Translating How We Do The 2001Trans
We started translating this Bible because we found so many errors in the existing Bibles,
(2) Our Method
(3) What We Have Found
(4) How Translating Can Make a Difference in Doctrines
We started translating this Bible because we found so many errors in the existing Bibles, and we usually also find them confusing, misleading, and hard to read. Yet, many people refuse to accept the fact that someone can do a better job today, because the process of Bible translating is clouded in myth and is presumed to be more difficult than it really is.
We also find that most people will stand by a Bible translation that is very inaccurate, while rejecting others that may be far more accurate, because they don't like the way the new Bibles are worded. However, the new Bibles are worded that way, simply because they are more accurate. So, let's look at the actual wording of a few scriptures in the Bible to see what they say and how they are translated. Then we suggest that you compare the words shown below to those that are found in your favorite Bible translation.
We'll start with the first two verses in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, 2 (LXX).
In Greek, these verses read:
1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν 2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος.
1 En arche epoiesen ho Theos ton ouranon kai ten gen 2 e de ge en aoratos kai akataskeuastos kai skotos epano tes abyssou kai pneuma Theou epephereto epano tou hydatos.
A word-for-word translation of these verses into English
1 In beginning (ancient time) created (spoke, made, or chose) The God (Powerful One) the skies (heavens) and the lands (earths or grounds), 2 but the lands (ground or earth) were not/seen and unformed, and darkness upon (covered) their abysses, and Breath (Spirit) God (Powerful One) moved upon (over) their waters.
Note: Although the Septuagint renders the words of Genesis 1:1 as 'The God' ('ho Theos'), it should likely have been translated in the plural form, 'ton Theon,' the same as it is found at John 1:1 (which appears to be partially quoted from Genesis 1:1). For in Hebrew, the word is found in its plural form, 'Elohim.'
A popular English Septuagint translation reads:
1 In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. 2 But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water.
We have translated it as:
1 In the beginning, The God spoke the skies and the lands. 2 But the lands were unsightly and unfinished, darkness covered their abysses, and God's Breath moved over their waters.
First, notice that there are many word choices in English (those shown in parenthesis), which we may use and still translate the original language properly, and these are just some of the options. For example:
· Did this happen 'In the beginning' or 'In an ancient time?' Although the Greek word 'arche' can properly be translated as 'beginning,' it is also frequently used in the Bible to speak of something that happened 'long ago.'
· Was it God, or
Gods, or the Powerful One? God means Powerful One. And although
the Bible speaks of many powerful ones as gods (lower case), use of the
definite article (The) here in the Greek text shows that it is speaking of The
Almighty (for a comparison, see John 1:1).
Why is The God spoken of in the plural tense? It appears as though the ancients used the plural form (as in Gods) to indicate His majesty.
· Did God create (bring into being), make (construct), speak (the Greek word epoiesen implies speech), or choose (the Hebrew word ba-ra implies a choosing)?
· Did He create the heavens, or heaven, or the skies? There is no different word for heavens or skies in either Hebrew or Greek. And here the Greek word ouranon is plural, and means skies or heavens (something above the earth). We have chosen the word skies here, because the clear meaning is that God created all that man could see from the earth.
· Did He create the earths, the lands, or the ground? Again, there is no separate word for each of these things in either Greek or Hebrew, so the choice in English is up to the translator in each instance where the Greek word gen is found, and settling on just one word to translate it throughout the Bible would make many verses confusing to its readers. However, use of the plural word gen at Genesis 1:1 raised an interesting question: Is this first verse in the Bible discussing the creation of other planets, or is it dicussing the creation of many lands on the earth. We suspect that the latter conclusion might be true.
· Also, consider the translation of the word pneuma (πνευμα), it just means Breath, but it is usually translated Spirit, which is (once again) just the Latin word for breath.
So as you can see, there are several ways to translate these two simple verses, and all of them can be correct. However, some modern Bible translators have gone out on limbs in their 'easy reading' translations and changed these and other verses to mean something that they actually don't say.
How have we chosen to do the translating? First, recognize that nobody, no matter how scholarly, actually speaks ancient Greek today, and especially not Alexandrian Greek. Yes, speaking Modern Greek is an aid, but it can also be a hindrance, because Modern Greek words have changed meanings and nuances through the centuries, and some have been affected by common religious beliefs. So, since we are trying to go beyond accepted doctrines and get back to what was actually said, we must look beyond what the words may mean in Modern Greek.
