How many languages has the Bible been translated into? Why does it matter?

If you were go into a Christian church in America, the congregation would probably be speaking English, maybe Spanish, maybe another modern language. But they almost definitely would not be speaking Aramaic or Greek, the languages that the Christian Bible was written in. So why do we not read the Bible in Greek? And how many languages has the Bible been translated into?

The story of translating the Bible actually starts before Christianity. 200 years before the Common Era (C.E.),  the Old Testament (the part of the text that is sacred to Jews) was translated into Ancient Greek by a group of rabbinic scholars. This Greek version is called the Septuagint.

The Christian Bible was written in Koine Greek. Even though Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, Greek was the common language of the era and the most widely spoken language of the region. Aramaic is related to Biblical Hebrew. (Languages from the World of the Bible, a new academic book, explores the linguistic diversity of the first century, from Old and Imperial Aramaic to Phoenician and others.) A few portions of the Old Testament that are also in the Christian Bible, such as the Book of Daniel, were originally written in Aramaic.

Since we don’t still read the Bible in Koine Greek, how has the language of Bible changed since the founding of the Christian Church? Well the language that the Bible was written in cannot change, but the languages spoken in churches and by everyday people change all the time. (English alone has changed significantly in the past six hundred years.)

As with any translation, there are things you cannot say in one language that you can in others. For example, in Aramaic, there is a suffix that denotes “servant of.” In the Book of Daniel, one person’s name is Abednego. Technically, in the Aramaic that name means “servant of Nego,” but this meaning does not carry over into the Greek translation, so readers of the Greek (and subsequently the Latin and English) do not understand that this man is also a servant. A much more dramatic and theologically relevant example of translation problems lies in the Hebrew word, “almah.” In the Old Testament, a young woman, or maiden, was called “almah.” However, in the Septuagint, this word is translated into the Greek as “parthenos” which means, more precisely, “a virgin.” This is complicated because the Book of Matthew, in the New Testament, quotes this Greek translation and describes Jesus as being “born of a virgin.” However, in the Hebrew, the direct translation would have been “born of a young woman.” This linguistic nuance between Hebrew and Greek can be very contentious, as you might imagine.

In the late 300s, Saint Jerome (along with other scholars) translated the Bible into Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. Rather than translating from the Septuagint, St. Jerome used the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Koine Greek of the New Testament as the basis for his translation into Latin, called the Vulgate. When there were contradictions between the Septuagint and the original Hebrew (as in the case of “almah”) St. Jerome followed the Septuagint’s interpretation.

When did the standard English translation come about? Though there had been earlier English translations of the Bible, the King James Bible (commissioned by the King of England in 1604) became the standard bearer for the new branches of Christianity that were splitting from the Catholic Church. The King James Bible was primarily translated from the original languages, so the Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew and the New Testament from the Greek (rather than the later Latin versions). However, where there was dispute about specific translation decisions, the Septuagint and the Vulgate were used as references.

Of course, in addition to Latin and English, the Bible has been translated into at least hundreds of other languages, possibly as many as 3,000. The United Bible Societies widely translates and distributes Bibles.

Recently, an American president’s own multilingual dictionary came to light. Jefferson’s Bible, which the 3rd President spent decades working on, features different versions of the Bible side-by-side, including Latin, Greek, French, and English selections. Officially titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Jefferson’s Bible is now on view at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C, and the museum has made the entire book available online here.

What do you think about the translation details of the Bible? Are you interested in Jefferson’s multilingual Bible?

Immigration and Naturalization Issues in the Deployed Environment

Army Lawyer October 1, 2005 | Defreyn, Marc; Baughn, Darrell Naturalization is an important issue for many U.S. Army Soldiers, especially for those Soldiers deployed overseas, and, more specifically, those Soldiers deployed in the combat zone in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The privilege of U.S. citizenship brings not only significant benefits to the Soldier, such as the opportunity to reenlist beyond eight years of service2 and the ability to obtain a security clearance,3, but also provides collateral opportunities and benefits to the Soldier’s dependents and other family members.4 Although historically the process of immigrating to the United States and eventually becoming a citizen has been known to be slow and cumbersome, even for Soldiers, recent changes to United States law and policy have created extraordinary opportunities for Soldiers to naturalize more quickly and inexpensively than ever before. For example, for the first time in U.S. military history, non-U.S. citizen servicemembers may utilize expedited procedures and are entitled to preferential considerations in order to become U.S. citizens on foreign soil if they are serving in support of the Global War on Terror.5 This article addresses naturalization issues of recent relevance to servicemembers, with emphasis on procedures and advice for Legal Assistance office personnel in the deployed environment.

On 4 October 2004, forty-eight Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines participated in a naturalization ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, as the first servicemembers ever to be sworn in on Iraqi soil as U.S. citizens.6 Just three days prior, on 1 October 2004, a similar naturalization ceremony was held in Afghanistan, marking the first ever naturalization ceremony for U.S. servicemembers on foreign soil. Legislation passed on 24 November 2003 now allows a military applicant for U.S. citizenship to take the exam, the interview, and the oath at certain overseas locations.7 The law authorizes and encourages commanders to provide military leave and transportation to qualifying servicemembers for naturalization purposes.8 The legislation also reduced from three years to one the years of military service required for non-citizens servicemembers to be eligible for citizenship,9 and waived all citizenship application fees for servicemembers.10 Additionally, in perhaps the most significant action with regard to military naturalization to date, President George W. Bush signed an executive order granting an exception to the service requirement for any active duty servicemember serving during the Global War on Terrorism.11 The sheer size of the federal bureaucracy responsible’for immigration and naturalization issues is impressive and can prove daunting for Soldiers unfamiliar with navigating the naturalization waters. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Service (USCIS), formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, now falls within the Department of Homeland Security and employs over 14,000 individuals in over 250 offices.12 Like any large government agency, the USCIS manages a tremendous workload. In FY 2004 alone, the USCIS received over 662,188 naturalization applications, approved approximately 536,174 applications, denied at least 103,203 applications, and had over 653,190 applications pending.13 Fortunately for personnel of all military services, the Department of Defense and USCIS have partnered to streamline the application process for Soldiers.14 In the Army, overall responsibility with regard to the Soldier naturalization process lies with the unit personnel section.15 Instead of creating centralized help desks as the other three military services chose to do, the Army designated personnel services offices in the battalion (BN) or Brigade Combat Team (BCT), Personnel Services Battalion (PSB), Personnel Service Center (PSC), Military Personnel Division (MPD), or Military Personnel Office (MILPO) to assist Soldiers in the citizenship application process and to coordinate directly with the Army Human Resources Command. These personnel offices provide assistance at virtually every stage of the process, to include issuing initial eligibility worksheets and citizenship application documents, scheduling fingerprint appointments, reviewing completed documents, verifying Soldier service data, coordinating background checks with the Army Central Clearance Facility, and mailing the citizenship application packet to USCIS. In addition, although individual Soldiers are not authorized to contact USCIS directly, the Army has authorized these designated personnel representatives to contact USCIS on behalf of Soldiers.16 It is imperative to reiterate that the designated unit personnel services offices have primary responsibility for assisting the Soldier in the citizenship application process. As a client service, however, many legal assistance offices will review, upon request, the servicemember’s application.17 Although each servicemember is ultimately responsible for ensuring that his naturalization application packet is complete and accurate, legal assistance personnel can play a vital role in verifying that application packets are complete and accurate upon first submission.18 To this end, when workload and resources permit, Client Services offices may want to conduct regular “citizen workshops” to assist large numbers of applicants at one time. This has proved to be extremely successful in Iraq. During these workshops, the attorney or paralegal should review each participant’s application forms in detail to ensure that the Soldier has completed everything correctly. By conducting a presubmission review with the Soldier and by noting common mistakes, the Client Services office emphasizes to the Soldier the importance of taking individual responsibility for his application and seeing the process through to completion. Client Services offices must emphasize that although judge advocate personnel provide advice and assistance, the onus remains with the Soldier to complete the packet properly. Diligence is important because a mistake in filling out the required application documents normally results in the USCIS sending a query letter to the Soldier’s home address indicated on the application, which is often a stateside address. IfUSCIS fails to receive a response, the mistake could cause the application to be shelved and to be potentially abandoned by the USCIS.19 To begin the application process, the Soldier needs the following documentation: immigrationandnaturalizationnow.net immigration and naturalization

1. Form N-400 Application, completed and signed.20 2. Two standard passport photos. ?· 3. Form N-426, certified by the appropriate military personnel.21 4. Form G-325B, Biographical Information.22 5. Two Sets of fingerprints on FD-258, signed by the appropriate personnel, sealed in an envelope, and signed along the seal.

6. A letter indicating all the enclosures and including more information.23 In order to complete the forms correctly without delay, the Soldier should obtain, at a minimum, his Alien Registration Number, which is on his permanent resident card,24 and know a five-year history of previous employment and residence data.25 Each male Soldier must have a selective service number and the date of his registration with the selective service.26 Lastly, the Soldier should obtain evidence of military service, such as the Form 4-1 or 4-2 enlistment contract, DD 214, mobilization orders, or a recent leave and earnings statement. The typical client services workshop will take approximately three hours, including fingerprinting, photographing, and verification of the Soldier’s service record. go to website immigration and naturalization

Completing the N-400 Application for Naturalization The instructions for completing the Application for Naturalization N-400 may be accessed on the internet.27 The USCIS requires exact compliance with the application process. Uniformity and completeness is essential for an expedited application process. All applicants must either write legibly on the application or type the form online. If the USCIS cannot read the application, it may treat it as incomplete, causing the application to be abandoned if not corrected.28 The applicant must answer each question-no question may be left blank.29 The Soldier must enter his USCIS Alien Number on the top right of each page of this form in the block provided. In question IA, the “Family Name” is the Soldier’s last name and the “Given Name” is the Soldier’s first name. If the Soldier does not have a middle name, then “n/a” or “none” should be indicated. The Soldier should enter his name exactly as it appears on his permanent resident card for IB. In 1C, the Soldier should only enter other names as listed on his birth certificate or a maiden name and not a nickname. Assuming that the Soldier does not desire a change of name, then “no” should be indicated in question ID; otherwise, the applicant must complete the process CONUS. If the Soldier wants to take advantage of the expedited application process and fee waiver offered to the military, the Soldier must mark question 2C as indicating the applicant is in the military.30 This military box, when checked, notifies USCIS not to charge an application fee to expedite the review process. If the applicant does not answer this question correctly, USCIS transfers the Soldier’s file to Vermont with no expedited review process and will include a request for the filing fee.

Any additional page should be styled “Addendum to [Name of the Form and Number]” and should then indicate the Soldier’s full name and USCIS Alien number and include “Question __; page __.” This page should follow the question to which it refers and should be stapled in order. If a question calls for a separate sheet, the Soldier must include a separate sheet. For question 7A, if the Soldier is in Iraq, ensure the deployment is listed but the Soldier need not include it as a trip or count the days. The total number of days listed in the table needs to be totaled along with all the number of trips and so entered. A deployment from Fort Bragg that refuels in Germany and stops in Kuwait for a day and then goes to Iraq is one trip, but if the stop in Kuwait is over twenty-four hours, the Soldier should indicate that on the chart.

If the Soldier enters “yes” to any question in Part 10A, a separate sheet of paper must be attached to provide an explanation for the affirmative answer. While question 10A(6) asks about any title of nobility, the United States does not recognize titles of nobility. Question 10B(10) does not include Iraq when it asks if the Soldier has ever advocated the overthrow of any government. In question 10D, as will all parts of the application, each subquestion about moral character must be answered truthfully. Failure to list a conviction, even a petty conviction, may result in denial of the application because the Soldier lacks moral character.32 In question 10F, the Soldier should answer “yes” to subquestion number 29 because he has served in the U.S. Armed Forces. If the Soldier is a male, he must enter his selective service number in subquestion number 33 and the date he registered. If unknown, the Soldier can locate his selective service number and date at www.sss.gov.33 If the answer to any question in H is “no,” the USCIS will probably deny this Soldier’s application.

Completing the N-426 Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service The Soldier should fill out the page with the USCIS Alien number blank on the left and the date of the request on the right in triplicate but not the other pages. The Soldier should provide the name used during active duty service. The service number is the social security number. All Soldiers in Iraq are in active service for the purposes of this form. The Soldier should fill out the same information three times. Once complete, a representative from the PSB or any other authorized military official will verify the Soldier’s service record. This individual will fill out the next page in triplicate, and certify it by looking at the Soldier’s Form 4-1 or 4-2 Enlistment contract, any DD 214s, any mobilization orders, or even an LES which verifies the date the Soldier entered service.34 The authorized military official should fill in all the blanks, especially the dates of service in question one, and if the Soldier served honorably in question five, and if the military discharged him due to alienage in question 11. Once verified, these three forms should be signed and stamped or sealed.

Completing the G-325B Biographic Information Form The “Family Name” is the Soldier’s last name. “All other names” means official names and not nicknames. The address information and employment information should match the information provided on the Application for Naturalization form.

Fingerprint Cards The Soldier should fill in the name, sign the card, list his residence, indicate the country of citizenship, fill in the sex, race, height, weight, eye color, hair, date of birth, place of birth, social security number, date the card, and fill in the employer and address. The person conducting the fingerprinting must also sign the card. The military is exempt from the fingerprint fee and the requirement that applicants be fingerprinted by USCIS. Thus, any certified individual may fingerprint the Soldier. At the Soldier’s Legal Center at LSA Anaconda in Iraq, the client services paralegals received fingerprint training and certification and obtained several fingerprint kits.35 On the form, for the “reason fingerprinted,” the appropriate response is “N-400″ and for the “miscellaneous number” the Soldier should use the alien number. The Soldier should complete two fingerprint cards and enclose them in a separate envelope. The person conducting the fingerprinting must sign across the seal of the envelope, tape over the signature, and enclose this envelope within the larger envelope containing the rest of the application.

