Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

Updated American Standard Version

Translating Truth

Bible Translation

Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism
OLD TESTAMENT
  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs

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OLD TESTAMENT

  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

PREFACE TO THE 1611 KING JAMES BIBLE


“Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one . . . ; but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one.”


First, it should be noted that the King James Bible was not a translation without a history, i.e., it was not a new translation, but rather it was a revision of the many 16th century English translations (e.g., Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew's, the Great Bible, Bishops, and the like). One of the primary principles of the King James Bible translation committee was "a conviction that “an accurate translation is, by and large, a literal and formal translation” of the original text. (McGrath, In the Beginning, 252) The objective of the Updated American Standard Version is to stay within these principles handed down from the King James Bible and the American Standard Version, the latter being a masterful revision of the former. Other principles of the King James Bible translation committee that will be retained in the UASV are (1) Ensure that every word in the original was rendered by an English equivalent; (2) make it clear when they added any words to make the sense clearer, or to lead to better English syntax. . . . (3) Follow the basic word order of the original wherever possible.—John Beekman and John Callow, Translating the Word of God(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1974), 25.

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NOTE: Below this page are subpages of the Bible books already in progress, which are subject to change. You get at them by holding your mouse over CPH Bookstore; then, CPH's UASV will drop dowm, and you hold your mouse over that, so the Bible book pages will drop down. ALSO, we have linked the books at the bottom of this page for your convenience.


Preface


The translation of God's Word from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly. It carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God's thoughts into a modern language. The Updated American Standard Version (UASV) is a literal translation. What does that mean?


As the translator begins to construct his English sentence, he will adjust according to the context of the words surrounding the text under consideration. The translator must transition the words from the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek order, to the correct English grammar and syntax. This is the delicate balance of how close the translator adheres to the Hebrew or Greek word order in the English translation. The reader will find that the UASV will allow a little roughness for the reader, which we feel to be an acceptable sacrifice, as we believe that the word order conveys meaning at times. An overly simplified example might be Christ Jesus as opposed to Jesus Christ, with the former focusing on the office (“Christ” anointed one), while the latter focuses on the person.


It is impossible always to follow the word order of the original in the English translation. However, the translator will attempt to stay as close as possible to the effective and persuasive use that the style of the original language permits. In other words, what is actually stated in the original language is rendered into the English equivalent, as well as the way that it is said, as far as possible. This is why the literal translation is known as a “formal equivalence.” As the literal translation, “is designed so as to reveal as much of the original form as possible.” (Ray 1982, 47)


It should be noted that Christian Publishing House favors the literal translation as opposed to the dynamic equivalent, and especially the paraphrase. The literal translation gives us what God said; there is no concealing this by going beyond into the realms of what a translator interprets these words as meaning. God’s Word is meant to be meditated on, pondered over, and absorbed quite slowly; using many tools and helps along the way. While the reader may have to ponder a little longer, or indulge himself in the culture of different biblical times, he will not be deprived of the full potential that a verse has to convey. The dynamic equivalent can and does obscure details/meaning from the reader by overreaching in their translation philosophy. The reader has the right to determine for himself, which is the correct meaning. The translator should not deprive the reader of this right, for the dynamic equivalent translator could be wrong.


This updated edition is an improvement of the translated text beyond the American Standard Version's revision of the King James Version. However, the Updated American Standard Version offers a complete updating and revision of the archaic words, obsolete expressions, and the handful of errors in translation, as well as any textual decisions.


Hebrew Text

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology., electronic ed. (Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary, 1996)

Henry Barclay Swete, The Old Testament in Greek: According to the Septuagint (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1909)

Alfred Rahlfs, Septuaginta: With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979)


Greek Text

Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (UBS4) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993; 2006)

Eberhard Nestle et al., The Greek New Testament with McReynolds English Interlinear, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993)

Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (Logos Bible Software, 2009)

Translation Spectrum

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Translations by Grade Level

Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism
Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

NOTE: Dr. Don Wilkins book has nothing to do with this project, it is here because it is an upcoming new release, which is related to the subject matter.


