Is it worth getting a Hebrew Roots type bible?
Since before I lived in Israel between 2009-2013, I’ve seen these speciality bibles that intend to appeal to those studying the scriptures to show a deep meaning of the original language.
David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible.
David Stern is a nice elderly gent who is an American born Messianic Jew living in Israel. I think I saw him make an appearance a few times at King of Kings Jerusalem.
Some people get excited that this could be an ultra-authentic translation. Really, this bible has words converted into transliterated Hebrew, and it’s intended for an Orthodox Jewish audience. So for Orthodox Jewish community who find Yeshua, this would be wonderful to make the New Testament close to what they are used to, but I’m not sure of many people using it as a primary bible
Aramaic New Testament Bible
The Aramaic New Testament Bible is written by a chap called Andrew Gabriel Roth. Back when I was in Jerusalem I met a friend who knew this guy, and the bibles were around $70 (!) each, the quality of the cover and binding seems pretty good, but what about the translation?
People who were selling these told me the author is trying to persuade people that the New Testament is not originally Greek but Aramaic. This is quite a bold claim, as every Christian scholar I know anywhere will tell you that the NT was written in Greek, but does have portions of Aramaic in it, especially Jesus’ crucially important words like “Talita Kumi” (Little girl arise!) and “Eli Eli Lama Sabachtani?” (My God my God why have you forsaken me?)
Mr Roth I think is closely connected with the Refiners Fire website which is overly heavy type Hebrew Roots teaching site which has some good articles but very harsh and critical of everyone’s teaching that isn’t their own. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a son of someone in leadership in an Israeli congregation asking about this version. He told me, he didn’t say anything bad about this particular bible, but that no one knows of Roth’s background, where he studied or why he should be credible in this subject. Hmmm.
My experience is that good scholarship and Christian ministries do not operate as a ‘lone wolf’ type thing and live as hermits on a farm somewhere, they operate in tandem with other churches and ministries, and all the good Messianic and Christian organisations do in Israel.
Amongst believer friends I know and respect, I know of very few people who use these versions, I think they might have been bought on a whim once but sit unused on a shelf and people would stick to more established bibles and refer to Strong’s concordance (I like it as part of biblehub.com) in print or electronic.
Why am I writing this? Am I heresy hunter? I’ve spoken to people online quite a lot, and people near me who have been distracted by some odd teaching, including two different friends of mine here in London who have mental health issues and is easily swayed by dubious stuff.
My thinking is this, does this make the scriptures more credible to their targeted audience, does it build up the reader, increase understanding of the word and offer extra value to the word of God? or does it just encourage arguments and splits??
Personally, I’d recommend Christians and Messianic Jews would give these books a miss and stick to a tried and tested translation. It is worth learning the Hebrew language from a trustworthy source though, you can find some fascinating things in it. For me, to get a deeper and meaningful value from the Hebrew or Greek, I use Strong’s concordance, so I think I’m going to buy a real one to use for regular devotionals.
This is a great place to get a bible! Cars aren’t allowed in Jaffa Street, so this is the Google cameras will show.
This shop in Jaffa Street in Jerusalem has a wide variety of them in Hebrew, English, Arabic and others too!
I’m going to bust the “sacred names” theology later in my explanation of my experience of Messianic congregations in Israel a little later.