Photographs The USCIS now accepts passport photographs; therefore, Soldiers can disregard all former rules regarding size of the person in the photograph. 6 While the USCIS may accept photographs printed on regular photographic paper by a color printer, the application will look more professional using a traditional passport photograph.

After the Soldier completes the application, and a legal assistance attorney or paralegal checks the packet, the Soldier or the servicing personnel office mails the packet to the Lincoln, Nebraska Service center. The Soldier should expect to wait up to six months before the USCIS contacts him. The USCIS does try to reduce the processing time for servicemembers to be no more than four months. The USCIS processes the applications of non-citizen servicemembers serving on active duty after 11 September 2001 on an “expedited” basis.37 Once the application has been received and accepted, USCIS will assign a Lincoln, Nebraska tracking number (LIN) to the file and will then begin a thorough background investigation.38 As the application is being processed, the Soldier should retrieve study material online and prepare to take the exam and interview. 9 At this point, the Soldier typically waits for another letter from USCIS informing him of the time for an interview. If the Soldier misses the interview and does not notify USCIS, the case will be closed by USCIS after one year.40 After the interview, the Soldier is then set for a time to take the exam. Finally, after a successful interview and exam, the USCIS will contact the Soldier to schedule a date to be sworn in before a federal judge.

After reviewing this note, judge advocates will be better able to assist Soldiers interested in going through the naturalization process and obtaining U.S. citizenship. Assistance by judge advocate personnel will increase the confidence of non-citizen Soldiers that their application packets are complete and accurate. Becoming a United States citizen is an extreme privilege for any person, but holds special significance to the brave non-citizen Soldiers who have volunteered to serve the nation during the Global War On Terrorism. Judge advocate personnel who participate in this effort perform a much-needed and professionally rewarding service to their fellow Soldiers.

[Author Affiliation] Major Marc Defreyn & First Lieutenant Darrell Baughn1 [Author Affiliation] 1 Major Defreyn is a judge advocate with the 81st BCT, Washington Army National Guard. Major Defreyn served as Chief of Client Services at LSA Anaconda, Iraq, during OIF II (March 2004 – February 2005). First lieutenant Baughn is a judge advocate with the 213th LSO Team 7, U.S. Army Reserve. First lieutenant Baughn is currently the Chief of Client Services at LSA Anaconda, Iraq (OIF HI, February 2005 – current).

Defreyn, Marc; Baughn, Darrell


  1. Jesse Jones -  January 6, 2016 - 11:31 am

    The evidence that each seeker of God and truth will understand shall be the experience of which no man can speak of or impart to another… When with a heart of humillity, the seeker takes Gods word and applies it fully believing it ,,, God will fullfill his promise and that seeker becomes a finder… The experience of which nothing can compare… Why ask another man about God it will not be of any use, save to make clear to God that you lack faith, and expect to find out something from each other that which only God himself could make clear to your understanding… Seek ! Knock!, Ask,,, What on earth is preventing this simple task from being carried out… If you want a knowledge of God, as much as the breath in your lungs , seek with all your heart and all your soul and God has promised the contrite that they will find… Peace be with you xx

  2. Killa-D-#1 -  March 16, 2012 - 10:46 am

    The Narrow gate is coming soon but how we to post know our self or hold one another should we do or should we search by the christian bible.

  3. John -  February 27, 2012 - 8:29 pm

    Awesome article! Too many Christians do not understand these facts. Languages evolve over time, and you, American, are not reading the original language! Plus, that bit about the word that is often rendered virgin, but of which the meaning is nuanced, is very interesting. Nuance is important; it can make or break doctrine.

    True, for us believers, the Holy Spirit inspired scripture (never mind that Paul was referring to the Old Testament writings), but God did not come down to translate the old and new testament writings into modern English, or even the not-so-modern English of the King James. It’s on us to seek understanding.

    One word, people: exegesis.

  4. Ruth -  January 24, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    I ran across a passage in a book that tackles this subject beautifully. The Invisible War by Donald Grey Barnhouse says it this way:

    “Just as the Holy Spirit came upon the womb of Mary, so He came upon the brain of a Moses, a David, an Isaiah, a Paul, a John, and the rest of the writers of the divine library. The power of the Highest overshadowed them, therefore the holy thing which was born of their minds is called the Holy Bible, the Word of God. The writings of Luke will, of course, have the vocabulary of Luke, and the works of Paul will bear the stamp of Paul’s mind. However, this is only in the same manner that the Lord Jesus Christ might have had eyes like His mother’s, or hair that was the same color and texture as hers. He did not inherit her sins, because the Holy Spirit had come upon her. If we ask how this could be, the answer is because God says so. And the writings of the men of the Book did not inherit the errors of their carnal minds, because the writings were conceived by the Holy Spirit and born out of their personalities without partaking of their fallen nature. If we ask how this could be, again the answer is that God says so.”

  5. Miki -  January 23, 2012 - 5:37 am

    To bailla: you are 100% correct. the Bible, refering to the Old Testament or Torah and more specific the Ten Commandments and the rest of the rules were given by God on Mt Sinai to the Hebrews and written by the hand of God. The handwritting of God it is certainly holy however any translation is the hand of man, and will include missinterpretations, translation ambiguity and simple mistakes. the translations carry on the holy ideas and concepts but can not be holy down to the single word, hence the book would be “just” a book,

  6. Moxie -  January 22, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    @Tachi I’m so glad you said that! I got lost trying to work out what the author was talking about, ie when they meant something was supposed to have happened. I kept expecting them to define what they meant by the common era, thinking it was something that pertained directly to the subject (Common to the Greeks? Common in Aramaic etc).
    It was a good article, spoilt by something as petty as political correctness, which is ironic considering it’s the Bible and Jesus who defined the whole BC/AD thing anyway.
    Moral of the story? You can’t arbitrarily change a custom that’s been in place worldwide overnight and expect everyone will agree or even know what you are talking about…

  7. bailla -  January 21, 2012 - 12:42 am

    The big question is : is the translation of bible as holy as the original versions ?

  8. Charlie -  January 20, 2012 - 4:14 pm

    This merely illustrates the obvious: The bible is a book comprised of myths, constructed and tweaked over the years by people like you and me, often for political purposes.

  9. Archon -  January 19, 2012 - 8:49 pm

    The prophecy which ardent Christians hold up as support for their unquestioning faith is, “A virgin shall give birth”. Nobody bothers to include the rest of it, which says, “And his name shall be Immanuel”. The name of Mary’s son was Yeshoah, not Jesus, not Christ, and certainly not Immanuel.
    The prophecy was given to a city-king as assurance that he and his army would be victorious in an upcoming battle. Instead he lost the battle, his city and his life. So much for believable accuracy. If some of it is supposed to be true, then all of it should be true, but go ahead and just pick the parts you like and tell me how the Bible is inerrant.

  10. KevinN -  January 19, 2012 - 9:34 am

    In response to Mori on January 18, 2012 at 4:56 am
    There is medical research to document numerous virgin-births caused by parthenogenesis — but in every case, because the ovum is not ferilized by male sperm, the child is female. The miracle of the virgin-birth is that the child was male.

    FACT: This comment is quite misleading. Parthenogenesis has not been ever known to happen in mammals.

  11. Enoch Kelly -  January 19, 2012 - 2:13 am


    If my view is considered sexist then so be it. For one i did not care much about daVinci’s or michelangelo’s works, simply because daV’s Monalisa reminded me of a man and Mich’s David and Bathsheba’ sculpture reminded me a lesbian couple!!! As for Van Gogh, it was simple chaos! Perhaps it is to the eye of a beholder that we would so easily attribute this particular statement of mine, like most of my religious questions were shunned away without an answer by simple quoting the bible “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”

    Not that i wish to discuss sexism or religious views and beliefs here, but what i had stated earlier was only an observation. This observation is founded on the fact of my own belief – God is too big and too great a force that it cannot be confined to a name gender or religion.

    Again not wishing to offend any of you who have your own beliefs or views. All i wish to state after this above mentioned is that, the author of this post has done an amazing job talking about the translations. It was a beautifully written piece.

  12. Sam McFisher -  January 19, 2012 - 12:14 am

    Coptic Orthodox Church, has its own pope the Pope of Alexandria and whole Africa, now Pope Sheoda III, they have prayers in ancient coptic language ( the language after the hyroglyphs ) and also coptic christians study thid old coptic language til now.

    Also the ROMAN CATHOLIC, study latin,another thing to mention is that a lot of their nuns don’t even know about coptic orthodox, or the Pope Shenoda III … which is weird because nuns travel from church to church and from monastry to monastry…

    Also GOD with his messangers and his holy books had been facing many opposition from evil men to manipulate his own words either from translation or from new bibles and fake priests, so that’s why GOD sent his last messanger with his SOLE miracle the Qur’an with ONE language ‘Arabic’ that cannot be manupilated and to understand the Qur’an a person must be fluent in Plain Arabic to interpret the meanings of the verses and another thing to mention is that meanings of the Qur’an could differ and develop more through time, as its miracle lies in the book itself that is applicable for any human being at any given time and it has ONE language ARABIC ..

    P.S.: Arabic like Hebrew is rooted from Aramaic, but Hebrew is only limited to the Hebrews or the Jews while Arabic was the common international language with all the sciences and literature books available in arabic and used to be translated to latin or any other language like Ibn Rushd or Averros http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes a scientist and philosipher of the Arabic Era use to translate these valuable books and vice versa other latin books into Arabic

    Thank You


  13. Jeremy -  January 18, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    In response to Anand and the article where the word virgin is concerned:
    in the particular case of Mary, scripture is clear that she was a virgin at the time of Jesus’ birth. Luke 1:34, in response to the angel telling her that she would have a son, she replied “how can this be seeing that I know not a man?” A clear indication that she was still a virgin.

  14. Alicia -  January 18, 2012 - 11:01 am

    Well, for the virgin vs. maiden part. Even in Old English the word “maiden” automatically donated a (usually young) virgin girl. Look up the word maiden and then think back to those times, if you weren’t married then you were a virgin that’s why they never called married women maidens and a girls virginity was referred to as maidenhood. (look up “maidenhood”) so, Jesus WAS born of a girl who was in maidenhood, a virgin girl.

    Also, in many Churches (including my own) they teach the Bible and they’ll take a word or phrase and tell us the originall Greek or Hebrew definition so that we can better understand that verse. So, even though we don’t speak Greek or Hebrew we are still taught about it but then again I have great pastors and I know not all pastors/preachers/priests teach the Bible the same as each other.

    But, we should be eager to study His word and aim to understand it.
    God Bless<3

  15. DD -  January 18, 2012 - 10:51 am

    The Word of God is the Word of God. Many of us forget the “Tower of Babel” which no translation disputes. Men at one time spoke one language based on that era of biblical time frame.

    God Himself separated them into different languages. I know for certain, that God would not separate mankind into separate languages without giving them a way to understand Him. The bible scriptures is God. (In the beginning was the “Word” the “Word” was with God and was God himself.) What most fail to understand is the Word of God is just that whether it’s Hebrew, Greek, English, Latin etc.

    One it’s not to be argued in any context (Jesus returned and asked the disciples what are you arguing about before he healed the boy with seizures. Who were they arguing with? Scholars of the scriptures who new the definitions or law of the text but not the Spirit of the Word.

    Our Jewish brothers were assigned by God to bring the truth and recognition of God to mankind. We argue language and translations. Truthfully as long as the interpretation lines up with what God intended for us to learn that He is Sovereign. My belief is Jesus is Lord.

    Ask yourselves this: What language did Adam, Eve, their children (Cain/Abel) speak? This was before any dialect of language was establish. This means that the Word of God is today as it was then. The Divine revelation of God. Period…

    God Bless,


  16. MikeD -  January 18, 2012 - 10:50 am

    Any good preacher/teacher will explain the original Greek/Aramaic when reading a particular passage, and at minimum will read parts from 2-3 other translations. By doing this, in church or on your own (I read from at least 3), you can get close to knowing the original. Various Bible websites are also great at flipping between versions and even languages. (biblegateway.com, blueletterbible.com)
    I like the NIV for readability, but it’s not literal. King James is literal, but hard to read. My church teaches from the NASB, which is somewhere in between, but a little to “street English” for my tastes.

    Some have mentioned issues with quoting from a particular translation. IMHO it’s more important to read a quote “in context”. Too often, we just throw a passage out there. But not knowing the context, as well as the original meaning, can lead to completely misguided theology.

  17. Ptron -  January 18, 2012 - 10:44 am

    Enoch Kelly,

    You reveal too much of your sexist bias. da Vinci, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Renoir, etc. Did these men not create beautiful things? As for calling God “He,” it is the pronoun (along with “Father,” which Jesus used) used in the Scriptures, so it is the pronoun we continue to use. If that offends you, then you are allowing trivial matters to blind yourself regarding the importance and transcendence of Adonai’s message of love and redemption to His creation–us.


