Review of: The Holy Bible in the Original Order
by David Sielaff, January 2009
Read the accompanying Newsletter for January 2009
One great desire Dr. Ernest L. Martin had during his last 20 years of life was to see the eventual publication of a Bible in the correct original manuscript order. He made his ambition clear in several articles and particularly in the last edition of his book Restoring the Original Bible which deals with the “Design and Development of the Holy Scriptures” (the title of Dr. Martin’s Ph.D. dissertation). 1
In large part that desire has been accomplished. The Holy Bible In Its Original Order: A New English Translation, A Faithful Version with Commentary has been published and is available. 2 It is indeed the first English translation of the complete combined Old Testament and New Testament. This article will review this Bible. I will examine the three major sections of this large work:
The prime mover of The Holy Bible in the Original Order has been Fred R. Coulter, a friend of Dr. Martin’s for decades. Fred Coulter stepped forward and led a team to accomplish this monumental task. The New Testament portion is Fred Coulter’s own translation from the Greek. 3 The Old Testament must be considered his translation as well, in collaboration with E. Michael Heiss. 4 Mr. Coulter is generous with his acknowledgments to this tremendous team effort. Of interest to me is that he correctly recognizes Dr. Martin for his pioneering work in promoting the need for a Bible in its original order. Dr. Martin’s scholarship in this regard is quoted extensively, accurately, and with high regard. I believe I would be correct to state that Dr. Martin’s research was a catalyst initiating and sustaining Mr. Coulter’s motivation to begin and drive to complete this massive project. 5 He honors Dr. Martin by stating:
“Prior to his death in January 2002, Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D. — eminent biblical scholar and historian — was for decades the lone ‘voice in the wilderness’ advocating that a complete Bible in its original manuscript order be published.”
Chapter One, “About this Bible”
That has been accomplished with The Holy Bible In Its Original Order. I pray and hope that this will be the first of several such Bibles to be printed that will recognize and give credence to the order which God designed the writings of His word to be read, an order of the books of the Bible that gives the full message of the Word of God. Indeed, all Bibles should reflect this proper book order, whatever the translation. Until other such Bibles are published (and the order of the books cannot be trademarked or copyrighted), The Holy Bible In Its Original Order will be the sole entry in this honored field.
Just as one would have difficulty following the story line of the novel Gone with the Wind if the chapters were placed out of their intended order, likewise the far greater piece of literature, the Holy Scriptures, should be read, studied, and printed in the proper order. Recognizing and reading the Bible in its correct order should be a priority. So too, studying the Bible while recognizing and understanding where you are within the proper sequence of books of the Bible should always be done.
Have I have read the Bible in the proper order? Yes I have. I found that reading the Bible straight through in the correct order was surprisingly useful for my understanding. This was the case even though I have had the correct order in my mind since reading a bootleg copy of Dr. Martin’s Ph.D. dissertation in the 1970s.
Reading the Old Testament begins normally enough. The sequence of the five books of the Law are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Prophets division begins with Joshua and Judges (considered as one book) just like any incorrectly-ordered Bible today. Next is not the Book of Ruth, but the single book of Kingdoms, comprised of First and Second Samuel, and First and Second Kings, also considered as one book. Therefore, you are reading a continuous historical narrative from Genesis through to the end of Second Kings. 6 The last verses of Second Kings deal with Jehoiachin king of Judah being released from prison after 37 years of captivity and how he was well treated by Evilmerodach, the King of Babylon (successor of King Nebuchadnezzar).
When I read the Bible in proper sequence order, I noted a useful repetition of narratives representing different perspectives of the same events. The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (the “Major Prophets”) have their own narrative portions within them that relate to events discussed in previous books. Other portions tell of the extended prophecies of God that deal with key events and problems that occurred during the times of the divided Kingdom presented in the books of Samuel and Kings. These prophetic portions make reference to the Law and Joshua/Judges.
