The Golden Tables

First of all, let me heap my unadulterated scorn on Office 2007. I used to be productive with Office, and now I spend half my life trying to find things in the “ribbon”. Hey Redmond: thanks for wasting July 2008 for me, you coneheads.

OK – with that off my chest, I have mentioned this before, but I really loathe study bibles. On the one hand, they are way too much for the average person to grasp – I mean, what do I read first? Do I read the notes at the bottom of the page first, or read the page, then the notes? And what are all these little letters in the text – they’re not verse numbers? And is that map inspired or merely helpful?

And on the other hand, a study bible is usually not even enough to get after real study of the actual text. The closest thing to serviceable I have ever encountered in that respect are the billion notes included with the NET Bible – and even those have the problem of not really being consistent in content or intent. If you want scholarly emendations, you ought to go grab a book about your question and get the actual answer and not the headline of the actual answer.

And really, those complaints are actually symptoms of my larger concern here, which is the actual reading of the actual Bible. You know: people have a hard enough time getting past the book of Exodus as it is. When Exodus becomes an archeological conundrum or geographic puzzle or sociological interpretations of cross-cultural baloney, the average guy will give up and go listen to Joel Osteen or something because at least Joel has a wife who’s tough enough to punch a flight attendant when she doesn’t get her way in first class.

I mean: we want people to read God’s word, right? We’re Protestants after all, and if we make the Scripture into something which requires a Scribe or a Pharisee or academic magisterium just to get past the introduction, our man Wycliffe may be rolling in his grave.

So I say all that to say this: at some point, I’m going to post a review of the new evangelical translation of the Golden Tables (also known as the ESV Study Bible), and I come at the job with a pretty obvious and unashamed bias against the genre. I read the “Literary Study Bible” and found it “helpful”, but frankly I wouldn’t hand it to a new Christian. He needs to read the actual book of Hebrews and not the high-falootin’ grad-school spin about genre and style those of us with too much time on our hands might enjoy with a cigar and a glass of brandy.

Stay tuned for that.