebrew text as

“undisciplined and capricious,” and concludes that “the Hebrew

text is completely at the mercy of these translators, who can

alter it to mean whatever they choose it to mean, without

following the scientific procedures worked out by competent

textual critics.” (See the review below)

The literary quality of this Old Testament is higher than usual

for modern versions, and reflects the editor’s desire to “avoid

the pure bathos of prosy flatness” (Editor’s Foreword) in poetic

parts of the Bible. Among the English stylists who worked with

the translators was J.R.R. Tolkien, the famous English novelist

and literary critic.(4) Unfortunately, the Hebrew

tetragrammaton or divine name (represented as “Lord” in the

New Testament) is everywhere rendered “Yahweh,” which spoils

the literary effect of many passages, especially in the Psalms.

And the literary quality of the New Testament translation is

rather poor, as may be seen from the sample chapter given

above.

An edition of the Jerusalem Bible with abridged introductions

and with only a few simple footnotes (in no way comparable to

the original notes) was published by Darton, Longman & Todd

in London in 1968 (ISBN: 0232483841), and later by Doubleday in

New York, issued under the title The Jerusalem Bible, Reader’s

Edition (ISBN: 0385499183).

A revision of the Jerusalem Bible was issued in 1985, under the

name The New Jerusalem Bible. After the appearance of this

revision the original Jerusalem Bible went out of print, and it is

now hard to obtain, except in the abridged “Reader’s Edition,”

which continues in print. We note with interest that the front

flap of the dustjacket on this edition explains that one of the

advantages of the original version is that it “avoids the

postmodern tendency toward inclusive language.”

Bibliography

  • Gleason Archer, “The Old Testament of The
  • Jerusalem Bible.” Westminster Theological Journal 33 (May
  • 1971), pp. 191-94.
  • Frederick W. Danker, “The Jerusalem Bible: A Critical
  • Examination.” Concordia Theological Monthly 38 (March
  • 1967), pp. 168-180.
  • Gordon D. Fee, “The Text of John in the Jerusalem Bible: A
  • Critique of the Use of Patristic Citations in New Testament
  • Textual Criticism.” Jounal of Biblical Literature 90 (June1971),
  • pp. 163-73.

1. The principal collaborators in translation and literary revision

were: Joseph Leo Alston, Florence M. Bennett, Joseph

Blenkinsopp, David Joseph Bourke, Douglas Carter, Aldhelm

Dean, O.S.B., Illtud Evans, O.P., Kenelm Foster, O.P., Ernest Graf,

O.S.B., Prospero Grech, O.S.A., Edmund Hill, O.P., Sylvester

Houédard, O.S.B., Leonard Johnston, Anthony J. Kenny, D. O.

Lloyd James, James McAuley, Alan Neame, Hubert Richards,

Edward Sackville-West, Ronald Senator, Walter Shewring, Robert

Speaight, J. R. R. Tolkien, R. F. Trevett, Thomas Worden, John

Wright, Basil Wrighton.

2. Unfortunately the publishers omitted these notes in the so-

called “Reader’s Edition” issued in 1968, and the original edition

ceased to be printed thereafter. The publication of the notes in

English was one of the primary aims of the scholars who

produced the original edition.

3. The Hail Mary or Ave Maria is a devotional prayer well-known

to Catholics: “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui,

Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,

nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. — Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and

blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of

God, pray for us sinners, now, and in the hour of our death.

Amen.”

4. Tolkien later minimized his own role in the making the

version. In a letter we wrote: “Naming me among the ‘principal

collaborators’ was an undeserved courtesy on the part of the

editor of the Jerusalem Bible. I was consulted on one or two

points of style, and criticized some contributions of others. I

was originally assigned a large amount of text to translate, but

after doing some necessary preliminary work I was obliged to

resign owing to pressure of other work, and only completed

‘Jonah’, one of the shortest books.” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien,

edited by H. Carpenter and C. Tolkien [London: Harper Collins,

1981], p. 377.)

