Category Archives: Bible Translation

SBL 2014 Interviews

SBL 2014 was great and I had the opportunity to interview three scholars for MAP.

Dr. Yael Avrahami is the author of the award-winning book Senses of Scripture: Sensory Perception in the Hebrew Bible. In our discussion, she addresses why the 5 senses alone don’t hold up in the epistemologies of the Hebrew Bible. Yael is also one of the creators of Hendrickson’s new Reader’s Hebrew Bible.

Dr. Bob Bascom is a Hebrew Bible scholar and Bible translator. Bob is a friend who has taught me a lot about life and love. Literally. He’s a cognitive linguist who can tell you about love in the brain and what kind of love it is. And he does here in the interview.

Dr. Chip Hardy has recently completed his PhD at the University of Chicago on the diachronic development of biblical Hebrew prepositions. In our discussion, he lays out the basic principles of grammaticalization theory.



Judges 5.2

A bit ago, David M. posted a question about Judges 5.2 on Facebook. As you know, I am currently researching a “unique” view of the death of Christ so when I read this, it immediately jumped out to me as something I could use. Judges 5.2 is set within a larger poem detailing the victory of Deborah when she was a judge in Israel. It is a very old portion of the Hebrew Bible, among the oldest some scholars believe.

The Hebrew (into English) reads,

‘For the leaders, the leaders in Israel, for the people who answered the call, bless the Lord. (REB)

While the the LXX(b) reads,

A revelation was uncovered in Israel when the people ignorantly sinned: praise the Lord!

Ἀπεκαλύφθη ἀποκάλυμμα ἐν Ἰσραήλ· ἐν τῷ ἀκουσιασθῆναι λαὸν εὐλογεῖτε Κύριον.

The key word in the LXX is:


Going further, the word is used in Numbers 15.28 (LXX):

Hebrew Alignment1

שׁגגcommit error unintentionally (1): Nu 15:28

נדבoffer willingly (1): Judg 5:2G

Numbers 15.28 in the Hebrew (via REB English) and then in the LXX (and LS English):

and the priest will make expiation before the Lord for that person, who will then be forgiven.


Then the priest will make atonement for the person who inadvertently sinned and erred involuntarily before the Lord, to make atonement for him.

καὶ ἐξιλάσεται ὁ ἱερεὺς περὶ τῆς ψυχῆς τῆς ἀκουσιασθείσης καὶ ἁμαρτούσης ἀκουσίως ἔναντι Κυρίου, ἐξιλάσασθαι περὶ αὐτοῦ.

The key word, ἀκουσιάζομαι, is connected to the sin in ignorance found in Numbers 15.28 as well as the Greek words ἀκουσίως and ἀκούσιος also in Numbers 15.24-28. This section enumerates the required sacrifices for those, individual and congregation, who have committed a sin that could not be helped (either through ignorance or against their will). As I read this passage, I do not see a heavy line drawn through the different words, but rather seem them as synonyms.

Let me show you why I think they are all related, if not simply complimentary:

septuagint logos lexicon numbers 15.24-28

So, here is my thinking about Judges 5.2 LXX(b). The march to war, which required soldiers to volunteer themselves (to die), was a sin (albeit one of ignorance/against the will/necessary) because it involved the sacrifice of the person to the deity. However, because it was required, it was forgiven and rather celebrated. Because of the (self-)sacrifice of the soldiers, God awarded Israel victory. In Rome, you’d call this a devotio. In LXX Israel, you call it a revelation.

  1. Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint

Satan: Accuser or Executioner?

I had the privilege today of interviewing Dr. Ryan Stokes of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He told me about his research on satan (both a noun and a verb in biblical Hebrew). Stokes has concluded that the Satan in the Hebrew Bible is not an accuser but actually is Yahweh’s executioner. The article on this topic is in the June 2014 issue of Journal of Biblical Literature. My interview with him is here on MAP.



