Upcoming Review in Midwest Book Review: The Classic Orthodox Bible (Hardcover)

The Classic Orthodox Bible
CJS Hayward, Compiler
CJS Hayward Publications
978-1-0878-6882-0 $99
Translation Website: classicorthodoxbible.com
Author Website: www.cjshayward.com/books
Ordering: cjshayward.com/cob

The Classic Orthodox Bible is compiled and revised from Sir Lancelot Brenton’s public domain translation of the Greek Old Testament and the public domain King James Version of the New Testament, with the intention of producing a Bible true to the original word, yet accessible to modern audiences via the King James style of interpretative language.

The front matter is aimed to orient the reader with regard to Bibles, and includes a short story (really an essay in the form of a story) of a man who finds a heavy tome with letters inscribed on its cover:

COMMENTARY
ON THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
IN ONE VOLUME
CONTAINING A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF ALL CULTURAL ISSUES
NEEDFUL TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
AS DID ITS FIRST READERS

That’s not the only thing that might surprise you, in the front matter alone. An introduction to the history of Bibles states: “if you read one version of the Bible, don’t read this version” and recommends, instead, The Orthodox Study Bible. This classic version is a more literal translation that deserves its place as secondary, supportive reading, and is intended for those who already have a cursory knowledge, and who want to dig deeper.

This version is “is much what the King James Version of the Bible would have been if the translators had been working from the Orthodox Church’s Greek Old Testament.” As such, it provides a literal, more demanding version that scholars, particularly, will find thoroughly engrossing, especially when considered side-by-side with some of the other versions of the Bible.

Here resides the classic translation of the entire authentic Septuagint, plus the classic King James New Testament. There have been comments about the print version’s appearance, but this reviewer works from an ebook, and this Bible, at standard letter page size and 1200 expansive, beautiful pages represents a format that would grace a gift to a friend or loved one. The size, additionally, works well to provide readers with a book easily digestible and followed.

In comparison with other versions, this Bible’s language is intriguingly different from the start: “The Creation, Genesis 1. In the beginning God made the Heaven and the earth. But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God divided between the light and the darkness. And God called the light “Day,” and the darkness he called “Night,” and there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

References for practically every line allow for further research, while Old and New Testament sections are provided in different font sizes to allow for easy delineation between the different parts of the Bible with an emphatic crescendo rising in sections of the Bible that are closest to the Orthodox heart.

Anyone who has pursued King James and other versions will find much more content, different references, and expanded Biblical events and descriptions in this Orthodox version. The cultural references, history, religious inspections, and Orthodox belief system are well-presented and will prove a treasure; particularly to the English-speaking Orthodox Christian community, who will find the depth, detail, and presentation lends to study and scholarly interpretation as well as new opportunities for religious insights and inspections.

The extent of work that went into this version is evident in every single passage. Orthodox Christian readers interested in more than the usual translation and who want to take the next step into understanding Bible version relationships to belief and God’s word will find The Classic Orthodox Bible an indispensable volume that deserves a place in any serious Christian’s collection.

Readers who appreciate this work may want to explore some of CJS Hayward’s own writing, such as his autobiography Orthodox Theology and Technology (cjshayward.com/ott) or, for a deeper dive, The Luddite’s Guide to Technology (cjshayward.com/lgt).

Author: C.J.S. Hayward

C.J.S. Hayward is an Orthodox author and Renaissance man with master's degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC) and theology and philosophy (Cambridge). His most prized work is what he writes in Eastern Orthodox, Christian theology and apologetics. Readers of apologists like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and Peter Kreeft, contemporary Orthodox authors such as Met. KALLISTOS Ware, and classic authors like St. John Chrysostom will find much food for spiritual reflection.