God Didn't Say That

Bible Translations and Mistranslations

My Latest Book Goes On Sale Today!

The Bible Doesn't Say ThatMy latest book — The Bible Doesn’t Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings — goes on sale today!

A “witty and accessible look at Scripture … Hoffman has produced the best kind of popular scholarship, that will interest both religious and secular readers.”

Publishers Weekly

Here’s the cover copy:

The Bible Doesn’t Say That explores what the Bible meant before it was misinterpreted over the past 2,000 years.

Acclaimed translator and biblical scholar Dr. Joel M. Hoffman walks the reader through dozens of mistranslations, misconceptions, and other misunderstandings about the Bible. In forty short, straightforward chapters, he covers morality, life-style, theology, and biblical imagery, including:

    •  The Bible doesn’t call homosexuality a sin, and it doesn’t advocate for the one-man-one-woman model of the family that has been dubbed “biblical.”

    •  The Bible’s famous “beat their swords into plowshares” is matched by the militaristic, “beat your plowshares into swords.”

    •  The often-cited New Testament quotation “God so loved the world” is a mistranslation, as are the titles “Son of Man” and “Son of God.”

    •  The Ten Commandments don’t prohibit killing or coveting.

What does the Bible say about violence? About the Rapture? About keeping kosher? About marriage and divorce? Hoffman provides answers to all of these and more, succinctly explaining how so many pivotal biblical answers came to be misunderstood.

The table of contents is on-line here, and you can learn more about the book here. Publishers Weekly has a pre-review here.

I’m excited about this latest work, and look forward to discussing it here.

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February 16, 2016 Posted by | announcements, biblical interpretation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Review Opportunity: The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor

The-Bibles-Cutting-Room-Floor-by-Dr-Joel-M-Hoffman--cover2Do you have a blog or other media outlet? Do you post book reviews? If so, my publisher has offered to send you an advance copy of my newest book, The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible. It’s available as a NetGalley (here) or an ARC.

Be in touch with Karlyn Hixson (Karlyn.Hixson@stmartins.com) directly at St. Martin’s Press to get your copy. I believe priority will go to people who can commit to posting a review during the last week of August or the first week of September.

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. -- KirkusFor everyone else, if you pre-order the book by August 15, you get access to a special sneak peek which includes an extensive excerpt from my chapter about the second half of the Adam and Eve narrative, along with bonus notes and discussion questions.

(If you’ve noticed that I’ve barely posted here in a while, this is why. I’ve been completing The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor and working on another book, as well as building out my on-line resource to complement the book, “The Unabridged Bible.”)

Learn more about the book from the book’s website.


July 21, 2014 Posted by | announcements | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The History Channel’s Bible Secrets Revealed

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman taping Bible Secrets Revealed

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman taping Bible Secrets Revealed

I’m excited and a little nervous to announce that I’m appearing in two episodes of the History Channel’s upcoming Bible Secrets Revealed, which starts airing nationwide this Wednesday, November 13, at 10:00pm EST.

Read the whole story — including air times, links to more information, and video trailers from the series — in my latest e-newsletter.









UPDATE (December 19, 2013): It turns out I had a prominent role in the 5th episode, as well: “Mysterious Prophecies.” You may be able to watch the whole thing on-line via the “Bible Secrets Revealed” Video page.

UPDATE (December 1, 2013): Learn more about “The Life of Adam and Eve,” which I describe in the third episode, from the sneak-peak look at “The Unabridged Bible.”

UPDATE (November 26, 2013): The third episode — “The Forbidden Scriptures” — airs tomorrow (Wednesday) night. This could be the most enlightening of the episodes, because it addresses something most people don’t know much about.

I remember talking about this in depth on camera, and I’m told that some of my explanations made it into the final show.

Here’s the official description, from the History Channel:

The books, gospels and epistles found in the Holy Bible are writings considered to be divinely inspired. But are there chapters of the Bible that are missing? Have stories been censored and characters deleted? And if so, just who decides what is included—and what is forbidden?