Readers who are new to the subject of Bible translation, this introdction will be a little more technical. However, we can handle it, by slowing down, taking our time, and rereading paragraphs if necessary. Seriously, this will be one of the most important subjects that we will read. Lastly, while we recommend the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible, know that Christian Publishing House is working on an Updated American Standard Version.


Matthew 11:28-30 English Standard Version (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


There are very good reasons for us to be committed and unwavering in our service to Christ. The service itself will bring us rest, which will refresh us in coping with life in this wicked world. We will no longer be burdened with the weight of this world. We will learn how to spend our time, abilities and assets in a more balanced manner, but more importantly, in a better service, to the praise and honor of our heavenly Father. Is there not this sense of peace and refreshment when we are at our Christian meetings? If our church has an evangelism program, where they go out into the community together, we will find even more pleasure in associating with loving brothers and sisters. Moreover, our evangelism work will give us a peace of mind and heart, because we will know that we are doing the will of the Father.


I Never Knew You


Matthew 7:21-23 English Standard Version (ESV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’


There are thousands out there in our community, who would love to have the peace of mind that we enjoy. Are we ready and able to weed through one hundred people, who will reject our message, even some who will verbally abuse us, to find that one right-hearted person?


Many, who know anything about the Bible, are usually familiar with the King James Version, which is quite complicated to understand with its archaic language. Therefore, we want to offer them a modern translation, but a literal one, which is an almost exact representation of the Hebrew and Greek in English. The preferred translation in our evangelism work is the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Bible. If we use the popular NIV, or worse still some dynamic equivalent translation, such as the New Living Translation, we are offering them interpretive translations. If ever we have the opportunity to carry on a Bible study with them in their home, we would have to continuously say, ‘well this should be rendered this way,’ so why not just have a translation that is rendered that way?


Translation Philosophy


Receptor language: the language into which a text written in a foreign language is translated.

Native language: the original language in which a text is written.

Dynamic equivalent: a meaning in the receptor language that corresponds to (is "equivalent" to) a meaning in a native-language text (for example, the "heart" as the modern way of denoting the essence of a person, especially the emotions, which for the ancients was situated in the kidneys).

Dynamic equivalence: a theory of translation based on the premise that whenever something in the native-language text is foreign or unclear to a contemporary reader, the original text should be translated in terms of a dynamic equivalent.

Functional equivalent: something in the receptor language that differs from what the original text says but that serves the same function in the receptor language (for example, "firstfruits" translated as "special offering").

Functional equivalence: a theory of translation that favors replacing a statement in the original text with a functional equivalent whenever the original phraseology or reference is obscure for a modern reader in the receptor language.

Equivalent effect: a translation that aims to produce the same effect on readers of the translation as the original text produced on its native-language readers.

Formal equivalence: a theory of translation that favors reproducing the form or language of the original text, and not just its meaning. In its stricter form, this theory of translation espouses reproducing even the syntax and word order of the original; the formulas word for word translation and verbal equivalence often imply this stricter definition of the concept.

Essentially literal translation: a translation that strives to translate the exact words of the original-language text in a translation, but not in such a rigid way as to violate the normal rules of language and syntax in the receptor language.[2]

Inteterlinear

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The interlinear Bible page is set up with the left column where you will find the original language text, with the English word-for-word lexical gloss beneath each original language word; generally, the right column contains an English translation like the ESV, NASB, or the NIV. The interlinear translation in the left column and the modern-day English translation in the right column are parallel to each other. This allows the student to make immediate comparisons between the translation and the interlinear, helping one to determine the accuracy of the translation.


The interlinear and the English equivalent in the left column is not generated by taking the English word(s) from the translation on the right, and then placing them under the original language text. Whether we are dealing with Hebrew or Greek as our original language text, each word will have two or more English equivalents. What factors go into the choice of which word will go under the original language word? One factor is the period in which the book was written: as the New Testament was penned in the first century, during the era of Koine Greek, as opposed to classical Greek of centuries past, as well as the context of what comes before and after the word under consideration.


Therefore, the translator will use his training in the original language, or a lexicon to determine if he is working with a noun, verb, definite article, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, participle, and so on. Further, say he is looking at a verb, it must be determined what mood it is in (indicative, subjunctive, imperative, etc.), what tense (present, future, aorist, etc.), what voice (active, middle, passive, etc.), what case (nominative, genitive, dative, etc.) gender, person, singular or plural. In addition, the English words under the original language text are generated from grammatical form, the alterations to the root, which affect its role within the sentence, for which he will look to a Hebrew or Greek grammar reference.