The Numbers

On average about 25,000 people died of starvation today.
On average about 287 Christians were martyred today.
On average about 9,315 people died today due to lack of basic sanitation and clean water.
On average 500 people died today due to war.
On average about 2,000,000,000 Christians argued about homosexuality today.
Wonder how low the first 4 numbers would be if the last one were not so high.

Equivalence in Bible Translation

Dr. Yancy Smith of BLI has written an article on the usefulness of “equivalence” in Bible translation in the Missio Dei Journal.

“Since the era of Eugene Nida, evangelical Bible translation has been revolutionized by his notion of dynamic or functional equivalence. Powerful theological and theoretical concerns, however, call into question its usefulness and its catholicity. This article explores and questions the usefulness of the equivalence model of translation in Christian mission from the standpoint of incarnation.”


Review: Prison Bible from Bible League International

I want to thank Bible League International for the chance to review this.

One of the immediate things you notice is the list of endorsements found at the beginning. This gives you a real sense of the scope of this project. This is an international situation with international dreams. Bible League, in producing the Prison Bible, seems to have aimed at prisons and prisoners the world over. The Prison Bible, based on the Easy-to-Read Version (a rather fresh translation), aims to bring relevant topics to prisoners. I do not simply mean “plan of salvation” clichès, but actual topics aimed at prison life. You and I are likely never to know what it means to live inside of a prison. The best we can do is to watch Oz or Orange is the New Black. This is a world foreign to us.

The topics are presented at the beginning of the book and divided into 4 sections. They are 1.) Becoming a Follower of Jesus; 2.) Following Jesus in Prison; 3.) Preparing for Release; and 4.) Following Jesus Outside of Prison. These sections contain, between them, 100 different sub-sections. These sections include topics such as relating to authority (A24), coping with mental health (A34), Jesus or the prison code (A48), and several on one’s release from prison (A61-A72). Each of these topics are present in simple English, speaking directly (and actively) to the person who reads it. The topics aren’t sugary, but uses “in real life” language. Again, I am not, or have I ever been a prisoner; however, these topics are interesting to me in different ways.

It also includes,

  • Approved for prison ministry use
  • Contains complete Easy-to-Read Bible
  • 52 Lessons written especially for inmates, ideal for individual or group study on topics such as God Loves You; Controlling Anger; Relating to People in Authority; and more!
  • Scripture helps on how to deal with negative emotions
  • Bible reading plan
  • Address book for friends and family
  • Word List & Bible Maps
  • Bible is on a fourth grade reading level making it easier for all audiences to read with understanding

My wife asked, when reviewing it, “why does one need a prison bible.” My simple answer is this: we don’t. We do not need one that simply lays out “you need Jesus” but doesn’t really tell the reader anything beyond that. However, this bible does more than that. This bible speaks to the topics of prisoners and their daily lives. It is not simply enough to say “here, read the Gospel of John and you will be a Christian.” Great, but they are still a Christian inside of a prison. The fact remains, we have 2.5 million prisoners in the United States. Some of them are no doubt Christian, but they must live (sometimes the rest of their lives) in prison around other prisoners in an environment unfriendly to Christianity. If your prison ministry simply includes conversion but not development then you are doing it wrong. That is why The Prison Bible from Bible League International is needed. It is a prison ministry in of itself.

Datenbank “Septuagintazitate im NT”

I shall have to use this for my dissertation

Um die Textgeschichte der neutestamentlichen Schriftzitate zu erschließen, entstand am Institut für Septuaginta- und Biblische Textforschung der Kirchlichen Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel in den Jahren 2007 bis 2011 mit Unterstützung durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft eine Datenbank, die für Zitate und zitierte Stellen eine Vielzahl von Varianten/Texten aufnahm.

via Datenbank | Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel.

The Prison Bible from Bible League

Co-Author and Bible League International Global Publisher John Andersen comments, “We made The Prison Bible specifically for prisoners. It is a tool which cannot only be used by prison ministries on a global scale, but by prisoners at whatever spiritual stage they find themselves in. We believe God will raise leaders from among the imprisoned population who will use The Prison Bible to disciple many in an unprecedented way.”

