Discovering the Classic Orthodox Bible

The Classic Orthodox Bible is based on the premise, and an apparently a provocative one, that some Orthodox would like a Bible that uses the Greek text of the Septuagint as the basis for its Old Testament, but sounds like a Bible and sounds like good liturgy.

The essential achievement is less than it sounds: this is not any new translation from scratch. Rather, it represents Sir Lancelot Brenton’s 19th century translation of the Septuagint, combined with the text of the New Testament, although as a subtle touch modern quotation marks are added as an accommodation to make the text more accessible for modern readers who tend to need them. There have also been some un-censoring efforts, and not just regarding crude language and conveying that most English translations demurely use “tail” for what the behemoth “stiffens” or “swings” like a 150 to 200 foot cedar.

But there is a deeper issue in that deification seems to consistently survive translation poorly. In Latin and Greek, one word (Christus / Χριστος) is used across the board for all those who are anointed, whether the Son of God or King Saul, of whom King David says, “ne extendam manum meam in christum Domini“. Every other English translation I know of uses two separate words; the Son of God is “Christ” and King Saul is “the Lord’s anointed”, even though it’s the same in Greek. (The same effect is found, more or less, for the very same name that is spelled “Joshua” in Old Testament translations and “Jesus” in the New Testament.) Furthermore, no other English translation the author is aware of reflects deification in capitalizing “Sons of God,” with the same capitalization whether the Greek υιος θεου is written as singular or plural.

One unprofessional remark about the competition: The New Evangelical Translation of the Septuagint reflects active efforts to make a translation of the Septuagint on terms that make it deliberately useless to Orthodox compared to a good translation from the Hebrew, let alone the Orthodox Study Bible.

My suggestion is to buy a combination of the Orthodox Study Bible and the Classic Orthodox Bible (hardcover, paperback, Kindle, website), and an invaluable aid for reading the Bible through the Fathers, The Bible and Church Fathers for Orthodox, and read them, comparing them for strengths and weaknesses.