    Perhaps you have a point regarding the sanctification of the name of God, YHVH, but the truth is that many Christians do know the name of God. Even if many Christians don’t know the Tetragrammaton, we still exalt and honor our God by addressing Him by such names/titles as “LORD/Lord,” “King,” God, “Father,” “Almighty,” etc. The true reverence is found in the heart of the worshiper, and the fruit the worshiper bears is evidence of the worshiper’s heart. If the worshiper neglects to call God “YHVH” (or “Yahweh”) out of ignorance but addresses God sincerely as, for example, “Father” and “Lord,” then the worshiper’s respect of his/her God is clear. If the supposed worshiper purposely omits “YHVH” but calls him/herself a follower of God, then the conviction in that person’s heart is questionable.

    So I concede that we believers and followers of the Lord God Jesus Christ could do well to reserve even greater reverence for THE name of God, but many believers and followers may still hold the same reverence for the Spirit of God despite our lack of use of “YHVH.”

  18. Suleman -  January 18, 2012 - 9:47 am

    Even common language has translation problems, forget about Bible, Torah, or Koran! They’re meant to be living books and any book without the interpreter appointed by the author has no meaning! Where and who is the author’s interpreter? it can’t be several, has to be One only!

  19. Dee -  January 18, 2012 - 8:35 am

    My comment is (excuse me for not sounding brilliant as most of the posters do) that you should interperet/translate the bible and the words to say exactly what it said when it was written! We aren’t so ignorant that we wouldn’t be able to understand it’s meaning. Don’t try to make a word out of something in fear of me not understanding. Let me be the judge of what was written and what it means to me. A virgin and a young woman are two very different things. Can anyone say False Prophets?
    I’ve had this question every since I’ve know about the bible and how it was translated into Greek, English, Latin etc….Were the motives of the first translaters honest? If there were political implications, (especially w/Romans) then there were motives….So are we truly reading “The Word”?
    Remember our history books, that are still being used in classrooms today, are not entirely accurate. A lot of information is left out.

  20. Nathan -  January 18, 2012 - 8:13 am

    To the article’s author, I really enjoyed the review. Thank you.

    To Dan and Nabile: you bring up normal questions and objections. And I was at a point of serious doubt like you. I needed evidence or else. (Incidentally, I am a translator but of the modern languages of Portuguese and Spanish and run into connotative dilemmas as a standard course of business.) Let me recommend a couple books for your examination: by Guillermo Gonzalez and by Hank Hanegraaf. There is more than substantial evidence in the sciences (archeology, cosmology, geology), historical documents, and the examination of the human character. While this is a cursory assertion on a post, I can assure you that the evidence bears out and supports the veracity of the biblical text and its message. It will take some time, and I certainly would not expect a few quips from several people on this site to be any more than interesting dialogue to you. To Dan, Professor Bart Ehrman makes a fundamental error in expecting literalistic modern meaning from ancient texts, a fallacy of anachronism. His is a case of error begetting error. But the good news is his mistakes are easily explained with a little education. Mr. Hanegraaf addresses the core concepts of Prof. Ehrman’s concerns in his book. Welcome to a fascinating adventure of discovery.

  21. Christa -  January 18, 2012 - 6:43 am

    It’s not a bad article, but this is all old news. Erasmus (a contemporary of Martin Luther) brought up the virgin/young woman issue centuries ago and much of the “historical” tidbits brought up in these posts are pure conjecture. Translations change as new linguistic and archeological evidence are brought to light…this is a good thing. As a Christian, I would rather know what the Bible actually says rather than scramble around trying to defend my threatened epistemological notions. Besides, God has never been threatened by people’s questions or their disbelief.

  22. Stuart -  January 18, 2012 - 6:32 am

    I would refer you to my previous contribution, viz, the mistranslation of the word ‘virgin.’
    It has been asked what does it matter if the Hebrew word “almah” means both a young woman and virgin?…… It matters greatly because there is nothing unusual about a young woman giving birth to a son but there is a miraculous implication when a virgin does so.

    As we all know, in the English language, virgin quite simply means a female of whatever age who has never had sexual intercourse. Therefore cannot have been impregnated with man’s seed.

    ‘The immaculate conception’ is the event in which Mary was preserved from all stain of ‘original sin.’ She conceived but without having known a man in the biblical sense. This is important because it made Jesus a God, immortal, not of man’s seed but created by by the grace of God, Jehovah. He became part of the three in one God, The Holy Trinity.

    This virgin birth progeny was not unique, in fact far from it. Many eastern Gods were the result of virgin birth from Osiris to Mithras among many, who incidentally, were also born on the 25th December, hundred’s of years before the birth of Jesus. The similarity is nothing if not amazing. But I digress, that can be the subject of further discussion. It seems it was a prerequisite to be born without original sin at about the winter solstice to qualify as a God.

    So why is the virgin birth so important? Because it made Jesus a God, immortal, not a mere mortal like the rest of mankind. But if he were not born of a virgin rather a young married woman who would have been obliged to have sex with her husband, he would have to be mortal making one of the principle tenet’s of the Christian faith false.

    I am sure, like the modern political spin doctors, many reading this will come up with a manipulation of the facts to verify the truth of the bible. As another contributor has stated this mistranslation was a human error so it can be excused. But what concerns me is if such an important major tenet of Christianity is a mistake, how many more are there? And to think thousands of people throughout history have lost their lives or taken other’s lives in the name of Christ.

  23. Miki -  January 18, 2012 - 6:24 am

    Translation never carries it’s full meaning unless it is a simple text such as a children’s book. Translatng a comedy is tricky. Most of the double-meaning jokes are lost. Now consider all the double (or more) meanings of words in Hebrew. In many places the text is so complicated that many pages have been written by rabbinical authorities in order to explain in Hebrew the meaning of a certain passage so it could be impossible to do it in another language. Most of the discussions above continued to mention the virgin / almah and Abednego examples in missed the point that there are hundreds of other translation gaps ! For example some animals , including pigs are said to be “un clean” animals , and this of course triggered a long discussion whether a pic is less clean tha a cow etc… however the correct translation should have been “pure” animal ( Hebrew “tahor” ). It sure makes a difference, doesn’t it? and what about all the names in the Old Testament, both places and people :”and thou shalt call his name Isaac”… Itzhak , Abraham’s son’s name means ” he will laugh” even in modern Hebrew, and this name was given because : “Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed,” (Gen 17,17). Well, it does make sense only in Hebrew and there’s NO language that could capture this small detail. Now people may say it is not that important ,and we do understand the laughing part, however if we are not allowed to change any word or letter in the scripts of God than certainly God did not write nonsense and unimportant details for us to skip.
    Of courde there are many more such examples. For the serious believers I would recommend to learn Hebrew and read the Bible in the original language.

  24. Cliff Nickerson -  January 18, 2012 - 6:22 am

    Lots of people saying that at that time, unlike now, people believed X. Please give a link to a reference about that. How do you know what people believed in another era of history? Is there a wealth of scholarly articles about what the ancient people thought when they wrote certain words?

    Another very important point about translating is time constraints. Sometimes you have a lot of work and a time limit and thus you don’t have time to translate the nuance of every word or even research differences in the sense of similar words. I’m a translator (not of the Bible, though), and I know that it is not a well-paid occupation and the authors always need their material immediately. I can imagine the various constraints put on translators of religious works.

    I’m also a Christian, and I believe that the Messiah has to be a descendant of David. God certainly isn’t a descendant of David, though Joseph was.

  25. bob -  January 18, 2012 - 5:59 am

    Nothing is safe from the Orwellian doctrine of poltical correctness; it’s insidious nature and success are remarkable. Somewhere along the line it was determined that it is no longer acceptable to measure historical time against the birth and death of Jesus Christ. Out the blue, B.C., which means Before Christ, was changed to “before the common era.” And A.D. which means in English, In the Year of Our Lord was changed to “the common era, as used at the beginning of this article. The reason being that some alien religions obviously don’t recognize Christianity and feel left out coupled with the fanaticle efforts of our intelligensia to purge Jesus from all discussion in the public sphere, thus, bce and ce is what our children are taught in school. I don’t think it’s late save BC and AD but we must take affirmative steps like firing those who buy the new text books and Word of the Day who try to revise our culture before our very eyes.

  26. Look it Up -  January 18, 2012 - 5:41 am

    First of all, the word “maiden” has several different meanings, one of which is “young woman” and one of which is “virgin.” In case you still don’t trust the biblical translation, let me fill everyone in on some Biblical history/anatomy. By “virgin birth” the Bible means that Mary did not have sexual intercourse with any human man. Instead (now, bear with me) the Holy Spirit concieved Jesus within her; therefore, she never technically had intercourse. In case your saying, that contradicts the laws of science, just imagine that there is a God: don’t you think He can control the laws of His own universe? He could concieve His own son within Mary and still keep her a virgin. He’s God. Also (and I can’t believe the writer of the article didn’t mention this) the Jeffersonian Bible is an abridged version of the Bible, only about 1/3 as long. Jefferson was a deist, which means that He believed in God but also believed that He never interfered with man on earth, negating the need for miracles. The Jeffersonian Bible removes every single reference to miracles, supernatural power, an so forth. How can one compare the actual Bible to something so reworked? Let’s get our facts straight. Look it Up!

  27. Mori -  January 18, 2012 - 4:56 am

    There is medical research to document numerous virgin-births caused by parthenogenesis — but in every case, because the ovum is not ferilized by male sperm, the child is female. The miracle of the virgin-birth is that the child was male.

  28. Enoch Kelly -  January 18, 2012 - 3:42 am

    and then i took the time to read through more of the comments. Supprisingly most of you can only refer to GOD as he!!! why??? is it because you were all raised in patriarchial societies with absiolutely no rhyme or reason to appreciate a woman who is capable of creating beautiful things or is it because you are so atuned to chauvinistic BullCRP that for a second you cant take the time to think???

    Look around you, women are the ones who can create anything that is beautiful. That being the case, this world is beautiful and so are the things, and people on it! Then how can you be so sure that all of this was created by a HE??? is it because the scripture says that GOD is “HE”

    The Quran says “Il-Allah” meaning “The God” – absolutely no gender bias found here but why is The Bible so very biased the most christian have to term God as He???

    This comment was esp created for “Here4God”

  29. Enoch Kelly -  January 18, 2012 - 3:20 am

    Quite a refreshing article one must say. it helps one look at things from a different perspective and start questioning even the foundations of a religion. If the translations are not that very accurate since many terms of Hebrew coudn’t be converted in other languages, then the birth of Jesus does have a lot of ambiguity to it. If the Hebrew term almah only stands for the word “maiden” or “young woman”, then doesnt that really make you wonder what you ahve been listening to for so long?

    @smacks, not arguing here, but just looking for clarification!

  30. Ray -  January 18, 2012 - 2:28 am

    Written Hebrew is about half-a-language: Lacking vowels in the original texts, and their original documents before them, millennia ago, and, changes in the language, over millennia, (about six millennia since the earliest events put on record: the birth of Adam and Eve), leaves most translations in the goldilocks zone, not too hot, not too cold, just, warm enough to be tasty. The Jews have a custom that if a man keeps one interpretation, then he is a Jew. (Christians probably don’t see the humor in that: Argue, argue, argue, argue, argue….)

    So, what’s there can be given quite an array of meanings by twisting tenses and senses, through vowel applications… Obviously, the original intent was not for making doctrinal points, but just for a basic outlay of the discussion: “In the beginning. God. Created the Two-Orders (aka Heavens) and Earth,” and it doesn’t mean a plug-nickel whether the Earth preexisted as a lump of molten rock covered in deep boiling water– that is for modern geophysicists to exact of the rules of geosciences, not the wringing of letters in summary.

    The sources used by Moses’ scribes in writing the Pentateuch were of such antiquity, that, they, couldn’t translate any better than we, can… But at least they had them, the scrolls, because they thought the original record was of such significance to be remembered: So, the Bible is not about what is, but what was to be remembered: something kids only gradually begin to grasp.

    Not to grill my own statement, but, Who today even cares about life before the Earth was reached, what planets, what stars, what parts of the galactic arm, what dwarf galaxies swallowed by our own, the billions of years since the universe began? And yet think just a moment about why it was that the Creation event where the genetics of the Adam-lineage was forcible mixed into the then-aboriginal manlike creatures (the animals that could talk), and the result was viable, self-propagating, a result that modern biology says is only possible if they had a common source… common, like Earth has been visited twice, in the last four millions years… and this being the case in fact proves Drake’s Equation of low numbers justifying low government funding blends poppycock and gibberish, quite tasty in academic circles, but wrong since the implication is that every habitable planet, is inhabited, twice over:

    We are not alone, in outer space: Read the record of those who came here.

    (By, ‘half a language’, I do not mean forked-tongue… but then again I laugh.)

  31. smacks -  January 17, 2012 - 10:24 pm

    If you are going to argue against the Bible, please present a coherent argument outside of your own subjective opinion.

  32. Just a Note -  January 17, 2012 - 10:09 pm

    When writing this article, the author seems to have forgotten one crucial detail: Translation from one language to another includes conveying the meaning of the word in its original context. When the verse containing “almah” was written, Jewish society recognized a maiden as not only being a young woman but a young woman who had never been married. This was also during the time that a woman who had never been married was understood to be “pure”, not having had relations with a man. Thus, anyone reading the verse would have understood a maiden to be a young woman who was a virgin. Much like in times past when a bride wore a white dress, guests understood the bride to be a virgin. Therefore, for the word “almah” to be translated to “parthenos” in Greek is appropriate because it conveys the full meaning of the term in its original context.