The best lexicon is the 3rd edition Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (BDAG) ten years in the making, this extensive revision of Bauer, the standard authority worldwide, features new entries, 15,000 additional references from ancient literature, clearer type, and extended definitions rather than one-word synonyms. Providing a more panoramic view of the world and language of the New Testament, it becomes the new indispensable guide for translators. The second best lexicon is the Greek-English Lexicon: With a Revised Supplement, 1996: Ninth Revised Edition - Edited By H.G. Liddell, R. Scott By: H.G. Liddell & R. Scott. Each word is given in root form along with important variations, and an excellent representation of examples from classical, Koine, and Attic Greek sources follows. This lexicon is appropriate for all classical Greek and general biblical studies. By far the best traditional Hebrew lexicon currently available is The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) (vols. 1-5; trans. M. E. J. Richardson; Brill, 1994-2000). However, the price is beyond most students and scholars. A more affordable edition, which I highly recommend, is available, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Unabridged 2-Volume Study Edition) (2 vols. trans. M. E. J. Richardson; Brill, 2002).


There are numerous lexicons on the market, which would be fine tools for the Bible student. Many scholars would concur that Biblical lexicons have four main weaknesses:


  • They are geared toward the translations of the 20th century, as opposed to new translations.
  • They primarily contain only information from the Bible itself, as opposed to possessing information from Greek literature overall.
  • They are too narrow as to the words of say the New Testament, attempting to harmonize a word and its meaning. The problem with this agenda is that a word can have numerous meanings, some being quite different, depending on its context, even within the same author.
  • Most Biblical lexicons have not escaped the etymological fallacy, determining the meaning of a word based on its origin and past meaning(s). Another aspect being that the meaning of a word is based on the internal structure of the word. A common English example of the latter is “butterfly.” The separate part of “butter” and “fly” do not define “butterfly.” Another example is “ladybird.”


John 3:7 (1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament)

7me thaumases hoti eipon soi dei humas gennethenai anothen

not to be astonished that I said to you it is necessary you to give birth to from above


7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘It is necessary for you to be born from above.[1]


As we can see the interlinear translation reads very rough, as it is following the Greek sentence structure. The Lexham English Bible rearranges the words according to English syntax. Do not be surprised that at times words may need to be left out of the English translation, as they are unnecessary. For example, The Greek language sometimes likes to put the definite article “the” before personal name, so in the Greek you may have “the Jesus said.” In the English, it would be appropriate to drop the definite article, leaving us with “Jesus said.” At other times, it may be appropriate to add words to complete the sense in the English translation. For example, at John 4:14, the LEB has “But an hour is coming--and now is here*--when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for indeed the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers.”


*The word “here” is not in the Greek text but is implied, so it is added to complete the sense.


Literal Translation


Once the interlinear level of translation has taken place, it is now time to adjust them into sentences. Each word will possess its own grammatical indicator. As the translator begins to construct his English sentence, he will adjust according to the context of the words surrounding his focus. As you will see shortly, in the examples below, the translator must transition the words from the Greek order to correct English grammar and syntax. This is the delicate balance faced by the literal translation team. The translation team should actually seek to cling to the Hebrew or Greek word order in our English translation, as far as possible. The reader will find that the KJV, ASV, ESV NASB, and the UASV will allow a little roughness for the reader, for them an acceptable sacrifice, as they believe that meaning is conveyed by the word order at times. An overly simplified example might be Christ Jesus as opposed to Jesus Christ, with the former focusing on the office (“Christ” anointed one), while the latter focuses on the person. At times, Greek tends to convey meaning through the word order.


