Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Scofield Reference Bible

The Most Famous Study Bible of Them All: 

The Scofield Reference Bible

[Originally written for Protestants for the Common Good in 2012.]

Whether counted by sales, by persistent devotion of readers, or by longevity in print, Scofield’s Reference Bible is undoubtedly the most famous—and infamous—study Bible in all of Protestantism.  This now hundred-year-old Reference Bible became a trademark of Fundamentalist Orthodoxy, and made John Nelson Darby’s Dispensationalism the principal guide to Bible prophecy. 
The Original
Centennial Editions
Contents of the Review
The Movement
The Man
Editions of the Scofield Bible
General Character of Scofield’s Bible
Features of the Bible
Additions in the 1917 Edition
The Dispensations
Scofield’s Legacy
The printed Bible came to the English-speaking world in stages: 
  • King Henry’s Reformation put the Great Bible (1539) in every parish church;
  • the Puritans’ Geneva Bible (1560) found a place in every Calvinist’s home;
  • King James’ “Authorized” Bible (1611) became the public Bible for the whole English-language world; and,
  • Cyrus I. Scofield’s self-teaching Bible (1909) was soon found in the hands of every true believer. 
Among extravagant but serious claims for Scofield’s Bible is this:  “Historically speaking, The Scofield Reference Bible was to dispensationalism what Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses  was to Lutheranism, or Calvin’s Institutes to Calvinism.”  (R. Todd Mangum and Mark S. Sweetnam, The Scofield Bible:  Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church, Paternoster, 2009, p. 195.  NOTE:  This book will be cited below simply as Mangum & Sweetnam.) 
Progressive Christians, who may fear or despise what the Scofield Bible represents, may still benefit from some awareness of its history and character.  It has truly been a historic phenomenon in the religiousness of our time; and, it is the Bible that the majority of our neighbors—whom we are summoned to love—have been reading.  Thus it is included in this series of study Bible reviews. 
The Movement
Between the Civil War and World War I, American Protestants gradually divided between modernists and fundamentalists—divided over Darwinian evolution and higher criticism of the Bible.  The higher criticism conflict reached a symbolic climax in the heresy trials of Charles A. Briggs by the New York Presbytery (1892) and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (1893), with the result that Briggs was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Augustus_Briggs .  The evolution conflict reached a climax later (1925), in the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, from which Fundamentalism came away in some disrepute, particularly because of H. L. Mencken’s press coverage of the trial.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial .
In the early period, conservatives (fundamentalists to be) gathered especially at the annual Niagara Bible Conferences (1878-1901) for study of Bible prophecy.  In later decades, this movement gradually shifted into Bible institutes (like Moody Bible Institute, 1886) and colleges (like Philadelphia College of the Bible, 1914. which Cyrus Scofield helped to found). 
A whole ethos of Bible study was developed in these circles. 
The prophetic teachers regarded their approach as a popular one.  The literalistic approach, they maintained, was simply that of common sense.... Although fundamentalists emphasized that it was scientific, they never regarded their scheme of Biblical interpretation as esoteric.... Fundamentalism did not develop in seminaries, but in Bible conferences, Bible schools, and, perhaps most importantly, on the personal level of small Bible-study groups where the prophetic truths could be made plain.  (George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, New ed., Oxford, 2006 [1st ed. 1980], pp. 61-62.) 
It was to promote and facilitate such individual Bible study that Cyrus I. Scofield developed his Reference Bible. 
The Scofield Reference Bible originated in part from Scofield’s becoming  converted relatively late in life and his becoming a preacher and minister charged with learning the content and meaning of the Bible mostly through self study.  He designed his study Bible to be a tool for others needing or desiring to be likewise self-taught in the content and meaning of the Bible.  (Mangum & Sweetnam, p. 76.) 
The Man
So, what of the man who created this notorious study Bible?  After he became famous, Scofield symbolized a religious position that made him both devoutly admired and seriously hated.  A highly laudatory biography was published at the end of his life by Charles Trumbull, a pupil and friend, and other works of praise followed.  Some decades later, however, a writer named Joseph Canfield searched records far and wide in order to write a biography “designed to destroy the reputation of Scofield and his Bible alike” (Mangum & Sweetnam, pp. 2-3, with full references there).  This partly hearsay negative material is still being retailed by current critics (for example, Ben Witherington III, The Problem with Evangelical Theology, Baylor University Press, 2005, p. 95).  More balanced presentations are available in two recent biographical sketches of Scofield, one in Mangum & Sweetnam, “Cyrus Ingerson Scofield:  A Controversial Life,” pp. 7-52, the other more briefly in the current Wikipedia article on Scofield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._I._Scofield . 

Here are selected highlights (and lowlights) of his life. 

Early Life.  Scofield was born in 1843 in Michigan, the last of seven children, his mother dying in his infancy.  His father raised him in a New England intellectual atmosphere, but died in Cyrus’ mid teens.  He was taken south to live with an older sister, and served a year in the Confederate army while he was still in his teens (1861-62).  After the war he migrated to St. Louis where he received a lawyer’s training and married a woman from a well-to-do French Catholic family. 
In 1869 he moved to Atchison, Kansas, and became involved in the politics of that state.  In 1873 he received, as a political favor, appointment as U.S. District Attorney for Kansas.  Political scandals came to light (this was the second administration of U.S. Grant, notorious for its corruption) involving influence, bribery, and possibly forgery.  Scofield had become a heavy drinker in these busy years, further complicating his life.  He was removed from office, may have served some jail time (the records are vague), and spiraled downward in both his professional and personal life.   He was separated from his wife and two daughters in these years.  (The marriage was eventually annulled, 1883.  The two daughters never married, but Scofield wrote them occasionally in later years.  Right after the divorce he married a church member in his new location in Dallas, Texas, and had a son by that marriage.) 
Born Again.  Scofield hit bottom in 1879, when he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  Both in his personal life and in his later theology he was a born-again believer.  The two parts of his life were radically separated by his conversion.  For him, the sharp break between the dispensations of Law and Grace was deeply rooted in personal experience.  (On this grace in Scofield’s theology, see Mangum & Sweetnam, pp. 90-91.)
In his new life he was mentored by the Reverend James H. Brookes, pastor of a Southern Presbyterian church in St. Louis.  Brookes was an enthusiastic follower of John Nelson Darby’s newly spreading Dispensationalism, and that view of the end times was included in Scofield’s introduction to the glories and mysteries of Biblical truth.  (Scofield never attended a seminary.) 
By 1882, Scofield had become a candidate for the ministry in a Congregationalist Association in St. Louis, and after approval was sent to a struggling church in Dallas, Texas.  A man of ability and leadership, he increased the First Congregational Church of Dallas from twelve to eight hundred members in fourteen years (1882-1896).  Scofield’s leadership extended beyond his own church to community work with the poor, to work with missionary groups both domestic and Central American, and to participation in Bible conferences, especially on prophecy.  He became a frequent conference speaker on the dispensationalist circuits. 
The Reference Bible.  Scofield’s main writing in these years was a preview of the theology that would be embodied in the Reference Bible:  Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, published in 1896 (online:  http://www.biblebelievers.com/scofield/index.html ).  Dwight L. Moody’s home church in Northfield, Massachusetts, picked Scofield to succeed the old champion of Evangelical revivalism, and Scofield moved there in 1895.  His circle of Bible prophecy friends encouraged his idea to create a study Bible, and in 1903 he resigned most of his major positions in order to give the bulk of his time to work on the Reference Bible, including travel to Europe to consult sympathetic allies there. 
While in England Scofield was also searching for a publisher, and he was put in touch with Henry Frowde of Oxford University Press who was far-sighted enough to go for the idea of the Reference Bible.  He directed the American head of OUP, John Armstrong, to carry on the project in America—thus securing what would eventually become Oxford’s first million-copy title, though it took 20 years.  The first edition was published in 1909, with extraordinary sales following.  (The records of the Oxford Press for the relevant years were destroyed by fire, and only generalities are known about the sales of the Reference Bible in the early decades.) 
Last Years.  Scofield retired to Long Island, New York, and worked on a revision of the Reference Bible (the “New and Improved Edition,”) eventually published in 1917—the edition now commonly known as the “Old Scofield Bible.”  He helped establish the Philadelphia College of the Bible (1914), which carried on his legacy until recently as the Philadelphia Biblical University.  A sign that the old Scofield legacy may be fading is the name change in 2012 to Cairn University. 

Along the same lines, but a little later, one of his disciples in Texas, Lewis Sperry Chafer, institutionalized Scofield’s legacy there by founding (1924) the Dallas Theological Seminary, which in two decades became a kind of Mecca of Dispensationalism.  (See the Seminary’s Doctrinal Statement, particularly Article V on Dispensations:  https://www.dts.edu/about/what-we-believe/doctrinal-statement/ .)  