  33. Tony -  January 17, 2012 - 9:15 pm

    To translate a scientific article : possible. To translate poetry, art prose, mystical prose, or even humor = no way, the text is too complex, has too many layers, cultural references, possibly esoteric / hidden meanings, symbolism, figures of speech and work on sound, rhythm and numbers. Not only do you have to learn the original language, but you have to become an expert at it if you want to get this kind of text 100%, because sophisticated texts are at least as much about what they say as about what they suggest, what they make you feel, and maybe sometimes what they don’t say (irony, esotericism).
    Also, koine greek (“common Greek”, which is comparable to our today’s international English) was not “the language of the Roman Empire”, but the language of the Eastern part of it – whereas the language of the Western part was Latin. Greek was also the cultural language for the educated élite -like French used to be in the 18th / 19th century and somehow still today.

  34. ration -  January 17, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    The Bible is a fantastic work of fiction.

  35. cr0cus -  January 17, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    I’m a Christian – a disciple of Christ, and I listen to Him everyday through the Bible.

    There are things I don’t fully understand in the Bible. But just like a jigsaw puzzle, I take time to spend time to be with Him.

    Then the Word unravels and I get to see pieces that belong to other parts, and then my understanding progresses.

    The Bible is a relationship book, and it takes a relationship with Him to understand it.

  36. Nikos -  January 17, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    Also, Stuart… keep in mind that the Hebrew word “almah” can mean both young woman and virgin. In the New Testament however, the same word is NOT used to describe Mary… rather, while Matthew is quoting that passage of the Old Testament to describe the current turn of events, he is doing this in Greek, and using a Greek word (παρθένος or parthenos) which more specifically describes what is going on.

    So Matthew is essentially saying, “Hey look, a virgin just had a son. Wait a minute, and in the Old Testament, the prophecy had said that a virgin or a young woman would have a son… looks like it did end up happening after all! :D” (please don’t assume Matthew’s tone was ANYTHING like that, I was just trying to get the base meaning across in simple English haha) Matthew’s choice word of “parthenos” is not affected by the variable translation of “almah”, and the word used to describe the woman who bore Jesus only has one translation: virgin. Sooooo essentially, there’s nothing at all wrong with Christianity calling her a virgin, no blind faith here! :)

  37. Polus -  January 17, 2012 - 8:42 pm

    The church that I go to is an Assyrian church and we speak 100% Aramaic during our masses and we’re in Canada! Of course, it isn’t the original Aramaic used to write the Bible. The reason being that language evolves over thousands of years.

  38. Nikos -  January 17, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    Simon, it seems as if you are asking two questions here: why Joseph is not Jesus’ father, and why Mary could not have had sex.

    On the part about Joseph being Jesus’ father… are you saying that Jesus should have had two fathers and a mother? Because frankly, that’s not making too much sense to me… (don’t get me wrong, just about everything about Jesus is pretty out of this world, but I don’t really see why it’d make more sense to have Him brought about as a result of… three people?)

    The Bible makes it quite clear that God is His father… THAT’S why Joseph is not His father. Additionally, it is important to note that the Christian Church doesn’t condemn sex as a whole, and speaks of its being sacred in the right context… and Mary wasn’t necessarily in the right context. Mary was indeed a young girl, who spent the early years of her life living in a temple, almost like a nun.

    Now, the reason that it’s important that Mary did not have sex can be correlated with the reason that monastics and hierarchs do not marry and have children. That reason is that they literally devote every moment of their lives to their service of God in prayer; they simply wouldn’t have time to manage a family, no matter how sacred the sacrament of marriage is. This is the kind of life that Mary was living, and so it’s important as she didn’t intend on marrying anyone or starting any kind of family, because her entire life was dedicated to God.

    Of course, someone like this, whose entire life is dedicated to God, is a perfect choice for the one through whom God Himself should be born as a human! By the time Mary was 14, her elderly parents had passed on and she was left an orphan. She couldn’t stay at the temple any longer however, and had to wed. She ended up marrying Joseph then (a much older man), to keep the custom and to be taken care of, although he vowed to protect her virginity. Of course you know what happens next, and soon Jesus is born.

    As you can see, there seem to be two main reasons that Joseph is not Jesus’ father: Jesus’ father was actually God, and Mary’s lifelong dedication to God did not allow her to intend on starting a family. Of course she did end up starting a family after all, but I think that her son is Jesus Himself is a good enough reason to make an exception here ;)

  39. Jon -  January 17, 2012 - 8:05 pm

    I’m Armenian and we were one of the first Christians

  40. Hala -  January 17, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Aramaic was a language of the people of Iraq, and Abraham, who was from the region now called Iraq. It is sad that the part of the world known as the cradle of civilization (Iraq) has been bombarded to such a degree, and its people left destitute.

    Sad world

  41. Audrey -  January 17, 2012 - 6:26 pm

    Actually, a lot of people who speak English and study the Bible also learn read the Bible in Greek.

  42. Jo -  January 17, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    @Sujan The sabbath day was originally on Saturday and I think that Jews still treat it as a holy day, however it doesn’t really matter when it is because the point was to set aside a day to gather with other Christians/Jews and worship God.
    Also I agree Wendy
    And who said that the bible is violent and nasty (Ana)? Haven’t you ever read a history book? I suppose it’s too gruesome for you as well! A lot of those violent bits are actual history and no historian dares say it isn’t (one did and he got the sack). A fair bit of the bible is also full of poems and love. It can get rather beautiful at times. Why not try reading it properly for once?

  43. Translating between languages | Amateur Linguist -  January 17, 2012 - 5:43 pm

    [...] Dictionary.comto look up a few words. One of the featured articles of the day was advertised as “Is the Bible different in English?” (The actual blog post title is “How many languages has the Bible been translated into? Why [...]

  44. Amvi -  January 17, 2012 - 5:18 pm

    Whether or not the original verse said “young woman” or “virgin” makes no difference. Matthew 1:25 clearly states that Joseph “kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son…” or the KJV: “he knew her not…” referring to intercourse. I double-checked this with Strong’s concordance.

    If you guys want to argue about what verses say, at least look in other places for confirmation. If the original verse said “young woman,” that doesn’t negate what this verse says. The translators, inspired by God, thought that virgin fit better, and this verse verifies that it was correct.

  45. Vanessa -  January 17, 2012 - 5:00 pm

    Shouldn’t there be a comma after the word ‘Well’ in the fourth paragraph?
    Also, isn’t ‘Abed’ a prefix (rather than a suffix) because it comes before ‘Nego’?

  46. Brendan -  January 17, 2012 - 4:53 pm

    @ everyone who is being rude, please don’t insult others’ beliefs.

  47. Paul B -  January 17, 2012 - 2:42 pm

    I am having such a good time here.

    To Ruth: Yes, I know I simplified your message, I used you since you are at the far end of the spectrum of this discussion. (my apology) Please remember though that it is not unreasonable to expect people to look for evidence, Heb. 11:1 tells us that Faith=Evidence.

    Joy & Jack expressed one of the most challenging issues that most sincere people have in having trust in God’s word, we are told it’s too complicated. How can we possibly know what people meant when they used the word virgin or young maiden. And yet contemplate this: We have the words of Plato, Socrates, Tacitus, Josephus and others and no one ever says, “I wonder if we can really understand Plato words”. We have translations of his words from 2,400 years ago and assume they are right.

    When people claim it’s too hard, what I generally hear is I don’t want to take the time and effort to understand. The world is a busy and complicated place and it is difficult to put a priority on something that you cannot see a benefit from. It is only after having an understanding of the truth in God’s word that you feel the benefit from it. Which is why most people begin to examine it during times of distress. When they are forced by their situations to acknowledge that man alone does not have all the answers.

    The other common thread through many of the blogs is that the Bible cannot be relied upon because it was written by men and translated by men. And these thoughts are understandable also, how can it be true that collection of 66 books written over a period of 1,600 years be considered as the Apostle Paul called it “the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13)?

    For this to happen the words of 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired of God” (literally “God breathed”) would have to be true. It is a miracle. How else can you explain Isaiah knowing that the earth is round (Is. 40:22), or Job knowing that the earth “hangs upon nothing” (Job 26:7). Something clearly more than human is at work here.

    I know no one will be convinced by the words of a blog, and I am not trying to convince anyone. Just for a moment consider the possibility, without the prejudice of confining the power of God’s word to the abhorrent actions of it’s supposed followers, that there is something more than just this, that there is a purpose for us more lofty than just taking care of our own personal needs and wants. And next time someone knocks on your door and offers a free home Bible study, ask them this question. If there is an almighty God, why has he allowed people to suffer all the harm that has taken place in the earth? The answer might surprise you.

  48. Kim -  January 17, 2012 - 2:15 pm


    In Revelation, the Spirit is the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit), and the Bride is a term used to describe the Church (the Bride of Christ).

    The Sabbath in the Bible is Saturday. This day is still observed as the Sabbath by contemporary Jews.

  49. Chika -  January 17, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    PLEASE READ THIS… : Revelation 22:19 it says… ”And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” – When/If translators saw this the fear of God will always be inside them and will prevent them from doing any such thing. And why would they translate this correctly… being hypocrites, then do the exact opposite by translating something else wrong. I they wanted to the do the opposite(TRANSLATE INCORRECTLY) they wouldn’t have translted this. I have Made My Point & I Hope You All Listen & Understand ONLY IF I AM SPEAKING THE TRUTH !

    May The Lord Touch All Of You In Your Lives and Bless Y, Through Christ Our Lord Amen


  50. Javed -  January 17, 2012 - 1:51 pm

    The bible has lost its meaning after many translation occured.In Islam, the Bible is held to reflect true unfolding revelation from God; but revelation which had been corrupted or distorted (in Arabic: tahrif); which necessitated the giving of the Qur’an to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, to correct this deviation.

    Islam holds that since all the Books prior to the Quran have been corrupted by human hands, Muslims are only to get their guidance from the Qur’an.

  51. Felix -  January 17, 2012 - 1:31 pm

    I agree with Saba. People keep saying that those are the words of God and therefore they cannot be wrong. Well, God may not be wrong but we may. What could possibly ensure that the words in the Aramaic version were translated into other languages without any mistake? I’ve heard many people said “It’s the words of God, so everything will retain its meaning no matter what language it is in.” and to be honest, I find this statement flawed and amusing. There is always a possibility of errors in translation. Always.
    And also, some people may forget the fact that thousands of years ago, there were not that many people who could read or write, let alone translate something such as the Bible. Could they modify the translation a bit as how they see fit?
    I wonder what would happen if a comet hit the Earth and I or anybody out there survived. Could I make an entire new version of the Bible and say it is the ultimate truth behind everything? Yes, absolutely.

  52. sherryyu -  January 17, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    that’s werid but cool

  53. Bob -  January 17, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    Can anyone leave me a summary, i’m lazy. :D

  54. xaqri -  January 17, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    …Forgot to specifically add that the tetragrammaton (YHWH or YHVH) was removed from the bible over 7000 times! My question is how credible are these translations when they remove the largest cornerstone of the bible, in this case the actual Name of God. Makes one wonder what else has been purposefully misinterpreted. Right?

  55. Jerad -  January 17, 2012 - 12:08 pm

    It is widely known that the word “almah” can mean young maiden or virgin. .

  56. xod_s -  January 17, 2012 - 11:26 am

    Wow.Did’nt think that Thomas Jefferson would work on making his own Bible version.

  57. xaqri -  January 17, 2012 - 11:17 am

    Great article.
    On the topic of misinterpretation, I always found it interesting that the majority of bible translations replace the tetragrammaton (YHWH {the Name of God}) with “the LORD” and yet one of the most popular bible verses Matthew 6:9 (the Lord’s prayer) states “hallowed be thy Name” also translated to “let your Name be sanctified”. I wonder how religious masses sanctify a name they do not know because of its common removal… Seems to me that a divine Book would never be misrepresented. Maybe it’s beyond our understanding. -If so, I can’t see how it could be used correctly.

  58. Ptron -  January 17, 2012 - 10:56 am


    “Almah” means young maiden (a girl or young unmarried woman) who is not married or has not conceived. In the time this was written, a young maiden was considered chaste, unlike in today’s modern Western culture. Plus, it was a group of Jewish people who translated those words from Hebrew to Greek. They knew what it meant. And to say that Greek doesn’t have any word or way of describing a young maiden so they just willy nilly chose virgin seems like an incredible claim to make. Are you saying that the Greek language is so limited in scope and creativity that it cannot be used to describe a young married woman so they they scratched their heads and said, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to settle on “virgin’”?

  59. Ed -  January 17, 2012 - 10:55 am

    “In the beginning…” there was a typo. Perceptive Bobie. A typo to underscore “typos” in translations.

  60. Vicaari -  January 17, 2012 - 10:47 am

    Fantastic article!

    Forgive me, I am not being rude or trying to prove anything special or such but to state what I notice is that some similarities of certain cultures of the said regions of old time, yet still continue or live on in some parts of the worlds especially where I was born. I find now once it used to be in South West Asia…. where Aramaic lang used to be predominantly spoken or had some sort of relationship….

    So come to paragraph 4, Which notes Book of Daniel,written in Aramaic, Abednego is servant.

    Likewise, Kalidas, Tulsidas and such were oldtime noted ppl having suffix das meaning servant. Servant to higher power prefix; therefore, Kalidas is servant to Kali (Goddess), I think and Tulsi is servant to the Tulsi.
    (Should you be intersted in any way, kindly look up in Wikipedia to know more. Now only the otherday my mother, rest her soul, for she died in 1967, used to write her name with suffix dasi; dasi, female for das.

    However, the above is not the topic, perhaps, but the part of it. The topic is about the many langs the Bible translated into, and one of them is King James version–my favourite when I took the Bible course and tried to finish but….

    Now about the Jefferson multilingual Bible is nice too.

    Thank you.

