Tree of Life Version
Publisher: Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society
The Tree of Life Version (TLV) speaks with a decidedly Jewish-friendly voice – a voice like the Bible authors themselves – to recover the authentic context of the Bible and the Christian faith. Jesus’s death and resurrection were not the beginning of a new religion but the fulfillment of the covenant God made with His chosen and called-out people. Yet most Bible translations lose the connection to the Jewish nature of the Bible. As a result, biblical books that were written to Jews, for Jews, and about Jews lose a critical element – their actual Jewish essence.
The Tree of Life Version contains the Old Testament (Hebrew Tanakh) and New Testament (New Covenant, Brit Chadasha). It does not include the Apocrypha or other ancient writings.
The Old Testament is translated by a team of scholars from the Masoretic Text. In this translation, the Divine Name is represented by ADONAI or, where appropriate, ADONAI Elohim. There is a detailed explanation before the actual text concerning how they have chosen to handle the Divine Name so that the reader is not left wondering. The book order of the Old Testament follows the Jewish tradition, as do the verse numberings.
The New Testament is also translated by a team of scholars using the 27th Nestle-Aland Novum Testamente Graece text. In the New Testament, the name of the Messiah is printed as Yeshua. The Divine Name is represented as ADONAI and only appears in quotes from the Old Testament, which is the appropriate way to render the Greek texts.
The Tree of Life Version has the weekly Torah portion readings marked in the text. It does not identify the Haftarah portions or a corresponding New Testament reading.
Following the text of Scripture, there is a beautiful selection of Hebrew prayers and blessings that includes, among others, the Sh’ma and v’ahavta, Messiah’s Prayer (traditionally The Lord’s Prayer) and the Aaronic Benediction. These are presented in Hebrew with vowel points, in transliterated Hebrew, and in English.
My Personal Thoughts
I found this to be a very good translation, both accurate and readable. The Tree of Life Version doesn’t go overboard mixing Hebrew words into the English text as do some other translations. It is clearly intended to bring a Hebraic understanding of the words of Scripture to the English reader – in their words, “viewing the whole Bible through an authentic Hebrew lens.” There is a short easy-to-follow glossary at the end that quickly explains any Hebrew terms that are used, and once you’ve read them a few times they are easy to pick up. I like the two-column page and paragraph formatting that isn’t cluttered with an abundance of references or explanatory notes.
One important thing I especially like that it is the product of a team of translators with recognized credentials, which helps to minimize any doctrinal bias. You get the true sense of what the inspired authors intended. As you glance down the list of names organizations, schools and people involved in the translation, you are likely to see many you recognize, including Dr. Jeffrey Feinberg, author of the Walk! Series Messianic Devotionals that I use and have often recommended.
I highly recommend the Tree of Life Version.