Editor’s Foreword

The form and nature of this edition of the Holy Bible have been

determined by two of the principal dangers facing the Christian

religion today. The first is the reduction of Christianity to the

status of a relic—affectionately regarded, it is true, but

considered irrelevant to our times. The second is its rejection as

a mythology, born and cherished in emotion with nothing at all

to say to the mind. What threatens the mother threatens her

two children even more seriously: I mean Christianity’s adopted

child, which is the Old Testament, and her natural child, which is

the New. The Christian faith, after all, has been able without

betrayal to adjust itself to the needs of succeeding centuries

and decades. The Bible, on the other hand, is of its nature a

written charter guaranteed (as Christians believe) by the Spirit

of God, crystallised in antiquity, never to be changed—and what

is crystallised may be thought by some to be fossilized. Now for

Christian thinking in the twentieth century two slogans have

been wisely adopted: aggiornamento, or keeping abreast of the

times, and approfondimento, or deepening of theological

thought. This double programme must be for the Bible too. Its

first part can be carried out by translating into the language we

use today, its second part by providing notes which are neither

sectarian nor superficial.

This twofold need has long been appreciated, and strong action

was taken in France when, under the influence of the late Père

Chifflot, Editions du Cerf appealed to the Dominican Biblical

School in Jerusalem to meet it. This led to the production of

separate fascicules with a full textual critical apparatus for the

individual books of the Bible, and with extensive notes.

Subsequently, in 1956, a one-volume edition appeared which

came to be known popularly as La Bible de Jérusalem: a careful

system of cross-reference enabled this edition to include all the

information from the fascicules which could be useful to the

thoughtful reader or to the student. This present volume is its

English equivalent, The introductions and notes are a direct

translation from the French, though revised and brought up to

date in some places—account being taken of the decisions and

general implications of the Second Vatican Council.

The translation of the biblical text itself could clearly not be

made from the French. In the case of a few books the initial

draft was made from the French and was then compared word

for word with the Hebrew or Aramaic by the General Editor and

amended where necessary to ensure complete conformity with

the ancient text. For the much greater part, the initial drafts

were made from the Hebrew or Greek and simultaneously

compared with the French when questions of variant reading or

interpretation arose. Whichever system was used, therefore,

the same intended result was achieved, that is, an entirely

faithful version of the ancient texts which, in doubtful points,

preserves the text established and (for the most part) the

interpretation adopted by the French scholars in the light of the

most recent researches in the fields of history, archaeology and

literary criticism.

The translator of the Bible into a vernacular may surely

consider himself free to remove the purely linguistic archaisms

of that vernacular, but here his freedom ends. He may not, for

example, substitute his own modern images for the old ones:

the theologian and the preacher may be encouraged to do this,

but not the translator. Nor must he impose his own style on the

originals: this would be to suppress the individuality of the

several writers who responded, each in his own way, to the

movement of the Spirit. Still less must it be supposed that there

should be throughout a kind of hieratic language, a uniform

‘biblical’ English, dictated by a tradition however venerable.

There is no doubt that in forfeiting this we lose something very

precious, but one hopes that the gain outweighs the loss. It

would be arrogant to claim that this present attempt to

translate the Bible into ‘contemporary’ English cannot be

improved upon, but at least (one believes) it is in this direction

that translations will have to go if the Bible is not to lose its

appeal for the mind of today.

The Psalms present a special problem for translators since,

unlike other parts of the Bible, the psalter is not only a book to

be read but a collection of verse which is sung or chanted.

Moreover, many of them are so familiar in their sixteenth

century form that any change may seem to be an impertinence.

Nevertheless, here too the first duty of a translator is to convey

as clearly as he can what the original author wrote. He should

not try to inject a rhetorical quality and an orotundity of

cadence which belong more truly to the first Elizabethan age in

England than to the Hebrew originals. He must avoid the pure

bathos of prosy flatness, or course, but he will be aware that

there is no longer an accepted ‘poetic language’ which can be

used to give artificial dignity to plain statements. It would

certainly be dangerous to give the form of the translation

precedence over the meaning.