  61. Planebill -  January 17, 2012 - 10:34 am


    Since you have been ‘telling your family for years’ that the Hebrew word ‘almah’ has been mistranslated, could you please share how you arrived at that conclusion? Scholars spending decades in research and study disagree with you. You think the Christian faith is so frail as to crumble upon the translation of one word that you claim is a mistake? Please enlighten the world with how you have reached this conclusion? First however, you might want to read some of the thorough research that has already been done. It has been attacked and defended – google away.

  62. Enrique -  January 17, 2012 - 10:20 am

    Great Article! My only question is:

    Why isn’t there a translation from the original version of the Bible?

  63. Bobie -  January 17, 2012 - 9:41 am

    How come no one has mentioned that the word ‘to’ is missing in the very first sentence of this article..?

  64. Ana -  January 17, 2012 - 9:39 am

    What a pity that people still spend time studying that nasty old book full of violence and nonsense!

  65. Saba -  January 17, 2012 - 9:23 am

    Exactly what I have been trying to tell my family for years. To think the entire Christian religion has been based on the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin, but when the Bible had initially started being translated into other languages most of the world lacked enough education to dispute the clerical errors. The original Hebrew word, “almah,” meant that Mary was a young woman and at that time the only Greek word that was equivalent was, “parthenos,” virgin. This changes the entire foundation of the Christian religion. Many will argue that the Bible can have no errors because it is the word of God. However, humans make mistakes and to admit that would better improve the religion by doing what we were ordered to do in the first place, seek the truth. How appointing a comity to properly translate the good book so that we can better understand it?

  66. Mark -  January 17, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Most of these insights are well taken. And wallowing in this minutia is very important for proper teaching, for sure. However, a good translation (I like the New King James, and the NASB, and others), with the help of updates lexicons, and concordances very precisely portray the message of salvation. Obviously, planting seeds to save souls is our reason for being. There is no doubt in my mind that constant engagement with the Spirit give us that instinct necessary in some translations, not barring strict exegetical discipline. (I should say, I studied Greek for about three years; and Hebrew with native Israelis; and spent due time in seminary.) Nevertheless, There is an urgency in witnessing in today’s world; since, even without the obvious prophetic fulfillment before our eyes, it is apparent that the time is at hand. Most witnessing tools are very simply, easy to understand.

  67. Bella -  January 17, 2012 - 7:51 am

    To each their own.

  68. Stuart -  January 17, 2012 - 7:36 am

    Hi, What an amazing response to this most interesting article. I am somewhat surprised there was so little response to the mistranslation of the word ‘Virgin’. One of the major tenets of the Christian faith is the virgin birth. ‘Immaculate conception’ and all that. But it seems not to matter that the much revered event was a clerical error. It should have read a young woman not a virgin, and that makes a lot of difference to the religious significance of the story.
    No longer can we pray to ‘Mary ever Virgin,’ especially as Jesus had siblings but it appears the truth is always the victim and of no importance, as long as it is written in the bible Christians will believe it. Blind faith?

  69. Beverly -  January 17, 2012 - 7:27 am

    Agree or disagree with it spiritually, the history is interesting. … as is the point that for a very long time it was punishable by death for an ordinary person to own a copy of the bible… as is the historic records of “biblical” stories which are of other than Jewish origin. (flood, virgin birth etc.)

  70. JEFFERSONSBIBLE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  January 17, 2012 - 7:17 am

    [...] read into ‘Jefferson’s Bible’ and the Link there, — not to be Libel. — Jefferson studied in depth — Claiming [...]

  71. Sujan -  January 17, 2012 - 6:15 am

    Hello .

    One more question .

    What day is called as sabbath day according to the bible?

    Sunday or Saturday.

  72. Sujan -  January 17, 2012 - 6:13 am

    Hi, Could any of one can explain about Rev : 22 : 17.

    Who is Spirit and the Bride refers to in this Verse?

  73. PAULA -  January 17, 2012 - 4:52 am

    Thanks, very enlightening

  74. Simon -  January 17, 2012 - 3:57 am

    Also, I remember browsing the net in search of a good “translation” of Tsun Zu’s Art of war. I got myself a version even read “The Art of Warfare” (slight change of wording). These are also very old texts in old Chinese. Apparently, no one agrees on a certain translation and it has been recently translated (compare to say, the Bible, which has been translated over and over through many centuries…). Why should the Bible be any different? Because it is the basis a faith? It was made written and man-translated. People make it seem different just because its message is powerful.

    Also, Ptron got it right, I like what you wrote (and also the author of this article of course ;)

    Someone also wrote that Marie was a virgin, so that Joseph didn’t corrupt Jesus with the sin of man… Seriously I don’t get it. I thought it was promoted by the Church to engage in intercourse only if you were married. Which they were. So no sin. Also, women were thought to be lesser than men. Why is it that Marie is so different? Wouldn’t she have passed down the sin of women through her carrying him in her womb? I think it’s a bit mean to diminish the role a loving father here. If Jesus was the son of God, he was also the son of Joseph. Let’s give the poor man some credits, he did raise the kid too. I refuse to think that God would have given Jesus a mortal father that was a failure and sinful.

    Sigh… what was a matter of translation has become a war of thoughts over faith…

    On another note, I’d be curious to hear about other great works that have been translated over and over again. What about the Romance of the 3 Kingdoms? I heard that it’s such a popular story about how China got unified that almost everyone has a copy in their household. It should be based on historical facts, although romanced a bit. I have yet to buy “it” (those bricks come in 3 books) for myself (bought it for a friend). Anyway, I thought, since the main subject here is not “are you an idiot for believing word for word what was written in a certain book?”, but rather, “Translations in many languages of the Bible and why these translations are a hot topic.” (or something like that).

  75. Simon -  January 17, 2012 - 3:22 am

    Interesting tid-bit that just happened 5 minutes ago. I posted a message on a friend’s wall on a certain social network website and someone from that friend’s contact got it totally wrong and as serious (I though it was pretty OBVIOUS to be a joke) and started to write a long flame message in a rage. The only way I could have saved myself from that rage, was to simply add the letters “LOL” (as she mentioned “if it was a joke, why didn’t you put “lol” (because I don’t use lol, really…)) to the message.

    Well, it’s a bit of a stretch and maybe you see where I am going, so here: As for any book (yes, Bible included), it can be interpreted differently (and misinterpreted from the original though of the author) by anyone. And I’ll add a fact: there was not “lol” in the bible, but it doesn’t mean that some parts should be taken literally. As long as you get the message of love, you got it right, even if not literally!

  76. student -  January 17, 2012 - 3:12 am

    So, did she get pregnant by human being and raise a good, spiritual man who fought for truth and love ? ( = a young woman)
    Or she get pregnant by a holy ghost and bear a child actually by parthenogenesis, which means that the baby was a clon of his mother ( = a virgin )
    With all respect, I’m just thinking about all that, please for some opinions…

  77. Lifeboy -  January 17, 2012 - 3:03 am

    Joel, on January 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm, wrote that the new testament was written in Greek. This is only partially correct. The four Gospels at least originated from a Hebrew (not Aramaic) manuscript that the authors referred to in writing their gospels (meaning “good news”) (Google “David Bivin” wrt to extensive proof of the Hebrew origins and language of Yeshua (Jesus)).

    Furthermore, the amount of information that has been lost in translation, due to largely and initially the devious and devilish works of Augustine & Tertullian, perpetuated by Jerome (no saints for sure! Also interestingly the Greek Orthodox church rejects them as church fathers), has led to the belief in “eternal purnishment” and “the mystical trinity”, when in fact the original Greek and Hebrew both do nowhere have even remotely such notions, thus changing the “gospel” into the “bad news”: God will burn most people in hell forever.

    The lost in translation disaster that most modern bibles are, are so bad that if God had wanted to sue the translators for slander in a US court of law, it would be clear and shut case.

    I lot more can be said about this, but the little will suffice here.

  78. Flore -  January 17, 2012 - 3:02 am

    What is wrong with Marie not being a virgin anyway? Does that lesser the birth of Jesus? I don’t think so. And to BenjaminL, don’t assume that because we don’t believe there is a loving source of divinity above us, that we are non-believer or atheist. There are too many different personal school of thoughts to put people into categories.

    Also: You are right when you say that a woman would be “assumed” to be a virgin when she marries and when she has sexual intercourse for the first time. After that, it is normal that a loving couple would have such interactions. I believe it is rather improper to believe that Marie and Joseph never had intercourse. Because “In those days” as you said, it would be assume that a man and woman do the “deed” and produce offsprings of their own. Also, the first link does say that the meaning is also a young maiden of marriable age. Not being the first in the list doesn’t mean it means it less.

    If faith could be shaken that easily, then it means that there was doubts. Being adaptable in your faith means that nothing can shake it because you have understood its core meaning. Although the books are important, isn’t the message that God and his Son tried to deliver more important? As humans, we tried to convey a story (some may call it a true story, some fiction, that’s not important), but can you really trust your fellow human peers to be 100% that they had got the translation right? Knowing that it may be imperfect because it was translated by man can only make you realize that we are not gods and shouldn’t try to be His equivalent in assuming that we can perfect his story.

    If your faith was shaken after this, your fake was already crumbling from the start because anyone could have told you about what is written in this article at some point in your life. Because we are intelligent creatures, we seek answers and study in order to make sure our sources aren’t corrupt. If the texts are not perfect, it doesn’t matter, what matters is what you feel and know inside of you. Besides, just like an Arab colleague of mine once told me about the Coran, it is meant to be interpreted so that it shows you your path in life. It is not meant to create anger over minute details and wage war against those that will not agree with you. As mentioned, we’re not perfect and admitting that we may be wrong is hard. Adapting is what keeps us strong, as a species and in our faith.

  79. hewhosaysfish -  January 17, 2012 - 2:55 am

    When Saint Jerome was translating the Old Testament, why did he give precedence to the Septuagint over the Aramaic? Why did the translators of King James version similarly prefer translations to the original?
    Is this some convention amongst translators I don’t understand? Were there religious reasons?
    The way this article describes the translators as resolving contradicitons implies that they had access to and understood the originals.

  80. student -  January 17, 2012 - 2:45 am

    Nice article !

  81. Archon -  January 17, 2012 - 12:56 am

    @ Hannah

    In my Bible, there is no discussion of Jesus for the first 678 pages, and it ends on page 878. Only 23 per cent of a book doesn’t seem like “focusing” to me. Even portions of that 23% aren’t “about Jesus” but about the actions and attitudes of his traveling salesmen, trying to peddle acceptance of their particular set of (possibly mistakenly held) beliefs.

  82. kami -  January 16, 2012 - 11:44 pm

    As far as the word of God is concerned its never be equal by letters and sprite to its translation.

  83. Francois du Toit -  January 16, 2012 - 11:38 pm

    Read the Mirror Translation, it will blow you away! This is a dynamic work in progress that unveils the Incarnation code
    as the key that unlocks the mystery message in such a way that everything in you bears resonance witness to its beauty
    find it at mirrorword.net

    The Bible is a dangerous book! It has confused and divided more people than any other document. Yet its profound and simple message continues to appeal, overwhelm and transform the lives of multitudes of men and women of any age or culture. It is still the best seller on the planet.

    If it is such a dangerous document, how does one approach the book? What is the key that unlocks its mystery message?

    The romance of the ages is revealed here. The heart of the Lover, our Maker is hidden in Scripture and uncovered in the pages of this book. He says in Isaiah 65:1
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here am I, here am I”

  84. njun hung -  January 16, 2012 - 11:23 pm

    Who believes a virgin giving birth to a child?? Some of you making comments here do! How ridiculous!

  85. lance -  January 16, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    Very insightful, significant in understanding passages more relevantly. However the foundational truths of the bible remain the same, just as a ship described in different colors still remains a ship.

  86. Jason -  January 16, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    And the battle between believers and non-believers continues….

  87. Ruth -  January 16, 2012 - 10:16 pm

    OK. So God doesn’t make mistakes, but apparently I do…ooops

  88. Ruth -  January 16, 2012 - 10:13 pm

    Well Alram,

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. Until you’ve actually heard the voice of God speak to you, I suppose that you cannot understand. It must seem laughable to you, but I assure you that it is very real. This is my question…do you really want to believe in a god that can be fully understood? I sense that this is how you see God, which would explain your views.

    There have been many prophets over time and, I do not doubt that there are other “bibles,” but my Bible says that God doesn’t make mistakes or. Deuteronomy 18:22 says that if a prophet’s words do not come true, he does not speak the Word of God. Furthermore, the Bible does not contradict itself, not even the Old Testament and the New. God does not contradict Himself. If these texts contradict this, then they are false. We should not fear them.

    I pray that you hear the voice of the God for yourself.

    To all of you concerning the translation of the word VIRGIN:

    Reading through the various comments, I feel that everyone on this blog is struggling to understand with their minds what can only be understood with their hearts. God is not interested in religion–in the translation of the word virgin, etc, etc. God is interested in a relationship. If you KNEW God, rather than knew OF God, you would recognize His patterns. i.e

    In Genesis, Noah sends out a raven in search of land and God tells him to send out a dove instead. Why? Although the Bible does not explain why, I happen to know that the Vikings would send out a raven to help steer them in the direction of land. Noah was just following protocol. The problem was that in the OT, the raven was an unclean animal. God told Noah not to send out the raven again, but to send out His best.

    Now, knowing this, why would God choose a woman who was unclean to carry the holy Son of God? No. God chose Mary, a virgin, to carry Jesus. He chose His best. There is no question that virgin really meant what virgin means today in this case. Even today, women in the Middle East are being stoned for having affairs. Why would we even consider that Mary could have had previous relations in those times?

