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Showing posts with the label #Translations

Targums: Pharisee translations of the bible.

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The original New Testament was written in Greek. That’s because in the eastern Mediterranean, where Christianity originated, Greek was what Latin became in medieval Europe, and what English now is worldwide: Everybody’s second language, used because it’s everybody else’s second language. (Unless it’s your first. Greek’s my third.) When Alexander of Macedon took a shot at conquering the world in the 300s BC, he Grecianized everything he could find, left Greek colonies everywhere, and Greek became the language you needed to know for commerce and diplomacy.But before that, it was Aramaic, the language of the Assyrian Empire and the neo-Babylonian Empire, both of which conquered northern and southern Israel in the 700s and 500s BC. The Hebrew-speaking Israelis were scattered throughout these empires, and when their descendants returned to Palestine, they spoke Aramaic. (And, after Alexander came through Palestine, Greek too.) Only scribes knew Hebrew.Okay, but their bible (our Old Testame…

The first English-language bible: The Wycliffe Bible.

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English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Partly ’cause of the British Empire; partly because of American multimedia, including the internet. There are a lot of useful resources in English, and it’s otherwise generally useful, so most of the people in the world learn English as their second language.English is my native language, so that’s mighty handy for me; though if it weren’t I’d obviously have learned it instead of Spanish and French. Although a lot of my fellow Americans take this circumstance for granted, cretinously don’t bother to learn any other language, and get annoyed when multilingual people can’t speak English as well as they’d personally prefer. But let’s not talk about them.Obviously there was a time when English wasn’t everybody’s second language; it was French. And before that, Latin. And the reason it was Latin was ’cause the Vulgate. The Latin-language bible was “the bible,” as far as western Christians were concerned, so if you wanted to read the …

Which bible translation’s the best?

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HE. “So lemme ask: Which version of the bible do you use? Which one’s the best?”ME. “None of ’em. Learn Hebrew and Greek.”As soon as someone finds out I know the bible’s original languages, that’s nearly always the question they ask me. Sometimes because they earnestly wanna know, and figure I’m more an expert than they are. Sometimes because they already have a favorite, and want some affirmation; sometimes because they already think their favorite is best, so they’re testing me.Well, that question has a long answer. It’s the rest of this article! But I found when you being with the long answer, their eyes roll back in their heads; they don’t wanna deal with the complexities of bible translations. They only wanted a quick ’n dirty answer. Tell ’em the best bible version, so they can go get that version and use it forevermore. (Or judge you. Whatever.)So I start with my joke answer: “None. Learn original languages.”Sometimes, but rarely, they get that it’s a joke. The rest of the time…

The bible “in the original Latin”: The Vulgate.

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Every so often, when I tell people I study the bible in the original languages (not that I go round bragging I can read the original languages; it’s just they ask me how I do bible study, so I tell them) they comment, “Ah, in the original Latin.”Nope, not Latin. I can stumble through Latin, but the bible’s written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The very few Latin words in there, were transliterated into the Greek alphabet.Most accept the correction. A few foolhardy few—you know the sort who’ve always gotta be right?—actually try to stand their ground. “But didn’t Jesus speak Latin? He did in The Passion of the Christ.” Yeah, that movie’s not as historically accurate as you think. The fact a white gentile plays Jesus—no matter how good a job he did—should usually tip you off.Latin was the language of the western Roman Empire—and Greek the language of the eastern. Which includes Israel. Which includes Jesus and his apostles. When Christianity was legalized in the 300s, the western Roman…

The gender-inclusive bible.

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Because the scriptures weren’t only written to men.Psalm 8.4 KJVWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?Psalm 8.4 NLTwhat are mere mortals that you should think about them,human beings that you should care for them?If you grew up with a King James Version, as I did, you’ll notice lots of verses refer to “man,” “men,” “sons,” “fathers,” “husbands.” They address men. Talk about what men do and what men oughta do. Refer to the promises God made to men—curses upon evildoing men, blessings upon God-fearing men. Men men men.With some exceptions (and I’ll get to them in a bit) most of us Christians are agreed these verses don’t only refer to men. They refer to anyone who follows or seeks God; anyone whom he interacts with. Or not.Unless a verse refers to specific men, like Abraham or Moses or David or Simon Peter, or unless a verse refers to the specific male-only duties of husbands and fathers, it should rightly be interpreted as gender-inclusi…

Translating it myself. (And why that’s okay.)

