The Wartburg Project

May 11th, 2018

43. What is the relationship of the EHV Text and the EHV Study Bible?

Updated October 16, 2019

We have been asked about the relationship of the Evangelical Heritage Version of the Bible (EHV) and the study Bible which the Wartburg Project has just issued in an electronic version (Fall 2019). The two are related, but they are distinct products that serve distinct purposes. The EHV is the basic translation of the Bible, together with its accompanying translation notes. Developers can obtain permission to use this EHV translation in any number of derivative products: study Bibles, commentaries, catechisms, etc. The material that they develop to accompany the EHV text in such products is the responsibility of the developers, and they publish it through whatever outlet they choose.

The first study Bible that the Wartburg Project has produced is such a derived product. In addition to the basic EHV translation, it includes detailed introductions to each book of the Bible as well as supplemental appendices on subjects such as weights and measures, Israel’s neighbors, biblical chronology, and so on. It includes maps and charts. Its additional notes focus on archaeological, historical, and geographic information about the text, but it also includes doctrinal notes. This study Bible is written from a Lutheran perspective, so the doctrinal notes on topics like the sacraments, the millennium, etc., will reflect a Lutheran understanding of these topics. We do not think this will limit the usefulness of our study Bible to Lutherans only, since the archaeological, historical, and geographic information is not dependent on any denominational understanding, and non-Lutherans may appreciate including in their study Bible collection a study Bible that helps them understand the confessional Lutheran perspective on various issues.

At present (Fall 2019) this study Bible is available only as a Windows computer Bible, but we hope that an Apple compatible edition, other electronic versions, and a print edition will follow.

We certainly hope our study Bible will not be the only study Bible based on the EHV, because we do grant licenses to use the EHV translation in study Bibles, catechisms, and other derived works. In a Lutheran catechism that uses the EHV translation, the comments on the text would be Lutheran. If a Presbyterian church, for example, used the EHV text in their catechism, the text would be the EHV translation, but the comments would be those of the editors of the catechism. The same would be true for study Bibles that are licensed to use the EHV text.

This situation for the EHV is the same as that which exists for study Bibles based on other translations. There are, for example, many different study Bibles, from a variety of perspectives and purposes, that are based on the NIV text, including a Lutheran version of the NIV study Bible, which was produced by Concordia. Another example would be the Lutheran Study Bible published by Concordia, which is based on the ESV text, but there are also other study Bibles based on the ESV text from other perspectives.

If producers of existing study Bibles wanted to produce an EHV version, they could seek a license to do so.

Since study Bible notes are now sometimes published as electronic modules separate from the text of the translation, it will also be possible for people to use our study Bible notes with other translations such as ESV or NKJV. The first versions of these study notes will be in various electronic formats because we can get those out much closer to the time when the complete, printed EHV appears next year.

So there is a difference between the EHV translation, which has a duty to say no more or less than the text says, and derived products that use the EHV translation, which will include the perspective of their producers. Most of the notes in any study Bible could be the same regardless of the denomination of its producers (notes on Herod, on dating, on geography, etc.), but on some topics such as the Lord's Supper or the millennium, the notes would likely vary with denominational perspective. In the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, for example, the comment on 1 Peter 3:21 says, “Baptism saves only in the sense that it represents what Christ has achieved.” It is to be expected that this comment would be different in a Lutheran version of an NIV study Bible if there was one.

To summarize: The main version of the EHV translation, which will simply be called the Holy Bible: Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV), will not include the many additional notes and helps that will be contained in the study Bible. It is similar to the EHV version of NT and Psalms that was published in 2017. The EHV Bible and the study Bible (or, hopefully, study Bibles) based on it will be separate publications with different names and very likely, in some cases, different publishers.