So too, the next book of the 12 “Minor Prophets” once again re-tells events presented earlier in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel from yet another perspective, reinforcing the three major prophets. The Twelve Minor Prophets were on a single scroll and were considered as one “book” by the Hebrews. These 12 shorter works are in chronological sequence corresponding to the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
Then come the books of the Writings division which are not in chronological order. 7 You, the reader, by having read this far in the correct Bible order, should be familiar with the basic issues and history of God’s people. You should know what events these books of the Writings division are referring to when you read about them. Finally, First and Second Chronicles (a single book in the canonical listing) is last in the correct Old Testament sequence. It gives a priestly recapitulation in narrative form of the entire Old Testament from Adam to the return of the Jewish exiles back to the land and to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon.
The narrative of Chronicles ends with the Persian King Cyrus proclaiming liberty to the Jews and permitting the exiles to return to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22–23). Chronicles deals with all the issues of all other Old Testament books and gives a moral judgment and conclusion to each issue. It presents the priestly viewpoint on all material presented in the books of Law, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, while recognizing the issues and arguments in the books of the Prophets and the other Writings. Chronicles is a Levitical and priestly commentary and summation of all the prior books of the Old Testament.
When I study the Bible, do I conduct my study in “the correct order”? No. Neither did Jesus or the apostles when they cited Old Testament passages. But they knew the correct order, as when Jesus referred to the three major sections of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (the Writings):
“And he said unto them, ‘These are the words that I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all the things, which were written concerning me in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms must be fulfilled. And then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”
Luke 24:44–45 OOB
Jesus and the apostles were clearly aware of every the proper place of every writing in the Old Testament. And note that all the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms were “concerning me,” meaning himself at that time, Jesus the resurrected Messiah. 8
When I study I am attentive to where a passage occurs within its book of the Bible and where that book falls within the total sequence and order among all the other books. It is quite easy to “learn by doing.” When studying any passage, glance at the listing and correct order of the books of the Bible, to see where that passage fits in the total framework and skeleton of God’s Word. After a while knowing a book’s proper “place” becomes second nature to you and it properly molds your understanding of that passage and book containing it within its larger context. You will soon develop a subtle awareness of how passages “fit” no matter what text you read, no matter what Bible you read.
That being said, having a Bible like The Holy Bible In Its Original Order with the books of the Bible already set in the correct manuscript order will aid you to more quickly understand the plan of Scripture and the plan of God through Christ. Reading from Genesis to Revelation in the correct order makes for structured reading, orders the mind, and reinforces the proper sequence of information from God to you.
The primary thing I noticed when first looking at the The Holy Bible In Its Original Order was that its production has been a labor of love: a love of God and Christ, and a love of the Word of God. Those are obvious even when I disagree with elements of the translation itself, or with the teachings in the commentaries, appendices, or chronologies. The Word of God is treated with proper dignity, respect, and awe.
It is a bit awkward at first “getting around” in the OOB 9 (and I am quite familiar with the book order). It is a large book of almost 1,400 pages, 1,025 in the translation itself. However, time spent “searching” to find the passage for study is time well spent. The time spent searching makes you more and more familiar with the correct order and its subtleties. For example, it takes a while to deal with the fact that Job comes after Proverbs and that Ecclesiastes is attached to the Megilloth, after Lamentations and before Esther.
You begin to notice subtle relationships such as between the last verses of one book and the first verses of the next, understanding that this is how God wanted them to be read. For example, look at the end of Second Chronicles chapter 36 where Cyrus says for the people of Judah to go and participate “to build him [God] a house in Jerusalem,” meaning the Temple. The next passage is Matthew chapter 1 with its list of the genealogy of Jesus whose body is the Temple of God (Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58; John 2:19–21; Ephesians 2:20; and Hebrews 8:2). Or, note the final words of Hebrews that make reference to Timothy (Hebrews 13:23). The next document in the correct order is the epistle of Paul to Timothy (Timothy 1:1–2). These “last and first” issues of the books in the correct manuscript order need to be explored further.
The layout of this Bible is large with two columns of biblical text on each page separated by a smaller central column with relevant cross references (in smaller type). The text is large. I believe it to be at least 12 point, with a common typeface, which is easily readable. However, this cannot be considered a large type Bible. The margins are wide on all sides of every page for your own personal notes.