None of those who are doing the translating here speaks Alexandrian Greek, nor do we speak Modern Greek. However, we have studied Koine (Common) Greek, which is the Greek that much of the Christian Era Scriptures were written in. And although we can't speak it (nobody can, because the language is 2000 years old), we have access to many fine interlinear (Greek/English) Bibles and word references. So, we don't sit down and read all the Greek words and write them in English, as a modern translator for the United Nations (for example) would do, immediately translating the words from one language into another. Our work is tedious and requires much research… and we often find that there are no accurate references for the true meanings of many words and phrases.
So, what do we do? First, we start with a good interlinear Bible translation, and then we put the Greek words next to the English words. And as we go along, we check to see if the Greek words really coincide with the English words that are shown. Also, we must look at the context to see what was implied by what actually happened.
Here is an example of what we typically look at (from 1 Samuel ): 'kai And eipe Samouhl Samuel said, ti What pepoihka have you done? kai And eipe Saoul Saul said, dioti Because eidon I saw oti that diesparh scattered 'o the lao people ap from emou me, kai and su you ou paregenou did not come en in tw the marturiw testimony twn of the hmerwn days as dietaxa you set in order kai and oi the allofuloi Philistines sunhcthhsan were gathered ei in Macma Michmash.'
Where we come across unfamiliar or questionable Greek words we look them up, and sometimes we break them into root words to make sure that we understand what may have been actually implied and that we're not just accepting someone's traditions of what they mean. And where no logical reference or root can be found for a word, we may defer to the Hebrew text, or go to other Bible translations and see what was said there.
Next, the texts are rearranged and edited into contemporary English for clarity, and then they are put online for everyone to read and comment on. Recognize that not many Bible translators would allow such scrutiny or open critical reviewing.
So, our translation of the verse above (1 Samuel ) reads, 'Samuel asked, What have you done? And Saul replied, I did this because I saw that my men had left me, and you didn't come when you said you would. After all, the Philistines are camped [just outside] MichMash.'
What We Have Found
First, understand what we are trying to do with this Bible. We're trying to make it very accurate and easy to read, while giving the readers a better idea of what was actually said… which means that we are attempting to avoid the use of words that are already given special meanings by religions. Take for example the words, soul, spirit, cross, Hell, Satan, Devil, angel, Christ, etc. The Greek words they are translated from don't necessarily mean the same things that religious people conjure up in their minds when they read these common English words. So, we have made every attempt to substitute very accurate synonyms or word choices to provide you a fresh look at what was actually said.
Also, we have found that many common terms, such as forever, everlasting, system of things, Hell Fire, etc. (just to name a few) don't really appear in the Bible at all.
One of the advantages of using the Greek Septuagint (pronounced Sep-twa-geent – with a hard G) as a source, is that it gives us a better idea of what the Bible looked like during the time of Jesus and his Apostles. For, although Jesus likely spoke just Aramaic, and Matthew likely wrote his gospel in Aramaic, whenever Jesus or his Apostles quoted the Bible of their time, most of it reads very much like the Septuagint, not the modern Hebrew text. And as the result, we can more clearly see why they used certain words whenever they quoted the 'Old Testament.'
Until now, most Bible translating has been done by people who were experts in Hebrew for the Ancient Scriptures of Israel (Old Testament), and by another totally different group who were experts in Greek for the Christian Era Scriptures (New Testament). So, while one word in the Hebrew text may have been translated into a certain word in English, the corresponding word in Greek may have been translated into an entirely different English word. As the result, some very common words of Christian Era Scriptures (such as resurrection, tribulation, etc.) just can't be found in Bibles translated from the Hebrew text. But in the Greek Septuagint, we can see a closer version of the Bible as Jesus read it, and we find that these words, which Jesus quoted, actually do appear there.
How Translating Can Make a Difference in Doctrines
Take for example, the words of Daniel 12:1, 2. One modern Bible translation (from the Hebrew text) reads: 1 And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book. 2 And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust that will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to abhorrence and indefinitely lasting shame.
