- Why We Started this Project
- Example: Genesis 1:1, 2
- The Word Choices
- Our Method
- Where Did We Start?
- What We Have Found
- The Advantages of Using the Septuagint
- How Translating Can Make a Difference in Doctrines
- More Word Choices
Why We Started this Project
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.
Please understand that Bible translating is indeed difficult, not because the translating is hard, but because you have to cut through all the misleading work that has been done in the past. For a fact, most Bible translations appear to be little more than an editing of past translations, because you’ll find the same obvious translating mistakes being made in all of them. And that is why this Bible is worded so differently in many places… because it is much more accurate.
To give you an example, look at the actual wording of a few scriptures in the Bible in their original languages (some that you may be familiar with), then notice the reasons why we translated them as we have.
Example: Genesis 1:1, 2
In Greek, Genesis 1:1, 2 reads:
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 reads:
1 In beginning (ancient time) created The God (Powerful One) the sky (heaven) and the land (earth or ground). 2 But the land (ground or earth) was not/seen and unformed, and darkness upon (covered) their depths (valleys or abysses), and Breath (Spirit) God (Powerful One) moved upon (over) their waters.
Note the following:
We have rendered the words ho Theos at Genesis 1:1 as ‘The God,’ not just ‘God,’ as is found in most Bibles.
Recognize that throughout the Greek Bible there is usually a ‘the’ (‘ho’) preceding the Greek word for God (Theos) when it is speaking of the Almighty. And though we (like almost all other Bible translators) have deleted it in many instances to facilitate the reading, there are definitely places where adding ‘The’ before ‘God’ makes an important difference.
However, there is no ‘the’ before God in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text of Genesis 1:1, or in any English Bibles based on that text. For in the Hebrew text you find the plural form Elohim written there, which literally means ‘Gods.’
So it actually says that Gods created the heavens and the earth (or skies and lands). Understand that this could be accurate, because the word Elohim literally means ‘Powerful Ones,’ and the Bible does indicate that more than a single powerful one was involved in this creation (see John 1:1-3 in this Bible).
But such an idea was really unthinkable to the Jewish translators of the Septuagint, and it is still beyond the comprehension of many Christians today to think that more than one powerful being could have done the creating. Nevertheless, the common explanation that is given for why the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 says ‘Gods,’ is that it was written in such a way to denote the magnificence of The God, and this could still be true.
The Word Choices
Also notice that there are many other English words (those shown in parenthesis in the above word-for-word translation) that can be used to translate Genesis 1:1, 2 properly:
· 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.’
· Did He create heaven, or the sky?
Notice that there is only one word choice (not two) in either Hebrew or Greek, while we have two word choices in English:
Heaven (the dwelling of God)
Sky (all that is above us).
We have chosen the word sky in this instance, because the clear meaning is that God created all that the first man could see above him.
· Did He create the earth, the land, or the ground?
Again, there is only word for each of these things in either Greek or Hebrew (not three word choices). Therefore, wherever the Greek word gen is found, the choice of English words is up to the translator. For if we were to use just one word to translate it throughout the Bible, this would make many verses very confusing to its readers. But if the wrong synonym is used(as other Bible translators have done in many places), it conveys the wrong meaning in English.
Notice that at Genesis 1:1, we have translated gen as ‘land,’ because the first man had no concept of the earth as a planet in space. Rather, this word was used here to describe the land or ground underneath him.
· Also consider the translation of the word pneuma (πνευμα):
Though it just means Breath or Wind, it is usually translated as Spirit in other Bibles, which usually carries a meaning in English that may be quite different from what it meant in the original languages… but remember that Spirit is just a Latin word for Breath or Wind. Therefore, we have properly written that God’s Breath moved over the waters.
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 or mean.
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 (the language of the Septuagint). 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 meant, we must look beyond what the words may mean in Modern Greekand look at what they originally meant in ancient Greek.
Now, none of those that did the translating here speaks Alexandrian Greek, nor do we speak Modern Greek. And though we can’t speak it (the language is 2000 years old), we have access to many fine interlinear (Greek/English) Bibles and word references. So we didn’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 was tedious and required much research… and we often found no accurate references for the true meanings of many words and phrases.
Where Did We Start?
So, what did we do? First, we started with a good interlinear Bible translation, where the Greek words are above the English words. And as we went along, we constantly checked to see if the Greek words really coincided with the English words that are shown. Understand that, though we don’t speak Greek, we are very familiar with the common Greek words; so, checking for proper translating in the interlinear Bibles was fairly easy for us. Then when we came across words that were unfamiliar or where the meaning was unclear, we looked them up in Bible dictionaries… and sometimes we had to break them into their root parts to make sure that we were rendering them by what they actually meant, rather than just accepting the common religious traditions of their meanings. And where no logical reference or root could be found, we had to defer to the rendering as found in other Bible translations or we looked at what the Hebrew text had to say. Yes, this was the hard part.
