I have loved the Bible since I was a kid. I guess you could say I’m a collector, with a modest count of fifty-four Bibles (at the writing of this post). I enjoy reading all translations and have always bounced back and forth with “my main translation.” In 2022, my goal was to read through the LSB, but my heart was in the Tree of Life Bible. It was so fresh and the Hebrew or Jewish flavor of the text resonated with my spirit.
Because I am the way I am with Bibles, a process ensued. Could I teach out of the TLV without it throwing people off? Why switch? I was used to the NKJV. I think God probably snickers and shakes His head watching my Bible version of ping-pong. As I continued early in the year, I bounced back and forth. Teaching a Bible study, I tried to stay consistent with the NKJV. But here’s the thing, I knew as I immersed myself within the Jewish roots, I would keep returning.
This post explains why I have been captured by the Tree of Life Version (TLV). The Bible is a Jewish book. God inspired it, and His chosen people were used to write it. Paul wrote in Romans 9:4-5, “To them belong the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the Temple service and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs—and from them, according to the flesh, the Messiah, who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen.” Because the Bible is a Hebrew and Jewish book, it only makes sense that it has a Jewish “flavor” to it.
In the introduction to the Bible Helps section, Dr. Jeffrey L. Sief writes:
“Because Christianity has evolved so far, and for so long, from its historic Jewish roots, some might say all this is innovative – and way too inovative in the estimation of some. We, however, are less inclined to think we are doing something new, as we are simply living something that has been abandoned and long since forgotten.”
As recently as two weeks ago, I began to see something in Romans 10:9-18 that I had never seen before, thanks to a message from Daniel Robitslek. He pointed out that the Gentiles are called to bring the message of Jesus to the Jews and that all the Jews have to do is believe. Paul wrote that Jesus came to tear down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, which is what the TLV does!
In the TLV, you will read Yeshua instead of Jesus; for me, that has been a big thing. Of course, it’s not wrong to say Jesus; I still do. But there’s something about reading Yeshua in the text that just makes it come alive. Mary is also Mariam; James is restored to the Hebrew name Jacob, and Jude is Judah.
There are pictures in the Family Bible edition, which I encourage you to get! Photos throughout the Bible make stories come to life. It also reorients you to a Hebraic way of reading and seeing the text.
In both the Family Bible and text editions, you will get a glossary of Hebrew terms, Shabbat prayers, and the weekly Scripture readings. The books in the Old Testament are restored to the Jewish order, which group the books by the first five (Genesis – Deuteronomy), and then all of the Prophets and the writings are grouped together. One of the little things that isn’t so little is that there is no Old and New Testament page. The Bible is a whole book! The New Testament is the fulfillment of the promised Messiah; it’s a continued story, not a new one!
I never saw myself switching to a Messianic translation of the Bible, but it makes sense when you think about what Paul said.
Ephesians 2:11-13 “Therefore, keep in mind that once you—Gentiles in the flesh—were called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision” (which is performed on flesh by hand). 12 At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.”
As Christians, we are brought into the covenant of Israel. I can think of no better way to fully understand what I have been grafted into than using a Bible that Messianic Jews and Christian scholars have put together. Talk about tearing down the wall of separation!
One thing I forgot to mention is the TLV app! It’s amazing; you get the complete text, plus videos, Jewish Calendar, and you can subscribe for $6 a month and get extra content. The app is a great resource.
You can also read the TLV on YouVersion and Bible Gateway to get the feel of it before you buy a physical copy. You are going to want the Family Bible, I can promise you.