The references in the small center column are standard King James Version marginal references, but all the references are in proper manuscript Bible order. This means that if you have a set of 7 or 8 verse references in the central column, they will be in the proper Original Order sequence of books. This is logical and very handy. There are a few explanatory notes in the center column.
Occasionally there are explanatory footnotes, one particularly long one on Genesis 6:4, about two-fifths of the page. It tries to explain that the Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4 are humans, whereas elsewhere in the Old Testament they are spirit messengers. Both are incorrect. The sons of God are neither human men nor angelic beings. They are as stated, sons of God. 10 There are no other long footnotes in the Old Testament, but there are several in the New Testament, usually having to do with particular aspects of chronology or theology.
Maps are included but they are somewhat small and not too useful except as a general reference. The various diagrams, charts, and chronological tables are standard and equal to those in other Bibles. The illustrations of the Herodian Temple give a location that is completely wrong according to the biblical and historical records uncovered by research from Dr. Martin and Professor George Wesley Buchanan. 11
There are 14 Commentaries comprising 116 pages. The information in these Commentaries is generally very good. Some are one page, some are considerably longer. They deal with subjects regarding the canonization of the Bible, the need for a properly ordered Bible, and why a new translation was needed. The information about the history and development of present-day Bible translations is excellent and well presented. Dr. Martin is quoted in several of these Commentaries, and quite extensively in some. Dr. Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible is greatly respected.
The Holy Bible In Its Original Order presents itself as a literal translation:
“… this version is a new translation — A Faithful Version — that reflects the true meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek with fidelity and accuracy, showing the unity of Scripture between the Old and New Testaments.”
First, the old King James-isms (terms like: thee, thou, unto, hath, shalt) have been changed to conform to contemporary English. This is to be expected and I regularly do it myself even when quoting the King James Version. Although most modern translations do the same as Fred Coulter notes in his Commentary, some translations become too contemporary and even use slang terms or street language. This is uncalled for and unnecessary.
Next, two unfortunate old traditions of English Bibles are continued in the OOB translation. The first is that Elohim is translated simply by “God.” That rendering hides the unique nature of Elohim, which is properly discussed and explained in one of the Appendices.
That tradition is to render the holy name YHWH in all caps “LORD,” or in upper and small caps: “Lord” depending upon the translation and publisher. Sometimes they are put in bold text to highten the recognition. In this day and age such a change is unnecessary. This is done for various reasons, usually it is because respect is being attempted to avoid pronouncing the name YHWH. To pronounce the name YHWH is forbidden to Jews and some Messianic Christian groups, holy name groups, and even some Church of God groups who consider themselves to be Israelites, do not wish to use YHWH in written form.
It is important to have YHWH and Elohim distinguished in the English text, as they are clearly distinguished in the Hebrew text — for a reason. It is in order for the reader to understand the singularity of YHWH and the inherent plurality of Elohim. This is lost when YHWH is translated “Lord” and Elohim is translated “God.” For even though Elohim is used most often with a singular verb and singular modifiers, it still retains a plurality as a complex noun. 12 These distinctions should be maintained so that when plurality is intended its usage is remarkable in its clarity.
There is an additional problem with translating YHWH by Lord. YHWH is God the Father’s personal name. When YHWH is translated Lord, the personality of the Being it represents is lost. God becomes a “thing” instead of a personality with a personal name. Let me give an example from Exodus chapter 3 where Moses asked God the Father, YHWH, what was His personal name and the meaning of that name. Moses wanted to know so he could tell the people of Israel the name of the God that chose them to be His people:
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations..”