    If you know God’s ways this is a no-brainer.

    I don’t care if you doubt or think that this is laughable. I have

  89. Planebill -  January 16, 2012 - 7:57 pm

    Interesting discussion. I have several comments.

    The word ‘almah’ was translated into Koine Greek by a team of Hebrew scholars (supposedly 72 in number) in Alexandria, Egypt 200 years before the birth of Christ. This work included all of what is known in the Christian world as the Old Testament and took many years of detailed work. The choice of the specific Greek word for virgin reflects what the translators interpreted ‘almah’ to mean in a particular instance. The word only appears 10 times in the Hebrew. The instance I believe the author is referring to is in Isaiah 7:14. This is a passage about the promised Messiah, Immanuel. (Literal translation: Im – manu – el = with – us – God) Fascinating to know how these ancient scholars interpreted this word!

    Yes, Abednego means “servant of nego” a Babylonian god Nabo/Nabu.
    The Hebrew name of young man was Azariah which has the meaning of “the Lord helps”. The name was thus changed to honor the god of his new Babylonian masters. It was standard practice in the ancient days to have a name that recognizes a deity. Tutankhamun for example means “living image of (the god) Amun”. Daniel by the way means “God is (my) judge.” See the pattern?

    Lastly to Tachi; I understand your angst about the use of BCE/CE but it has nothing to do with any kind of cultural / religious plurality issues. It has to do with accuracy. You see no one knows exactly when Christ was born. One date some hold is 4 BC. So Christ would then be born 4 years before ‘before Christ’. Awkward at the very least. The division between the two eras has remained but it is no longer tied directly to the birth of Christ, which is unknown.

  90. DEMACIA!!!!! -  January 16, 2012 - 7:36 pm

    So, when did they answer the title questions? Especially the second one?

    Oh, and I see there’s a religious flame war going on right now…

  91. Nabile -  January 16, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    I’m an atheist.

    Someone said there is no way whatsoever to disprove the bible. Obviously, since you can’t really disprove fiction. Rather, I would like to know how one proves the bible. The only evidence that everyone gives here is from the bible, the thing they are trying to prove is true. The reason I choose to be an atheist is that there is absolutely no fact that god exists other than this 2000 year old book that’s been translated thousands of times. also, why should my life be at the mercy of someone else? I control my own destiny.

  92. Truth Seeker -  January 16, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    It was really interesting to read this article. There have been many times where I have sat and wondered if the the Bible is the true message of Jesus. Of course, now I know that a lot has been changed and that is not true. When Christianity was embraced by Constantine of the Eastern Roman Empire, he still maintained his paganistic roots as did many of the Romans who embraced Christianity. As a result, the message has been changed to serve the people’s wants, which has been done more than once in other situations. One thing we all have to learn is that we when associate ourselves with a religion, that we do not form the religion to our lifestyle, we form our lifestyle around it, especially when it concerns the religion of God. The religion of God does not need changing. He gave the religions perfectly to mankind.
    We have to bear in mind that translations are only translations; they are what the translator believes to be correct (which may not be). They are not the true words. It is difficult to translate the precise meaning of a word or phrase into another because there may be no words for it in the other language. One word in Hebrew, Greek, or Arabic may have several translations in English. However, a translator tries their best to translate accurately (or one hopes).
    When people (who are qualified) to translate the sacred books, they can be biased. They can translate verses in a holy book to serve their needs and beliefs, which many have been guilty of. When reading translations, we have to be very careful.
    May God, the All Mighty, guide us to the Truth.

  93. WTF.. -  January 16, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Well basically as the bible is a list of ”historic” events, it has been sustracted from the sumerian bible 3000 years BC.
    Horus it’s basically were the jesus crist is base from and you can look for it on google if YOU DONT BELEVE me.
    Also the bible as we know it was set up 300 years after the dead of jesus crist, by the emperor Justiniano. so basically the sumerian byble it’s the rooth of all of this so instead of transalate from the scrits that the jews do you need to do it from the sumerians.

  94. Here4God -  January 16, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    Ruth, i fully concur with your first comment!!! Even if the Bible is translated differently, God still had it planned to have it there for you read as an answer. Isn’t he awesome???!!!!!!!!!!

  95. Trina -  January 16, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    Tachi, I agree. Since the distinguishing event between A.D. and B.C. has not changed, it seems as though this is all an attempt to be politically correct. Yet the political correctness has no substance since nothing has actually changed.

  96. Joy -  January 16, 2012 - 6:24 pm

    I haven’t read through even a fraction of the comments; so I may be repeating what others have said. Sorry if I do so.

    Translating from one language to another is only a part of the problem in understanding the meanings of the words. As said by others, words change there meanings. And sometimes the meanings are vastly different over time. The word man once referred only to those of a particular tribe, or a nation, or sometimes a race. As recently as within the past two centuries, some people were not considered men. Slaves of African decent in particular.

    Even today the meaning of man can be argued. Does man include Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis, Homo Erectus, or just Homo Sapiens Sapiens?

    How about the word world. There was a time when the whole world referred to all contained within the Roman empire. If it wasn’t in the empire, it wasn’t part of the world.

    And the word virgin has gone through more than one change in meaning. It once meant a woman who has not given birth to a live baby. It didn’t matter whether she had had sex. And even if her pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth, she would still be a virgin.

    So what is really being said?

  97. Alram -  January 16, 2012 - 5:01 pm

    to Ruth,
    The bible is the not literally the word of G-d, especially in our time. That idea in itself is a “translation” or an interpretation; usually a fundamental Christian belief. And there isn’t just one bible. In addition to many languages in which the Judeo-Christian bible has been written and interpreted, there are also many other bibles that have been written.

  98. Ronaldo -  January 16, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    Bill Davis’ comments inspired a particularly interesting discussion. Bill, please post the Bible tranlations to which you have contributed.
    Stephen Mitchell has also written wonderful tranlations/interpretations
    of several books of the Bible, i.e., Job, Genesis, etc.

  99. Ronaldo -  January 16, 2012 - 4:21 pm

    The Lamsa Bible is a translation from the Aramaic. It is avaliable in paperback from Harper’s. This is an incredibly interesting discussion by a group of intelligent people.

  100. Eric -  January 16, 2012 - 4:10 pm

    I am surprised no commenter has yet mentioned that Christianity, in most of its forms, remains the only major world religion where only advanced scholars are expected to learn to read the original language(s). Jews, even less observant Reform Jews, are encouraged to learn to read Hebrew. Jewish scholars also learn Aramaic in order to study Talmud. Muslims are required to learn Arabic to read the Quran in its original language. Hindus learn Hindu, Buddists learn Sanskrit. I’m not making a judgement. I understand that an early precept of Christianity under and after Paul was to gather in as many followers as possible, and that making the texts and the religion itself as accessible as possible was the most effective way to do so. Still, I find it curious that only at the highest levels of academic study are the Christian texts read in Aramaic and Greek.

    Even so, even if one is to be fully fluent in the original language, there is still almost infinite opportunity for misunderstandings. Think of how often we misunderstand our own family and friends! Also, words and idioms change meanings very often. Think of classifications of certain ethnicities or descendencies that were preferred just a few decades ago, and are now unacceptable epithets. How many cultural references do we use that make perfect sense today, but would have made no sense a few years ago, and might make no sense twenty years from now, e.g. “reality show.” How many terms do we still use, even though their origin is all but forgotten, e.g. you probably dialed a phone today, but when was the last time you saw a phone with an actual dial (circular control or indicator) on it?

    Trying to understand the intent of one’s religious texts is the work of a lifetime, and there will never be one definitive authority, unless the religion commands it so (as in those who see the Pope as the ultimate authority, but even from Pope to Pope there are changes).

    Keep in mind this story of Hillel, considered by many the greatest of Jewish teachers: “The Talmud tells a story of Rabbi Hillel, who lived around the time of Jesus. A pagan came to him saying that he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the whole of the Torah in the time he could stand on one foot. Rabbi Hillel replied, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.” (Talmud Shabbat 31a). Sounds a lot like Jesus’ “Golden Rule”? But this idea was a fundamental part of Judaism long before Hillel or Jesus. It is a common-sense application of the Torah commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18), which Rabbi Akiba described as the essence of the Torah (according to Rashi’s commentary on the verse).” (from http://www.jewfaq.org/brother.htm)

  101. Richard -  January 16, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    I appreciate the article. However, some remarks that go super of super thoughtfulness against God. These remark makers, having no other time to think with humility the wonder of their own life’s beauty and talent than browsing their laptops of a swooned time length they call it freedom, cannot give any knowledge of their boasted say “There is no God”, can surely be able to read who God is and how He talks and loves ruling their lives and the universe as well, in the same soberest book the world knows the Holy Bible. Easily they can read the said in Psalm 146:10 and know the wonders of love voiced in the annals of David’s life like their youthfulness and the Jewish kingship.

    I want to conclude that freedom ransoms them super inventions, some of these go the ugliest of super intellectuality the West suffers most of all, while the East and the Africa suffer deadly ignorance of blind faith. Both are the same. But the non Western youths have still something great that is their faith in God sung with songs of innocence and love.

  102. Jack -  January 16, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Is translation possible? I would ask, rather, is the exact communication of meaning between two people living in the same time, in the same place, and speaking the ‘same’ language even possible?
    Consider, a person has an idea or meaning he wishes to communicate. First he has to translate that idea or meaning into words that can be spoken to someone. Since words are merely symbols for the idea he has, already with that translation into symbols the true idea has been altered, if not lost.
    Now words have connotations as well as denotations, and connotations depend on a host of variables like the speaker’s and hearer’s life experience, which of course are different for each. Therefore, since these variables determine the meaning of words as understood by each speaker and hearer, no two meanings (spoken or heard or read) are ever going to match exactly. And since the words were just symbols of something else to begin with, now the so-called “meaning” is at an even further remove, if it’s even still there at all.
    And now, how about a translation of a centuries-old language (transforming one set of symbols into another set of symbols with both sets allegedly representing the same ‘idea’) and its ability to accurately render what the original writer may have actually been thinking? Yeah right …

  103. Sarah Frasier -  January 16, 2012 - 3:42 pm

    Jefferson also literally cut out verses of the Bible that he did not agree with…

  104. Wendy -  January 16, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    I grew up moving from church to church, all with different philosophies on what is Truth and what is open for interpretation. I draw my own conclusions that the Bible is essentially two books in one – a history book of what, where, who, how and when – and God’s Word of why.
    The history book is open for interpretation. I personally do not believe the Earth was created in the time period we call a day. I also recognise the parables of Christ as stories/lessons told to shepherds and fishermen, using terms they understand (sheep, fish, etc). If these parables were told today, they’d be about cars and computers and such. Simple stories for simple people.
    God’s Word, however, is not open to interpretation. Whether it’s monogamy or justice or obedience or love thy neighbour or whatever “rules to live by”, the underlying principal is that God wants us to get along with each other, support each other, and to remember WHY we are doing this.

  105. lester -  January 16, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    My church speaks greek…and russian, and arabic. We are Antiochian Orthodox. Our sister church is the Greek Orthodox. So, this concept is not too ‘aha’ for me. Good article though.

  106. hiruy -  January 16, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    something more i want to learn and i want to read bible in every day life ..i hope god was before and ever,,truth…please what ever all christians try to read..bible.and bilve our spritual holly father..amen

  107. James Forayter -  January 16, 2012 - 2:55 pm

    Every written item that has ever been translated into another language is an interpretation by the translators. It can not be otherwise. Also languages to some extent shape the thought patterns of the translation.
    Before anyone can read the Bible they need to ask God to open it for them. As it is the Holy Spirit who really does the teaching, the actual translation is not as important as some make it out to be, mind you it needs to be as close a possible to the original, and that will very ( see first sentence ).

  108. Believe and Know -  January 16, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    There is a Man who in time past wrote for the benefits of us in the present and for those in the future to come, A man who’s wisdom surpassed and continues to precede him. Who amongst us can be found none the wiser and on instruction gives us this to conclude:
    Get Wisdom, get Understanding: forget it not, and she shall preserve thee: Love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing – get wisdom and with all your getting get understanding…!( do continue onto 27 to grasp the concept) and Yet on doing so we come to Know and not believe:

    For the ” Word of GOD is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart…!

    So let us not Murmur beaker and complain: rather let us search deep within our selves for on doing so we shall surely find the Logos the rhema that is and is to come…That flows from within- a river of living water…!

  109. Joel -  January 16, 2012 - 2:47 pm

    Keep in mind, the virgin birth of Christ is one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. Without it, the entire faith falls apart. The New Testament was written in Greek, not in Hebrew, thus the word used in the greek, parthenos, is precicely correct when it states that Jesus was born of a Virgin. He had no sin through the male. It really doesn’t matter what the Hebrew translation means or not since Matthew was written in Greek and the word virgin (parthenos) was the word used in the original.

  110. John -  January 16, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    For the most part, I am impressed with the intelligence in the comments that are being made. The Bible, a collection of multiple books from multiple authors, is not perfectly translated, however, it is an uplifting collection that I enjoy reading. Despite the all the flaws and arguments, it is good to read and contains useful quotidian knowledge that we could benefit from. There are also many other books that contain veracities and it is up to us, with divine help, to learn from truth.

  111. Ptron -  January 16, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    FurryMoses, you said: “To truly translate some sentences between certain languages is to require footnotes or comments to explain it” and “the *only* way to [communicate that meaning], is to use techniques which can’t be assumed are available in translating (ie comments/sidenotes/explanations).”