Cyrus Scofield died on July 24th, 1921. 
Editions of the Scofield Bible
All editions were/are published by Oxford University Press, except a few recent spin-offs.  Oxford never released its ownership of this valuable property! 
The Scofield Reference Bible, 1st ed., 1909.  This is now rarely found, having been essentially absorbed into the renowned 2nd edition. 
The Scofield Reference Bible, New and Improved Edition, 1917.  Now widely known as “The Old Scofield Reference/Study Bible.”  Discussed at length below.  This edition was re-set and re-titled The Old Scofield Study Bible, Standard Edition (1917 Notes), 1996, in which the 1917 text is given page-for-page, but with a few additional helps at the back.  I am using the 17th printing (!) of this 1996 re-set, which is an attractive and useful volume. 
The New Scofield Reference Bible, 1967, ed. E. Schuyler English et al.  This is commonly referred to as the 3rd edition, symbolized by III after the title (see the image at the top of this review).  This has been the only full (but still modest) revision.  It was done by a nine-man committee that included the President of Moody Bible Institute, the Dean of the Philadelphia College of Bible, and the President of Dallas Theological Seminary. 
The New Scofield Study Bible, NIV, 1984.  (Note:  the Reference Bible has become a Study Bible.)  All previous Scofield Bibles used the King James Version of the Bible, though the 1967 edition made some updates in the English text.  This is the first “adaptation” of the Scofield study materials to a different English translation.  To attach the Scofield notes, usually tied to specific Biblical words, to a different translation was a substantial editorial task, carried out by three senior members of the administration of Philadelphia College of Bible.  The Scofield materials used were those of the 1967 revision, so this adaptation could be designated as Scofield III.  The front matter of the previous editions is seriously “improved” in this edition, probably by Paul S. Karleen, who was “Chairman of the Division of General Education” at Philadelphia College of Bible, and who authored the “Introduction to the 1984 Edition.” 
The Scofield Study Bible, NASB, 2005, Contributing Editor, Doris W. Rikkers.  Doris Rikkers is the head of a consulting/editing firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, working with Zondervan publishing.  Her firm obviously contracted to do the “adaptation” of the Scofield notes to other translations besides the NIV.  They also adapted the Scofield notes to the New King James Version (NKJV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) version.  Most recently, the Scofield materials have been adapted to the Evangelical substitute for the RSV, the English Standard Version (ESV). 
General Character of Scofield’s Bible
His Era.  Cyrus Scofield characterized his own time in church history as follows (1909 Introduction): 
The last fifty years have witnessed an intensity and breadth of interest in Bible study unprecedented in the history of the Christian Church.  Never before have so many reverent, learned and spiritual men brought to the study of the Scriptures minds so free from merely controversial motive.  A new and vast exegetical and expository literature has been created, inaccessible for bulk, cost, and time to the average reader.  The winnowed and attested results of this half-century of Bible study are embodied in the notes, summaries, and definitions of this edition.  Expository novelties, and merely personal views and interpretations, have been rejected.  (Page iii.)
His Irenic Intentions.  Scofield did not set out to promote a particular theological position (among those within the spectrum of Protestant Orthodoxy). 
Until it became so popular as to become a lightning rod for controversy, The Scofield Reference Bible served first as a means of promoting consensus among Bible-believing American Christians.
Scofield conveyed to Trumbull [his first biographer] his sense of gratification that his definitions of election, predestination, and foreordination all met with approval from both Calvinist and Arminian [Wesleyan] theologians whom he had corresponded with.  Transcending partisanship was clearly one of Scofield’s goals in his defining such traditionally controversial terms.  (Mangum & Sweetnam, pp. 91 and 98.) 
It is true, of course, that Scofield’s Bible became famous and notorious because of its presentation of the Dispensationalist interpretation of End-times. 
Scofield advocated distinctly dispensationalist positions, but he does not seem to have been aware of their distinctiveness; nor does he seem to have anticipated these positions becoming controversial.  Rather, Scofield seems to have regarded his work as reflecting the consensus of a broad coalition of Bible-believing interpreters of Scripture.  (Mangum & Sweetnam, p. 85.) 
Features of the Bible
In his Introduction to the first edition (which, the reader was informed, was “To Be Read”), Scofield listed eleven “distinctive features” of this Reference Bible.  Here are most of them (excerpted from p. iii): 
  • Current reference systems are not helpful.  They are replaced here by one in which a chain of references is given for each important Biblical concept, starting from its first appearance in the Biblical story and continuing to each important link in succession until a final summary is reached. 
  • Helps are provided on the page where needed, covering such things as weights and measures, dates, explanations of names, and the like. 
  • The chains of topical references end in “analytical summaries of the whole teaching of Scripture on that subject, thus guarding the reader against hasty generalizations from a few passages or proof texts.” 
  • “The great words of Scripture”—and 27 examples are listed—“are defined in simple non-technical terms.  These definitions have been submitted to, and approved by, a very large number of eminent students and teachers of all the evangelical bodies.” 
  • Each of the 66 books of the Bible is provided with an introduction and analytical outline, which also provides a system of subheadings inserted in the running text of the book. 
  • The results of modern study of Prophecy are given in full.  The Prophecy portion of the Bible “nearly one-fourth of the whole, has been closed to the average reader by fanciful and allegorical schemes of interpretation.  The method followed [in this reference Bible] gives ready access also to the amazing literary riches of the Prophetical Books.” 
  • The Covenants made by God with various humans in history “are analyzed, and their relation to each other and to Christ made clear.”  
  • “The Dispensations are distinguished, exhibiting the majestic, progressive order of the divine dealings of God with humanity, ‘the increasing purpose’ which runs through and links together the ages, from the beginning of the life of man to the end in eternity.  Augustine said:  ‘Distinguish the ages, and the Scriptures harmonize.’”
Additions in the 1917 Edition
The Revised edition offered improvements in the size of print, especially in the center column references, changing chapter references from Roman to Arabic numerals (a change American publishers were adopting over against British usage), and the addition of a system of dates for Biblical events, using the chronology of Anglican Archbishop James Ussher of the seventeenth century.  Thus Genesis 1 is dated to 4004 B.C., the Flood to 2448, Moses’ farewell speeches to 1451, David’s capture of Jerusalem to 1048, John the Baptist to 26 A.D., the Crucifixion to 33 A.D., and the Revelation to John on Patmos to 96 A.D.  After the time of David, the dates are somewhere near what contemporary scholars would give.  (In the third edition, no dates were given for anything earlier than 2100 B.C.) 
The Panoramic View.  The most prominent new feature in the revision of 1917 was the front-matter essay, “A Panoramic View of the Bible.”  This essay puts in succinct form the hermeneutical foundations that Fundamentalists and Bible-literalist Evangelicals had already developed and have continued to defend to the present time.    
The essay elaborates five propositions (pp. v-vi): 
1.      The Bible is one book. 
2.      The Bible is a book of books. 
3.      The books of the Bible fall into [systematic] groups. 
4.      The Bible tells the human story. 
5.      The Central Theme of the Bible is Christ. 
The basic principle is that the Bible is a closed system.  “The Bible story and message is like a picture wrought out in mosaics:  each book, chapter, verse, and even word forms a necessary part, and has its own appointed place” (page v).  The Bible is one book because every part of it is divinely designed.  Therefore, the interpreter’s assignment is to decipher the meaning within the whole of every chapter, verse, and word. 
The systematic groupings of Biblical books, with Christ as the unifying theme, is as follows: 
Preparation [for Christ]:  the Old Testament
Manifestation:  the Gospels
Propagation:  Acts of the Apostles
Explanation:  the Epistles of the New Testament
Consummation:  the Apocalypse [book of Revelation] 
The Old Testament is subdivided as follows: 
Redemption:  the Pentateuch
Organization:  the historical books, Joshua to Esther
Poetry:  Job to Song of Solomon, plus Lamentations
Sermons:  all the prophetic books 
The point of these groupings and labels is to orient the reader to the big pictures, to provide maps to the components of the closed system that is the inspired Scriptures. 
The Dispensations
As an example of how Scofield’s references and notes work we may take one of the more distinctive features of his Bible, the Seven Dispensations. 
Scofield’s details concerning the dispensations varied some from the original set developed by John Nelson Darby in the 1860s.  The differences presumably developed in the many years of discussions of the End-times with colleagues at the Niagara Summer Conferences on Prophecy.  A particularly close consultant on Prophecy was Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945), editor of Our Hope magazine and advocate of missions to the Jews.  To Gaebelein Scofield wrote in 1905, “I sit at your feet when it comes to prophecy, & congratulate in advance the future readers of my Bible on having in their hands a safe, clear, sane guide through what to most is a labyrinth.”  (Facsimile of a note written from the Lotus Club in New York, given on p. 87 of Mangum & Sweetnam.)   
[Note:  in what follows, all Biblical passages to which Notes are attached are as given in the 1917 edition. Several Notes were moved to other Biblical verses in the Revision of 1967 and its successors.] 
Definition.  “A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God” (note on Genesis 1:28).  Thus for each dispensation there is a specific revelation of some requirement by which humans are to be tested, some consequence of failure, and some time limit that marks the end of that dispensation. 
The first four dispensations were given at the beginning of the human story: 
(1) Innocency, discussed at Genesis 1:28, at the creation of humans;
(2) Conscience, discussed at Genesis 3:23, at the expulsion from Eden;
(3) Human Government, discussed at Genesis 8:20, after the flood; and
(4) Promise, discussed at Genesis 12:1, the beginning of the Abraham story. 
The last three are the major ones for the history of Israel, the Church, and the end-times. 
Fifth dispensation, Law, note at Exodus 19:8.  “This dispensation extends from Sinai to Calvary—from the Exodus to the Cross.  The history of Israel in the wilderness and in the land is one long record of the violation of the law.  The testing of the nation by law ended in the judgment of the Captivities, but the dispensation itself ended at the Cross.” 
Sixth dispensation, Grace, note at John 1:17.  This note is attached to the Bible verse that reads, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” 
This note has three parts, one the Summary on the topic of grace in the chain reference system, one on the dispensation of grace, and one on the manifestations of grace in salvation and the Christian walk.  Here is the part on the dispensation. 
(2) As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3:24-26; 4:24, 25).  The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation [8 references]...  The immediate result of this testing was the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and His crucifixion by Jew and Gentile (Acts 4:27).  The predicted end of the testing of man under grace is the apostasy of the professing church (see “Apostasy,” 2 Tim. 3:1-8, note), and the resultant apocalyptic judgments. 
Thus all of Church history and our own time are within the dispensation of Grace. 
Seventh dispensation, Kingdom, note at Ephesians 1:10.  At this note, the last dispensation is actually called, “the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.” 
This, the seventh and last of the ordered ages which condition human life on the earth, is identical with the kingdom covenanted to David [references to the Summaries at Zechariah 12:8 and I Corinthians 15:24] and gathers into itself under Christ all past “times”: 
(1) The time of oppression and misrule ends by Christ taking His kingdom (Isa. 11:3, 4). 
(2) The time of testimony and divine forbearance ends in judgment (Mt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:30, 31; Rev. 20:7-15). 
(3) The time of toil ends in rest and reward (2 Thes. 1:6, 7). 
(4) The time of suffering ends in glory (Rom. 8:17, 18). 
(5) The time of Israel’s blindness and chastisement ends in restoration and conversion (Rom. 11:25-27; Ezk. 39:25-29).  
(6) The times of the Gentiles end in the smiting of the image and the setting up of the kingdom of the heavens (Dan. 2:34, 35; Rev. 19:15-21). 
(7) The time of creation’s thraldom ends in deliverance at the manifestation of the sons of God (Gen. 3:17; Isa. 11:6-8; Rom. 8:19-21). 
Scofield’s Legacy
Reference was made in sketching Scofield’s life to institutions that have become bastions of Dispensationalist theology—Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, Philadelphia University of Bible, and a much longer list could now be compiled.  Besides the continuing publications of the Scofield Bible in its original form, revised form, and several “adaptations” to other Bible translations, the Scofield Bible has had its imitators, presenting updated versions of the same basic viewpoint aimed at the same “average Bible reader” audience and purchasing public.  Two prominent examples are: 
The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978.  Charles C. Ryrie was a student of John F. Walvoord (1910-2002), second president of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Ryrie himself became chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at that seminary.  Ryrie’s Bible used the then-recent New American Standard translation (NASB) first published by the Lockman Foundation (one of the Fundamentalist groups seeking alternatives to the Revised Standard Version) in 1971.  Ryrie kept his notes and introductions very simple and included essays at the back, featuring “A Synopsis of Bible Doctrine” (copyright by Moody Bible Institute), which gives Dispensationalist interpretations of the Church, Israel, the Rapture, and the Tribulation. 
An “Expanded” edition of the Ryrie Bible was published in 1995 (Moody Press), which included many more charts and summaries of background materials, but kept the Dispensationalist doctrinal interpretations.  (Moody Press had published Ryrie’s Dispensationalism Today in 1966, and the revision, Dispensationalism in 1995.) 
The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1997.  John MacArthur became a very popular preacher and teacher at Grace Community Church, a mega church in Sun Valley, California  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Community_Church_(California).  In time he expanded by creating The Master’s Seminary and published separate commentaries on all the New Testament books.  His extended publications are facilitated by the staffs of both the church and the seminary, and the most prominent result is the MacArthur Study Bible.  This work has all the standard features of present-day study Bibles, joining the publishing melee aimed at Evangelical buyers of the Scriptures.  His “Overview of Theology,” at the back of the book, gives the Dispensationalist interpretations of Death, Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation, and the Millennial Reign. 
Popular and Political.  Even more familiar to most readers will be Scofield’s legacy as seen in popular publications in the last half of the twentieth century. 
[The Scofield Bible’s] way of reading the Bible and viewing the world enjoyed a surge of popularity that is still having an impact to the present day.  Hal Lindsey’s best seller The Late, Great Planet Earth (1970), John Walvoord’s best seller Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis (1973), Jerry Jenkins’ and Tim LaHaye’s best selling Left Behind series of books (1995-2007) all have their roots in the dispensational theology first popularized by The Scofield Reference Bible.... It was the first best seller to popularize the dispensationalist ideas that these other works developed and made even more famous.  (Mangum & Sweetnam, pp. 179-180.)
A major political impact of the dispensationalism presented in the Scofield Bible is the alliance between Evangelicals and the modern state of Israel, after 1948 and especially since 1977 when more conservative leadership came to power in Israel.  Writings on these issues are vast, but the Evangelical side is traced recently in Timothy Weber’s On the Road to Armageddon:  How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend, Baker Academic, 2004. 
This review has been mainly descriptive.  In evaluation it should be insisted that Scofield’s Bible was a masterful piece of work.  It is much more meticulous and carefully written than any of its later offspring.  For anyone who wants to treat the Bible as a closed system, divinely inspired and essentially untouched by questions of social and historical context of the Israelite and early Christian writings, this is a masterpiece of popular Biblical study. 
For those who cannot accept such a view of Scripture (and a God who would have contrived it), and who deprecate the political, international, and ethnic consequences of such an astonishingly narrow and elitist world-view as that of Dispensationalism, there must be sadness that much of Evangelical Protestantism finds this an acceptable alternative to the great and generous traditions of the faith.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Orthodox Study Bible