UPDATE (November 20, 2013): The second episode airs tonight: “The Promised Land.” When I was interviewed, I declined to comment publicly about the connection between the Bible and Modern Israel’s borders, so I’m not in this one, but I’m curious to hear what other people say. Here’s the History Channel’s description:

It is considered the most sacred place on Earth. But it has also been carved up, sub-divided and fought over for thousands of years. Was the area known as “The Promised Land” really given by God to a “chosen people?” For the Jewish people, it is the land where David was King, where Solomon built a great temple and where Abraham and his descendants could live in peace and prosperity. Christians believe they have a right to this area because, according to the New Testament, Jesus will first appear here when he returns for the Day of Judgment. Since the Crusades, Temple Mount in Jerusalem has remained under Muslim control and is the site of one of the most sacred mosques in all of Islam. Perhaps God’s real promise was not to Abraham, but to all of humanity, and that a “promised land” was to be earned—not simply given. Could this land of religious tension and endless warfare actually become a Promised Land of peace as foretold in the Bible?

November 12, 2013 Posted by | announcements | , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The Year in Review (2012)

As 2013 begins, here’s a look at the year just ended, starting with the ten most popular posts from 2012:

Pull Quote


  1. Q&A: What’s the best Bible translation to read and study from?
  2. The Lord isn’t the Shepherd You Think (or: Don’t Mess with the Shepherds)
  3. BBC: “Virgin Birth a Mistranslation”
  4. How to Love the Lord Your God — Part 1, “Heart”
  5. How to Love the Lord Your God — Part 3, “Heart and Soul”
  6. Adultery in Matthew 5:32
  7. Who Says Homosexuality is a Sin?
  8. Q&A: What color is the “blue” of the Bible?
  9. What’s the difference between an eagle and a vulture?
  10. Disaster, Unloved, and Unwanted: Hosea’s Children

I like looking at this list each year because I think it reflects interest in the Bible.

Bible translation remains a popular topic (“What’s the best Bible translation to read and study from?“). Many people, apparently, are interested in the role the Bible plays in modern life, whether spiritually (“The Lord isn’t the Shepherd You Think” and “How to Love the Lord Your God“) or in terms of social issues (“Who Says Homosexuality is a Sin?“). And I see a third group of people who are drawn to the intersection of modern topics and the Bible (“What color is the ‘blue’ of the Bible?“).

On the other hand, my thoughts about translating the names of animal species (“What’s the difference between an eagle and a vulture?“) keep attracting attention for the wrong reasons: The popularity of my blog has unfortunately put the post among the top Google results for searches about the differences between eagles and vultures.

I’ve continued writing for the Huffington Post (most recently, “Putting the Text of the Bible Back Into Context,” and, earlier in the year, the more interesting “Five Bible Images You Probably Misunderstand“), a fact which I mention because normally that site sends more traffic my way than any other single source, but this year, according to WordPress, the superb BibleGateway.com was the top referrer, with HuffPo coming in second. Third in the list was Facebook, presumably from my book’s Facebook page. (I’m still not sure what to make of the fact that my book has so many more friends than I do.)

With my writing (including my latest project, a thriller series called The Warwick Files), lecturing, teaching, and so forth all competing for my time, I was only able to add a few posts a month last year. Each time, the discussion that followed reinforced my belief that there’s room on the Internet for serious, thoughtful, respectful, and fun discussion about things that matter. I’m looking forward to another year.

Happy 2013.

January 2, 2013 Posted by | meta | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back from London and Amsterdam

London Reflection

London Reflection

I’ve just returned from an exhilarating if exhausting round of teaching in London and Amsterdam. I posted periodic travel updates on the official And God Said blog, so that’s the place to look for details.

Of particular interest are The Eurostar Biathlon, about my adventures trying to get back to London from Amsterdam in time to teach; Limmud Netherlands, which includes a short description of what it was like teaching about Bible translation to a group of non-native English speakers in Amsterdam; and London, which has some photos of Hampton Court Palace (where the KJV was commissioned), among others. More photos are on my Flickr page.