Exodus 3:14–15 KJV, unedited, underlines mine
What YHWH first gave to Moses in verse 14 (“I AM THAT I AM”) was the verb form of the noun YHWH. YHWH is God’s personal name. This is obscured when “YHWH Elohim” is translated “the LORD God.” The meaning of the name loses its importance. Also, whenever YHWH is translated as “the LORD” in the King James Version (or as “the Lord” in OOB) both lose the personality. Here is the OOB translation:
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘ And God said to Moses again, ‘You shall say this to the children of Israel, “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My title from generation to generation.”‘”
Exodus 3:14–15 OOB
The personal name of a living being does not have a definite article. Things have definite articles, not persons. Indeed, the name of the most important living being is changed into a title. A title is not a name. A title diminishes and depersonalizes God the Father, YHWH. Better to indicate and transliterate the OOB translation as follows (this is a suggestion for future editions):
Elohim is a title. God’s “name” is not Elohim. This is clear in all translations. His name is YHWH. 13 This fact that YHWH is a personal noun, the name of God is reiterated in
I would have translated the verses this way to better conform to :
“And Elohim said to Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘ And Elohi 14 said to Moses again, ‘You shall say this to the children of Israel, “YHWH Elohi of your fathers, the Elohi of Abraham, the Elohi of Isaac, and the Elohi of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever [olam, for the age], and this is My title [memorial] from generation to generation.”’”
Exodus 3:15 OOB translation revised
In this instance, the word Elohi is a plural variant used instead of Elohim. There is, however, no ambiguity between what is meant as to YHWH and Elohi/Elohim. Note the words in brackets. My translation of “memorial” is consistent with the Hebrew and with most every other translation. The Hebrew word has many occurrences and “title” is a rare usage. It seems to be an attempt to make YHWH into a title, which is not the intent of the passage. He is saying that YHWH is His name for the age and that is how He will be remembered.
Note also the word olam that I translated “for the age.” That is certainly correct. The Hebrew word olam and the Greek word aion both mean “eon” or “age,” and both denote the same thought: that of a limited but usually long duration of time. They are unfortunately translated in numerous ways in the OOB renderings. I have not had time to trace them all (there are over 600). If the Hebrew and Greek each use a single term for this unit of time, perhaps translators should also use a consistent English term. 15 Or, at least transliterate them. For example, Olam can never mean “forever” as is translated in Genesis 3:22 (identical with the erroneous King James Version translation), nor can it mean “everlasting” as in Genesis 9:12, 16.
In Genesis 13:15 the OOB translates as follows (YHWH is speaking to Abraham): “For all the land which you see, I will give to you and to your seed forever.” The word “forever” is olam, and for God to fulfill that statement, that piece of land given to Abraham will have to literally last “forever.” In Ecclesiastes 1:4 the OOB translates olam as “but the earth remains forever” when it should be translated “but the earth remains for the age.” These translations of “forever” are impossible because the land given to Abraham and the earth will last only until new heavens and a new earth are created. The old earth will pass away. 16
In Psalm 77:5 and 77:7, two verses apart, the single Hebrew term olamim, “ages,” is translated variously as “ages past” and “forever” in the OOB. The meanings are totally different for the same Hebrew word. 17 If olam is correctly translated “for the age” meaning a long time of unknown length, all such problems go away. This same solution is applicable for olamim, the plural for olam in Hebrew.
In Matthew 12:32 (OOB) aion is translated as “age.” In Matthew 18:8 the fire which is aionian is translated as an “eternal fire.” Supposedly the adjective has greater force than the noun. Hebrews 1:2 is in the OOB says that the Son, “He made the worlds.” While the Son did indeed create the worlds, 18 that is not what the Greek says in Hebrews 1:2. The son did not make the worlds in Hebrews 1:2, He made the aions, the ages. There is a great difference between creating worlds and creating time periods. This could be corrected in a later edition. So too, in 2 Corinthians the OOB translates as follows:
“In whom the god of this world [aion, age] has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
Again, this translation tries to change aion from a unit of time into a designation of a place, the “world.”
Finally I must point out the translation in Revelation chapter 1 where the Son of Man is speaking to the apostle John in vision:
“Even the one Who is living; for I was dead, and behold, I am alive into the ages of eternity. Amen. And I have the keys to the grave and of death.”