The Ancient Church Reappears

[Written in 2011, for Protestants for the Common Good.]

 For many of us, the title of this Study Bible prompts the question, Who exactly is “Orthodox?” and then, What’s their Bible like?  Another quite separate group, however, is the growing number of English-speaking Orthodox people world wide.  Is this really their Bible?  
Personal Note:  This project was a Trip!  What has become a chapter-length essay still omits byways, people glimpsed furtively, pastors still not traced, not to mention long lists of blogs and websites barely touched.  I thought the New Jerusalem Bible review took us far into history behind the Study Bible, but this one takes us far into the current religious world—both behind and in the Study Bible!  It’s a long and complex story, but I invite you to stay with it; it is a story of our time.  
Outline of the Review
      The Orthodox Churches
      St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology
      From Campus Crusade to Heavenly Liturgy
      The Orthodox Sponsors of the Study Bible
      The Editions of 1993 and 2008
      The Translation of the Septuagint (LXX) 
            The Remarkable Case of the Psalms
      Adverse Reviews, from the Orthodox Side
      The Orthodox Approach to Scripture
            Reading the Bible with Obedience 
            Understanding the Bible through the Church 
            Christ, the Heart of the Bible
            The Bible as Personal 
      Orthodox Interpretations:  The Notes
      Orthodox Interpretations:  The Study Articles 
      Some Evaluative Comments 
The Orthodox Churches  
Orthodox churches are often referred to as “Eastern” churches.  That’s because from a West-European viewpoint, all the non-Roman-Catholic Orthodox churches appeared in the east.  From around 400 of the Christian Era, two great traditions were gradually separating and shaping peoples and cultures for centuries to come:  The Latin-speaking tradition (West) and the Greek-speaking tradition (East).  The West clung to the use of Latin in its worship and teaching until early-modern times, when Protestants replaced Latin with local languages in worship, teaching, and especially Bible translation.  
Christians in the East, however, gradually transmitted their tradition not only in Greek but also in Semitic languages such as Syriac and Arabic and in other local languages such as Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and several Slavic languages.  All of these other language groups, however, translated their Bibles from the Greek scriptures.  Thus, all the Greek-heritage churches followed the Eastern “Orthodox” tradition in both liturgies and scriptures—with certain exceptions in doctrine.  (The Coptic, Ethiopian, and Armenian churches, for example, were and are “monophysite”—or more recently “Non-Chalcedonian”—and the old “Nestorian” churches of Persia have survived as “Assyrian” churches in India and the USA.)  
After the Muslim conquests from 638 to 1453 CE, the Greek churches were mostly “People of the Book” communities in Muslim cultures.  The Russian Church, surviving in strength, became the “Third Rome,” and was the major Orthodox Church until its own suppression and diaspora began under the Soviet regimes.  The result of these various dispersions, mostly in the 20th century, was to transplant many Orthodox communities to the Western world.  
The fully Orthodox churches are those that adhere to the Chalcedonian Creed (defined at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon, 451 CE), from which “monophysite” churches dissented.  Currently, “Orthodox Church” means, 
a fellowship of Christian churches that has developed historically from the Church of the Byzantine Empire.  There are currently fifteen self-governing...churches, including the four ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.  The See of Rome, which is the fifth Patriarchate in the system...established at the Council of Chalcedon (451), separated from the Orthodox Church [in 1054 CE].  
The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, ed. Jonathan Z. Smith, 1995, p. 820.  
Of those fifteen self-governing churches, the major ones for present purposes are, 
  • The Greek Orthodox Church, headed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (resident in Istanbul, Turkey).  In the USA, this is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (www.GOArch.org). 
  • The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), headed by the Patriarch of Moscow.  Currently represented in the United States by the Russian Orthodox Church in America (ROCIA; https://En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Orthodox_Church). 
  • The Antiochian Orthodox Church (Syrian), headed by a Patriarch resident in Damascus, Syria.  The North American wing of this Church is the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (www.Antiochian.org).  The Orthodox Study Bible was produced by a community in this Archdiocese. 
  • There are many others, national and local, which one can now easily discover on the internet.  St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois, is about to host the 50th National Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America (July 24, 2011).  
Recent websites and audiotapes claim 300 million members for all the Orthodox churches, making them second only to Roman Catholicism among Christian communions in the world.  
(References:  Besides dictionaries, encyclopedias, and online searches, the following books are recommended:  Timothy Ware (Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia), The Orthodox Church, new ed., Penguin Books, 1997, a classic since its first publication in 1963; Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), “The Christian Tradition,” vol. 2, University of Chicago Press, 1974, a history of the distinctive theological emphases; The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, ed. Ken Parry et al., Blackwell, 1999, an excellent recent tool; Eastern Orthodox Theology, a Contemporary Reader, ed. Daniel B. Clendenin, 2nd ed., Baker Academic, 2003, with two added chapters about American Evangelicals becoming Orthodox.)  
St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology 
The Orthodox Study Bible was “prepared under the auspices of the Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California.  Fr. Jack Norman Sparks, Ph.D., Dean.” (Title page.)  
The Academy’s Website describes it as follows:  
St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology was founded in 1976 as an arm of the Evangelical Orthodox Church and entered canonical Orthodoxy when that body was brought into the Antiochian Archdiocese. We offer a Correspondence Study Program, operate a Prisoner Education Program, and carry out various programs of research and study to prepare materials presenting the Orthodox Christian faith to Americans. 
... The Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms [1993, predecessor of the full Orthodox Study Bible] is an outstanding example of the fruit of our literature programs. 