Now that I’m back in New York, I’ll be able once again to devote attention to this site. So look for regularly scheduled programming to resume soon.

Dutch Scenery Zipping By

Dutch Scenery Zipping By

June 21, 2011 Posted by | meta | , , , , | 1 Comment

The King James Version (KJV): The Fool’s-Gold Standard of Bible Translation

In 2008, as I was writing And God Said, I described the King James Version (KJV) as the “fool’s-gold standard” of English Bible translation. That was approximately 397 years after the watershed publication of the KJV, hardly a date worth noticing.

KJV Cover

KJV Cover

But today the KJV turns 400, and with that anniversary has come renewed world-wide attention to what certainly ranks as one of the most important and influential translations of the Bible ever. But some of the celebration is misplaced.

It’s not that I don’t like the KJV. I do. It’s often poetic in ways that modern translations are not. And I recognize all it has done both for English speakers who are serious about their faith and more widely. Dr. Alister McGrath is correct when he writes in his In The Beginning that the “King James Bible was a landmark in the history of the English language, and an inspiration to poets, dramatists, artists, and politicians.”

Equally, I appreciate the dedication and hard work that went into the KJV, as Dr. Leland Ryken passionately conveys in his Understanding English Bible Translation: “[f]or people who have multiple English Bibles on their shelves, it is important to be reminded that the vernacular Bible [the KJV] was begotten in blood.”

Yet for all its merits, the King James Version is monumentally inaccurate, masking the Bible’s original text. There are two reasons for the errors.

The first is that English has changed in 400 years, so even where the KJV used to be accurate, frequently now it no longer is. (My video-quiz about the English in the KJV — Do You Speak KJV? — illustrates this point.)

The second reason is that the KJV was written several hundred years before the advent of modern translation theory, linguistics, and, in general, science. Just as advances like carbon dating and satellite imagery help us know more about antiquity now than people did 400 years ago (even though they were a little closer to the original events), we also know more about ancient Hebrew and Greek now than they did 400 years ago. In fact, we know much more, both about the ancient languages and about how to convey them in translation.

Bunting Clover-Leaf Map

Bunting Clover-Leaf Map

Like Heinrich Bunting’s famous 16th-century “clover-leaf map” of the world that adorns my office wall (the map puts the holy city of Jerusalem right in the middle, surrounded by three leaves: Europe, Asia, and Africa), the KJV translation is of enormous value historically, politically, sentimentally, and perhaps in other ways. But also like Bunting’s map, the KJV is, in the end, not very accurate.

And those who would navigate the Bible solely with this 400-year-old translation journey in perils.

May 2, 2011 Posted by | editorial, translation theory, using Bible translations | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The JBC Tour

I’m in Houston, my first stop on a four-city, two-week book tour about And God Said. (Read more.) Sponsored by the JBC, the tour brings me to Houston, San Diego, Milwaukee, and Boulder this month, in addition to Queens (last month) and Wilmette, IL (in March).

Those who are so inclined can follow along from the book’s blog.

November 4, 2010 Posted by | announcements | , | Leave a comment

And God Said Goes On Sale Today

 

I’m thrilled to announce that my latest book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning, goes on sale today.

I want to keep “God Didn’t Say That” as commercial-free as possible, so I’ve set up a separate blog for the book here, though the book is about Bible translation, so I’m sure there will be considerable overlap.

More information about the book is available here, and you can even find the book on Facebook. (“Won’t you be my friend?” pleads the book.)

It took me four months and fifteen years to write. I hope you enjoy it.

 

“Hoffman’s work is the best gift for a careful reader of [the Bible].” -Dr. Walter Brueggemann

“Retrieves what the Bible really was.” -The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski


“A wise and important book.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner

February 2, 2010 Posted by | announcements | , , , , | 5 Comments