Principles of Translation
- Old Testament: For the OT the translators started with the MT (Masoretic Text) found in the current edition of BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia). In particularly difficult passages the translator may have followed a variant reading found in the versions, alternative Hebrew tradition (e.g., DSS), or in some cases, conjectural emendation. Such variations from the MT were noted by the individual translator and reviewed by the OT textual consultant.
- New Testament: For the NT the Greek text to be used by individual translators was decided by the textual consultant. The full Greek text will be published at a later date.
- Traditional passages: For passages which lack adequate textual authority (i.e., are almost certainly not part of the autographs) the words were included in the translation in double square brackets with a note giving a brief discussion of the problem.
2. Interpretive Decisions and Tools
- Interpretive decisions, where necessary to translate a passage, were made by the translators and editors. The alternative renderings, where exegetically significant, have been indicated in the notes.
- Standard technical (critical) commentaries and relevant periodical articles were consulted in the translation process. These are often cited in the notes.
- Current standard lexical tools were consulted as needed. For the OT, these included such works as BDB, KB3, and TDOT; for the NT, BDAG, Louw-Nida, and TDNT.
- Computerized concordance programs and electronic search engines were used extensively in the production of this translation.
3. Form of Translation
No translation can ever achieve complete formal equivalence.1 Even a translation which sometimes reflects Hebrew and Greek word order at the expense of English style has to resort to paraphrase in some places. On the other hand, no translation achieves complete dynamic equivalence2 either. Thus this translation, like every other, ends up somewhere between the two extremes. These considerations are reflected by the following specific qualifications:
- In vocabulary and grammatical forms every attempt has been made to reflect the different styles of the different authors of the Bible. Pauls letters should not sound like Johns or Peters or that of Hebrews in the English translation where possible.
- The level of English style is formal (not, however, technical) except in passages where somewhat more informal style would be more in keeping with the content. In general the use of contractions (dont, isnt) has been avoided, except in quoted speech.
- The language of average adults had priority. The translation attempts to use good literary style but is not overly formal or embellished.
- The translation is intended to be understandable to non-Christians as well as Christians, so liturgical language or Christian jargon has been avoided.
- Archaisms have also been avoided (e.g., letter was used instead of epistle in the NT). This includes the absolute avoidance of thou and thee, since there were no distinctions in the original Hebrew or Greek between pronouns used to address people and those used to address Deity. On a related note, pronouns which refer to Deity are not capitalized for this same reason.
- Long, complicated sentences in the original languages have been broken up into shorter sentences more acceptable in contemporary English. However, an attempt has been made to maintain the connections present in the original languages wherever possible.
- Idiomatic expressions and figurative language in the original languages have been changed when they make no sense to a typical modern English reader or are likely to lead to misunderstanding by a typical modern English reader. The literal reading has been placed in a note giving a brief explanation (a translators note).
- Nouns have been used for pronouns where the English pronoun would be obscure or ambiguous to a modern reader. This has been indicated in a note.
- Questions expecting a negative answer have been phrased to indicate this to the English reader.
- Clearly redundant expressions such as answered and said have been avoided unless they have special rhetorical force in context. The literal reading is frequently indicated in a note.
- Introductory expressions like verily, verily have been translated idiomatically, the single ajmhvn as I tell you the truth and the double ajmhvn (peculiar to Johns Gospel) as I tell you the solemn truth.
- Introductory particles like ijdouv (behold) have been translated to fit the context (sometimes listen, pay attention, look, or occasionally left untranslated).
- Use of quotation marks (which did not exist in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts) conforms to contemporary American English usage.
- The basic unit of translation is the paragraph. Verse numbers are included in boldface type. Poetry is set out as poetry.
- Greek historical presents have been translated by English simple past tenses since English has no corresponding use of the present tense.
- In places where passive constructions create ambiguity, obscurity, or awkwardness in contemporary English, either the agent has been specified from context or the construction has been changed to active voice in the English translation, with an explanatory note.
- Ellipses have been filled out according to current English requirements (e.g., 1 John 2:19). This is normally explained in a note.
- Proper names have been standardized in accordance with accepted English usage.
4. Additional Features of the Translation and Notes
- Any place supplementary information is required (e.g., word-plays, historical details, cultural differences, etc.) this is provided in a brief study note.
- Any technical terms (corban, Mark 7:11) used in the translation are explained in a study note.
- Any unfamiliar terms for weights, measures, and coins have been explained in a study note, although in general these have been expressed in contemporary American units, with metric units given parenthetically in the notes.
- A limited system of cross-referencing to principal parallel texts, cross-references, or significant allusions is found in the notes.
- Descriptive section headings have been provided by the translators and editors as an aid to the reader.
- Greek and Hebrew in the translators notes use Greek and Hebrew fonts, often followed by transliteration. The occasional reference to a Greek or Hebrew word in a study note is transliterated.
- Abbreviations of biblical books and reference material follow Patrick H. Alexander et al., eds., The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1999) with only a few exceptions.