The title “Evangelical Orthodox Church” is unusual.  When one inquires further into the background of St Athanasius, the “Evangelical Orthodox Church” leads to a remarkable story.  
From Campus Crusade to the Heavenly Liturgy 
“Even though the Church on earth lives simultaneously in two dimensions, the heavenly and the earthly, her worship is focused on the heavenly realm.”  
“Heavenly Worship,” Fr. Richard Ballew [www.protomartyr.org/heaven].  (Father Richard was one of the Evangelicals who made the journey to Orthodoxy and stayed through the completion of the Old Testament part of The Orthodox Study Bible of 2008.)  
The remarkable story behind the making of the Orthodox Study Bible is that the people who created the St. Athanasius Academy and found a place for their communities in the Antiochian Orthodox Church evolved from a group of leaders of the Campus Crusade for Christ in the late 1960s.  Here are two of the figures who led many in this remarkable journey.  (On Campus Crusade and its history, see:  www.cru.org/us/en/about.html.  For a quite different story of an Evangelical turned Orthodox, see Frank Schaeffer, Dancing Alone:  The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religions, Brookline, MA:  Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1994.) 
Jack Sparks, Dean of St. Athanasius (until his death in 2010), was a fervent campus crusader at UCLA at the same time that Hal Lindsey was rapturing students there with The Late Great Planet Earth (the run-away best seller about the “rapture” of  Christians and the imminent end of the world).  Jack and his co-worker Paul Raudenbush had their own evangelical thriller called Letters to Street Christians, “Translated [from the New Testament Epistles] by Two Brothers from Berkeley,” Zondervan, 1971.  (The target language of the “translation” was described as “American Slang of the 60s and 70s,” and the back cover says it was colloquially called “the hippie Bible.”  Four online listings of a 2004 reprint of this book, used, range from $124 to $712!)  

Fr. Jack Sparks
Sparks had gotten a Ph.D. in the secular disciplines and taught statistics and research design at the University of Colorado and at Penn State in the 1960s.  Having been converted to the Jesus Movement, he became a Campus Crusade worker at UCLA in early 1969 and helped form a group called Christian World Liberation Front.  After a few years he had joined other campus and regional staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ to begin a search for a more complete experience of Christian community.  Several of them began house-church groups across the country and merged these church groups into the New Covenant Apostolic Order, 1973.  A key leader in the group—and eventually a key creator of the Orthodox Study Bible—was Peter E. Gillquist, of whom more in a moment. 

The New Covenant Apostolic Order was dedicated to finding a form of Church life that was authentic—that is, that was as close to the original Apostolic church as their study, research, and prayer for guidance could lead them to.  The members of the leadership group were ministering to house churches and they met several times a year to share their theological and churchly progress in their common quest.  In their study they progressed systematically, recapitulating, as it were, the history of the early church.  They gradually accepted the need for bishops (the letters of Ignatius of Antioch in the Apostolic Fathers became decisive reading for them), and then St. Athanasius and the creeds.  “If anyone could be credited with our conversion to Orthodoxy, it would have to be St. Athanasius and St. Ignatius” (Frs. Peter Gillquist and Gordon Thomas Walker, “Odyssey to Orthodoxy,” see link below).  
The whole story of the long journey from the Evangelical campus radicals to the ordained priests in an ancient apostolic succession is told by Peter Gillquist in his book, Becoming Orthodox:  A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith, Brentwood, TN:  Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989 [published two years after their ordination into the Antiochian Orthodox Church].  An abbreviated version of the journey is on the internet under the title Odyssey to Orthodoxy (http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2010/05/02 ).  Both versions of the journey use the subtitle, “From Arrowhead Springs to Antioch.”  Arrowhead Springs in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California was the location of the national headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ from 1962 to 1991. 

Fr. Peter Gillquist
Peter Gillquist, main publicist for the group, had grown up a Lutheran in Minnesota, was born again through Campus Crusade in 1959, got his theological education at Dallas Theological Seminary (a leading fundamentalist, dispensationalist school) and Wheaton Graduate School.  He became a Campus Crusade staff member based in Evanston, Illinois, but worked variously at Notre Dame, UCLA, and the University of Memphis.  Eventually he spent eleven years on the staff of Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, where he served briefly on one of the Overview committees on the New King James Version of the Bible (eventually published in 1982, and then the version used for the NT of the Orthodox Study Bible).  Nelson eventually became the publisher of the full version of the Study Bible.   Throughout and beyond this work, Gillquist took leadership in the search for the authentic early church.   
When the New Covenant Apostolic Order was fully ready, they cut the knot and declared themselves to be Orthodox.  Having discovered the importance of bishops, they found a way to acquire some.  
The six of us who originated the movement...secured a liturgy for the consecration of Bishops, formed a circle and consecrated one another.  Then we went to our first official council and consecrated thirteen other men.  That day, February 15, 1979, the Evangelical Orthodox Church was officially born.  (Gillquist and Walker, “Odyssey to Orthodoxy,” section titled “The E.O.C. is Born.”)  
The story of how this new Evangelical Orthodox Church eventually secured admission to a Church with authentic apostolic succession—unbroken succession from bishop to bishop since the days of Peter and Paul—is complicated, but after missing out with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul, the Antiochian (Syrian) Patriarch happened to be in the USA at the right time, and the former Campus Crusaders and their later followers (all two thousand of them) were admitted to the communion of the North American Archdiocese of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in 1987.  At that time, Jack Sparks, Peter Gillquist, and several others were ordained as deacons, and subsequently as priests of their own congregations.  
The St. Athanasius Academy had been formed in 1976, while the Evangelical Orthodox Church was based at St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Goleta, California, near Santa Barbara.  The first publication of the Orthodox Study Bible—New Testament and Psalms only—was published from that location.  (The EOC established its own publishing house around that time, the Conciliar Press, which now produces much of the Academy’s literature, including the Orthodox Study Bible:  NT and Psalms edition, which was originally published by Thomas Nelson in 1993.)  
In the published versions of the Arrowhead Springs to Antioch story, the narratives culminate in discussions aimed mainly at Evangelical Christians, answering their objections or doubts about “becoming Orthodox.”  That is to say, St. Athanasius Academy is a strongly evangelistic body, seeking to “win America for Orthodoxy.”  Peter Gillquist has long held the position of Chairman of the Department of Mission and Evangelism for the entire Archdiocese of North America.  It is especially American Evangelicals who are appealed to both in the writings and in the many online blogs maintained by the Orthodox believers.  
The Orthodox Sponsors of the Study Bible 
The title page of the Study Bible refers to some authorities who did not come to Orthodoxy from a Protestant Evangelical background.  One General Editor of the Old Testament is Metropolitan MAXIMOS, Th.D.  (A Metropolitan is in between a bishop and an archbishop.)  In the Greek Orthodox Church in America, there are eight metropolises in the Archdiocese of America. 