In Greek it reads: 1 kai kata ten oran ekeinen pareleusetai Michael ho aggelos ho megas ho estekos epi tous uious tou laou sou ekeine he hemera Thlipseos oia ouk egenethe aph ou egenethesan eos tes hemeras ekeines kai en ekeine te hemera hypsothesetai pas ho laos os an eurethe eggegrammenos en to biblio 2 kai polloi ton katheudonton en to platei tes ges anastesontai oi men eis zoen aionion oi de eis oneidismon oi de eis diasporan kai aischynen aionion.
Translating it into English word-for-word, reads: 1 And on the hour that, arose Michael the messenger (angel) the great who/stands on (over) your sons of/the people yours, but the day difficulty (tribulation) as not begun (happened), such not begun (happened) since the days those, and in those the days lifted all the people who were found written/in the book. 2 And many of/them lie/down in the flat/spot the ground (earth or land) resurrected (stand again) some for the life age-long, some for the disgrace, some for the scattering and shame age.
We translated it as: 1 And in that hour, the Highest Messenger MichaEl (he who watches over the sons of your people) will arise, and then a time of difficulty will begin such as has never happened before and will never happen again. [And thereafter], [God] will raise all those whose [names] were written in the scroll, 2 and many who died and were buried will be resurrected… some to age-long life, some to disgrace, and some will be scattered and shamed in that age.
What problems have you noticed? First, you can see that Michael was identified in the Greek text as the highest messenger (or archangel), not as the great prince (which is what the translation of the Hebrew text says). This is a much more complete description of Michael's position and nature, and it fits exactly with the words of Jude 9, where he was identified as the arch (highest) angel (messenger). So, we can see that when Jude referred to Michael, he was referring to the person spoken of here in Daniel.
Next, notice that Daniel spoke of the θλιψεως (thipseos), which the Hebrew text translates as time of distress, but can also be translated as day of difficulty (or tribulation). However, the term 'tribulation' (time of difficulty) is not found in most modern translations of the ancient Aramaic text (Daniel was written in Aramaic). This is important, because this is the exact same term that Jesus used when he said (at Matthew 24:21), 'Because then there will come a great time of difficulty (θλιψεως – thipseos) such as has never happened since the world's beginning until now, nor should ever happen again.'
So as you can see, no tie can be made to Jesus' words from translations based on the Aramaic text. And as the result, it has gone unnoticed that Jesus was actually quoting Daniel 12:1 when he was foretelling events that would lead up to his arrival or coming. Due to this translating anomaly, many religions have come to a totally different idea of the period that was being foretold in the Book of Daniel, and wrong teachings have resulted.
Also, consider the word at Daniel 12:2, αναστησονται (anastesontai). From the Aramaic text it is usually translated as wake up, however, this is the Greek word for resurrected (stand again). So, because Bibles that are based on the Aramaic and Hebrew texts don't usually say resurrected or resurrection, the vital connection to Jesus' promises for life after death and to the time when the events mentioned in Daniel's prophecy will really happen, have gone unnoticed or have been misunderstood by most religions.
And notice one last combination of words that occurs at Daniel 12:1, 2 (as well as in dozens of other places in the Hebrew text). They are ζωην αιωνιον (zoen aionion, or life age-long). It is interesting that most Bibles translate these words as everlasting life, but the Bible quoted above translates them as indefinitely lasting life. Which is right? Well, those Greek words are in the SINGULAR tense (NOT PLURAL), so they shouldn't be translated as everlasting life (for more information, see the linked Note in John, Age, Eternal, Perpetual, Everlasting, Immortal, or Forever?). However, when the modern English Bible that we quoted above finds these same words in the Christian Era Scriptures, it goes on and translates them as everlasting life. So, those translators recognized that the Aramaic (and Hebrew) words were not necessarily speaking of infinity; yet they failed to recognize that the same singular-tense words in Greek were also not speaking of something that was infinite… and this has led to more doctrinal misunderstandings.
As you can see, using the Greek Septuagint as a reference (where proper translating techniques have been employed) may alter the meanings of religious teachings and dogma. And we haven't covered the fact that the Greek text of Daniel 12:1, 2 seems to imply three outcomes, not two, as translations of the Aramaic text suggest.