It is in the Psalms especially that the use of the divine

name Yahweh (accented on the second syllable) may seem

unacceptable—though indeed the still stranger form Yah is in

constant use in the acclamation Hallelu-Yah (Praise Yah!). It is

not without hesitation that this accurate form has been used,

and no doubt those who may care to use this translation of the

Psalms can substitute the traditional ‘the Lord’. On the other

hand, this would be to lose much of the flavour and meaning of

the originals. For example, to say, ‘The Lord is God’ is surely a

tautology, as to say ‘Yahweh is God’ is not.

An Index of Biblical Themes has been provided in this edition. It

is not a luxury or an afterthought; it is a key to a treasure, for

the use of serious readers and of preachers. It is for those who

are not studying one single book or passage but wish to find

out what the Bible as a whole has to say on a particular

theological idea. Since the date and provenance of the

individual books will have been given in the introductions, this

index will be a guide to the historical development of biblical

revelation, a pointer to the raw material of a dynamic biblical

theology. It is based on the similar index in the Bible de

Jérusalem but is considerably wider in scope. The compilation of

this index was undertaken as a labour of love by members of

the Theological Studies Group of the Newman Association,

under the leadership of Mr. Martin Redfern. Our sincere thanks

must go to all these people who gave their spare time so

generously.

The format of this edition has been chosen to make intelligent

reading easier, and the single column arrangement has for this

reason been adopted. The division of the text by bold-type

section headings should enable the reader to see at a glance

what is the subject-matter of the pages before him. The poetic

passages are printed as verse and the lines with fewer stresses

in the Hebrew are indented. Very occasionally there is a word-

distribution that does not correspond to the lines in the

Hebrew: this has been done deliberately, though reluctantly, for

the sake of clearer English.

A list of collaborators will be found in the introductory pages: to

all of these we express our thanks, not least because they have

been so patient with changes in their manuscript for which the

General Editor must accept the ultimate responsibility. As for

the work of the publishers, it is here for all to see, but only the

writer of this Foreword can fully appreciate their devotion to it.

An inadequate word of thanks also to Miss Evan Burnley who

typed and, without complaint, often retyped every word of this

edition with the greatest accuracy. Certain students of

Upholland College in Lancashire were of great help in the early

days: may God reward them. But there are many others whose

prayers and sympathy and repeated kindness in difficult days

have given constant support: we think they will recognize

themselves in this poor and vague acknowledgment.

Alexander Jones

Christ’s College, Liverpool

1st June 1966

Gleason Archer, “The Old Testament of The Jerusalem

Bible.” Westminster Theological Journal 33 (May 1971), pp. 191-94.

This thick volume represents an English version of La Bible de

Jérusalem, first published in French under the general editorship

of Roland de Vaux of the École Biblique in Jerusalem. The English

version was prepared by a sizeable committee under the

leadership of Alexander Jones, who saw to it that the actual

wording of the translation was based upon a direct study of the

Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, rather than a mere translation of

the French. The publisher is to be congratulated on a very fine

production, attractive in appearance and format. The footnotes

are perhaps in smaller print than is customary, however, and

since they contain so much important material, this may prove

a disadvantage to some readers.

The avowed purpose of these translators is to abandon all

traditional Bible-English and to produce a completely new

rendering on the basis of contemporary English vocabulary and

usage. This pursuit of modernity has not gone to the

extremesof the New English Bible, nor is it a mere Phillips

paraphrase. Actually it often displays a real vitality which is

refreshingly original, and lends a heightened impact to the

thought of the ancient author. Very striking is the abandonment

of the traditional “LORD” for the Tetragrammaton, and also the

traditional “Jehovah” of the ASV, in favor of the historical

pronunciation, “Yahweh.” The RSV, the NEB and most other

modern translations have shied away from this, but it looks and

sounds very well (to this reviewer, at least) in this work, and it

may serve to encourage future translators to follow suit.