What most people don’t realize is that even the best interlinear Bibles are more influenced by religious doctrines than you would imagine, because we found that a definition given for a word in one place isn’t the same as how it is translated in another place. And we found that Greek Bible dictionaries can’t always be trusted, because the definitions they provide are often more based on how previous Bible translators applied them than on what the words meant in the original ancient language.
This is why you will often find multiple definitions provided; for this has more to do with the conflicting ways that early translators rendered the words than with their actual true meanings. So we frequently had to go back and look at what the words actually meant in Classical Greek, and at times we had to just look the context to see if the words we used in a verse corresponded to what was actually happening.
Here is an example (from 1 Samuel 13:11) of what we typically looked at, and how we actually laid it out for translating… this is what we had to do for each verse:
‘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 … ’
From this, we first had to arrange the texts into the structure of contemporary English, then try to change the words into how they would be expressed in today’s English, and thereafter we sent the texts to many volunteer contributors to read and comment on… probably no other Bible translators have ever allowed so much scrutiny and open critical reviewing.
Notice that our translation of the verse above (1 Samuel 13:11) reads:
‘SamuEl said to him, What have you done?
So Saul said: I did this because I saw that my men had left me, and because you didn’t come when you said you would. For since the Philistines are camped [just outside] of MichMash … ’
What We Have Found
First, please understand what we’re trying to achieve with our translation. Our goal is to make it very accurate, but also easy to read, while giving the readers a better sense of what was actually said. Therefore, we have attempted to avoid using words that already have special meanings.
For example, take the words, soul, spirit, cross, Hell, Satan, Devil, angel, Christ, etc. The original Greek words don’t necessarily mean what religious people imagine when reading them. So we’ve substituted these terms for very accurate synonyms. These provide you with a fresh look at what was actually said, with no denominational baggage attached.
Interestingly, there are no Greek words that should ever be translated as forever, everlasting, Hell Fire, cross, Christ, and so on, to name just a few examples. These English words shouldn’t really appear in any Bible at all!
The Advantages of Using the Septuagint
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 actually looked like during the time of Jesus and his Apostles. For though 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 read very much like the Septuagint, not like the modern Hebrew text. And as the result, we can see more clearly why they used certain words whenever they quoted the ‘Old Testament.’
Understand that until now, most translating of the Ancient Scriptures of Israel (Old Testament) has been done by people that were experts in Hebrew, and the Christian Era Scriptures (New Testament) was translated by a totally different group that were experts in Greek. So while one word in the Hebrew text may have been translated into a certain English word, the corresponding word in the Greek text may have been translated into an entirely different English word because the translators simply chose another word, or because they didn’t understand the relationship between the Hebrew words and the Greek words. As the result, some very common words of the Christian Era Scriptures (such as resurrection, tribulation, etc.) just can’t be found in the Ancient Scriptures of Israel.
But using the Greek Septuagint, we can see something that is closer to the Bible as Jesus read it, and we find that these words that Jesus quoted actually do appear in the older text.
How Translating Can Make a Difference in Doctrines
Take for example, the words of Daniel 12:1, 2. One modern Bible translation (based on the Hebrew text) reads:
1 And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince that 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 that 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.
Notice that in Greek, these same verses read:
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, those verses read:
1 And on the hour that, arose Michael the messenger (angel) the greatest that/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 that 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 very same hour,
The Highest Messenger, MichaEl, will come
(The one that keeps watch on the sons of your people),
And a difficult time will arrive,
Such as has never happened before
And will never happen again.
At that time, your people will be saved
(Those whose [names] have been written in the scroll),
2 And many that are sleeping in graves will awaken,
Some to life through the ages,
And others to disgrace and ages of shame.’
More Word Choices
What problems have you noticed? First, you can see that MichaEl (meaning With/us God) 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), ‘For a difficult time (θλιψεως – thipseos) will then arrive, which is unlike anything that has happened since the beginning of this arrangement 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 foretold events that would lead up to his 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 though most Bibles translate these words as everlasting life, the Bible quoted above correctly translates them as indefinitely lasting life (since aionos refers to a temporary period… from which we get the English word eon). Yet when that Bible finds the very same words in the Christian Era Scriptures, it goes back and translates them as everlasting life. So while those Bible translators recognized that the Aramaic (and Hebrew) words were not necessarily speaking of infinity; they failed to recognize that the same words in Greek were also speaking of something that possibly has an end… and this has led to more doctrinal misunderstandings (for more information, see the translator note on forever).
As you can see, correct and honest translation from the Greek Septuagint may affect many religious teachings and dogmas. 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 from the Aramaic text suggest.