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Archive for March, 2006

New Testament Citations of the Old Testament

At the Logos Bible Software blog, they’ve been discussing power-law relationships of biblical citations. (In other words, the number of verse citations generally follows a smooth curve. See their post for more background.)

One of the commenters asked for data about how many citations of the Old Testament appear in the New Testament. Here it is:

New Testament Citations of Old Testament Books

In absolute terms, the New Testament writers cited Psalms and Isaiah most often.

Graph showing the absolute numbers. Psalms and Isaiah lead the way, followed by Deuteronomy and Exodus.

New Testament Citations of Old Testament Books When Controlling for Book Length

The above chart promotes long books over short books. (The Psalms gets cited more often in part because it’s a much longer book.) The below chart shows the number of New Testament citations per verse in the Old Testament book, giving you a different picture. Proportionally, Malachi and Habakkuk are cited most often.

Graph showing the absolute numbers. Malachi and Habakkuk lead the way, followed by Isaiah and Deuteronomy.

New Testament Citations of Old Testament Books Matrix

The below table shows how many times each New Testament book cites each Old Testament book. Books that aren’t listed don’t have any citations.

Book Matt Mark Luke John Acts Rom 1 Cor 2 Cor Gal Eph 1 Tim Heb Jas 1 Pet Total
Gen 1 3     3 7 2   3 1   3 1   24
Ex 7 4 3 1 4 4 1 1   1   3 2   31
Lev 3 1 2     1   1 2       1 1 12
Num       1                     1
Deut 8 2 5   4 6 1   2   1 3     32
Josh                       1     1
1 Sam         1                   1
2 Sam           1           1     2
1 Kgs           3                 3
Neh       1                     1
Job             1               1
Ps 7 3 5 6 8 14 3 2   1   18   2 69
Prov           3           1 1   5
Isa 8 3 5 4 5 13 5 2 1     1   4 51
Jer 1                     3     4
Hos 3         2                 5
Joel         1 1                 2
Amos         2                   2
Mic 1                           1
Hab         1 1     1     1     4
Hag                       1     1
Zech 3 1   2                     6
Mal 1 1 1     1                 4
Total 43 18 21 15 29 57 13 6 9 3 1 36 5 7 263
March 17, 2006 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible Study,Biblical Studies,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:44 pm | (14) Comments »

Mere Comments: Translating “Know”

Anthony Esolen at Mere Comments talks about Bible translation:

I don’t have a fully fleshed out theory of translation. If I were pressed, I’d say that the virtue most required of a translator is a kind of reticence—or you might call it a chaste restraint, or linguistic humility. The translator should repeat the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” That restraint will suggest that the translator ought rather to err on the side of literalness; he will sense how often there is something precious in the literal meaning of the text, and will not want to lose that, even when a figurative rendering seems clearer at first glance, and more natural for the receiving language. For strangeness too is a teacher.

He goes on to discuss how to translate the Hebrew euphemism in Genesis 4: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” He prefers translations that don’t replace the Hebrew euphemism with an English one:

What is lost [when changing the euphemism]? For starters, an entire world of thinking foreign to ours. “Adam knew his wife, and she bore him a son….” It suggests that sexual love is, at heart, a matter of knowing, and there is no reason why that knowing must extend only to the body….

And there’s more still. When Gabriel announces the great news to Mary, the young girl replies that she doesn’t understand how that can be, since, as the New American Bible has it, she has no relations with a man. It’s the same clinical phrase; and I defy anybody to insist that something so flat and banal can possibly halt the reader in his tracks. The original did just that (I am on spring break and do not have the Greek text with me, so I am going out on a bit of a limb here): I know not man. Strange, sure. And that’s precisely the point. Its very strangeness encourages us, as Luke intends, to connect this moment, the last in Scripture in which know will be so used, with that initial knowledge of man and woman after the Fall.

People don’t usually use “know” this way in English. The question for any Bible translator is what to do with the expression: translate the words or interpret the meaning for the reader? Esolen argues for the former.

The ESV keeps the Hebrew euphemism “know” in Genesis 4 and elsewhere. It translates Luke 1:34 as, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” and adds the footnote “Greek since I do not know a man.” (Compare the RSV: “How shall this be, since I have no husband?”)

Via The 7 Habitus.

March 14, 2006 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:56 pm | (2) Comments »

“Bible for Life” Radio Station List

We’ve posted a complete list of radio stations on which you can hear our Bible for Life radio spots. You can also listen to all the spots from the linked page.

March 10, 2006 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 3:03 pm | Comments Off »

Re-Paragraph Your Bible

Doug at CoffeeSwirls takes our recent post about punctuation and runs with it:

Personally, I would love to have a Bible with only the books to separate the text as well. Especially for the writings of Paul! The translations really butcher his thoughts with the numbering, if you only read from one verse to another. The English translation shows Paul to be a man who wrote rather long sentences, and it is not uncommon for one string of thought to take up two verses and more.