A more basic consideration than modernity of rendering is the

degree of faithfulness preserved in the handling of the Received

Text. In its twentieth-century garb does the Jerusalem Bible offer

to the public a reliable rendering of the original Hebrew

Scriptures as they have been transmitted to the church?

Unfortunately no. To an even greater extent than was true in

the RSV there has been careless, inconsistent, capricious

handling of the text of the original. Instead of confining

themselves to an accurate rendering of the received text of the

Masoretic Hebrew Bible, as amended on the basis of the ancient

versions under careful controls of scientific textual criticism, the

translators have allowed subjective considerations to have free

rein. The interpreter’s conception of what the ancient author

ought to have said permits him to substitute entirely different

Hebrew words for those of the Masoretic Text, even where such

a change finds no support whatever in either the Dead Sea

Scrolls, the Septuagint, the Targums, the Syriac Peshitto, the

Old Latin, or the Vulgate. Such inventions of the translator are

usually footnoted as “correction,” but quite often they are not.

This means that the ordinary reader is left completely at the

mercy of the modern translator, who may even take away the

blessed assurance of “For thou art with me,” in Psalm 23:4,

without a shred of objective manuscript evidence either in

Hebrew or in any of the ancient translations. (In this case we are

told by footnote b that “Hebr. inserts ‘You are’ before ‘beside

me’.” No evidence whatever is adduced to indicate that “you

are” is indeed an insertion; actually there is none, and the

promise of divine presence is as old as Joshua 1:9.) Similarly in

Daniel 1:2 the phrase, “to the temple of his gods,” is dismissed

with a mere notation, “Hebr. adds,” even though it is attested in

every manuscript of every ancient version of Daniel. Or again, in

Isaiah 53:2 the Servant of Yahweh is said to grow up “in front of

us,” even though the MT and all the versions attest “in front of

him.” In Isaiah 53:10 they render, “If he offers his life in

atonement, he shall see his heirs.” The verb form tasim is either

2nd masc. sing. “thou,” or else a 3rd fem. sing. of

which napshow is the subject (i.e., “If his soul appoints a trespass

offering”); there is no possible way of rendering the word as

having a 3rd masc. sing. subject, as JB does here. No footnote is

given to account for this deviation. It should be added that

“atonement” is incorrect for asham (trespass offering), and

“heirs” is certainly wrong for zera (“seed, descendants”).

Where appeal is made to the versions for the support of an

amended reading, the evidence is used in an undisciplined and

capricious manner. For example, Genesis 1:9, “Let the waters

under heaven come together into a single mass,” involves

substituting for a perfectly satisfactory MT maqowm (“place”) a

highly dubious rendering of the LXX sunagoge (which

nowhere else is translated “mass”). But the LXX may be passed

over in silence where it does not suit the translator’s purpose;

thus in Isaiah 52:14 he renders, “As the crowds were appalled

on seeing him” (instead of “on seeing you,” as attested by LXX as

well as MT). His footnote l cites Targum and Syriac for the “him”

and mentions only MT as warrant for “you” (without admitting

that LXX also supports it). In the next verse (Isaiah 52:15) he

translates: “so will the crowds be astonished at him”—which

according to the MT really says, “So shall he besprinkle many

nations.” The verb form, yazzeh, being singular, cannot possibly

take “crowds” or “nations” for its subject, but only as its object.

Delitzsch rendered it as “startle” (on the analogy of the

Arabicnazay or nazaw, “leap upon”), on the basis of the

LXX thaumasontai (“they will marvel”), but nowhere else in the

O.T. does nazah mean anything besides “besprinkle, bespatter.”