Metropolitan Maximos
MAXIMOS was appointed first Bishop of Pittsburg in the GOC in 1979, now under his Eminence Demetrius, Archbishop of America.  (Note:  this is the Greek Orthodox Church, not the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.)   MAXIMOS was elevated to Metropolitan in 1997, still in Pittsburg, indicating significant growth for Orthodoxy in that jurisdiction in eighteen years.  According to its website, the Metropolis now contains 52 parishes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and three monastic communities.  
Metropolitan MAXIMOS is listed as a General Editor of the Study Bible, not simply a member of the Overview Committee.  There are only six General Editors of the Bible, while there are 29 members of the Overview Committee consisting of Archbishops, Metropolitans, Bishops, and Fathers, who are named on the title page.  While it is clear that Metropolitan MAXIMOS was a busy administrator during the years the Orthodox Study Bible was produced, he was also a substantial theologian by training in the Greek and European worlds before assuming his administrative roles in America.  
He was born on the Greek island of Chios in 1935, graduated from the Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki, Greece, in 1957, was ordained priest on Chios in 1959, and received a D.Th. from the University of Louvain (Belgium) in 1964.  He was then transferred to America and served as Professor of Systematic Theology at the Holy Cross School of Theology (Greek Orthodox) in Brookline, Massachusetts, from 1966 to 1979, where he also served as academic dean.  When he was appointed first Bishop of Pittsburg in 1979, he was also assigned to teach systematic theology at Christ the Savior Theological Seminary in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where he taught until 1985.  Meanwhile he had been appointed Bishop of Diokleia (Turkey) in 1978 as an ecclesiastical stepping stone to becoming Bishop and then Metropolitan in the rapidly growing American upper Midwest.  
It is surly safe to say that Metropolitan MAXIMOS was made General Editor of the OSB to give the approval of both his high office and his distinguished theological career to the enterprise of that publication, not because he was available as a working editor and translator on the project.  His work must have consisted in reviewing and approving the work of others.  
In 2000, when the LXX project was well under way, Metropolitan MAXIMOS, unable to attend a major meeting, had written, 
I wish to express to you my undivided support and enthusiasm for this ongoing project. I look forward to the opportunity when I can devote the necessary time to the project. This is an important, indeed historical, work of scholarship.
Prof. Eugen Pentiuc
Prof. Eugen Pentiuc.  Also listed as an Old Testament General Editor for the OSB is Eugen Pentiuc, Th.D., Ph.D.  (See www.Pentiuc.com .)  Here, instead of a senior church leader, we have a young scholarly teacher with both East-European background and high-profile American training.  
Pentiuc was born in Romania in 1956, received a Licentiate in Theology from the Bucharest Orthodox Institute of Theology in 1979, studied at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem (Roman Catholic Dominican) in 1986, then at Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, where he received an M.A. in 1996 and a Ph.D. in 1997.  The Orthodox School of Theology in Bucharest then granted him a Th.D. in 1998.  His Harvard dissertation on West-Semitic Vocabulary was published in 2001.  Since then he has published more popular works, Jesus the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible, Paulist Press, 2006, and Long-Suffering Love:  A Commentary on Hosea, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2008.  
From 2003, Pentiuc was a popular teacher in Religious Studies at Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he was honored as Teacher of the Year three years in succession (2005-2007).  He then became Assistant Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the sister institution, Holy Cross School of Theology.  There had been a brief return to Romania as Visiting Professor at the Orthodox School of Theology in Bucharest in 2004.  
Pentiuc obviously qualified as a full-time scholar in Old Testament in the American academic world, however he may have been actually used in the editorial work of the Orthodox Study Bible.  (The translation of the Old Testament for that work had begun in 1998 and was on-going until almost 2008; more below.)  

Fr. Michel Nijim
Fr. Michel Najim.  One other Orthodox figure is listed as General Editor, for both Old Testament and New Testament, a figure who played an unusual role in the longer-term enterprise:  Michel Najim.  Father Michel was a native of Lebanon, his first theological training coming at Balamand University in Tripoli, where he received an M.Div. in 1974.  He then studied in Greece, receiving an M.Th. in 1976 and a D.Th. in 1985 from Aristotelian University in Salonika.  He then taught, and served as Dean, at St. John of Damascus Theological School, Balamand, Lebanon from 1979 to 1987. 

At that point in his promising career, Father Michel was selected by his ecclesiastical authorities to go to the United States for an unusual assignment.  He was appointed “Catechismal Instructor” at St Athanasius Academy in Santa Barbara, California.  The position is listed in his curriculum vita as follows:  
Catechismal Instructor, St Athanasius Academy, CA (1987-1996).  Transferred from Lebanon and given the responsibility for catechismal instruction of several thousand converts brought into the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1987.  
The “several thousand converts” he was assigned to instruct were, or included, the mass of former Evangelical Protestants who had formed the Evangelical Orthodox Church and been accepted into the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.  The leaders of that group had already created St. Athanasius Academy (1976) as the center of their Orthodox education, research, and publication.  Father Michel was to guide these pilgrims into the truly Apostolic way of being the Church—Tradition, liturgies, Septuagint scriptures, icons, and the rest. 

While on the faculty of St. Athanasius in Santa Barbara, Father Michel also assisted at the large St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles (2300 W. Third Street).  By 1996, as the catechismal work tapered off, he was appointed Dean and Pastor of St. Nicholas, where he still serves.  St. Nicholas is a bilingual congregation, Arabic-English, and Father Michel was involved in translation work on liturgies and other literature from the beginning.  He was Co-Chair of the Department of Liturgies and Translation of the Antiochian Archdiocese, 1988-1997, and a member of the Liturgical Translation Committee of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) from 1993 to 1995. For English speakers in the Antiochian Tradition, the task was to get the liturgies, rites, and lectionaries from both Greek and Arabic into appropriate English.  (Arabic is, of course, the local language of the Antiochian Church in Syria, and websites for Antiochian Orthodox Churches are presented in both Arabic and English.) 