I have had a thought concerning this: What if a respected translation such as the ESV were to put out a Bible with no change in words, but with the verses renumbered. Yes, it would take some getting used to. But I think it would pay off spiritually in the end….

A personal undertaking, or an open source project could be done, not unlike the NET Bible, but they want to be accepted by the community. The KJV doesn’t have the burden of copyright any longer, so that could be a place to start. But the time involved to produce a Bible that would likely not catch on beyond a small group of people who only use it for personal use may not pay off. It would, however, be a beneficial exercise for the individual and would enhance Bible memorization with a fuller sense of immediate context.

Doug, you’re right that no Bible publisher is likely to renumber the verses of the Bible; there’s too much extrabiblical material keyed off the current verse system. But there’s still room for innovation within the current verse framework.

The Dilemma in a Nutshell

Bible publishers face a dilemma when designing a Bible: verse numbers need enough prominence to help readers find a particular verse quickly, but the numbers need to fade into the background during extended reading.

Combining Verses

Some translations occasionally combine verses. Take the CEV: it doesn’t separate Jude 24 and 25 into separate verses. This passage in the CEV reads (we’ve indicated what is traditionally verse 25 in bold):

Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen.

In the ESV, this passage reads (again, verse 25 is in bold):

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

The CEV translators felt that rearranging parts of the verses made more sense for their audience, “grade schoolers, second language readers, and those who prefer the more contemporized form.” Read their explanation for more background.

Marginal Verse Numbers

Other publishers take this approach a step further. Some Bibles omit in-text verse numbers entirely in favor of marginal notes showing what verses each paragraph covers. With this approach, Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV) would look like:

4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


On the less-extreme end, Bible publishers can also print verse and chapter numbers in a lighter color (gray, for example), to help the eye skip over them. Some non-ESV editions take this approach.

Do It Yourself: An Experiment

Electronic Bibles don’t face the same limitations as printed Bibles. Don’t want to see verse numbers, section headings, or the words of Christ in red? Turn them off.

Indeed, as Doug hints, you can produce something to help you with your personal study: take Philippians 1 without paragraphs, verse numbers, headings, or footnotes (Word document). Now add paragraphs where you think they should go. (Don’t look at the paragraphs in an existing Bible.) Where does Paul begin a new thought? Where does he build on previous thoughts? An exercise like this one can increase your appreciation for a book’s structure and argument. Paragraphing this chapter might take about fifteen minutes to half an hour.

Now share your re-paragraphing. Leave a comment on this post and paste your re-paragraphed text into the comment. If we get enough responses, we’ll see if any patterns develop. There are no wrong answers, so don’t be shy.

Once you’ve commented, feel free to compare your re-paragraphing to the paragraphing approaches taken by the ESV (and by other translations). See if you can figure out why the translators chose to break paragraphs where they did.

It would be interesting to learn whether the paragraph breaks vary by translation—do people who re-paragraph the ESV tend to have more or fewer (or different) paragraphs than people who re-paragraph the CEV? For this exercise, however, we’d like to stick to the ESV.

March 8, 2006 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 1:00 pm | (22) Comments »

Philippians 4:5-6: “It’s Just a (Semi-)Colon”

Matt at seventy times seven muses on how a single punctuation mark affects interpretation of Philippians 4:5-6:

if you read the Word, you’ll see that paul’s sentence begins in verse 5 and carries into verse 6, unlike the way we memorise and read it. the end of verse 5 says “the Lord is at hand;” and verse 6 begins: “do not be anxious about anything…” our bibles divide that sentence into two parts, but it’s a semicolon, not a period at the end of verse 5. it doesn’t make sense to memorise half of his thought, he made it a thought on purpose. it’s like quoting john 3:16: “for God so loved the world.” well, fantastic, but what did He do about it? similarly, without the first half of that sentence: “the Lord is at hand,” we’re left wondering why we should be anxious for nothing. His continual presence assures and enables us to rely on Him.

because of the verse divisions in the bibles we read, and the verse-by-verse format in the kjv, it’s easy to miss things like that. my esv is in paragraph form, so the only thing interrupting the thought was a superscript 6 for the verse. it read right thru, and it stood out to me. i thought, “hey, that’s a sentence, and i only know half of it.” even the leader, when he read it, stopped at the ‘end’ of verse 5 for the verse division, like the singing congregation that breathes in the middle of a word or sentence just because. paul wrote a letter, not a string of little verses.

The ESV alone among recent translations separates Philippians 4:5 and 6 with a semicolon; other translations make “The Lord is at hand” into a separate sentence.

Here’s Philippians 4:5b-6 in the ESV:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

March 6, 2006 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Crossway Staff @ 10:00 am | (3) Comments »