Even though it is impossible to follow the word order of the original in an English translation, the translator will attempt to stay as close as possible to the effective and persuasive use that the style of the original language permits. In other words, what is actually stated in the original language is rendered into the English, as well as the way that it is said, as far as possible. This is why the literal translation is known as a “formal equivalence.” As the literal translation, “is designed so as to reveal as much of the original form as possible. (Ray 1982, 47)


It should again be noted that Christian Publishing House favors the literal translation as opposed to the dynamic equivalent, and especially the paraphrase. The literal translation gives you what God said, there is no concealing this by going beyond into the realms of what a translator interprets these words as saying. It should be understood that God’s Word to man is not meant to be read through like a John Grisham novel. It is meant to be meditated on, pondered over, and absorbed quite slowly; using many tools and helps along the way. There is a reason for this, it being that the Bible is a sifter of hearts. It separates out those who really want to know and understand God’s Word (based on their evident demonstration of buying out the opportune time for study and research), from those who have no real motivation, no interest, just going through life. However, there are two weaknesses of the literal translation, if taken too far.


There are times when a literal word-for-word translation would not be in the best interest of the reader and could convey a meaning contrary to the intent of the author.


  • As we have established throughout this introduction but have not stated directly, no two languages are exactly equivalent as to their grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.


Ephesians 4:14 (American Standard Version)

 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery [lit., dice playing] of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming


The Greek word kybeia that is usually rendered “craftiness” or “trickery,” is literally “dice-playing,” which refers to the practice of cheating others when playing dice. If it was rendered literally, “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery dice-playing of men,” the meaning would be lost. Therefore, the meaning of what is meant by the ‘dice playing’ must be the translator’s choice.


Romans 12:11 (English Standard Version)

11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent [lit., boiling] in spirit, serve the Lord.


When Paul wrote the Romans, he used the Greek word zeontes, which literally means “boil,” “seethe,” or “fiery hot.” Some very serious Bible students may notice the thought of “boiling in spirit,” as being “fervent in spirit” or better “aglow with the spirit,” or “keep your spiritual fervor.” Therefore, for the sake of making sense, it is best to take the literal “boiling in spirit”, determine what is meant by those words, “keep your spiritual fervor”, and render it thus.


Matthew 5:3 (New International Version, ©2011)

   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Matthew 5:3 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

   3“Blessed are those who [are poor in spirit] recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.


This one is really a tough call. The phrase “poor in spirit” carries so much history. Many have written on this phrase over the past 2,000 years. Therefore, even some dynamic equivalent translations are unwilling to translate its meaning, not its words. Personally, this writer is in favor of the literal translation of “poor in spirit.” Those who claim to be literal translators, should not back away because “poor in spirit” is ambiguous, and there is a variety of interpretations. The above dynamic equivalent translation, God’s Word, has come closest to what was meant. Actually, “poor” is even somewhat of an interpretation, because the Greek word ptōchoi means “beggar.” Therefore, “poor in spirit” is an interpretation of “beggar in spirit.” The extended interpretation is that the “beggar/poor in spirit” is aware of his or her spiritual needs as if a beggar or the poor would be aware of their physical needs.


  • As we have also established in this introduction a word’s meaning can be different, depending on the context that it was used.


2 Samuel 8:3 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

 3 David also defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, who went to restore his control [literally, hand] at the Euphrates River.


1 Kings 10:13 (English Standard Version)

 13And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty [literally, hand] of King Solomon. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants.


Proverbs 18:21 (English Standard Version)

21 Death and life are in the power [literally, hand] of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.


The English word “hand” has no meaning outside of its context. It could means, “end of arm,” “pointer on a clock,” “players of cards,” “round in a card game,” “part in doing something,” “round of applause,” “member of a ship’s crew,” or “worker.” The Hebrew word “yad,” which means “hand,” has many meanings as well, depending on the context, as it can mean “control,” “bounty,” or “power.” This one word is translated in more than forty different ways in some translations. Let us look at some English sentences, to see the literal way of using hand, and then add what it means, as a new sentence.


  • Please give a big hand for our next contestant. Please give a big applause for our next contestant.
  • Your future is in your own hands. Your future is in your own power. Your future is in your own possession.
  • Attention, all hands! Attention, all ship’s crew!
  • She has a good hand for gardening. She has a good ability or skill for gardening.
  • Please give me a hand, I need some help.
  • The copperplate writing was beautifully written; she has a nice hand.