Revelation 1:18 OOB
The phrase “ages of eternity” is a logical impossibility, although I realize what the translation is attempting to say. The Greek is “eons of the eons” which is a Hebrew superlative with two plurals, “ages of the ages” designating the most excellent ages to come. These would be the 1000 year millennium and the 1000 year great white throne judgment. 19
For the Old Testament text there seems to be a dependence on the Bishop’s Bible/Geneva/King James Version tradition that comes through this translation. This is not a bad thing, however, because the King James Version has had a great impact in molding the English language. However, it should be understood that the group of Greek manuscripts used by the King James Version are not the oldest or most complete. The full title, The Holy Bible In Its Original Order: A New English Translation, A Faithful Version with Commentary is ambiguous because it refers to itself both as a translation and as a version. It is my understanding that a version is a revised translation, so it is unclear how the OOB is to be considered. For example, the King James Version is a revision, not a full new translation, as it is based on previous works, particularly the Geneva Bible. If the OOB is a version, then is there a basic English text? That is not specified in Commentary material. Of course, the Hebrew and Greek meanings (better understood today than in 1611) take precedence over any English meaning, no matter how poetic or revered.
One useful feature of the OOB is that Old Testament place names when they first occur are translated with the transliteration being put in the center column. For example, in Genesis 21:31 the King James Version has: “Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them” (Genesis 21:31). The marginal rendering has “Beersheba: that is, The well of the oath.” I prefer the OOB method as translated: “This is why he called the place The Well of the Living One Seeing Me, because there they both swore an oath.” Then in the marginal note it has “Heb. Beersheba.” After the initial occurrence, the name “Beersheba” is always used. This first occurrence translation is quite helpful for the casual reader who ordinarily might pass over geographical terms without realizing that they often have significant meaning.
There is an unfortunate lack of consistency in the OOB in the rendering of key biblical terms. 20 Take “soul” for instance, which in Hebrew is nephesh. The word is most familiar when applied to man in the King James Version of Genesis 2:7: “and man became a living soul.” The OOB translates that verse as “and man became a living being.” The problem with such a rendering is that it is most useful and reasonable to translate nephesh with the one word “soul” in every instance just as the Hebrew uses one word. In Genesis alone nephesh is variously translated in the OOB as “creature,” “being,” “life,” “people,” “soul,” “mind,” “him” In Genesis 19:17 and 19 nephesh is translated “life” and then in verse 20 it is translated “soul”! In fact, for the 39 occurrances of nephesh in Genesis the OOB used the same English word as the King James Version, when in each case the single word “soul” would have fit perfectly in all cases. This is not consistency but confusion. To be fair most all translations do the same thing. 21
Sheol is the Hebrew word for grave, and consistency is very important for this word. I was pleased to see sheol regularly translated “grave” and occasionally translated as “pit.” 22 This is commendable and could have been done for the majority of Hebrew words used multiple times.
The New Testament seems to be more of a translation than a version, with more changes to the text. One thing I like is that in Romans 3:4, 6, 31, 6:2, 15, 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:15; Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14, where the King James Version has “God forbid” the OOB has “MAY IT NEVER BE!” in capital letters. This captures both the emphasis and imperative of Paul’s statement. Unfortunately this rendering is not consistent and in Luke 20:16 the OOB has “May it never be!” in the lower case.
There are 95 uses of the noun “soul” (psuche in Greek) in the New Testament. Eleven of them occur in Matthew where the word is variously rendered “life” and “soul.” Why use two English words for a simple noun? But again, most translations do the same thing.
A 6 page section of non-biblical commentary comes after the Book of Acts and before the epistle of James. The section is an introduction to the General epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude, and why they should be properly come before the Pauline epistles. This would be better placed in the Commentary section and not in the biblical text section. The information in the Commentary is useful and comprehensive, 23 but not placed where it interrupts the New Testament text. A long footnote pointing the reader to the same valuable material presented elsewhere would have sufficed.
I was pleased to see the three Greek words usually rendered “hell” (hades, tartaroo, and gehenna) are properly differentiated. For its translations of these words the OOB is to be commended, although they were not the first to use these terms.
There are 25 appendices, A through X, and 6 chronologies, with a Bibliography at the end, 136 pages worth. The appendices deal with various doctrinal issues defending Fred Coulter’s general doctrinal positions and translation choices. This is fine. After all, no translations are uninfluenced by the beliefs of the translators. It is humanly impossible. 24 Fred Coulter makes his positions as translator clear. Dr. Martin’s doctrinal teachings are on the ASK website and in his published books. He did, and I do, regularly “correct” translations according to our current understanding. Fred Coulter has done the same.