It is important to recall that the first edition of the Orthodox Study Bible, the New Testament and Psalms of 1993, was being created during the years of Father Michel’s “catechismal” work.  He would, then, have been working closely with the other St. Athanasius scholars while that edition was being shaped.  The New Testament was not translated newly from the Greek, however, so Father Michel’s facility in Greek would not have been important for the project in that respect.  (The OSB New Testament was simply Thomas Nelson’s New King James Version taken over and given Orthodox annotations.)  During the Old Testament work of the OSB, done between 1998 and 2007, Father Michel would have been more heavily engaged in the work of the Cathedral, even though the Study Bible translators were primarily involved with the Greek of the Old Testament.   
Father Michel was undoubtedly very influential in the early stages of the Study Bible project at St. Athanasius.  In the final analysis, however, he too was probably most useful to the advanced project as a highly-respected Dean and Pastor of St. Nicholas Cathedral and a teacher whose approval would carry much weight among Orthodox and Arabic-speaking people in California and among Antiochian circles in Lebanon and Greece.  
The Editions of 1993 and 2008.  
The leaders of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (1979-1987) had had strong roots in Protestant Bible-focused  worship and devotion.  They had grown up with the Bible all around them, several kinds of study Bibles included.  The Orthodox Churches, however, had no study Bibles at all!  What the Orthodox Churches did have was Tradition.  Peter Gillquist’s book Becoming Orthodox has a chapter entitled, “The ‘T’ Word.”  The great leap for Evangelical Protestants was the fact that Tradition gives the Church its Bible, rather than the reverse.  The challenge for the Evangelical Orthodox folks was to find a way to have the Bible—and maybe an Orthodox Study Bible—in ways that fit Orthodox Tradition.  
The Study Bible of 1993 was the first response to that challenge.  It contained only the New Testament and the Psalms, but it established the main lines of the full Study Bible of 2008.  The components of that New Testament and Psalms edition that carried over, with additions and revisions, to the full-Bible edition were:  
  • The NKJV text (New Testament and Psalms);
  • The running annotations, with numerous quotes from the Church fathers;
  • An Essay:  Introducing the Orthodox Church;
  • Study Articles:  For example, “The Sermon on the Mount,” “Parables,” etc.;
  • A few Icons (glossy prints of modern icons, in extravagant colors);
  • An Essay:  How to Read the Bible;
  • Lectionary readings for the Church Year;
  • A Glossary;
  • Morning Prayer Service and Evening Prayer Service;
  • Index to Annotations;
  • Index to Study Articles;
  • A list of the Seventy (disciples sent out besides the twelve, Luke 10:1-24);
  • Color Maps.  
Some items of the 1993 edition were dropped in 2008:  An Essay by Jack Sparks, a Harmony of the Gospels, and a Concordance.  
Without changing the original format, the 2008 edition added more Study Articles (these are all one-page essays), now addressing OT topics like “Creation” and “Covenants.”  The whole Bible of 2008 has 47 Study Articles, 20 of them in the Old Testament.  More Icons were also added; there are twelve in the 2008 Bible, only three of which are Old Testament topics (as these are usually identified).  However, the major addition in the 2008 edition is the translation of the Old Testament in Greek.  
The Septuagint (LXX).  Protestants typically don’t realize that the Septuagint was the Christian Old Testament until the Reformation, a modest exception being Jerome’s translation of much of the fourth-century Hebrew text into the Vulgate.  (However, Augustine preferred the Latin versions that had been translated from the Greek, and Jerome’s new-fangled Psalms from the Hebrew could never displace the Latin Psalms based on the Greek versions.)  The Psalms and the Deuterocanonical books even in the Vulgate were Latin renderings of the Greek Scriptures.  And the New Testament writers virtually all quote “the scriptures” from the Septuagint, a point that the Greek Fathers of the Church did not miss.  For them, the Septuagint was the inspired Scriptures.  
Thus, the Orthodox Churches have always and only had the Greek Scriptures (or translations from the Greek) for their Old Testaments.  It was never a decision; it just was the case.  (No Ecumenical Council ever fixed the canon or text of the Scriptures—until the Council of Trent in 1563; the “Scriptures” were always “what the churches read and received.”)  “Tradition” determined what was and was not Scripture—universally, that is “catholically.”  
Naturally, the only Old Testament for an Orthodox Study Bible would be the Septuagint, which must then be given in English.  
The Translation of the Septuagint (LXX)
While publishers are falling over themselves with translations of the “Hebrew” scriptures—translations made from the Jewish “Masoretic Text”—there are practically no translations of the Septuagint.  When St. Athanasius Academy began to make its own translation of the LXX, there was only one English version of it in print, a translation published in 1851 by a British scholar named Sir Lancelot Brenton.  (An older translation of the Septuagint, by Charles Thomson, 1808, has been revived and is now also available [see Amazon.com and search for "Charles Thomson"].)  Therefore, St Athanasius Academy at the beginning of its project set out to make their own English translation of the Septuagint.  
The plan for the translation project is explained on the OSB website (slightly edited in these excerpts)  [This was on line in 2011, but is no longer available.]  : 
Spearheading the project was Fr. Jack Sparks as Project Director, with the close assistance of Fr. Richard Ballew, and Fr. Peter Gillquist as Director of Development.... [T]he following time-line [was] projected:  
·        first drafts of translations and notes in by July 15, 2001
·        first editing completed by July 15, 2002
·        back to original workers for their further comments—to be returned by July 15, 2003
·        final document completed by general editors and the manuscript to the publishers by August 31, 2004
...Inquirers commonly ask about how the translators did their work. It was done by taking the New King James Version of the Bible as a starting point and changing it everywhere it differed from the Septuagint, with the result being a new and thorough translation.  [Italics added.]
While it is impossible to mention every translator, techy, and editor who has contributed to the LXX Project, the general editors—those key scholars who went over the final text and notes before sending it off to the publisher—are as follows:
·         Metropolitan MAXIMOS, Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh
·         the Rev. Dr. Michel Najim, former Dean of Balamand Seminary in Lebanon and currently Dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles
·         the Rev. Dr. Eugen Pentiuc, professor of Old Testament, Holy Cross Orthodox School of Theology; and
·         the Rev. Dr. Jack Sparks, Dean of St. Athanasius Academy. 
As the project has now been seen through to completion, for the first time in history there exists a complete text of the Orthodox Bible in the English language, with the added features of notes and commentary, making it the only complete Orthodox Study Bible in the world. Thanks be to God!  
The Remarkable Case of the Psalms.  Apparently getting the Psalms translated from Greek presented special problems during the decade from 1998 to 2007.  There are enough hints and slurs about that project to indicate a complex story.  
The Psalm translation of 1993 was simply that of the New King James Version—thus a translation of the Jewish Masoretic Text rather than of the Greek text of the Orthodox Church.  The Psalms are recited constantly in the liturgies and lectionaries of the Church; they are even more firmly familiar than the Gospels.  The problem here was not past familiarity; there was no English version of the Greek Psalms.  The problem here was to establish an English version of the Greek Psalms that could become the Orthodox tradition in English.  
Somewhere between 1993 and 2007, the managers of the Septuagint project apparently considered including a translation of the Psalms by Father Patrick Reardon.  Patrick Henry Reardon began as an Evangelical who studied at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, then at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and finally (after converting to Orthodoxy) at St. Tikhon’s Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.  He became the pastor of an Orthodox church in Pennsylvania, and then was transferred to All Saints Church in Chicago in 1998.  In those years as pastor he taught a series of classes on the Psalms which became a book in 2000, Christ in the Psalms, published by Conciliar Press (the affiliate of St. Athanasius Academy).  One negative reviewer of the St. Athanasius translation commented that “the project became the dubious, embarrassing 'translation' that we all have seen,” and continued, “One only need ask Father Patrick Reardon what happened to his translation of the Psalms...,” implying dire and unhappy outcomes.  (http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthodox_Study_Bible )  Some at least did not view the process very positively as it went on.  
Somewhat later, there was another candidate for translating the Psalms.  The Wikipedia article on the Orthodox Study Bible has the statement, “The Old Testament includes a new translation of the Psalms by Donald Sheehan of Dartmouth College.”  Donald Sheean taught poetry at the University of Chicago from about 1969 to 1989, during which time he also became first Executive Director of the (Robert) Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire.  He was accepted into the Orthodox Church in 1984 and was ordained a subdeacon in 1987.  In 1989 he resigned his position at the University of Chicago and lived out a rigorously spiritual life in New Hampshire, teaching at Dartmouth College until retirement in 2004.  
According to a former student and to Sheehan’s wife Carol, Donald Sheehan completed a translation of the Septuagint Greek Psalms in 2003.  His wife is currently [written in 2010] completing final edits and raising funds to finance the book’s publishing by New World Byzantine Studios.  (Source:  Sheehan’s obituary at Dartmouth, after his death on May 26, 2010.  
Thus it appears that two different scholars had produced translations of the Greek Psalms on the understanding that their work would be used in the Orthodox Study Bible, only to be disappointed in that project.  The project ended up instead using a revised version of the New King James Version for its Orthodox faithful.  One can only guess at the editors’ reasons for these turbulent changes.  
Thus, the Old Testament (not just the Psalms) of the OSB turned out not to be a new translation of the Septuagint.  It is instead a Revision of the New King James Version based on the Greek of the Septuagint.  Peter Gillquist did a taped interview, available on line, in which he discussed the the production of the OSB.  (This 14-minute interview of Gillquist is itself an excellent introduction to the OSB!)  [http://audio.ancientfaith.com/interviews/osb_pc.mp3 ]  He acknowledged that matters of cost of production and publisher’s interest (a Board chairman at Thomas Nelson publishers was a very interested Orthodox Church member, and Gillquist himself had worked for Thomas Nelson for eleven years) influenced the final decision to base the translation on the NKJV.  
Adverse Reviews, from the Orthodox Side
When the 1993 edition of the Orthodox Study Bible (New Testament and Psalms) came out it was a new thing under the sun.  Its sales soared and it was clear there was an audience out there for it.  There were many positive responses from important Orthodox Church people as well as sympathetic readers in the religious public.  There were, however, several responses from more particular Orthodox scholars and churchmen who made mild to scathing adverse criticisms.  (See three quotations and links under the heading “Criticism” in Orthodox-Wiki, http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthodox_Study_Bible
A Father Seraphim Johnson commented, “As one reads the notes to the text, a false, non-Orthodox tone becomes uncomfortably apparent.”  If it’s really going to be a sales pitch to Evangelicals, say so.  “[I]t would be better to advertise the Bible as ... the Orthodox Evangelism Bible, rather than to present it as if it is designed to help Orthodox Christians grow deeper in their understanding and practice of the faith.”  [http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/review_osb2.aspx ]
A particularly sophisticated critique was written, and republished more recently, by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) in Great Britain.  This review is formally polite, but with a devastating undertone of disdain for such American and Evangelical folly.  Some of this review’s points will be mentioned in later discussions.  [This review was available in 2011, but Archimandrite Ephrem's home page no longer has it.  He died in 2016.  Archimandrite Ephrem published many English translations of Orthodox liturgical texts -- how an Orthodox can praise and pray in English.  See https://orthodoxwiki.org/Ephrem_(Lash)
The Orthodox Approach to Scripture 
Adverse critic Archimandrite Ephrem singled out one really good thing in the 1993 edition of the OSB:  
            The article, “How to Read the Bible,” 
by The Right Reverend KALLISTOS, Bishop of Diokleia.  
(This is the writer Timothy Ware, author of The Orthodox Church.) 

This article is uniformly approved by other Orthodox writers, whatever their opinion otherwise of The Orthodox Study Bible.  Apparently this powerful article had a life of its own before inclusion in the Study Bible, and its quality sets it apart from the other light-weight contributions from highly-placed church dignitaries (such as the preceding essay on “The Bible:  God’s Revelation to Man”).  This essay is presented here at length, because it is the strongest statement in the book of what the Bible means in the Orthodox Tradition. 

