Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Names of God Bible

The Names of God Bible. General Editor: Ann Spangler. Translation: God's Word. (Though that translation is considerably modified especially in the Old Testament.) 2011. Revell. 1730 pages.

This Bible will appeal to any believer with a genuine curiosity in learning more about God. For it's a devotional Bible that focuses on how God's character is revealed through his names and titles. There's a feature article on each one of God's names (or titles). And there's a reference system in place so readers can study each use of a particular name.

What makes this bible unique? Well, it "restores" more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God--like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay (just to name a few)--in the translation itself.
  • In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Ruach Elohim was hovering over the water. (Genesis 1:1-2)
  • Then Yahweh Elohim formed the man from the dust of the earth and blew the breath of life into his nostrils. The man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
  • Abram asked, "Adonay Yahweh, how can I be certain that I will take possession of it?" (Genesis 15:8)
  • When Abram was 99 years old, Yahweh appeared to him. He said to Abram, I am El Shadday. Live in my presence with integrity. (Genesis 17:1)
  • Yahweh is my Roeh. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. (Psalm 23:1-3)
  • Yahweh is my strength and my Magen. My heart trusted him, so I received help. My heart is triumphant; I give thanks to him with my song. (Psalm 28:7)
  • Don't you know? Haven't you heard? El Olam, Yahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn't grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach. (Isaiah 40:28)
Each book introduction lists the key names of God in that book. And it provides a translation so that readers know what these words mean. Some of the names readers might pick up quickly--others might take a bit more work. For example, it is relatively easy to remember that Yahweh translates to LORD and El or Elohim translates to God...but it might take a bit more work to remember that El Olam translates to Everlasting God or Eternal God and Magen translates to Shield, etc.

Curious about the names David called God? This Bible will tell you...
  • Elohim Chay
  • Yahweh
  • Yahweh Tsebaoth
  • Elohim
  • Adonay Yahweh
  • Metsuda
  • Elyon
  • Ruach Yahwh
  • Magen
  • Melek
  • Machseh
  • Go'el
  • Roeh
  • Ruach
  • Ruach Qodesh
  • Migdal-Oz
  • Shadday
  • Tsur
  • Magen

Solomon--David's son--has his own list too...but it is much shorter! Elohim, Yahweh, and Adonay Yahweh.

It's a nice feature to have especially for those fascinated with the Bible already.

For those believers with a fascination, a curiosity for knowing more about God--AS REVEALED THROUGH HIS HEBREW NAMES--then this is a must.

The strength of this Bible is its uniqueness. No doubt about it, The Names of God Bible would be great for the reference shelf.

But. Are there enough strengths to make this one particular Bible your everyday Bible? I'm not so sure....

I see two potential weaknesses. First, because this Bible is so unique, because this modified translation is unlike anything you'll most likely see in Sunday Schools and Bible Studies (not to mention the worship service), you might have a difficult time following in group situations. If you're reading this Bible aloud, for example, your listeners may have problems trying to make sense of it. It probably wouldn't be the best choice in that situation.

The second issue I have with The Names of God Bible is the translation choice. The translation "God's Word" is one I find a little lacking. My expectations don't match the translation philosophy--you might say--of this one.

From the preface...
"One of the challenges faces by the translators of GW was finding words that accurately communicate the meaning of important theological concepts in the Bible. Many of these concepts have traditionally been translated by words that no longer communicate to most English speakers. Examples of these theological terms include covenant, grace, justify, repent, and righteousness. While these words continue to be used by theologians and even by many Christians, the meanings that readers assign to them in everyday use do not equate to the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words they are intended to translate. God's Word avoids using these terms and substitutes words that carry the same meaning in clear, natural English." (xxii)
Although not mentioned, the word resurrection also falls into this category apparently.

What we need are readers--believers, individuals--willing to learn, willing to grow, willing to try. Are people unwilling to learn? Or are people unwilling to teach? Are people falling asleep during sermons? Or are preachers not trying to teach or instruct? I could see with words like propitiation perhaps...but words like GRACE?! SERIOUSLY?!

This 'weakness' may not impact one's reading of the Old Testament. But for the New Testament, I couldn't--wouldn't--want to read this translation.

If this Bible were available in another translation--NLT, NIV, NKJV--it would work so much better for me. It would probably become more than a reference tool.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Laura Frantz said...

Becky, Love your thoughts here. Personally, I like this one for its size, but that seems a tiny matter after your wonderful commentary! But on a practical level it works so well, especially when the Bible I love best, my tried and true MacArthur Study Bible, is so heavy and BIG. I'm especially intrigued by all the names of God which I know so little about. Not sure about the translation either but I'm a KJV kind of gal mostly because I love the archaic language.

Thanks for such good blog reading:)

Becky said...


It *is* a nice size, I agree! (I too am a fan of the MacArthur Study Bible in all its translations!) And I love, love, love the KJV! Have you tried the KJ21?! Just curious!