The Bible Doesn't Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions, and Other Misunderstandings

Joel M. Hoffman. St. Martin's/ Dunne, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-05948-2

Hoffman follows up The Bible's Cutting Room Floor with another witty and accessible look at Scripture, this time using his mastery of Hebrew and Greek to rebut many of the most popular beliefs about what the Bible actually says. He groups the ways that the sacred texts have been distorted into five categories—ignorance of ancient languages and culture, inadvertent misinterpretations that became mainstream, reading them through a modern lens, mistranslation, and intentional misrepresentation of what was actually said. Hoffman proceeds to give 40 examples of significant distortions, such as what the first words of Genesis are, and what the forbidden fruit of Eden was, in short, pithy chapters that first present the conventional answers before explaining what the accurate ones are and how the inaccuracies developed. Even lay readers who believe themselves fluent with the Bible will likely be surprised at some of Hoffman's explications, such as the ambiguity about who killed Goliath, and how. Hoffman has produced the best kind of popular scholarship, that will be interest both religious and secular readers. (Feb.)