I have a copy, but due to the water crisis in West Virginia, I have not yet had a chance to write about it. Here is the press release.

I did get a chance to flip through it and it looks like something you, prison ministries or not, will need.

Also, you’ll note on my sidebar an icon for Bible League. Let me heartily recommend them to you.

Christmas Shopping for that Inmate in Your Life

Bible League International will release The Prison Bible in January 2014. The Prison Bible is the Easy-to-Read Version with 52 lessons made especially for inmates. In addition to Scripture lessons that walk through various parts of the gospel of John, readers get serious content dealing with anger, violence, and mental health. There is also significant attention to preparing inmates for life after prison. The Prison Bible  is available for pre-order until the end of the year for less than $5. Click the pic to see the promo video.


Review of Novum Testamentum Graece: Greek-English New Testament, 28th Edition (NRSV-REB Edition)

Hendrickson brings to us a delightful gift. Included for the first time in a Greek-English interlinear is the Revised English Bible. This less-travelled road makes all the difference in deciding which NA-28 to purchase, in my opinion.

The NA-28 is the most recent update to the Nestle-Aland production of a critical Greek New Testament, but it includes only changes made to the Catholic, or General, Epistles (James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1–3 John, and Jude). The NA-28’s website reads, “the Catholic Letters were revised according to a fundamentally new concept which in the long run will be adopted for the entire edition.” The focus on changes, then, should occur on the Catholic letters and have been discussed by various scholars in a myriad of publications. One may be hesitant to purchase the NA-28 based only on a few changes although one of those changes includes the adoption of the Editio Critica Maior, a particularly nice evolution in the NA series. Other revisions or changes include the marginal apparatus of references, a revision of non-Greek version citations, as well as a revision of patristic citations.

The various endings of Mark (English)
The various endings of Mark (Greek)

However, what I consider quite special about this version of the NA-28 is the inclusion of the Revised English Bible alongside that of the NRSV (which replaces the now outdated Revised Standard Version found in earlier NA editions). Unfortunately, the REB has not found it’s place in the American audience just yet. The REB, published in 1989, is the descendent of the 1960’s New English Bible and is itself based on the NA-27. It clears up some of the poor readings in the New English Bible as well as providing a nice, almost conservative, counterweight to the NRSV when it comes to certain translation issues like inclusive language (notably, Psalm 1). The literary quality of the REB is, in my opinion, a vastly superior one compared to many recent translations. While some of the Britishisms of the REB may slow the American reader,  the lack of Evangelicalism (such as what is found in the NIV) presents a doctrinal neutral text. Finally, as with the NRSV which is endorsed by the National Council of Churches, a U.S.-based organization, the REB is endorsed by the Joint Committee of the Churches, a U.K.-based ecumenical organization including many Protestant churches as we well as the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.

Very portable

I was concerned with size and the layout. After all, other Greek-English diglots are bulky with just one English translation. To add a second one is to tempt the scales. However, the size is no larger than what you might hope for in a hand-held bible. The layout places the Greek on one side of the page with the English translations on the other, all synced together. The NRSV is in plain font while the REB is in italics. Section headings and section parsing are taken from the NRSV. Missing from the English part is the critical apparatus detailing how other versions translated certain phrases and words (when compared to the RSV).

The NA-28 is step in redesigning the entire NA Greek New Testament. Not only does it adopt the Editio Critica Maior with changes to the Catholic Epistles, but it includes two English translations to showcase various methods of translation. It is profitable for the scholar and the autodidact alike and finally gives due consideration to the REB. 

Below is a brief vlog review as well:


BT2013 just finished up in Dallas, TX. Bible translators and consultants, ethnologists and musicologists, and biblical studies scholars all met and presented papers on topics ranging from the history of Indonesian Bible translation to translation strategies for clause chaining languages. It was fun. I learned a lot. I got a t-shirt.

Some papers, handouts, and PPTs from BT2013 have been posted on MAP.


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