Translator and Jerusalem Post contributor Hoffman (And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning, 2010) explains biblical stories by revealing lost passages, making them more understandable and plausible to modern readers.
The author’s knowledge of ancient languages shows early on, and he demonstrates how easily words can be mistranslated and entire meanings altered. Furthermore, a translator might alter a passage to make it more politically appropriate or relevant to the times. As Hoffman notes, there are anywhere from 33 to 78 books that could have been included in the Bible (“The Bible you usually read is an abridged version…culled from a much larger selection of holy scriptures when new realities forced religions leaders to discard some of their most cherished and sacred books”). All of them ask timeless questions and offer different insightful answers about good and evil and the human condition. The author explores the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2,000-year-old documents discovered in a cave by goatherds in 1947; the Septuagint, a translation from Hebrew to Greek ordered by Ptolemy II in the third century B.C.; and the A.D. first century writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. Hoffman examines not only where they agree and where they vary from our modern Bible, but also the wealth of material that was left out. This is where the author shines as he explains that the Tower of Babel was built to protect against another great flood and gives the truth about Herod and Pilate. During the upheavals of the first century, many groups struggled to make sense of the changing times, and Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are among those systems of belief that endured.
A wonderful book to confirm the beliefs of the faithful, to strengthen those whose faith begs for more information and to enlighten those who reject the stories of the Bible as mere fiction.