The DHE has been extensively reviewed by various Messianic and Christian leaders.
Rabbi Stuart Dauermann writes:
The writer of Koholet (Ecclesiastes) reminds us "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecc. 12:12, ESV ). Not all books are helpful or necessary. But occasionally, a book comes along that needed to be written, one for whom many will have occasion to rejoice.
The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels: A Hebrew/English Translation (Vine of David, 2011), hereafter DHE, is one of those necessary books, something that needed to be done, and something that has been done very well indeed. Four words summarize my commendation of this book: its excellence, its scholarship, its beauty, and its usefulness.
The Excellence of the DHE - The DHE exhibits excellence because of the Delitzsch Hebrew translation itself. A month before I received a copy of this text for review, I discussed the Delitzsch translation with one of its champions, who for fifty years has published and distributed Hebrew translations of Hebrew-Christian literature in Israel. He reported a conversation he had with David Flusser, who at that time was Professor of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. When Flusser heard that another translation of the New Testament into Hebrew was being done, besides that previously done by Delitzsch, he reacted with outrage and disdain, considering any new translation into Hebrew to be redundant and foolish. He proclaimed his confidence that not only was the Delitzsch translation the best translation imaginable into Hebrew, but also, in his view, the best translation ever done of the New Testament into any language.
While one may suspect Flusser of hyperbole here, one must not dismiss his verdict on the quality of the translation. Flusser was an Orthodox Jew, and a world class expert in his field. For him the Delitzsch translation was literally without parallel. Of this we should take note even if we might beg to differ.
Vine of David takes the unusual step of translating Delitzsch's Hebrew translation into English, making the English version a translation of a translation, one that appears to be done consistently and with due diligence. They argue that this process affords us an opportunity to appreciate the Jewish nuances Delitzsch detected in the Greek New Testament. It is a fascinating enterprise, for here we not only touch the hem of Yeshua's garment through reading the gospel texts: we also touch the mind of a world-renowned scholar. In a sense, through the English translation of his Hebrew, Delitzsch discusses the New Testament text with us, with a stress upon its Jewishness. Quite exciting. It should be noted that the text comes very close to endorsing the perspective of the Jerusalem School of thought on the gospels which holds that Greek gospels are based on Hebrew originals. However, while coming close to endorsing this controversial view, the editors and translators of the DHE do not in fact endorse the view but instead stress the benefit of considering the Jewish thought forms likely behind the Greek text, holding that in the gospels, we have Jews thinking like Jews, even when they spoke or wrote in Greek.
The scholarship of the DHE - The Translator's Preface alone is, for lovers of books, worth the price of the book. For both the neophyte layman and the interested scholarly reader it provides a fascinating summary of the influences, personalities, and decisions that helped shape Delitzsch's translation, making mention of scholarly Jews who believed in Yeshua, inhabitants of another time and place. The Translator, Aaron Eby, is also to be commended for being candid about the limitations of Delitzsch's work, especially in view of the discoveries of later scholarship. He demonstrates similar scholarly integrity in his comments on in a number of areas where the newer translation currently in vogue in Israel, gets things right where Delitzsch got them wrong. The Translators admit that the Delitzsch translation is not perfect, and even that it has some faults. Nevertheless, they strive to preserve it, even in the English translation, because it surely is fascinating!
The scholarly touch is also evident in the Introduction to the Gospels as a whole provided in the book, and in the introductions provided for each gospel in turn. In all cases, homage is paid to rabbinic and Hebrew Christian scholars of the past, producing a document commendably free of the trendiness and superficiality which too often sells nowadays.
Accessible scholarship is also evident in the lean marginal notes and footnotes provided throughout the text, enough light to illumine, but not to dazzle. Just the right touch.
The beauty of the DHE - The book provides wide margins, clear text in a readable size, and plenty of white space per page making the book easier on the eyes. This is due in part to the layout decision to paragraph the text, double spacing between paragraphs and indenting quoted material. All of this creates visual air to breathe while reading the text. Apart from introductory materials and provided glossaries, maps and charts following the text, there are no illustrations in the book, although each chapter gospel introduction is decorated with a subdued and tasteful floral pattern. While not ostentatious in any manner, the layout and graphic elements accompanying the text are a delight to the eyes, making the text much more readable than it would otherwise be.