Bishop Kallistos

The essay begins by quoting a statement on Scripture from the Moscow Conference of Orthodox and Anglican representatives in 1976—a Conference in which the writer (a subject of the United Kingdom), no doubt participated. 
The Scriptures constitute a coherent  whole.  They are at once divinely inspired and humanly expressed.  They bear authoritative witness to God’s revelation of Himself in creation, in the Incarnation of the Word, and in the whole history of salvation, and as such express the word of God in human language.  We know, receive, and interpret Scripture through the Church and in the Church.  Our approach to the Bible is one of obedience.   (OSB, p. 1757.)
The rest of the essay is organized around four adjectives which Bishop Kallistos says characterize “the Orthodox Scriptural mind”:  It is Obedient, Ecclesial, Christ-centered, and Personal.  A section of the essay is devoted to each characteristic.  
Reading the Bible with Obedience (pages 1757-1760).  The Orthodox mind is obedient to Scripture because it is divine revelation;  “the Bible possesses a fundamental unity, a total coherence, for it is the same Spirit that speaks on every page.”  Like the Incarnation, though, the Scripture is also fully human:  “Each work in the Bible reflects the outlook of the age in which it was written and the particular viewpoint of the author.” 
We Orthodox Christians neglect at our peril the results of independent scholarly research into the origin, dates and authorship of the books of the Bible, although we shall always want to test these results in the light of Holy Tradition. 
Being “obedient” to Scripture requires two qualities:  a sense of wonder, and an attitude of listening.  Wonder should be evoked by all the mysteries and undiscovered “rooms” of Scripture, like a child exploring the spaces in a wondrous mansion.  
The model for listening is the Theotokos, the Mother of God. (Orthodox folks do not refer to the Virgin simply as “Mary,” in spite of the title of the Study Article on page 1361!).  
When we enter an Orthodox Church, decorated in the traditional way, and look up towards the sanctuary, we see there in the apse the figure of the Mother of God with her hands raised to heaven—the ancient Scriptural manner of praying that many still use today.  Such is also to be our attitude to Scripture—an attitude of openness and attentive receptivity, our hands invisibly outstretched to heaven.  
The Virgin was receptive to the annunciation by the angel Gabriel, and she responded to the events of the nativity and childhood of Jesus by “keeping all these things and pondering them in her heart.”  In such things, she “serves as a mirror and living icon of the biblical Christian.”    
Understanding the Bible through the Church (pages 1760-1763).  The Orthodox Scriptural mind is “ecclesial,” which means (1) that the Bible is received through the Church, since the Church historically identified and maintained the Scriptures, and (2) the Scriptures are interpreted by the church.  Bishop Kallistos hits his stride when presenting the liturgical interpretation of the Scriptures. 
To illustrate what it means to interpret Scripture in a liturgical way, let us consider the Old Testament lessons at Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25)...  At the Annunciation there are five readings:  
(1) Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob’s dream of a ladder set up from earth to heaven.  
(2) Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, the prophet’s vision of the Jerusalem temple, with the closed gate through which none but the Prince may pass.  
(3) Proverbs 9:1-11, one of the great Sophianic passages in the Old Testament, beginning “Wisdom has built her house.” 
(4) Exodus 3:1-8, Moses at the Burning Bush. 
(5) Proverbs 8:22-30, another Sophianic text, describing Wisdom’s place in God’s eternal providence:  “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.”  
In these passages from the Old Testament, then, we have a series of powerful images to indicate the role of the Theotokos [the Greek means “God-bearer,” but its standard translation is “Mother of God”] in God’s unfolding plan of salvation.  She is Jacob’s ladder, for by means of her God comes down and enters our world, assuming the flesh that she supplies.  She is both Mother and Ever-Virgin; Christ is born from her, yet she remains still inviolate, the gate of her virginity sealed.  She provides the humanity or house which Christ the Wisdom of God (I Cor 1:24) takes as His dwelling; alternatively, she is herself to be regarded as God’s Wisdom.  She is the Burning Bush, who contains within her womb the uncreated fire of the Godhead and yet is not consumed.  From all eternity, “ages ago...before the beginning of the earth,” she was forechosen by God to be His Mother.  
Reading these passages in their original context within the Old Testament, we might not at once appreciate that they foreshadow the Saviour’s Incarnation from the Virgin.  But, by exploring the use made of the Old Testament in the Church lectionary, we can discover layer upon layer of meanings that are far from obvious at first sight.   
(And perhaps in this last comment we have a clue to the appeal to the Evangelicals:  whole new vistas of Scriptural meanings are opened up by searching the Scriptures as part of the liturgies and lectionaries of the Orthodox Tradition.  The Scriptures become vastly more intricate—and interesting, after decades of dispensational interpretations had become pretty boring!)  
Christ, the Heart of the Bible (pages 1763-1764).  What makes the whole Bible Christian is Christ.  “He is the unifying thread that runs through the entirety of the Bible, from the first sentence to the last.  Jesus meets us on every page.”  
Much study of Scripture by modern western scholars has adopted an analytical approach, breaking up each book into what are seen as its original sources.  The connecting links are unraveled, and the Bible is reduced to a series of isolated units.... Orthodoxy prefers for the most part a “synthetic” rather than an analytical style of hermeneutics, seeing the Bible as an integrated whole, with Christ everywhere as the bond of union.    
The Bible as Personal (pages 1764-1766).  Saint Mark the Monk (fifth/sixth century):  “He who is humble in his thoughts and engaged in spiritual work, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, will apply everything to himself and not to his neighbor.”  
I am to see all the narratives of Scripture as part of my own personal story.  The description of Adam’s fall is equally an account of something in my own experience.... “Where is Abel your brother?” is addressed to the Cain in each of us.  The way to God lies through love for other people, and there is no other way. 
This personal approach involves three steps in reading the Scriptures.  First you read to hear the sweep of the sacred history, from creation, through promised land, to “God Himself incarnate in Palestine,” to the mighty works of the Church’s history.   Then you read for the particularity of that history.  “If you really love the Bible, you will love genealogies and details of dating and geography.  One of the best ways to enliven your study of Scripture is to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land....”  
But the third step is to apply this history and its particularity directly to ourselves.  We are to say to ourselves, “These are not just distant places, events in the remote past.  They belong to my own encounter with the Lord.  The stories include me.”  
The Bible is not merely a work of literature or a collection of historical documents, although certainly it can be approached on that level.  It is, much more fundamentally, a sacred book, addressed to believers, to be read with faith and love.  We shall not profit fully from reading the Gospels unless we are in love with Christ.  “Heart speaks to heart”:  I enter into the living truth of Scripture only when my heart responds with love to the heart of God.    
Orthodox Interpretations:  The Notes 
The Orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures is presented mainly in the running Notes and in the Study Articles.  Some early reviewers complained that the study notes were too simplistic, that they often amounted only to crib-notes re-stating the content of the Biblical text.  In this connection, it may be noted that the editors had emphasized that they aimed the study materials at the comprehension level of a high-school graduate—not at scholars (“Introduction to the Orthodox Study Bible,” page xii). 
Another complaint of early reviewers, especially critics guarding the Orthodox heritage, was that not enough quotations were given from the great classic “Fathers” who established the Church’s readings of the Scriptures in ancient times.  Bishop Kallistos had especially recommended “the biblical homilies of St. John Chrysostom, which are available in English translation in the series Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, reissued by Eerdmans” (page 1763; “A second step [in finding the “mind of the Church”] is to consult the writings of the Church Fathers, especially St. John Chrysostom,” page 1761).  
For better or for worse, many Progressive people have learned in the last half century to think of John Chrysostom as one of the most anti-Jewish of the ancient Church Fathers, though some emphasize that Chrysostom’s sermons “Against the Jews” were only aimed at Christians who were attending Jewish liturgies and festivals (see Wikipedia, “John Chrysostom,” under “Writings”).  
Nevertheless, the editors of the complete OSB sought to include lots of quotes from the Fathers.  The Index to Annotations shows 185 Biblical passages in which St. John Chrysostom is cited, compared to 71 for St. Athanasius, 35 for Basil the Great, 37 for Pope Gregory the Great, and only 18 for the great Western counterpart to Chrysostom, St. Augustine of Hippo.  Here are a couple of examples of John Chrysostom comments:  
On Joshua 1:2:  Moses, the lawgiver, could not bring Israel into the promised land, which shows that the Law of Moses cannot save the people.  But Joshua [in Greek the name Joshua is pronounced “Jesus”] brought them in, and in this he was a type of Jesus Christ [which in Greek is “the Anointed Joshua”], who brings His own into heaven through grace.  
On Joshua 5:10-12 [the manna ceases because the people have eaten the first unleavened bread in the promised land]:  Manna was a type of Christ as the bread of life.  So was the unleavened and new wheat.  We now eat this bread of life in the mystery of the Eucharist.  This life is the divine life of God, which sets on fire those who partake of the bread in a proper manner.  Those who do so leave the Eucharist breathing the fire of divine life, which is terrible to the devil and his angels.  
St. John Chrysostom was using the Scriptures in homilies.  Thus, each verse or so may be the occasion for a homiletic remark that ranges anywhere over the liturgies, creeds, or hymns.  
A comment on the quantity of the Notes.  There are long stretches of the Old Testament where practically no comments are needed.  Thus there are pages in IV Kingdoms (II Kings in the Hebrew text) with no comments at all, though things pick up when Elijah comes on the scene.  Interestingly enough, the book of Proverbs gets lots of Note space, though these are often just little homilies expanding the point well made in the Scripture text (for example, Proverbs 16:1).  In Proverbs the Notes take up about one-third of the page on average.  In Kingdoms it is more like one-fifth.  In the Gospels, the Notes usually take up half the page, and Romans is about the same.  
Orthodox Interpretations:  the Study Articles 
General articles.  The Study Bible contains a few general essays, by named authors.  These are “Overview of the Books of the Bible” (The Right Reverend BASIL, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America); “The Bible:  God’s Revelation to Man” (The Right Reverend JOSEPH, Bishop of Los Angeles and the West); and Bishop KALLISTOS on “How to Read the Bible.”  
There are also two articles without named authors, presumably by the editors.  These are “Introduction to the Orthodox Study Bible,” one and a half pages, and “Introducing the Orthodox Church,” eight pages.  This latter essay ends with an invitation to non-Orthodox folks to Visit, Read, and Write to learn more.  Presumably the editors also produced the six-page Glossary at the back, which includes a mixture of Biblical names and terms with a few other terms important in Orthodox Tradition.  
Study articles.  The major interpretation materials, besides the Notes, are the Study Articles.  These are one-page summaries or essays on forty-seven topics strategically located throughout the Bible.  No authors are cited so they are the final responsibility of the editors.  They apparently are intended as statements of Orthodox Tradition and belief.  
The Study Articles start off with a bang—immediately addressing “Creation,” “The Holy Trinity,” and “Ancestral Sin,” articles which accompany Genesis 1-3.  The Trinity has to be introduced immediately because the God who acts, anywhere anytime, is the Holy Trinity.  This short essay has four sections:  
1) The Holy Trinity Created the World, citing Genesis 1:1-3 and 1:26, where God says Let “us” make man in “our” image, clearly speaking among the personas of the Trinity; 
2) The Holy Trinity Saves the World, citing the Father as Redeemer in Isaiah 63:16, the Son in Psalm 2, and the Spirit in Isaiah 44:3 (read as a prediction of Pentecost); 
3) The New Testament Affirms the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament, citing John 1:1-3; John 8:58 (“before Abraham was I AM”); Acts 2:17; and Hebrews 1:8-10.  
4) The Incarnate Son Fully Reveals the Holy Trinity, citing Luke 1:35 (“the Holy Spirit” and “the Power of the Highest” will overshadow the Virgin, conceiving the Son, thus acting as the Trinity) and Matthew 3:16-17 (at the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit descends on the Son and the Voice of the Father names the Son).  
The first work of the Holy Trinity was Creation.  The article on Creation includes the following:  
Regarding questions about the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of creation, and about various viewpoints concerning evolution, the Orthodox Church has not dogmatized any particular view.  What is dogmatically proclaimed is that the One Triune God created everything that exists, and that man was created in a unique way and is alone made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26, 27).  The Church Fathers [not official dogma] also consistently affirm that each species of the animate creation came into existence instantaneously, at the command of God, with its seed within itself.  (Page 2.)  
The Study Article on Ancestral Sin is the Orthodox treatment of what the West emphasized as “original sin.”  Orthodoxy plays down the guilt aspect of this Sin:  “We who are of Adam’s race are not guilty because of Adam’s sin, but because of our own sin” (page 7).  
Following Augustine, the West made sin and guilt the center of the drama of redemption.  The East did not look down at Sin so much as it looked up at Deification—humans being elevated to the heavenly Lord.  The Study Article on “Deification,” page 1692—not likely to be found in Protestant Study Bibles—is therefore very important for the Orthodox perspective on salvation.  
When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, the process of our being renewed in God’s image and likeness was begun.  Thus, those who are joined to Christ, through faith, in Holy Baptism begin a process of re-creation, being renewed in God’s image and likeness.  We become, as St. Peter writes, “partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4).  
Other Study Articles treat a range of Old Testament topics, such as “Christ Our Passover,” given at the Passover text in Exodus, and other aspects of Israelite cultic life:  priesthoods, festivals, Sabbath, sacrifices, and “the Saints of the Old Testament” (“...remembering these saints in her liturgical calendar, the Orthodox Church demonstrates her understanding that the Body of Christ transcends limitations of time and space,” page 652).  
In the New Testament, besides the obvious items such as the Sermon on the Mount, Parables, John the Baptist, and the Seventy of Luke 10, there are Study Articles on ecclesiastical matters such as Chrismation (anointing with oil), Ordination, Holy Baptism, the Eucharist, the Church, Marriage, the Priesthood, and “the Four ‘Orders’ in Church Government.”  The Orders of the Church are documented in I Timothy.  They are (1) the Laity, (2) the Deacons, (3) the Presbyters, and (4) the Bishops.  On the bishops, “The Twelve were the first to hold this office (in Acts 1:20 ‘office’ could literally be translated ‘bishopric’) and they in turn consecrated other bishops to follow them” (page 1635).  Thus the Apostolic Succession of bishops still carried on by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Rome, and by default Moscow, is directly descended from the twelve Apostles.  
Overall, the Study Articles, as well as the Notes, are well done, given the goals and the restrictions the planners and editors set themselves.  There is a vast amount of ancient theological and ecclesiastical lore packed into the study materials.  However some strict Orthodox ecclesiastics may object to the Evangelical “tone” and the way Orthodoxy is sometimes presented, these folks have produced an impressive—and for many ordinary Orthodox church people who are writing blog comments and buying the expensive book—a welcome and enjoyable religious work.  They have almost certainly launched a new phase in the growth of Orthodox Christianity in the English-speaking world.  (No doubt some skeptics will say sooner or later, It would have happened anyway, without the 2,000 from Arrowhead Springs.)  
Some Evaluative Comments 
There are two areas here.  Evaluating the OSB from the viewpoint of established Orthodox church people would mean assessing how well the Study Bible digests and presents familiar and traditional materials—including the etiquette of Orthodox speech and decorum.  Certainly the planners and editors hoped to meet this need, but evaluating their success in this area is not for this writer to do.  On the other hand, the book is also certainly aimed at non-Orthodox but interested Bible readers.  
1) The Orthodox Study Bible is a new kid on the block.  It is significantly different in content, if not in format, from other study Bibles of the current scene.  For general Bible students the new English version of the Septuagint is a major feature (on which more below).  The interpretative comments on passage after passage are going to be taken as representative Orthodox views of Scripture.  In the first instance that is useful general orientation for non-Orthodox students—who then have the scholarly obligation to confirm its representative character if they are going to attend to it more closely.  A mine of notes and articles not previously or easily available is given to the Bible study world.  Thanks!  
2) The story behind this Bible is an intriguing chapter in recent American religious history.  The publication of the Study Bible, with significant sales, gives Orthodox Churches a higher profile in American life.  The journey from Arrowhead Springs to Antioch is an eye-opener.  Vast numbers of Evangelical Christians are being made aware of a major option for Christian life not previously on their horizons.  The Orthodox Churches, which used to be predominately immigrant-based communities, have now reached the third and fourth generations, and they are becoming as American as a revival meeting.  
3) The craftsmanship of The Orthodox Study Bible is excellent.  The articles are well written—whether one likes their contents or not.  The organization of the work is clear—though one wonders why the “How to Read the Bible” article was not at the beginning instead of at the end of the book.  (Being the most substantial and challenging article in the book, the editors probably did not want to intimidate readers until they had gotten them oriented.)  The hardbound volume of 2008 is good quality binding and paper, with an attractive dust jacket.  The fonts are large enough and easy to read.  (One reviewer complained that there is no room on the page for notes, which is true.  Your notes have be on pages you stick in for markers.)  Thomas Nelson, the publisher, made a quality item and charged a quality price, $50, for it.  
A comment on the Icons is appropriate.  Archimandrite Ephrem mostly hated the icons, for what are presumably “good Orthodox” reasons.  He did like “the Transfiguration of Christ,” opposite page 1314, which is one of the more traditional ones.  There are twelve brilliantly printed Icons, some of which have very sharp contrasts between dark spaces and glowing, “metallic,” colors for the main subjects.  (They are not all modern; “The Three Holy Youths in the Furnace” is a print of a wall painting on Mount Athos, Greece, dated 1312 AD.)  
by the hand of Jan Isham
Orthodox Study Bible, opposite p. 738.
My favorite is “Mother of God,” facing page 738, a Theotokos one could really love.  The one I despise (for the implied theology) is “Pentecost:  The Coming of the Holy Spirit,” opposite page 1634, which portrays twelve haloed Apostles sitting placidly in a large semi-circle forming a Byzantine council, with nothing at all suggesting the liveliness of the Holy Spirit!  
4) The Orthodox Study Bible presents a new translation of the Septuagint—or not.  Apparently the original intentions of the editors to produce an actual translation of the ancient Greek Bible—currently in use in all Greek-speaking Orthodox churches—proved impossible to achieve.  It’s not easy to see why that should be such a problem—except, perhaps, in the case of the Psalms (as seen above).  
Adopting the Septuagint for the Old Testament introduces some novelties for American Protestant readers:  The last book of the Old Testament is Daniel, not Malachi; Job comes after the Psalms, not before; there are no books of Samuel, but four books of Kingdoms; and the numbering of the Psalms is lower by one in much of that book.  (The Lord is my Shepherd is not the twenty-third Psalm in the Septuagint.)  The editors provide some charts at the front to help this strangeness, but mostly the reader will be on her own.  
For some, it is regrettable that the editors made the New King James Version the basis for the Septuagint translation.  That English version adheres to both an inferior Greek text and to some old-fashioned English.  A fresh translation of the Greek would have added a valuable resource for both scholarship and devotion.  
 It’s true that we have recently acquired A New English Translation of the Septuagint (edited by Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright, Oxford University Press, 2007), but that is a super scholarly work from the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Inc., and its renderings are often not conducive to liturgies and devotions.  The NETS (as it is abbreviated) will stand—in its very inadequacy as a religious version—as a critique of the St. Athanasius Academy’s abandonment of its challenge:  to make a really religious translation of the Septuagint.  