At times, even a literal translation committee will not render a word the same every time it occurs, because the sense is not the same every time. The only problem we have is that the reader must now be dependent on the judgment of the translator to select the right word(s) that reflect the meaning of the original language word accurately and understandably. Let us look at the above texts from the Hebrew Old Testament again, this time doing what we did with the English word “hand” in the above. It is debatable if any of these verses really needed to be more explicit, by giving the meaning in the translation, as opposed to the word itself.

Who went to restore his hand at the Euphrates River – who went to restore his control at the Euphrates River


She asked besides what was given her by the hand of King Solomon - she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon


Death and life are in the hand of the tongue - Death and life are in the power of the tongue


Dynamic Equivalent Translation


Translators who produce what are frequently referred to as dynamic equivalent translations, take liberties with the text as presented in the original languages. How so? They either insert their opinion of what the original text could mean or omit some of the information contained in the original text. Dynamic equivalent translations may be appealing because they are easy to read. However, their very freeness at times obscures or changes the meaning of the original text.

WHAT THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (New Living Translation)

8 Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (Contemporary English Version)

8Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best.

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (New Century Version)

 8 Put on nice clothes and make yourself look good.

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (The Message)

Dress festively every morning. Don't skimp on colors and scarves.

WHAT THE BIBLE DOES SAY

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (New American Standard Bible)

 8Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (English Standard Version)

 8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

Ecclesiastes 9:8 (American Standard Version)

 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let not thy head lack oil.
Ecclesiastes 9:8 (Updated American Standard Version)
8  Let your garments be white all the time, and let oil not be lacking on your head.

Paraphrase

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A paraphrase is “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.”[3] The highest priority and characteristic is the rephrasing and simplification. Whatever has been said in the above about the dynamic equivalent can be magnified a thousand fold herein. The best way to express the level this translation will go to is to select some paraphrases and set them side-by-side with the dynamic equivalent and literal translations. It is recommended that you read verses 1-4 in the Message Bible, then in the New Living Translation, and then in the English Standard Version. Thereafter, read verses 5-9 in the same manner, followed by verses 10-12, and 13-17. This way you will taste the flavor of each with just a small bit at a time, so you do not lose the sense of the previous one by too much reading. 

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Isaiah 1:1-17 The Message (MSG)

1The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem during the times of the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. 2-4Heaven and earth, you're the jury.
   Listen to God's case:
"I had children and raised them well,
   and they turned on me.
The ox knows who's boss,
   the mule knows the hand that feeds him,
But not Israel.
   My people don't know up from down.
Shame! Misguided God-dropouts,
   staggering under their guilt-baggage,
Gang of miscreants,
   band of vandals—
My people have walked out on me, their God,
   turned their backs on The Holy of Israel,
   walked off and never looked back.

 5-9"Why bother even trying to do anything with you
   when you just keep to your bullheaded ways?
You keep beating your heads against brick walls.
   Everything within you protests against you.
From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head,
   nothing's working right.
Wounds and bruises and running sores—
   untended, unwashed, unbandaged.
Your country is laid waste,
   your cities burned down.
Your land is destroyed by outsiders while you watch,
   reduced to rubble by barbarians.
Daughter Zion is deserted—
   like a tumbledown shack on a dead-end street,
Like a tarpaper shanty on the wrong side of the tracks,
   like a sinking ship abandoned by the rats.
If God-of-the-Angel-Armies hadn't left us a few survivors,
   we'd be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah.

 10"Listen to my Message,
   you Sodom-schooled leaders.
Receive God's revelation,
   you Gomorrah-schooled people.

 11-12"Why this frenzy of sacrifices?"
God's asking.
"Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
   rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don't you think I've had my fill
   of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
   whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
   all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

 13-17"Quit your worship charades.
   I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
   meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
   You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion,
   while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
   I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
   I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing
   people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
   Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
   so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
   Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
   Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
   Go to bat for the defenseless.
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Isaiah 1:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.

 2 Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth!
      This is what the Lord says:
   “The children I raised and cared for
      have rebelled against me.
 3 Even an ox knows its owner,
      and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—
   but Israel doesn’t know its master.
      My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
 4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are—
      loaded down with a burden of guilt.
   They are evil people,
      corrupt children who have rejected the Lord.
   They have despised the Holy One of Israel
      and turned their backs on him.

