Book Review: The October Testament

The October Testament:  New Matthew Bible, by William Tyndale and John Rogers, and updated and with a new introduction by R. Magnusson Davis

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Baruch House Publishing.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

As someone who is fond of reading and reviewing Bibles [1], this Bible reminds me most of ones I looked at years before getting in the habit of writing reviews about them and posting them online.  In 2006, as I was in the midst of the most depressing year of my life thus far (no mean feat), one of the few bright spots was a trip I took to the Florida International Museum to look at old Bible artifacts, including a Gutenberg press.  It was there that I discovered the writings of William Tyndale, which I can honestly say was a discovery that changed my life by giving me a model in a religious bibliophile whose principled devotion to studying the Bible and learning languages and thoughtfully expressing truth to power has served as a model for my own life, despite his tragic end as a martyr.  Indeed, this Bible itself was taken from the 1549 October New Testament printed by John Rogers and edited from the 1534 Tyndale New Testament of which I have a facsimile copy of in my Florida library.

This particular New Testament is an enjoyable one and its contents are worth explaining.  At the beginning of the Bible is a great deal of introductory text as well as a thoughtful essay from the editor who explains why she chose the name she did and how she went about in her eclectic modernizing of the 16th century text while seeking to preserve as much of its poetry and charm as possible.  This lovely New Testament is organized like our own, but it has quite a few interesting features.  Every book and every chapter of the Bible are introduced, and every chapter ends with various notes, mostly of an explanatory nature.  There are also cross references and textual notes within that serve to make this New Testament more than 400 fairly large pages of fairly small print, although with mostly wide margins.  Not all of the text is modernized, and it reads nicely, like this selection taken at random from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13:  “We beseech you, brethren, to recognize those who labour among you, and have the oversight of you in the Lord and give you exhortation–to have them the more in love for their work’s sake, and be at peace with them.”  This passage also shows us that the spelling of the Bible is in Canadian English (as befits the publishing house, which is out of the other Vancouver area).

It should be noted that this Bible is not a perfect one.  For example, it includes the fraudulent Johanine pericope in parentheses and notes that it was almost certainly not in the original Greek but that it was included in the Textus Receptus because of complaints by Erasmus’ reading audience, who had grown accustomed to seeing it from the corrupt Vulgate.  In addition, some of the “explanatory” footnotes are clearly in doctrinal error, such as the notes about Mark 7 that give an erroneous understanding of the meaning of the text, claiming speciously that Jesus made all meats clean when he was talking about believers not being subject to the various man-made ablutions that were common among the Pharisees.  This sort of error is lamentably common throughout the book, so this is a Bible that is well worth appreciating for its excellent text, even if its notes are at least a bit unreliable.  This is the sort of Bible that one can look to for good citations of the NT, and I may use it for that purpose, as my citations could use some more variety given the large number of Bibles I have available, but its notes should not be used for doctrinal beliefs among those who understand God’s law and its contemporary applicability better than the translators and especially editor of this text.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: The October Testament

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Questioning Evangelism | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Audiobook Review: Great Courses: Classics Of British Literature: Part 1 | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Booklet Review: A Tribute To William Tyndale | Edge Induced Cohesion

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