Do you prefer a Formal (word for word) or a more Dynamic (thought for thought) translation style? This is just one of the questions you’ll face when deciding which Bible translation is best for you. Just a small tip, the more literal a Bible translation the less readable and if too Dynamic, then you may stray too far from the intent of the original authors. With all of this said, there’s a fine line scholars must walk when translating the original language texts into English or any other language. But, with something as important as the Holy Bible, can you really trust that the translators have made the right choices?
Enter The NET (New English Translation) Bible Full Notes Edition with over 60,000 notes. The Scholars of the NET Bible used the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) for the foundation of the Old Testament and the New Testament is based off the Nestle- Aland 27th edition (NA 27) Greek Text. To remain as accurate to the original language texts, the Translators focused on the grammatical, historical, and theological contexts when developing the NET translation.
No surprise here, but the real treasure of the New English Translation Full Notes Edition is found in the 60,000 plus notes. “The Notes provide the reader with a running commentary on the translators’ decisions to a degree never seen before.” The NET Full Notes Edition includes study, translational and text critical notes, which provides a great deal of transparency, more so than any other translation. These notes not only gives the reader insight into the thought processes of the translators, but also provides a much better understanding of the process of translating from the original languages.
The NET Full Notes Edition utilizes 4 types of notes:
- Text Critical Notes, referenced by tc -cites manuscript differences
- Translational Notes, tn –“ address issues of Translation and Exegesis”
- Study Notes, sn –“address issues with Cultural and Historical background and significance”
- Map Notes, map -gives locations of a particular event so you can locate them in the Map sections at the back of the Bible.
Construction and layout:
This review is based upon the Tuscany (Tan) Premium Bonded Leather edition:
The textblock is sewn and lays flat. The paper is thin, but opaque enough to deter any distracting amount of ghosting (amount of show through from the print on the opposite side of the page). The text and notes are setup in a double column layout and the quality of the print is consistent throughout the edition reviewed. The main text and the notes are split up between the top and bottom of the page and in most cases the notes are so numerous they take up the majority of the page. The chapter numbers are printed in conjunction with every verse number apparently to help differentiate between the notes. The size of the font in the main text is listed at 9.5, but in reality it looks closer to an 8 pt., which is about the same size as the text found in the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. The print size of the Notes is around 7pt. and is closer in size to the main text in the Cambridge Pitt Minion Bible. The overall size of the bible is approximately 9.5 x 6.5 x 2 inches. Besides the main text and textual notes, the Full Notes Edition includes several black and white Maps and also some very stunning full color satellite Maps of the Holy Land.
Table of Contents for the back of the Full Notes edition:
- The NET Principles of Translation
- Numerous lists of Abbreviations
- Bible Translation Abbreviations
- General Abbreviations
- List of Cited Works
- Intro to Principle Manuscript Evidence for the Greek N.T.
- Detailed Table of Contents
- Index to the NET Bible Maps
- Black and white Bible Maps, Satellite Maps of the Holy Land
Personally, I would appreciate larger fonts, but at already 2” thick I can understand the need to keep this edition down to a manageable size. For those of you who are like me and require a larger print, the NET Full Notes Edition is available free online and you can select and print out whatever portions of text you require. At some point in time I would like to see the NET Full Notes Edition made available in a large print edition like the new Large Print ESV Study Bible or even a two volume set with larger print.
If you’re looking for a thinner more reader friendly edition of the NET, then the NET Readers Edition should fill that void nicely. The biggest difference between the NET Readers and the Full Notes edition is the size of the print and the amount of notes. The Readers has fewer notes, just a little over 7000, that includes Translational, Textual, and Study Notes also referenced by tn, tc, and sn, however there are no map notes included in the Reader’s Edition. The notes in the Readers cover key information, but with less explanative or detailed information. All of the notes are of course available free for you to access online. https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Matthew+1
Construction and Layout: For those of you who prefer a flexible but stiff cover, the black Premium Bonded Leather edition will not disappoint. The smooth feel and look of the bonded leather actually reminds me of vinyl, which for some reason I happen to like. The textblock is sewn and has no problem lying flat and after looking over my copy of the NET Reader’s Bible I was very impressed to learn that it has overcast stitching in the front and back of the Bible. Usually one only finds overcast stitching in older or very high end bibles. The overcast stitching provides additional reinforcement to the textblock and promotes longevity and durability. The NET Readers has a double column layout with the notes and references set at the bottom of the page. The consistency of the dark print in the Readers is quite good and the paper has a real nice color and feel. However, with the darker font and the lack of line matching, the paper is not opaque enough to prevent ghosting, which I happen to find a little distracting. I think line matching or even more opaque paper would have made this bible even more readable.
Overall, the Readers Edition appears to be very well constructed with a large readable 10/11 pt. font and very good print quality. Besides the main text and 7000+ notes this edition includes a Glossary of Terms, Concordance, black and white Bible Maps, and full color Satellite Maps of the Holy Land. The only real issue I see with the Readers NET Bible is the transparency of the print with no Line Matching. However, what I like about this Bible is the feel and look of the paper, the large type, and the consistency of the printing. Overall dimensions are approximately: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.25 inches
The NET Greek/English Diglot N.T. Availability currently unknown ?
Since I can’t speak or read Greek I’ll attempt to focus my review on the physical characteristics along with the English portion of this edition.
Table of Contents:
Construction and print:
There were only two editions of the Greek-English N.T. available and both were in hardback: This review is of the (Saddle) Tan Hardback covered in bonded leather, the other edition is identical, but covered in black genuine leather. Overall dimensions are approximately: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches and this edition has a sewn textblock that opens and lies flat from front to back. The main text appears to have line matching with the Greek text set in a nice bold font, more so than the English text. The font size of the Greek and English main texts appear to be around a size 10/11 with the notes in Greek about 9 pt. and the English notes appear to be around 8 pt. font. As I said the Greek print is a little darker and bolder, which gives the print the appearance of being slightly larger. The paper is thin, but opaque enough, it is cream colored, and very smooth with a real nice feel. In my opinion, out of all of the NET Bible editions the NET N.T. contains the best Bible paper, matter of fact I would go so far as to say I wished many of my other Bibles had this same paper.
In relation to the amount of notes in the Full Notes edition: the study notes in the Greek-English N.T. have been removed, the Translational Notes (tn) have been shortened considerably, and many of the Text Critical Notes (tc) have been moved to an Appendix at the back of the N.T. and listed by book in canonical order. One unique feature of the notes in this edition includes comparisons with other English translations. The basic setup in all of the NET Bibles is very similar and this one also includes a paragraph format with O.T. quotes set in a darker bolder font and less direct O.T. quotations are set in italics. The biggest difference between the layout of the Greek-English N.T. and the other editions are: the main text is set in a single column format and the Old Testament quotes are referenced in the outside margins. And, you’ll be happy to learn the NET N.T. doesn’t repeat the practice of printing the chapter number next to every verse. The Greek and English texts are laid out on separate pages (with identical page numbering) side by side for comparison. There are just two maps located at the back of the N.T., 1. “Palestine”, (but in reality Israel) in New Testament times and 2. The Journeys of the Apostle Paul.
For reading I prefer the paper, line matching of the print, and the single column layout. However, I would like to see the English text set in a slightly bolder font more like the Greek text. Also, at some point I would be very interested in a NET English- Hebrew O.T. edition.