 5 Why do you continue to invite punishment?
      Must you rebel forever?
   Your head is injured,
      and your heart is sick.
 6 You are battered from head to foot—
      covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—
      without any soothing ointments or bandages.
 7 Your country lies in ruins,
      and your towns are burned.
   Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes
      and destroy everything they see.
 8 Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned
      like a watchman’s shelter in a vineyard,
   like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest,
      like a helpless city under siege.
 9 If the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
      had not spared a few of us,
   we would have been wiped out like Sodom,
      destroyed like Gomorrah.

 10 Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.”
      Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
 11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
      says the Lord.
   “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
      and the fat of fattened cattle.
   I get no pleasure from the blood
      of bulls and lambs and goats.
 12 When you come to worship me,
      who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
 13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
      the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
   As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
      and your special days for fasting—
   they are all sinful and false.
      I want no more of your pious meetings.
 14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
      They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
 15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
      Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
      for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
 16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
      Get your sins out of my sight.
      Give up your evil ways.
 17 Learn to do good.
      Seek justice.
   Help the oppressed.
      Defend the cause of orphans.
      Fight for the rights of widows.
Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

Isaiah 1:1-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

1The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
   for the LORD has spoken:
"Children have I reared and brought up,
   but they have rebelled against me.
3The ox knows its owner,
   and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
   my people do not understand."

 4Ah, sinful nation,
   a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
   children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the LORD,
   they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
   they are utterly estranged.

 5Why will you still be struck down?
   Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
   and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
   there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
   and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
   or softened with oil.

 7 Your country lies desolate;
   your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
   foreigners devour your land;
   it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8And the daughter of Zion is left
   like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
   like a besieged city.

 9 If the LORD of hosts
   had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
   and become like Gomorrah.

 10Hear the word of the LORD,
   you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
   you people of Gomorrah!
11 "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
   says the LORD;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
   and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
   or of lambs, or of goats.

 12"When you come to appear before me,
   who has required of you
   this trampling of my courts?
13Bring no more vain offerings;
   incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
   I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14Your new moons and your appointed feasts
   my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
   I am weary of bearing them.
15When you spread out your hands,
   I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
   I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
   remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
 17learn to do good;
seek justice,
   correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
   plead the widow’s cause.
Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

Looking at one last example, let us consider the way that one paraphrases Bible translates Jesus’ famous model prayer: “Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are.” (Matthew 6:9, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language) A more accurate translation of Jesus’ words renders this passage: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.” Note, too, the way that John 17:26 is rendered in some Bibles. According to one free translation, on the night of his arrest, Jesus said to his Father in prayer: “I made you known to them.” (Today’s English Version) However, a more faithful rendering of Jesus’ prayer reads, “I have made your name known to them.” Can you see how some translators actually hide the fact that God has a name that should be used and honored?


Literal Contrasted With Dynamic Equivalent


In short, the dynamic equivalent translator seeks to render the biblical meaning of the original language text as accurately as possible into an English informal (conversational) equivalent. Alternatively, the literal translation seeks to render the original language words and style into a corresponding English word and style.


Before we delve into the basics of Bible translation, it would be best to define a couple common acronyms that are commonly used in these sorts of technical discussions. Source Language (SL) is the language from which a translation is being produced in another. Therefore, if one is translating from Hebrew into English, then Hebrew is the SL. Receptor Language (RL) is just the opposite; it is the language into which the translation is being produced. Therefore, if one is translating from Greek into English, then English is the RL.


As you can see from the above, the terms Source and Receptor language have the acronym SL and RL respectively. Also, keep in mind that the text that the translator is rendering into another language is the source text. Please do not confuse the Source Language with the Original Language. True, the Source Language can be the Original Language of say Hebrew or Greek. However, if there is a case of a translator making a Chinese translation of the New Testament, but has chosen to make it from English, the Source Language would be English. Yet, the Original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew, and the New Testament is Greek.


We have the word-for-word and the thought-for-thought. A literal translation is one-step removed from the original and something is always lost or gained, because there will never be 100 percent equivalent transference from one language to the next. A thought-for-thought translation is one more step removed than the literal translation in many cases, and can block the sense of the original entirely.  A thought-for-thought translation slants the text in a particular direction, cutting off other options and nuances. A literal word-for-word translation makes every effort to represent accurately the authority, power, vitality and directness of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures and to transfer these characteristics in modern English. The literal translations have the goal of producing as literal a translation as possible where the modern-English idiom permits and where a literal rendering does not conceal the thought.