The usefulness of the DHE - Anyone familiar with religious Jewish life knows there is something holy about a sefer. While the term means literally "a book," it is commonly used to denote a particular kind of book, a holy book. Such books are in all respects labors of love in their thought, their content, their layout, their binding, and their look. Happily, the DHE is a sefer, not the kind of book one will easily treat in a careless manner. It's thought, content, layout, binding, and look all contribute to making it so.
For those of us who especially delight in the prospect of reading this text with other Jews, these factors are crucial. Any Jew opening this text, seeing Hebrew on one side, and English on the other will immediately be drawn into the ethos of Jewish holy discourse. The very look of the page brings us into Jewish space, and this is crucial to the usefulness of the DHE.
Yeshua of Nazareth is widely regarded as alien to or even antagonistic to Jewish religious life and communal well-being. It is not enough that we who are Messianic believers and sympathetic Christians know this to be a falsehood: the true persona of Yeshua must be felt, displayed, and made known. Everything about this book, including its look and feel, in orthography, layout and production contributes to revealing Yeshua as Jewish and his world as being Jewish space.
The DHE will do much to gain a hearing among my people for the One who said, "One who hears my words and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment, for he has passed from death to life" (John 5:21, DHE). And this too is cause for rejoicing.
Bravo, or as we say in our synagogues, "Hazak! Hazak! V'nitchazek! - Be strengthened! Be strengthened! And may we all be strengthened!" Rabbi Stuart Dauermann PhD (Chief Visionary Officer, Messianic Judaism Media.)
Elliot Klayman writes:
We are in an era where serious scholarship has emerged to reclaim the words of Yeshua and the Gospel writings from a first century linguistic and cultural context. It is in this environment that Vine of David has broken into the field with a valuable addition through its Delitzsch, Hebrew Gospels, Hebrew/English translation.
Vine of David has taken an old and respected source, the Delitzsch translation of the Greek Gospels into Hebrew, and has translated that into English, giving more people more access to this extremely significant work. But it has done much more by adding the gloss of a translator's preface, an introduction to the Gospels, appropriate Jewish prayers and blessings, footnotes, reference material, maps and charts and an index, all explaining and enhancing Delitzsch's work.
But there is still more. One of the strong values of this work is the English translation itself, placing it squarely in the camp of those who characterize Yeshua as a Jew steeped in a cultural milieu consistent with a Jewish upbringing in the land of Israel during sectarian diversity. It is here that so many other translations pale in comparison to the Vine of David English translation, which makes it clear, true to Delitzsch's Hebrew translation, that Yeshua is thoroughly Jewish and everything he said must be examined through that understanding.
Quite interesting, Vine of David is not shy about correcting Delitzsch's translation when the translator feels it is warranted due to best scholarship and contextual considerations.
Kol haKavod to Vine of David. May this added contribution to a scholarly world growing in the recognition of the Jewishness of the Gospels be a blessing for generations to come.Elliot Klayman (Associate Congregational Leader, Beth Messiah, Columbus, Ohio; Past President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Executive Director, Messianic Literature Outreach)
Dr. Richard Harvey writes:
I am delighted that Vine of David has brought out this new edition of Franz Delitzsch's pioneering Hebrew translation of the Gospels. The text and translation, together with the accompanying notes, glossary, explanations of idioms and transliteration, represent an important milestone in Messianic Jewish scholarship, publishing and presentation of the Good News of the Messiah.
Delitzsch's work combined deep sensitivity to the Jewish context of the New Testament, the linguistic qualities of koinÃ© Greek and an authentic feel for the Hebrew language. His translation is not only academically respected but is also spiritually enriching and aesthetically pleasing. Although Delitzsch wrote more than a century ago, in the eyes of many, his translation is still unsurpassed, and this elegant new edition makes it accessible to a new generation of readers.
Anyone interested in the Jewish background of Yeshua (Jesus) and the New Testament will benefit from the careful and respectful way the text has been handled, and the resulting product, which is both a pleasure to read and an instructive help to the student of scripture. Boaz Michael and his team at First Fruits of Zion are to be congratulated on serving the Messianic movement, and anyone interested in the Jewish roots of their faith with such a valuable and important resource.Dr. Richard Harvey (Academic Dean of All Nations College, UK)