Orthodox Study Bible

What is the Orthodox Study Bible?

The Orthodox Study Bible (OSB) is an English-language translation and annotation of the Christian Bible, published by Thomas Nelson. In addition to the Eastern Orthodox Christian biblical canon, it offers commentary and other material to show the Eastern Orthodox Christian understanding of Scripture.

The OSB's Old Testament is an eclectic text combining elements of the Greek Septuagint (which predates the standardized Masoretic Text by one thousand years) and the Hebrew Masoretic Text. The Masoretic Text is the standard Jewish text for the Hebrew Scriptures. The Septuagint is an ancient Jewish translation of the Jewish Scriptures into Greek, for use by Greek-speaking Jews.

In several places it differs significantly from the Masoretic Text. The Septuagint is the Scripture quoted and referenced in the New Testament. One important feature of the OSB is that all New Testament quotations of the Old Testament are identical in wording between the Old and New Testaments (e.g. Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; 1 Cor 6:16; Eph 5:31).

Although the Orthodox Church does respect the Hebrew Old Testament, it also believes the Septuagint tradition should be studied by the church, out of respect for both the New Testament writers and the Eastern Church tradition. The English style is that of the New King James Version (NKJV), which was used as a template. The Old Testament was prepared under the auspices of the academic community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, using clergy and lay scholars.

The overview committee included fourteen archbishops, metropolitans, and bishops from various Orthodox jurisdictions, as well as eight priests and seven lay scholars. The Old Testament includes a new translation of the Psalms by Donald Sheehan of Dartmouth College. The New Testament is the NKJV, which uses the Received Text, representing 94% of Greek manuscripts.

The Byzantine text-type is the textual tradition preserved for use in the Eastern Churches.

The translations of the Old Testament and New Testament are accompanied by commentary from the Orthodox viewpoint. Articles provide guidance and support for many facets of the Orthodox faith which can be confusing or unknown to those who did not grow up in the Church. There is a comparative of list of contents, side-by-side with the Roman Catholic canon and the generally accepted Protestant canon.

The OSB addresses such questions as: Why is the Mother of God essential to the Faith? Who were the 70 Apostles? How is an Orthodox understanding of the Bible different from a Roman Catholic or Protestant understanding? In addition, the OSB provides basic daily prayers, a lectionary for personal use, and reproductions of icons in its pages.

The work has received positive endorsements from such prominent bishops as Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), Metropolitan Phillip (Antiochian Orthodox Church) and Metropolitan Theodosius (Orthodox Church in America).

Among the work's critics, Archimandrite Ephrem, writing in the Orthodox Christian journal Sourozh, has stated that the commentary "feels far too much like a piece of evangelical propaganda decked out in the trappings of Orthodoxy."

Priest Seraphim Johnson has written in The Orthodox Christian Witness that "the Study Bible reproduces the whole textual apparatus of the NKJV, including many of the doubtful decisions of modern non-Orthodox biblical scholarship. Some of the issues raised in these reviews have been addressed in the 2008 edition.


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