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Review: The Expanded Bible New Testament

The Expanded Bible New Testament is a recent work from Thomas Nelson Publishers. The goal of The Expanded Bible is to help with all the problems inherent in translation. “It allows the reader to see multiple possibilities for words, phrases, and interpretations. Rather than opting for one choice, it shows many.” The introduction further states The Expanded Bible’s purpose: “In many ways this is not another translation. Instead, it offers additional information that allows readers to see how translation communicates meaning. Readers see, in a clear and concise format, much of what a translator sees while working to be as faithful to the text as possible.” Tremper Longman III, Mark L. Strauss, and Daniel Taylor are the scholars who worked on The Expanded Bible, and they are certainly well-known. The Expanded Bible is based on the New Century Version (NCV), but I could find many differences from the NCV text. The Expanded Bible is not the NCV with translation notes. The scholars made changes to the NCV and then added the translation information.

Rather than putting the translation notes in the margins or as footnotes, all the information appears in the text surrounded by brackets. The scripture text is in bold print and the bracketed translation information is in regular print. This helps the reader’s eye stay with the scriptures and clearly identifies what is the additional information and not part of the translation. Here are few things that are found in the brackets of The Expanded Bible:

  • Expanded translations bring out the meaning of words and offer alternatives.
  • Literal meanings of terms from the original languages are included where they can provide more understanding.
  • Traditional wordings assist recollection of familiar terms and expressions.
  • Comments explain passages that can be understood better with a brief remark.
  • Useful references supply rewarding opportunities for comparing other Scriptures.
  • Variants display additional wording in some of the original language texts.

The translation notes are presented with this code:

Words in brackets [ ] without any notation are other possible ways of translating a word, phrase, clause, or sentence. [or] is a different translation possibility that takes the meaning of the original language in a different direction than the base text does. L is a more literal rendering of the original language, allowing the reader to see why translations make varying choices. T provides familiar terms and well-known renderings from past translations, especially those in the King James tradition. C is a comment that briefly provides historical, cultural, theological, or other explanatory information to help readers better understand a verse or passage. A scripture in brackets is a cross-reference. The bullet tells you what word or phrase the following bracketed information is referring to.

1 My friends [L Beloved], this is [L now]the second letter I have written you [C the first is probably 1 Peter] to help your honest minds remember [L awaken/arouse your sincere understanding/intentions with a reminder]. 2 I want you to think about [remember; recall] the words the holy prophets spoke in the past, and remember the command our Lord and Savior gave us through your apostles [Jude 17]. 3 It is most important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People [L Scoffers] will laugh at [scoff at; ridicule] you. They will live doing the evil things they want to do [indulge their own desires/lusts; Jude 18]. 4 [L And] They will say, “Jesus promised to come again. Where is he [L Where is his promised coming]? [L For] Our fathers[ancestors] have died [L fallen asleep], but the world [L all things] continues the way it has been since it was made [it began with creation].” 5 But they do not want to remember [willfully forget/ignore] what happened long ago. By the word of God heaven was made [came to be; Gen. 1:3—20; Ps. 33:6; 148:5; Heb. 11:3], and the earth was made from water [Gen. 1:2; Ps. 24:2] and with water [Gen. 1:6—7, 9; Ps. 33:7; 136:6; Prov. 8:27—29]. 6 Then [L Through these; C either the water and the word of God, or the heavens and earth which poured forth their water; Gen. 7:11] the world was flooded and destroyed with water [L being deluged with water; Gen. 6—9]. 7 And that same word of God is keeping [reserving; holding in store] heaven and earth that we now have in order to be destroyed by fire [Deut. 32:22; Is. 66:15—16; Zeph. 1:18; Mal. 4:1]. They are being kept for the judgment day and the destruction of all who are against God [L the ungodly/impious people].

The layout of The Expanded Bible is excellent. The print is dark and the font selection is easy to read. The paper is thick so there is not any ghosting from other pages. Scripture references are at the top outer corner of each page to help the reader quickly find scriptures. The Expanded Bible is also in a single column paragraph format. Single column paragraph is my favorite layout and I wish more Bibles came in this format. Verse numbers are dark and easy to find and the chapter numbers are large. It even has 1 1/2 inches of margin space for note taking. The paper is so thick that one could take nearly any type of pen and write their notes in this expansive space. Only the occasional heading is set in this margin, leaving lots of free space for recording your observations. There are no maps, index, glossary, or concordance, which is fine with me. The Expanded Bible is a very handy size: 5 3/4″ x 8 1/2″ and it stands 1 1/2″ thick. This is pretty thick for just the New Testament, which reveals the thickness of the paper used. It is very nice. I expect when the full scriptures are released that they will have to change the paper weight or else it will be in the neighborhood of 4 1/2″ thick.

It takes a little bit of time to get used to reading The Expanded Bible because the translation brackets are in every verse. But with some practice, one easily gets used to the layout. For the student who wants to study the scriptures, but does not want to swim through commentaries to learn the other possible ways the text can be worded will find The Expanded Bible to be a very useful resource. I can see that some people would be disappointed with this work if all they intend to do is read the Bible. The Expanded Bible has a different purpose: to give access to the meanings behind the words to the average reader. This will be an excellent study tool for those who are new to the scriptures and for those who do not have a number of biblical resources to dig deeper into God’s word. The Expanded Bible cannot replace biblical dictionaries, commentaries, and reference works. But it does not try to replace those tools. The Expanded Bible gives its readers quick access to the nuances and deeper meanings in the scriptures. Understanding this purpose, I believe The Expanded Bible has attained its goal. As an evangelist, I look forward to consulting this work for years to come.