With my permission, two complete sections from Dr. Martin’s Restoring the Original Bible were used. As two of the OOB appendices. Appendix B is titled “The Structure of the Book of Psalms,” a lightly edited version of Dr. Martin’s complete article “Appendix One: Preliminary Suggestions for the Structure of the Psalms” (at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res040.htm). Appendix C of OOB, “The Book of Proverbs: Its Structure, Design and Teaching” is from Appendix Two (with the same title) from Restoring the Original Bible at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res041.htm. This article has also been lightly edited. Both of articles retain the total message Dr. Martin intended to convey.
In Appendices E and F, Fred Coulter presents his evidence that Jesus was born in the autumn of 5 BC. He gives a list of lunar eclipses that took place between before Passover in the years 7 to 2 BC. The list excludes the key lunar eclipse that occurred the following year on January 10, 1 BC mentioned in Dr. Martin’s The Star That Astonished the World 25 as the proper one. Fred Coulter makes no mention of the star at all in his appendices E and F. This lack of mention of the star relative to Jesus’ birth is surprising. The star is prominent in Matthew chapter 2.
Most of the other appendices appear to be written by Fred Coulter or his staff, although a few were written by others, such as Appendix W: “The Two Jehovahs of the Old Testament,” a synopsis of longer material written by Carl Franklin. Considering the knowledge exhibited in Franklin’s material, and Fred Coulter’s acceptance of it, again I must mention that I do not understand why YHWH and Elohim are not simply transliterated in the OOB. 26
Appendix N deals with the evidence that Saturday is the Sabbath and that it was not changed to Sunday. Appendices P and Q deal with the subjects of being “born again” and being “born of God.”
As a collection the appendices appear to represent doctrinal beliefs of the church organization that supported publication of the OOB. “Appendix M, The Beliefs and Doctrines of the New Testament Church” is a statement of faith document. It teaches eternal death of the wicked:
“… all those who have chosen salvation will have entered into the Kingdom of God as spirit sons of God. At that time, all who have rejected their opportunity will be sentenced to the second death — their eternal judgment.”
Appendix M: Beliefs and Doctrines
Supposedly, according to this understanding, salvation can be “chosen” or “rejected” by human beings who have the awesome power to overcome God’s apparently not-so-sovereign will. However, 1 Timothy 2:4; Ephesians 1:11; and Philippians 2:10–11 (and a host of other passages in context) tell us what God’s will is, and how He shall achieve even His merest whim, as well as His strongest desire of will. God’s will is supreme, cannot be thwarted, and it shall prevail. 27 For me, the idea that we have a “choice” or we can “do” anything necessary to advance (or hinder) our salvation, strongly promotes a salvation by works and not a salvation of grace. Note what the first chapter of John says:
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He authority to become the children of God, even to those that believe on His name; who were not begotten by bloodlines, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the will of God.”
John 1:12–13 OOB
Even in the OOB translation (italicized words in the OOB are for clarity and are not in the text), it is clear that men become children of God by the will of God and not by their own will. Shall God ignore sin then? No. He shall work in the minds and hearts of all men just as He has worked in your heart and mind. Certainly man cannot become a child of God through his own will. Neither can man prevent or hinder the will of God, which is for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) 28 through Christ, “Who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6 OOB), and “Who is the savior of all men” (1 Timothy 4:10 OOB).
I wish in a future edition for greater consistency in translation of the most common Hebrew and Greek words, idioms and figures of speech allowing.
I wish for a better understanding and a consistent and proper translation of the Hebrew word olam and the biblical Greek term aion, aions (singular and plural forms) and aionios (the adjective form). They do not mean “eternal,” “forever,” “everlasting,” or “ever and ever.” They mean a time period of indefinite length, usually of long duration. This has been established without doubt even in non-biblical Greek usage from before the time of Plato until the 4th century of the Christian era. 29
I wish for the Translation to be published separately from the Commentary and the Appendices/ Chronologies section. They could be published as companion volumes. Perhaps a separate publishing will come forth in the future.