Note also that JB leaves out goyim (“nations”) in this verse

without any explanation in a footnote; there is absolutely no

textual warrant for its omission. Even the treatment

of rabbim or harabbim (“the many”) is inconsistent and inept

throughout this passage (52:13–53:12). It is usually rendered

“the crowds,” completely without warrant—the term seems to

refer to the many believers who are saved by this one mediator

—and yet in 53:11 it is (correctly) translated as “many.” But in

the very next verse it is beefed up to “whole hordes.”

There are many other instances of defective treatment of the

text in Isaiah 53. In verse 4 the participle nagua(“smitten, struck”)

is rendered inaccurately as “punished.” In verse 6 the

verb yapgiya (“cause to meet or alight upon”) is given rather

inexactly as “burdened (him with the sins of us all).” In verse 8

the noun mishpat(“judgment, judicial process”) is altered to

“law”; the verb yesocheach (“consider, meditate”) is translated

“plead” to go with the word “case” without any explanation for

this absolutely unique and unheard-of meaning for the

root siach. “Case” is noted as a “correction” for

the dor (“generation”) of the Hebrew text (confirmed by all the

versions); what Hebrew word it has been “corrected” to is

anybody’s guess. In verse 9 bemotaw (“in his death”) has been

altered to an assumed bomatow, which is rendered “his tomb,”

even though no lexicon contains such a word as bomah for

biblical Hebrew. In verse 11 a textual emendation is adopted

without any notice in the footnotes: da’atow (“knowledge of

him”) has been replaced by ra’atow (rendered “his sufferings”)

on the basis of one solitary Hebrew manuscript from the

Masoretic family (although the thousands of others in the

Masoretic tradition read da’atow). It would appear that the

Hebrew text is completely at the mercy of these translators,

who can alter it to mean whatever they choose it to mean,

without following the scientific procedures worked out by

competent textual critics such as Ernst Würthwein (cf. his Text of

the Old Testament [Oxford, 1957], pp. 80-81).

The various introductions to the main divisions of the Old

Testament tend to hew very closely to the party line of classic

Wellhausianism throughout. The rationalist explanations of

predictive sections as mere prophecies after the event are all

included in these explanatory notes. In the case of predictions

looking forward to Christ himself, the traditional understanding

of these as true prophecies is occasionally referred to as

cherished by the church fathers, but a much more likely

explanation is to be found in non-Messianic references. Thus in

connection with Daniel 9:25, footnote p states that the

“anointed Prince” was anciently thought to refer to Christ. But

footnote r reports that Theodotion “perhaps rightly, identifies

this anointed one with the high priest Onias III … deposed in

about 175, assassinated by the supporters of Antiochus

Epiphanes.” This would involve an interpretation of the 69

heptads of years (or 483) as amounting to but 363, or the

interval of time between Cyrus’ decree permitting the return of

the Jewish exiles and the assassination of Onias in 175 B.C. No

mention is made of the fact that the interval between

Artaxerxes’ decree to Ezra in 457 B.C. and the beginning of

Christ’s ministry comes out to 483 years. Perhaps this would

savor too much of a naive concept of Scripture as

supernaturally inspired special revelation! On the other hand, it

might be alleged that it is even more naive to believe that 363 is

the same thing as 483.

In conclusion we may describe this ambitious work as attractive

in format, vigorous in expression, often felicitous and vital in its

wording. But its cavalier treatment of the Received Text renders

it unsafe for doctrinal study or biblical exposition. It often

translates an original text which never existed except in the

imagination of the translation committee. Its perspective is

quite identical to that of liberal Protestantism, apart from

occasional concessions to modern archeological discovery (as

in the well-written introduction to Psalms, in which the writer

comes out clearly for Davidic authorship of at least a few of

them, and casts doubts upon Maccabean composition of any of

them). It is rather strange that such a modern translation failed

to adopt the modern usage of capital letters for pronouns

referring to Deity (although of course “Church” is capitalized!);

nor did it see fit to use quotation marks, in violation of universal

modern practice. Only a reader of professional training will be

equipped to use this Jerusalem Bible with profit, capitalizing on

its virtues and avoiding its errors and its antisupernaturalistic

bias.


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