Word-for-Word (Literal Translation)

  • Focuses on form
  • Emphasizes source language
  • Translates what was said
  • Presumes original context
  • Retains ambiguities
  • Minimizes interpretative bias
  • Valuable for serious Bible study
  • Awkward receptor language style

Though-for-Thought (Dynamic Equivalent)

  • Focuses on meaning
  • Emphasizes receptor language
  • Presumes contemporary context
  • Removes ambiguities
  • Allows for interpretative bias
  • Valuable for commentary use
  • Natural receptor language style
Bible Translation, Bible Translation process, Christian Apologetics, Bible Difficulties, Bible Books, Evangelism, Textual Criticism

1 Kings 2:10 Literal Translation (ASV, RSV, ESV, NASB)

And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.

Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.


1 Kings 2:10 Though-for-Thought Translation (GNB, CEV, NLT, MSG)

David died and was buried in David's City.

Then he died and was buried in Jerusalem.

Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.

Then David joined his ancestors. He was buried in the City of David.


One could conclude that the thought-for-thought translations are conveying the idea in a more clear and immediate way, but is this really the case? There are three points that are missing from the thought-for-thought translation:

In the scriptures, “sleep” is used metaphorically as death, also inferring a temporary state where one will wake again, or be resurrected.  That idea is lost in the thought-for-thought translation. (Ps 13:3; John 11:11-14; Ac 7:60; 1Co 7:39; 15:51; 1Th 4:13)


Sleeping with or lying down with his father also conveys the idea of having closed his life and having found favor in God’s eyes as did his forefathers.


When we leave out some of the words from the original, we also leave out the possibility of more meaning being drawn from the text.  Missing is the word shakab(“to lie down” or “to sleep”), ’im (“with”) and ‘ab in the plural (“forefathers”).


 Psalm 13:3 American Standard Version

Consider and answer me, O Jehovah my God: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;


John 11:11-14 Updated American Standard Version

This he said, and after that he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he was speaking of literal sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died.”


Acts 7:60 American Standard Version

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.


1 Corinthians 7:39 Updated American Standard Version

39 A wife is bound for so long time as her husband lives. But if the husband should fall asleep (koimethe) [in death], she is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord.[4]


1 Corinthians 15:51 American Standard Version

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,


1 Thessalonians 4:13 American Standard Version

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.


Those who argue for a though-for-thought translation will say the literal translation “slept” or “lay down” is no longer a way of expressing death in the modern English speaking world.  While this may be true to some extent, the context of chapter two, verse 1: “”when David was about to die” and the latter half of 2:10: “was buried in the city of David” really resolves that issue.  Moreover, while the reader may have to meditate a little longer, or indulge him/herself in the culture of different Biblical times, they will not be deprived of the full potential that a verse has to convey. (Grudem, Ryken, Collins, Polythress, & Winter, 2005, 21-22)


A Word of Caution


The paraphrase and dynamic equivalent can and does obscure things from the reader by overreaching in their translations. This can be demonstrated on the moral standards found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.


1 Corinthians 6:9-10 The Message

 9-10 Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom.


1 Corinthians 6:9-10 English Standard Version

 9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.


If you compare the MSG with the ESV, you will notice that the MSG does not even list the specifics defined by the apostle Paul on precisely what kind of conduct we should shun are not even mentioned.


Matthew 7:13 Today’s English Version

 13“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it.


Matthew 7:13 English Standard Version

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.


The Greek word apōleian means “destruction,” “waste,” annihilation, “ruin.” Therefore, one has to ask, ‘why did the TEV translation committee render it “hell”? It has all the earmarks of theological bias.[5] The translation committee is looking to promote the doctrine of eternal torment, not destruction. The objective of the translator is to render it the way that it should be rendered. If it supports a certain doctrine, this should be accepted, if not, then this should be accepted as well. The policy is that God does not need an overzealous translator to convey his doctrinal message.