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During my church’s services, in between worship songs and sermon notes, sometimes I’ve put bible verses on our video screens. Not as part of the service; just as something to have on the screen in between the other stuff. Something other than a blank screen.A few weeks ago I got asked,SHE. “Which translation is ‘KWL’? What’s that stand for?”ME. “Me. K.W. Leslie. I translated it.”SHE. “Why’d you use your own translation instead of an official translation?”ME. “What do you mean, official translations?”SHE. “Well, like the Authorized Version. The NIV, the New King James…”ME. “Those aren’t official translations. They were produced by publishers. The bible’s the most popular book in the world; there’s good money to be made by owning your own translation. So publishers hired scholars, and now they have their own translations. But none of them are official.”(I should clarify: Some churches have made the KJV their official translation, and Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced their…

What KJV-worshipers believe about the bible.

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I know; I already wrote an article about the history of the King James Version—and the people who worship it. But two years ago I wrote a different article, and was asked to repost it. I was a little reluctant to, ’cause it’s largely based on a Chick tract.Some of you already know who he was: Jack T. Chick (1924–2016) was a conspiracy theorist who believed the devil was behind everything he doesn’t like. Seriously everything—and Chick didn’t like much. In order to prove it, he played really fast and loose with the truth. He’d misquote bible, mangle history, and apparently just make stuff up from scratch. ’Cause for some of his claims, I can’t find confirmation anywhere—well, other than books Chick himself published.Primarily his company publishes evangelism tracts. Nearly all of them lack fruit of the Spirit: They’re loveless, impatient, unkind, joyless (his humor is the ironic, mocking sort), graceless (any little slip-up on our part sends us to hell), and fearful. I needn’t remind y…

The bible in “the original Greek”: The Septuagint.

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SEPTUAGINTsɛp'tu.ə.dʒɪntnoun. An ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament.[Septuagintal sɛp.tu.ə'dʒɪnt.əladjective.]When you read the New Testament, and one of the apostles quotes the Old Testament, most of the time they’re not translating it from the original Hebrew. They’re quoting a Greek translation.There wasn’t just one translation. Same as English versions of the bible nowadays, different translators had taken different shots at putting the Hebrew scriptures into Greek. Some Greek-speaking Jew in Jerusalem might put together something like a “King Jonathan’s Version,” or KJV; some Greek-speaking Jew in Egypt might’ve cobbled together an “Egyptian Standard Version,” or ESV; some curious gentile in Laodicea might’ve put together a “New Laodicean Translation,” or NLT… I could come up with more hypothetical reasons for these familiar initials, but you get the gist. But over time, copyists smooshed all these different Greek bibles together into one sorta-kinda-the-stand…

The King James Version: Its history and worshipers.

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Most of the verses I’ve memorized were in the King James Version.Hey, it’s my upbringing. The hundred English translations of the bible that exist nowadays? Weren’t around back when I was a kid. There were maybe a dozen in the Christian bookstores. But my church used the KJV, so that’s largely what’s in my brain. Even though I later got a Good News Bible, then a New International Version, when it came to memory verses my Sunday school teachers drilled us in KJV.In adulthood, for a lot of years I memorized verses in NIV. (Which they’ve updated three times since, so sometimes my memory verses don’t match the currentNIV.) After I learned biblical languages, I memorized verses in my own translation. Makes it tricky to look up memory verses in my bible software, which is particular about which translation I’m searching. Google isn’t so picky.Still, I quote KJV a lot, which surprises a lot of people. They assume I’m more “modern” or “postmodern” than that, whatever the mean by those terms. …