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Norton does King James

September 6, 2011

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Although I have not seen it yet, I am cautiously optimistic about the new Norton Critical Edition of the English Bible (KJV) forthcoming later this year (ISBN 039397507X and 0393927458). Perhaps you are familiar with the Norton Critical Edition series — it is a standard series of annotated volumes used in literature classes. The editors working on these volumes are top-notch, and the blurbs are impressive at least:

Robert Alter: “The Norton Critical Edition of The English Bible, King James Version, appearing on the four hundredth anniversary of the great translation, is a real gift to the English-reading world, making this classical version freshly accessible. The introductions to the different biblical books are apt and often illuminating; the generous annotation clarifies archaic terms, corrects translation errors, and provides insight into the texts; and the appended critical and historical materials give readers a wealth of relevant contexts for both Old and New Testament.”

Harold Bloom: “Herbert Marks demonstrates in this work that he is now the foremost literary exegete of the King James Bible and of the Hebrew Bible that it translates.”

If the work is up to the standard of the better volumes in the Norton Critical Edition series, I expect this will become the standard secular teaching text on the King James Bible, and because of its explanation of archaic terms and phrases, may prove useful for ordinary readers as well.

(I should mention that additional materials and notes included in the Norton Critical Edition of the Writings of St. Paul [ISBN 0393972801] make it the best secular one-volume guide to the subject, although it uses the TNIV translation of the Epistles and Acts and Elliott’s translations [ISBN 0198261810] of the apocryphal works related to Paul.)

(Reposted from here.)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2013 1:09 am

    Theophrastus, I was surprised not to see a newer review of this set with your name on it given its release earlier this year and your cautiously optimistic comments. My own reaction has been one of deeply pleasant surprise (most of my time thus far has been spent with Marks’ work on the Hebrew Bible), but I was hoping to hear your response to it.

  2. January 6, 2013 12:00 pm

    Nick, you are right — I did not yet write a fuller review, although about a month ago I did later reprint part of Alter’s review. I like it quite a bit, although the focus of the notes is more critical (in the Hebrew and Greek) than I initially anticipated; I had thought that the notes might focus on the English text primarily. The result is not bad; Alter writes “it entirely eclipses the sundry ‘study Bibles’ now in circulation.”

    My plans were disrupted by life and events; but I do plan a fuller review in due course, as well as a review of some other KJV anniversary texts.

  3. January 6, 2013 2:20 pm

    Great! I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts in more detail. Alter’s comments seemed spot on. And his point that Marks’ comments within the notes are compacted into an epigrammatic form was insightful, I think. There’s a bit of poetry to them that you rarely see in the ever prosaic Bible study format.


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