The Oxford and Cambridge University Presses are to be congratulated for selecting the staff and setting up the procedures that have produced a completely new—and in general fine—translation of the Bible into modern English.
The editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY have invited me to evaluate the accuracy of the Old Testament version in relation to the Hebrew. The essential task of Old Testament scholarship is to understand the original Hebrew within the setting of what is known from the texts and monuments of the Bible world. This is not always easy, because many whole historic eras and whole topical categories, as well as innumerable details, are being elucidated by a flood of new evidence. Both the most erudite scholar and the most amateurish layman should try to approach the subject with openmindedness and flexibility, since biblical studies are now so dynamic.
A test case is provided by Second Kings 14:28, dealing with the achievements of Jeroboam II of the northern Kingdom of Israel. The biblical author tells us that his source is the (now lost) “Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Israel,” whose dialect and viewpoint were Samarian, not Jerusalemite. It happens that there were then two states of “Judah”: the familiar one, and another in the far northwest part of ancient Syria, which we may call “Jaudi” for the sake of differentiation. The Judean author of Kings excerpted those Israelite Chronicles, without concern for future generations of Jews and Christians reared in the normative Judean tradition and ill informed on north Israelite affairs. Thanks to the light shed by Ugaritic on the functions of prepositions, and thanks to what we know of Syrian politics from Assyrian and Northwest Semitic inscriptions, we can now understand ...1
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