The e-book The Bible: Its Languages and Translations is really more of a booklet, as it is only 36 pages long. But there is quite a bit of information packed into those 36 pages. And the illustrations are pretty lavish, with color pictures of papyri, stone inscriptions, and scenes from the caves at Qumran, for example. The booklet consists of four articles:
- "The languages of the Old Testament writings: one Bible, many cultures?
- "The Masoretic text"
- "The major versions"
- "History of the Bible in English"
Less impressive was the final article about the Bible in English. One little thing that bugged me about the article was that abbreviations for Bible versions were printed with periods between the letters, e.g. N.A.S.B. and N.I.V. However, in the Timeline that follows the article, the more conventional abbreviations are used (sans periods): NASB, NIV, ESV, etc. More distressing than that, though, was how sketchy the article was about English Bible versions. The author skips from the ASV of 1901 to the NASB and NIV, without mentioning a word about the Revised Standard Version, surely one of the most important English versions of the 20th century! Meanwhile, the only version mentioned after 1990 is the ESV. What happened to the HCSB, the NLT, and numerous other 21st century translations? Overall, this article was extremely disappointing, especially considering the high quality of the first three articles.
The first two articles are quite good, with the first being a nice summary of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages and their importance in the Old Testament writings, as well as a brief description of the Septuagint. The second article is a brief but informative article about the Masoretic text: not very complete, but still quite well done.
Overall, I think this e-book was well worth reading. I'm not convinced that the download price of $8.99 is a very good value, considering how short the booklet is, and how useless the final article was. Still, I would recommend that readers keep an eye on "The World of the Bible" website; it looks like the editors of the site are putting an awful lot of thought into their material. The scholarship seems to be excellent, even if the pricing of the e-books is a little high for my tastes.