I wish for the OOB to be the first of many, many Bibles in the original manuscript order.
Please do not ask me, “should I buy this Bible?” Rather, consider: if you are not reading the Bibles that you have, then why buy another one? No Bible should be purchased if it will sit on the shelf. It is unlikely that one single Bible would suddenly excite you to read it when you only had a vague desire before. On the other hand, if you think it will cause you to read the Bible regularly, if you think it will be useful for you, then buy it quickly. You cannot have too many Bibles if they are read, and if they contribute to your understanding about God.
This is a very readable Bible and the flow of language seems appropriate to present English speech. The King James Version was intentionally designed to be used in public reading. The OOB seems to have likewise accomplished that goal. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of God” (Romans 10:17 OOB). I believe the OOB was developed with the ear in mind, designed to be well spoken and well read. Dr. Will Tomory, a Professor of English, was commissioned to edit and polish the English of the text and
“… to produce a fresh, easy-to-read translation that retains the grace and grandeur of the KJV — and present the biblical books in their original, inspired manuscript order.”
An Editor’s Forward
That goal has been accomplished.
The problems in translation that I mention above are also common to the King James Version, the Geneva Bible before it, and the Tyndale Bible before it. They are theological problems that prevent the true translation on those matters to come through. No production of man is perfect. Everything that comes from God fulfills His intended purpose, even when made imperfect by man.
Make up your own mind about the Appendices. The Chronologies are useful and should be studied, not just glanced at. Some people (like me) love this type of material, but others find it not so interesting. Chronology III, “Chronological History of the Writing of the Old Testament 4024 BC to 400 BC” is referenced as being based from facts extracted from Dr. Martin’s Restoring the Original Bible.
By necessity I shall continue to teach from the King James Version, because it is still the most widely used and available Bible. People are familiar with its phrasing, its faults are widely known and can be dealt with on a verse by verse basis when clarifications are necessary. Also, the most widely available Bible helps relate to the King James Version.
I wish The Holy Bible in Its Original Order great success. It is a landmark achievement, a first in history for an English version. Success for the OOB will lead to a Bible concordance which will go a long way to make it a true study Bible. Ultimately, however, the OOB is designed to be read from beginning to end, in the order God intended, like a great and large novel: progressive from simple to detailed, from beginning to completion, it presents God’s story of His love for man (John 3:16–17). It is the most important story possible.
It is a story that includes you and how God works through Christ Jesus, throughout history, to produce your future salvation and exaltation as a child of God. At present the down payment of God’s Holy Spirit is your assurance that He shall fulfill what is in the written Word of God. God’s Spirit is His writing on your heart, changing, molding it so it can receive the full righteousness of Christ and His glory. God’s story, His-story, is what we should be focusing on in this life, whether we read it in OOB or use our own reading plan in the correct order with our own Bibles at home. The The Holy Bible in Its Original Order makes it convenient. For your sake, read and study and hear and learn God’s Word by any and every means.
David Sielaff, January 2009
1 Portland, OR: ASK Publishing, 2004. This book is available to be read free at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/index.asp. The bound version can be ordered at http://www.askelm.com/books/book002.htm. Dr. Martin’s dissertation became the book Restoring the Original Bible. See also Dr. Martin’s 1994 article “The World Needs the Original Bible” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d940801.htm.
Contact York Publishing Company, P.O. Box 1038, Hollister, CA
(NOTE: This publication and project has no affiliation with the Original Bible Project currently working on the Transparent English Bible conducted by Dr. James Tabor and begun in 1992. See http://www.centuryone.org/obpindex.html.)
3 See “A Faithful Translation,” page v. Mr. Coulter published this interim publication The New Testament In Its Original Order separately in 2004.
4 E. Michael Heiss’s former work is not known and various searches yield no information about him beyond Mr. Coulter’s praise for his work on The Holy Bible In Its Original Order project.