1 Co. 11:10: LGNTI (Interlinear)

Because of this ought the woman authority to have on her head because of the angels


1 Co. 11:10: NASB (Literal)

Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.


1 Co. 11:10: TEV (Dynamic Equivalent)

On account of the angels, then, a woman should have a covering over her head to show that she is under her husband’s authority.


1 Co. 11:10: CEV (Dynamic Equivalent)

And so, because of this, and also because of the angels, a woman ought to wear something on her head, as a sign of her authority.

A

s you can see, the interlinear is completely and literally carried over into the Source Language word for word, keeping the exact form. This is called a gloss in the world of the Bible translator. While this does not convey much meaning to the average English reader, it does to one who has studied Biblical Greek. However, the serious Bible student would have a literal translation as a study Bible. The literal translation, as you can see, will keep the form as far as is possible, as well as the wording. The Dynamic Equivalent advocates will argue that this does not sound natural. Well, for those that want the Word of God in its undiluted form, as accurately as possible, we will accept a little unnatural sounding at times. Soon, our example will convey the danger of going beyond translation into interpretation.


Our literal translation contains ambiguity. Is the writer talking about women or wives? Is the woman to have her own authority, or is something or someone else to have authority over her? This is actually just fine, because its ambiguity has many benefits, as you will see. We have said this in the above, but it is worth repeating again, the work of interpretation will weed out those pseudo-Christians, who do not want to put any effort into their relationship with God, who do not want to buy out the time to understand. Now, the reader has the right to determine for himself or herself which is the correct interpretation. If we do not have an accurate translation, how can we have a correct interpretation? The right of having an accurate translation of the original language should not be stolen from the reader by the translator, for the translator or the committee could be wrong, and life or death may hang in the balance.


Seeing two dynamic equivalents side-by-side helps you to see that they have arrived at two different conclusions and both cannot be right. The Today’s English Version believes that the “woman” here is really the “wife,” as it refers to the “husband.” It also believes that the wife is to be under the husband’s authority. On the other hand, the Contemporary English Version does not commit to the argument of “woman” versus “wife,” but does understand the verse to mean the woman has her own authority. She has the authority to act as she feels she should, as long as she wears something as a sign of this.


A Good Translation Will do the Following:


  • Accurately render the original language words and style into the corresponding English word and style that were inspired by God.
  • Translate the meaning of words literally, when the wording and construction of the original text allows for such a rendering in the target language.
  • Transfer the correct meaning (sense) of a word or a phrase when a literal rendering of the original-language word or a phrase would garble or obscure the meaning.
  • In considering the first three points here, as far as possible, use natural, easy-to-understand language that inspires reading.


Are there such translations available on the market? Yes, this book recommends the following translations below, as every Bible student should have multiple translations, and at least one from every style.


Literal Translations for Bible Study and Research

ESV: English Standard Version (2001)

NASB: New American Standard Version (1995)

ASV: American Standard Version (1901)


Semi-Literal Translations

HCSB: Holman Christian Standard Bible (2003)

NET: New English Translation (1996)

LEB: Lexham English Bible (2010)


Translations Between Literal and Dynamic Equivalent

NIV: New International Version (2011)


Dynamic Equivalent Translations

NLT: New Living Translation (2004)

CEV: Contemporary Version (1995)

TEV: Today’s English Version (1976)

GNT: Good News Translation (1992)


Paraphrase Translation

MSG: The Message Bible (2002)

PHILLIPS: J.B. Phillips New Testament (1962)

TLB: Living Bible (1971)

[1] The same Greek word can mean either “from above” or “again” (see also v. 3)
[2] Leland Ryken (2009-10-02). Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach (Kindle Location 177). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition. 
[3] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[4] The ASV, ESV, NASB, and other literal translation do not hold true to their essentially literal policy here. This does not bode well in their claim that essential literal is the best policy. I am speaking primarily to the ESV translators, who make this claim in numerous books.

[5] Whether one believes in the hellfire doctrine, i.e., eternal torment, or they are annihilationist, there is one translation principle that they both should favor. We are to translate it accurately. If it favors our doctrinal position, so be it. If it does not favor our doctrinal position, so be it. God does not need our help, by twisting the Scriptures to get a desired outcome.

Bible Translation