    Have you ever read a study Bible? There are manifold study bibles in a variety of English versions that offer a wealth of study notes (i.e., footnotes, commentary, sidenotes, explanations, and cross references). These are very helpful and do exactly what you say is necessary.

    Also, to everyone, if you’ve ever participated in a church service or in a Bible study, you’ll hear people reading from different English versions of the Bible. The amazing thing is that someone could be reading from the NASB, Message, ESV, NLT, KJV, NKJV, etc., and I can follow along in the NIV, for example, and read and hear the exact same context, message, and meaning. In fact, reading many versions of the Bible can enhance one’s understanding of the Bible.

    Without faith and the Holy Spirit, though, one will always have difficulty accepting or understanding the Bible (even those who profess to know Christ and the Bible still have difficulty fully comprehending the Bible–that only speaks to God’s transcendence over man).

    Finally, some people will attack the Bible on many fronts with such unwarranted venom for many reasons. I often wonder whether or not those who attack the Bible with such disdain have ever fully given themselves over to the in-depth study of the Bible–a cover-to-cover, cross-referencing, note-taking, truth-seeking, objective, honest, and humble survey of the entire text.

    I also wonder if acknowledging the Bible’s authority creates difficulty for some who are not willing to admit not only their impotency (definitions 1-4: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/impotent) but also their immorality (“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” [Isaiah 64:6], cf Mark 10:18 and Romans 3:12, 23).

    In acknowledging the authority of the Bible, one would have to relinquish his or her own self-direction, autonomy, sovereignty. It would require self-denial, selflessness, humility. It would also require veracity (2+2=4 and laws, not unproven theories and subjective conclusions). Finally, it would require one to admit his or her need for redemption, and these are things that the spirit of the world/body/flesh/Satan do not want to admit.

    In Romans, it is written: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

    “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:14-25).

    If God is sovereign and all-powerful and can maintain the presence and power of the cosmos, he can certainly maintain the message of His means of correspondence with humanity. But that would require a person to admit that God, first, exists and that, second, he is sovereign.

    If anything, before nay-saying the Bible, sincerely consider (and I say this at the risk of making the Bible sound like a self-help program–it far transcends any human efforts at self-help) the revelations and transformations in the lives of those who have given their lives to Christ and have earnestly received the Word of God. Let the results speak for themselves. And if a few bad apples (at times myself included) have in any way defamed the Bible and misrepresented Christ, then go to the Bible yourself and look it up instead of taking imperfect human beings’ word for it. We Christians are called to represent Christ well, but we are imperfect, which is why we admit to needing Christ in the first place (go back up and read Romans 7:14-25 again).

    If you do not agree with or you dislike what I have written, you will likely dismiss me as a wacko fundamentalist, as being intolerant, or you may even dislike or hate me for what I’ve written. But that’s OK because the Bible said you’d dismiss or hate me for holding these views.

  112. J-Wu33 -  January 16, 2012 - 1:48 pm

    I just think that the Bible is the best book in the world. Period. No doubt about it.

  113. Miley Cyrus -  January 16, 2012 - 1:30 pm

    Loved it! awesome article!

  114. Taylor Swift -  January 16, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    That is an great article I liked it.

  115. Taylor Lautner -  January 16, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    Tha is an awesome article LOVED it!

  116. Luis -  January 16, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    Because of translation lots of words has been miss interpreted and a lot of the true meaning has being lost, the interpretation in another language makes the translation of a document fill with errors. As the document is prone to have errors of interpretation, what a phrase or a word may mean to me may not be interpreted the same way by other person.

    Bible is the written interpretation of what god wants the mean to pass on to the future generations, but our history if fill with examples of human manipulation of documents, as it was the council of Nicaea a group of man decided what was the word of god and what wasn’t no man can say to other man what gods want him to know, as that man has direct communication with god through prayer. God doesn’t need priest of other intermediaries to communicate with each individual soul

  117. Tachi -  January 16, 2012 - 12:48 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks that this “C.E. / B.C.E.” business is a bit silly? What was wrong with A.D. and B.C.? I’m told that C.E. and B.C.E reflect the “religious plurality” of our culture. However, the new classification is still based on the birth of Jesus, so changing it seems pointless to me. Also, why does C.E. stand for “Common Era”? Wouldn’t “Current Era” be more appropriate?

  118. BenjaminL -  January 16, 2012 - 12:25 pm

    Christian Brothers and Sisters,

    I am writing this comment to Christian brothers and sisters who read this article and may have been shaken by these allegations. I am not writing this comment to atheists and unbelievers who will deny God at all costs and ignore the obvious truth that God does exist.

    Christian brothers and sisters, do not let this article shake your faith. The writer is very ignorant of the facts surrounding the virgin birth of Christ. One of the first things that people like this will try to do is eliminate the deity of Christ. This has been their game since the first century A.D. (not C.E.)

    To address what the writer said specifically, look at this entry in the Strongs Concordance (hosted by blueletterbible):


    You can also use this site to look up the exact place in the old testament that the word virgin was used:


    You will see it in Isaiah 7:14.

    It is clear from the Strong’s reference that this word did in fact mean “virgin” and when it was used to describe “young woman” it was used as such with the understanding that such a “young woman” would have been a virgin. Remember, back in these times it would have been ASSUMED that a young woman would have been a virgin anyway. These were different times and it is important to bridge that biblical gap between the time Isaiah was written and now (2400 years ago approx.)

    Peace be with you!

  119. Jim G -  January 16, 2012 - 12:22 pm

    I’ll be brief. Since people are involved, it’s probable political motives are involved. There is no way to know what the words of God are since they are written by the imperfect “man.” Yet, we’ve as a race have allowed our conduct to be guided, often to the detriment of ourselves. We denounce, insult and even kill others who just fail to believe a specific way. Let common sense rule.

  120. Nshera -  January 16, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    I do not like people in the old days. They are so rude and racist. My thoughts to white people. NO OFFENSE to you now and Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Jacob and all my biblical people! :)

  121. Sharon -  January 16, 2012 - 12:06 pm

    Not only did translation errors occur due to languages not “matching up”, but there were choices made to match the translators’ beliefs, or the desires of the persons who were paying for the translations. Power over the early Christian worshipers was a very important driving force in choices made by early Popes, and others, regarding translations and which scriptures were put into, or omitted from, the Bible. Many potentially liberating scriptures were omitted to retain control over the populace, intentionally keeping them in the dark for many, many centuries.

  122. Eliezer -  January 16, 2012 - 11:19 am

    Marie, the Hebrew word for virgin is “besulah” whereas “almah” simply indicates a young woman, as the article correctly stated.

  123. Flore -  January 16, 2012 - 11:18 am

    I totally disagree with Mr. Davis that you can accurately convey the meaning a word if translated. Some words evoke something more deep like a state of being of emotion or even represent something cultural that would make little sense to another culture. You can try to find an “equivalent” to these words, but accept the fact that some may never be accurately translated. Just do a quick research about “untranslatable words” and you will be astonished at the variety of words that have no direct translation and sometimes no known equivalent except for a lenghty phrase trying to convey a more-or-less accurate meaning.

    Also, I do believe names were adapted at some point in history. Some names seem strange when you think that these people spoke Greek or Aramaic. Or maybe all of these names really are THAT old… I’m no anthropologist, but Mary-Maria-Marie seem more like adaptations than the actual name used at the time of Jesus. Of course they are, but how far away from the original these 3 are? (taken from English, Italian and French)
    Mary seem very unlikely to be a name spoken in Aramaic.

  124. Ruth -  January 16, 2012 - 11:12 am

    @Paul B
    I didn’t say that translation doesn’t matter. My point is that we are belittling God’s abilities to use his word because we think that a human mistake can destroy Him or what He is saying. Of course, it is incredibly important to maintain the word of God…you have misunderstood me.

    As the heavens are higher than the earth, [says the Lord]
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55

    Imagine that. The Sun in 93 million miles away from the earth…but that said the heavens, does that mean outside out galaxy? the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is a mere 25,000 light years from us. Can we even understand that, much less understand how it all works? It is of utmost concern to maintain the integrity of the Bible, but God’s ways of maintaining His truths would blow your mind. We are less than ants, my friend.

  125. Joseph -  January 16, 2012 - 11:07 am

    I am having two books on my table right now: The Basics of Belief (Grundkurs des Glaubens) – by Karl Rahner, and the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible- New International Version.
    I have read the first, and I randomly study the second book.
    Dan, you really love hating the bible. It is not because of the books you have red. In fact you read those books because you had been hating the Bible before. I am one of those disgusting persons that you mention. Happy hating! You will certainly find sites where you can hate the bible together.
    Akpo, good comment.
    My belief in God is not subject to translation difficulties.
    Bill Davies, in case that is your real name, rings a bell to me. I used to know wonderful people in Florida.

  126. momof3 -  January 16, 2012 - 10:58 am

    When Babylon besieged Jerusalem (around 605 BC) King Nebuchadnezzar brought back some of the most competent and intelligent Hebrews to be instructed in the literature and language of the Chaldeans. Among this group were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The Babylonians renamed all these men, giving them names that honored Babylonian gods (rather than the Hebrew God). Azariah whose name meant “Yahweh is a helper” was given the name Abednego which indeed meant “servant of Nebo”. This renaming was part of a bigger plan to fully assimilate the Hebrew exiles into Babylonian culture and destroy their religious and cultural identity. (Info from ESV Study Bible notes)

    And as for the term “almah,” is it not reasonable to associate a young maiden with a virgin? Dictionary.com defines maiden as “of, pertaining to, or befitting a girl or unmarried woman.” A devout, young Hebrew “maiden” would have most certainly been a virgin.

  127. Hannah -  January 16, 2012 - 10:54 am

    The translations maybe different , nonetheless , but the Bible still focuses on Jesus Christ .

  128. Moosh -  January 16, 2012 - 10:41 am

    I have a couple of thoughts on this:

    I would love to see Jefferson’s multilingual bible, and have the time to read it- the man was a genius.

    To those of you who think that the bible is inaccurate historically, or otherwise for that matter, I say that scholars have tried to disprove it for two thousand years and have not been able to do so conclusively. If there actually was incontrovertible evidence disproving the bible, it would be in the headlines, not buried in some article.

  129. Crystal N. -  January 16, 2012 - 10:16 am

    One thing I find interesing is the translation of John 1:1. Was the Word “God” or “a god”? The New World Translation renders this verse: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Some other translations render the verse to convey the thought that the Word was “divine,” or a similar meaning. Many translations render the last part of this verse: “And the Word was God.” So which is the actual meaning? Was John saying that Jesus was God Almighty? Or that he was diving, godlike?
    Well, Greek grammar and the context strongly indicate that the New World Translation is correct and that “the Word” should not be identified as the “God” referred to earlier in the verse. The fact that the Greek language of the first century did not have an indefinite article (“a” or “an”) makes the matter questionable to many.
    Considering a Bible translation in a language that was spoken in the time around Jesus’ earthly ministry. the Sahidic dialect of Coptic was spoken in Egypt in the centuries immediately following Jesus’ earthly ministry. This text reflects an understanding of Scripture dating from before the fourth century, when the Trinity became official, and it is relatively close to English grammer in the aspect that Coptic does contain an indefinite article.
    So how would John 1:1 be understood back then? The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word “god” in the final part of John 1:1. Thus, when translated into modern English, the translation reads: “And the Word was a god.” Those ancient translators realized that John’s words at John 1:1 did not mean that Jesus was to be identified as Almighty god.

  130. Adam -  January 16, 2012 - 10:04 am

    My thought regarding Dan’s quote from the Oxford Companion to Archaeology where it says that at Qumran different versions of Samuel and Exodus have been found and therefore they conclude, “It is NOW becoming increasingly CLEAR that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100″: I don’t see how they can make such a broad conclusion based on this finding. If the consensus from all other sources through the ages has been the Exodus and Samuel we read today, then the question should be what was behind these variations found rather than to question the large number of copies that do match.

  131. Alyianna -  January 16, 2012 - 9:47 am

    @Cyberquill: How true that is! And thanks, it made me laugh. Good for when you’re studying for exams. ;)

  132. Alyianna -  January 16, 2012 - 9:47 am

    However, Jesus WAS born of a virgin. So I don’t see how big a problem that change is.

  133. Dashti -  January 16, 2012 - 9:46 am

    Haha, right cyberquill. =) That’s a nice way of putting it. Ahh, that sure made me laugh, after reading all the other comments. Simply and smartly put. ;)

  134. Bree -  January 16, 2012 - 9:33 am

    In response to Dan:

    For a very, very long time, history was only conveyed through oral tradition instead of being written down. The important thing about the Bible is to look at it as a whole and take everything in context, not to pull one paragraph or verse out and try to base everything you believe upon it.

    I believe and serve God, but I think it would be absolutely wrong not to question and judge God. If He is not good, He is not worthy to be served. The idea of God you seem to have stems from a Theology that I don’t agree with.

  135. Jennifer -  January 16, 2012 - 9:26 am

    The bible is a history book that tells many phenominal stories.

    People cry out, God, where are you?

    The old testiment tells of God coming to the people, talking to Moses, providing food directly for the people, he was interacting with the people and yet, they missed it.

    Jesus, God in human form, came to earth to interact with the people, in a form less majestic. He directly served people, healed people, loved, and still felt rejected as people cried out, God, where are you? Jesus was not the promised King that would forcfully rule.

    Now, the Holy Spirit lives within believers. Christians are God’s ambassadors and are suppose to follow Jesus’ example of serving and loving.

    The literal translation of the bible has caused many people to question God. I beleve that God can use imperfect humans to still convey his story — He desires to be a personal God.