5 Dr. Martin fully understood the scope and demands that such a translation and publishing project required and he did not undertake such a project himself, in spite of a great desire to see it done. He felt it was not a job for him to do, and that others had better background, resources, and support to accomplish the task. At one time Dr. Martin considered taking the Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (which was out of copyright), revising it, formatting it, and publishing that as a Bible in the original order. Upon consideration, that project was deemed unfeasible. At another time, Dr. Martin considered revising the Newberry Bible and putting it in the correct manuscript order. See Dr. Martin’s article “The World Needs the Original Bible,” linked at note 1 above, where he discusses that idea in 1994.
6 Realize that Genesis through Deuteronomy are considered part of the Law section, and Joshua through Second Kings are considered part of the Prophets section.
7 They are Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah (one book), and Chronicles (First and Second Chronicles were considered one book). The reasons for the placement are explained in Restoring the Original Bible, chapter 10 at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res011.htm, and chapter 11 at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res012.htm.
8 The Old Testament writings were written on individual scrolls and not in a single codex or book as we have today. Scrolls were gathered or placed for storage in bunches, just so that they could be readily quickly retrieved. However, the reading, understanding, and study of the scrolls were done always with recognition of its proper organizational pattern.
9 From here on I will generally refer to the entire work as the OOB, standing for Original Order Bible, simply for my convenience and space considerations.
10 See Dr. Martin’s chapter 28, “Who Are the Sons of God?” at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess037.htm from his book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine, and my article “Idolatry and the Sons of God” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070201.htm#_ftn1. The references in these articles will lead you to other relevant material.
13 Some spell it Yahweh or Yahoua, if you want to presume to know what the unknown vowels truly were.
14 Note the word Elohi, a plural variant used instead of Elohim. The reason why this variant was used is not entirely known.
15 Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Young’s Literal New Testament, and the Concordant Literal Version each are consistent in translating olam and aion with eon or age, and their appropriate adjectival equivalents.
16 See Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:13. Each of them is referencing Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22.
17 The King James Version translates olam Psalm 77:5 as “times” and 77:7 as “forever.”
18 Indeed, the Father delegated the Son to create all things (Colossians 1:15–17).
19 See Dr. Martin and Gary Reid’s two presentations “The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 1” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d041101.htm. The second article shows the superlatives used in conjunction with aion, see “The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 2” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d041201.htm. A third article supplements the other two, giving more useful information about this subject. See “The Doctrine of the Ages in the Bible” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050101.htm.
20 Although some take issue with the concept, it seems axiomatic to me that one Hebrew or Greek term should be represented by one English term as much as possible, with figures of speech and idioms handled as exceptions. See Dr. Martin’s article “The World Needs the Original Bible” linked in note 1 above.
21 Again, only the Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Young’s Literal New Testament, and the Concordant Literal Version even attempt consistency in translation, again accounting for figures of speech and idioms.
22 The King James Version unfortunately used the word “hell” instead of grave, although the term commonly meant “grave” in 1611. Theology changed the meaning of that term to mean a place of torment from its original Old English meaning of pit or grave.
24 Even translations that are systematic such as the Concordant Literal Version, both Old and New Testament, still have choices that are influenced by the theology of the translators. I only wish the CLV had the desire and resources to do what Fred Coulter and his team have accomplished, publish their translation in the correct manuscript order.
26 Some translations, such as David Stern’s The Complete Jewish Bible use transliterations too much, transliterating the names of Old Testament Bible characters so that they are hardly recognizable. That goes too far in the other direction. The names mean nothing unless all the elements of the name are known and explained.
27 See Dr. Martin’s presentation “The Death of Death” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030101a.htm, and Chapter 16, “The Resurrections from the Dead at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess022a.htm from Dr. Martin’s book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (Portland, OR: ASK Publications, 2001/2004).
28 “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). This rendering is in line with the New American Standard Bible and the Revised Standard Version to render the strongest possible Greek word for “will” into “desire.” This unfortunate translation comes from imposing doctrine into the text and changing its meaning.
29 See the clearly stated articles “The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 1” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d041101.htm, “The Time Periods for Salvation, Part 2” at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d041201.htm, and “The Doctrine of the Ages in the Bible” at http://askelm.com/doctrine/d050101.htm.
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