5) But now about the Elephant in the Room:  the Lack of History.  The Orthodox Study Bible is a fresh and innovative presentation of some really old religious traditions.  The editors have succeeded relatively well at the objectives they set themselves.  But how timely are those objectives?  The dust jacket says, “Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today’s World.”  But does it?  Most likely, it speaks only to those who desire to escape this world! 
Perhaps if you are somewhat jaded Evangelical enthusiasts who have grown battle-weary with the recalculations of the end-time, you may look out with enthusiasm on an entirely new horizon, enhanced with chanted Scriptures, Small and Great Entrances, incense and icons, a calendar full of saints and holy days—a large, mysterious, and awesome world, ringing with heavenly sounds and symbols.  Evangelicals have tended to live in this world focused on the next one for a long time.  They have been deeply tempted to live for heaven and pass by this world’s misery.  One suspects that what Orthodoxy offers them is a vastly more venerable, rich, and multiplex way to keep on living for Heaven. 

The Orthodox Study Bible is a flight from history, not a return to history.  The liturgies and the typological interpretations simply dissolve away the “particularity” of  Israel’s history—which Bishop Kallistos claimed was so important to Orthodox Bible readers.  The introductions to the Old Testament books in the OSB are weak and uninteresting—because they have NO HISTORY in them, either the history of the literature and the tradition process, or of the actual history of communities with demographics, imperial aspirations and fears, or religious movements that reshape the human images of God.  Needless to say you will learn nothing of the modern quest for the historical Jesus from the notes in the OSB.  
The world that made Orthodoxy never knew the modern world. 

Perhaps that’s why a couple thousand late-twentieth century Evangelicals found Orthodoxy so attractive!