Then I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication, when they will look toward Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem, mourning like Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo.
Title: Holy Scriptures: Tree of Life Version
Publisher: Baker Books
Single satin ribbon marker
Gold gilded page edges
Price: £16.10 (UK)
The Bible is God’s love letter to humanity. Some 40 authors, writing independently of each other over centuries and millennia, under divine inspiration, composed its 66 books that form a highly coherent narrative which speaks of God’s desire to tabernacle with humanity, to live among us and guide our thoughts and actions. It has the power to transform lives for the supreme good and, until fairly recently, its moral teachings formed the cornerstone of western civilisation.
Today, we are blessed to have many excellent translations of Holy Scripture to suit most everyone’s needs, and as an avid student of the Bible, I count it as a great blessing and source of comfort to be able to read the words of our Creator in the various thought-for-thought and word-for-word translations now available. That said, some versions of the Bible are more interesting than others. And this new Tree of Life Version(TLV) is of particular note. What makes it stand out from the crowd is its introduction of key Hebrew words that emphasise the authentic Jewish origin of the Biblical narrative.
First published in 2011, the TLV was the brain child of Daniah Greenberg, a gentile lady who betrothed a messianic Jew ( who also accept Jesus as their Messiah), and who came to recognise the need for a good Bible translation that re-introduced some Hebrew words into Scripture, so as to remind Christians that we share a rich tradition with the Jewish community; after all, there is no denying that their God is our God too! Greenberg, who now serves as President of the Messianic Jewish Bible Society, commissioned a small team of 32 Jewish Bible scholars to produce a brand-new translation of the Holy Scriptures. This review will take a close look at the Thinline version of the TLV, a smaller, more portable rendition of the larger giant print edition, which I commented on in an earlier blog.
One would think that the task would merely involve taking an existing Bible version and replace some key words with their Hebrew equivalent. But Greenberg had an altogether more ambitious goal: to get the scholars to re-structure the sentences from the traditional Greek format and rewrite them in the distinctive cadence of the Hebrew language. And it is this achievement that renders the TLV so distinctive and powerful.
Most modern English Bibles have greatly diluted the Jewish accent of the original Scriptures. But the fact remains that Jesus was a Jew; his name is not Jesus but Yeshua. His mother was Miriam and not Mary. Jesus’ half brothers were Judah and Jacob, not Jude and James. Indeed, many of the modern English translations have all but purged much of the original Hebrew context of the Scriptures which has no doubt contributed to replacement theology or supersessionism – the erroneous notion that the Church has replaced Israel. Yet, a careful study of the entire Bible clearly reveals that God has not at all finished with Israel. On the contrary, the final events in human history will make Israel and the City of the Great King – Jerusalem – of central importance at the closing of the age.
That’s why I feel it’s important for Bible believing Christians to try to re-connect with some of the original Hebrew terminology, or at least their English transliterations. And that’s where the TLV really shines. God the Father is referred to as Adonai or Elohim. The Holy Spirit is Ruach ha-Kodesh. The sabbath is Shabbat and the saints, Kedoshim. These re-introduced terms greatly enrich the Biblical narrative and present an altogether refreshing change from the norm that I believe many avid ‘Bibliophiles’ will appreciate.
The TLV also departs from the traditional way in which the individual books of the Bible are presented, adopting instead the traditional Jewish rubric. The Torah(Law) is presented first, just like a regular Bible – covering the five books attributed to Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This is followed by the Neviim(Prophets); from Joshua right through to Malachi. After these the TLV presents the Ketuvim(The Writings) featuring the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. So it’s the Christian Old Testament, but with books presented in a different order to its conventional modern equivalent. The New Testament order of books is however identical to any regular Bible. In ‘shuffling’ the Biblical deck, as it were, the TLV offers readers a new and exciting way to study and assimilate the word of God, to both strengthen and deepen your faith.
To my mind, the TLV steers a middle of the road path between translations that are highly literal( so-called word-for-word) and those that follow the principle of dynamic equivalence (thought-for-thought) but is also respectful of other highly thought of translations such as the King James Version. For example, the TLV maintains classic phrases lost to many modern translations such as Behold and Selah (which is thought to represent an interlude or pause for thought) found in the Psalms. Another change the reader will notice is the absence of the word baptism, which implies infant baptism, which was most likely not practised by the earliest followers of Yeshua and indeed only appears as a controversial topic in the third century AD (see Tertullian’s c 206 AD, de baptismo, ch. xviii). The TLV re-introduces the proper terminology here; Immersion. Thus John the Baptist becomes John the Immerser, etc. This is a more accurate description of how the earliest believers – all of whom had come of age – symbolically affirmed their dedication to the Christian faith and so feels more natural and less contrived than sprinkling luke warm water on the head of an infant who is not cognisant of the significance of the event.
Unlike many popular, thought-for-thought translations, such as the NIV and NLT, the TLV maintains a very conservative line on keeping accuracy a priority. For example, consider Romans 1:16 in the NIV, which dispenses with the word ‘Greek,’ replacing it with ‘Gentile’:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
The TLV maintains greater accuracy like the more literal, word-for-word translations available(e.g. the KJV, NKJV, NASB & ESV):
For I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who trusts—to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (TLV)
The reader can thus be assured that such close attention to linguistic details is strongly adhered to throughout the TLV, ensuring that the Bible reader is getting a highly accurate rendering of the Holy Scriptures.
Notable Features of the Thinline Edition of the TLV
The thinline TLV measures 5.5 inches wide, 8.5 inches long and just 1 inch thick. The font is clear, approximately 9-point sized, and is line matched to minimise ghosting.
The thinline TLV has a beautifully designed spine:
The TLV text doesn’t have an overwhelming number of Hebrew words, so you’ll rapidly learn those words and phrases. But just in case you get bogged down, there is a nice little glossary at the back where you can quickly look up the meaning of any word that you’re unfamiliar with.
Like the Giant Print edition, the Thinline TLV also contains a number of Hebrew prayers and blessings, the Lords Prayer and the Aaronic Benediction. These can all be found after the Scriptures are presented. This is a wonderful Bible for devotional study at home or to take along to church with you.
Well, I hope you will understand why the TLV has become one of my favourite Bible translations for both accuracy and poetic beauty. These are difficult times to be sure but they are also exciting because we can see world events aligning just like the prophets of old and Yeshua, whose testimony is the very spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10) foretold.
Neil English is working on a brand new book on Newtonian reflectors. If you like his work and wish to support him in your own small way, why not consider buying one of his books? Thank you and God bless you!