    So, zoom out, see the Bible as a book that describes God’s interaction between people from the beginning of recorded history, through the coming of Jesus. It also fortells of a time in which God is going to directly intervene again.

    God’s story exists among Christians who are supposed to continue to carry out his commandments: Love God, Love Others. The story continues on with individuals who can fail. The greatest part, we are not forced to love God or others, but when we do — there is a peace and a harmony that exists when we take the time to stop being selfish.

    My challenge for all — keep it simple, see the bigger picture, and see what you can learn from the imperfect people whose stories are in the bible, perhaps it will bring encouragement that even though you feel lost, the stories are in a language that you can read, understand, and get to know a personal God.

  136. Cyberquill -  January 16, 2012 - 9:21 am

    If Noah’s descendants hadn’t had this megalomaniacal idea of building a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven,” we wouldn’t have this problem with different translations in the first place.

  137. Paul B -  January 16, 2012 - 9:04 am

    Between Ruth who says translation is not even an issue to look at and Dan who hates the idea that there is a God, I feel Akpo got it just right. Both the Latin Vulgate and the King James were the best bibles of their times. Since then thousands of manuscripts have become available. By overlaying these thousands of manuscripts our ability to come to an accurate translation of the original language has much improved from what the writers of the King James bible had available to them.

    Then the main question becomes has the translator allowed his biases into his translation. An interesting book looking into that subject was written by a professor of ancient Greek and Hebrew at the University of Arizona. It is entitled “Truth in Translation” and compares several of the most frequently used English Bibles and examines them against the original languages. In particular he examines several verses that are commonly translated differently in English language translations and are deemed controversial. What he found is illuminating.


    Thanks to our blogger at Dictionary.com for the subject and for Akpo for his reasonableness.

  138. Akpo -  January 16, 2012 - 8:34 am

    @Dan It is interesting that the basis of your disgust at people reading one compilation of books is based on your reading of other books.
    If you have actually read the bible, not just snippets of it or often warped interpretations of it given by various clergy then you are justified in then saying it’s not for me.
    If you condemn the bible and it’s author because of the unsavoury actions of those who claim to represent him in organised religion it is unfair.
    If however if you make this condemnation by proxy based on the ‘assessments’ given by those you consider to be learned men, then you do yourself a disservice.
    Every author expects their books to be read by certain kinds of people. The bible’s author expects it to be read by humble, honest-hearted individuals.

  139. GDesk -  January 16, 2012 - 8:25 am

    The language of the Roman Empire was Greek as well as Latin – Greek in the eastern half, including the Holy Land. The language of the Christian liturgy everywhere, including Rome, was originally in Greek. In the late 200s the emperor divided rule in the widespread empire among minor capitals including Nicomedia in the Greek-language area. Constantine reunited the empire in the early 300s with a single capital at Constantinople, then part of Greece. He converted to Christianity, legalized it, and founded a new patriarchate there. In response, the Roman patriarchate started Latinizing the church in the West – Jerome translated the Bible in the late 300s, followed by the translation of the sacred liturgy into Latin in the 400s. The “Kyrie Eleison” and the “Hagios Oteos” hymn on Good Friday are remnant bits of Greek in the Roman Liturgy.

  140. Me me -  January 16, 2012 - 8:20 am

    woa, nvr rlly looked at it tht way b4

  141. Akpo -  January 16, 2012 - 8:14 am

    The authors have not answered the two questions in the title.
    How many languages? The link below gives a total of 2,287 as at March 2002.
    Does it matter? Yes. The message the bible contains is meant to be available to all humans. Like with any book , it has a to-whom-it-may-concern presentation.
    The Bible was written using the common, everyday languages of average people, such as farmers, shepherds, and fishermen. (Nehemiah 8:8, 12; Acts 4:13) Therefore, a good translation of the Bible makes the message it contains accessible to sincere people, regardless of their background. A desirable translation will also do the following:

    *Accurately convey the original message that was inspired by God.—2 Timothy 3:16.
    *Translate the meaning of words literally when the wording and structure of the original text allows for such a rendering in the target language.
    *Communicate the correct sense of a word or a phrase when a literal rendering of the original-language expression would distort or obscure the meaning.
    *Use natural, easy-to-understand language that encourages reading.

  142. ed -  January 16, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Great article. That little slip between maiden and virgin has make all the difference.

  143. Mary Anderson -  January 16, 2012 - 7:29 am

    You write: For example, in Aramaic, there is a suffix that denotes “servant of.” In the Book of Daniel, one person’s name is Abednego. Technically, in the Aramaic that name means “servant of Nego,”
    I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning, so correct me if I’m wrong, but if Abednego means “servant of Nego,” then isn’t “abed”
    a PREFIX, not a SUFFIX? Either way, it’s an interesting tidbit.

  144. Ole TBoy -  January 16, 2012 - 6:23 am

    Bill Davis says, “However, the FORM will have to be changed, a affix such as nego (“servant”) might have to be made a word or a phrase — or more.” The Hot Word article says, “in the Aramaic that name means “servant of Nego.” ” So who is correct? Does “nego” mean servant, as Davis indicates, or is it “abed” that means “servant of” as Hot Word indicates?

    Also, Bill, would it not be “an” affix instead of “a” affix? And, in your second note you say, “Oh, an interestingly, you MIGHT walk into a Christian church…” Should that not be “and interestingly”? These simple errors would seem to undermine your credibility as a translator.

  145. KD -  January 16, 2012 - 6:20 am

    Fascinating article. And all of the intelligent and informed comments are even better. Thanks for sharing, everyone.

  146. Adele -  January 16, 2012 - 5:36 am

    What a great article. I am in no way a Bible scholar, but like many, I have been exposed to the Bible since childhood, and have never thought much about what changes are wrought by translation. Now I hope I will spend some time studying this most interesting topic. Thank you!

  147. Jaye -  January 16, 2012 - 5:33 am

    I agree entirely with Cam. People are people, with their own biases, motivations and personal opinions. As soon as any work is translated some of the original meaning will be lost. Even if the translator is able to remain completely impartial, it cannot be assumed that their understanding of a language not native to them is thorough enough that they are able to grasp and replicate the nuances. As Cam said, some words can be loaded with so much meaning in one language that a non-native speaker could never fully understand its exact subtleties nor be able to communicate them in another language. These discrepancies then accumulate and snowball down through the ages, to the point where all modern Bibles are nothing more than eisegeses.

  148. Marie -  January 16, 2012 - 4:36 am

    The article left me with a couple of questions that I think are important: Is (or was) there a Hebrew word apart from ‘almah’ that specifically meant virgin, or did ‘almah’ serve for both meanings? Also, was Nego the name of a Babylonian God? Sometimes names include other names but without a significant meaning. For example, we wouldn’t encourage future translators to interpret the name Lyndon Baines Johnson as ‘Lyndon Baines the son of John.’

  149. Leon Coetzer -  January 16, 2012 - 3:07 am

    Great article. Lost in translation, the bible in its present form is deceptive. It is a living lie. A lot of the translations had a political leaning. People have been burned at stakes due to a simple translation errors. Mr Davis flits lightheartedly over these transgressions, I find it quite scary that you say you translate bibles if you can brush aside such huge errors with such ease?

  150. Alexander -  January 16, 2012 - 2:36 am

    Parthena in Greek, could have not been translated into virgin and the modern meaning we give it today. Parthena might have very well meant ‘young woman’ in the early centuries A.D.. It is worth keeping in mind that words change meaning over the ages and applying modern definition to ancient words could be misleading. So whereas the translation might have been relatively accurate, the meaning of the words have changed and their original definition forgotten or omitted.

  151. tai -  January 16, 2012 - 1:57 am

    nice article….random thought…there used to be some religious and political conflicts back then,the bible was edited at the same era,probably some points erased..they didn’t have to edit it,all Christians were supposed to learn the bible in its original version,since the article quotes
    “Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic”
    then you can translate the bible in whatever language you’d like to

  152. Dan -  January 16, 2012 - 12:51 am

    It is absolutely disgusting people still believe this book is good, and the word of a god.

    Here is an informational article, and people are making the most extravagant remarks of “you can’t change the word of god”, well you simply haven’t studied biblical history have you. Things will remain, but sometimes entire meaning of books and verses are changed to match the interpreters present understanding.

    –The Oxford Companion to Archeology, entry on the “Dead sea scrolls”, Oxford University Press, 1996.
    “While SOME (it said SOME) of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is NOW becoming increasingly CLEAR that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100″

    Even after this you will find untold numbers of errors in the New Testament, try the Biblical scholar Bart Erhman and his book “Misquoting Jesus”.

    Even so, if there was no error, one should be very sorry to think highly of a god that created things in such a way. For goodness sake, people die for only being created how he wanted them to be.

    If there is an all-powerful god (self-contradictory) and could do anything that it pleased, I would say that god is the ultimate criminal; who can get away with anything.

    Any god can judge me, as I will judge it also, it is funny believers find that wrong (to judge god) which is my point (God is the ultimate criminal).

  153. FurryMoses -  January 16, 2012 - 12:29 am

    Bill Davis, you’ve responded to an obvious truism “there are things you cannot say in one language that you can in others” and refuted it with an idea that is entirely different: “any meaning can be communicated in any language”.

    The problem is, both those statements are probably true.

    To truly translate some sentences between certain languages is to require footnotes or comments to explain it. Since in many cases, the text is a quote that some person said to another. Trying to rephrase the meaning into another language while keeping an appropriate social context can often only come out very unnatural, if not ridiculous.

    So, yes, you could communicate that meaning, but the *only* way to do it, is to use techniques which can’t be assumed are available in translating (ie comments/sidenotes/explanations). So the article’s idea stands to my mind: “there are things you cannot say in one language that you can in others”.

    It doesn’t really matter if you are capable of communicating the meaning into another language, if there’s no means to do that within the medium you are working in.

    All this has much more significance with vastly different languages such as Dutch to Japanese. If you’re translating between Indo-European languages, you would have no idea how difficult this can be.

  154. Hannah -  January 16, 2012 - 12:08 am

    the article that is ;)

  155. Hannah -  January 15, 2012 - 11:22 pm

    Love it!

  156. Rence -  January 15, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    I concur with Mr. Bill Davis’ comment: It is quite difficult if not ultimately impossible to translate exactly one language into another, especially if it has evolved thorugh the ages; however, one CAN provide the actual meaning still. As Monsieur Davis had clarified, true the form may change, but a skillful translator can still capture the actual meaning just that in another form or word. I teach my native learners American/British-English, yet I do not translate directly but I DO keep the spirit of the word intact in respect for the language of that nation and its people.

  157. Kwame 4rm Ghana -  January 15, 2012 - 10:11 pm

    Nice article. For a book like the bible that is referred to by many people, interpreted diversely and inferred subjectively; a small alteration in the translation can make a big difference. It would be like the small percentage difference between the human genome and that of the chimps. I think we all have to bear this in mind when quoting from the bible.

  158. Cam -  January 15, 2012 - 9:42 pm

    In response to Bill Davis, I agree largely, save for a small nuanced point. While anything can be translated and communicated with fair accuracy, there are literary drawbacks and even ambiguities. For example, to know a person in the Bible was named “Abednego” is more practical and even meaningful, insofar as the aesthetic appeal of the work is concerned, than repeatedly saying “The Servant of Nego”. Whether a person takes the Bible as a work of profound fiction or deep spiritual truth, its ability to be legibly appealing is important. This can be troubling with translation, particularly across vastly different linguistic phenotypes. So, translators are obliged to take on certain…arbitrary liberties. A single word can be loaded with so much meaning that its interpretation can create vastly different perspectives on the material.

    So, we have to wonder if the oldest translators, particularly those associated with the Roman Catholic Church, had political intentions behind some of their translations from Greek to Latin. For that matter, it’s possible the rabbinic scholars from centuries prior may have had political purposes behind the translation from Hebrew to Greek.

    This historical doubt ends up revealing a fundamental flaw in, well, fundamentalism.

  159. Bill Davis -  January 15, 2012 - 9:26 pm

    Oh, an interestingly, you MIGHT walk into a Christian church speaking Aramaic, even today. My wife and I visited a Catholic church in southern California where the service was conducted in Aramaic and the congregation (immigrants from Iraq) spoke that language with one another.

  160. Anand -  January 15, 2012 - 8:51 pm

    The simple meaning of Bible is book. This is very informative. Author very clearly explains how he word vorgin creeped into bible. In Hinduism lot of original sanskrit books translated into english and translation conveys entirely different meaning. We should never go by words, we should go beyond words to understand the real meaning of Holy scriptures

  161. Bill Davis -  January 15, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    I am a Bible translator. There are a few errors and misleading statements in this article. First of all, you make a distinction between the “Christian Bible” and the “Hebrew Bible.” The Jews do not call their Scripture (the Old Testament) the “Bible” and what you are calling the Christian Bible includes the Jewish Old Testament.

    The statement “As with any translation, there are things you cannot say in one language that you can in others” is wrong. Any meaning can be communicated in any language. However, the FORM will have to be changed, a affix such as -nego (“servant”) might have to be made a word or a phrase — or more.

    And the Bible has not been translated into “hundreds” of languages, but into thousands, and some languages, such as English, have multiple versions.

  162. Paul -  January 15, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    The author starts out this article by saying “If you were go into a Christian church in America, the congregation would probably be speaking English, maybe Spanish, maybe another modern language. But they almost definitely would not be speaking Aramaic or Greek, the languages that the Christian Bible was written in.” Obviously he or she has not been in a Greek Orthodox Church where the bible is read in koine (or common) Greek every Sunday. Otherwise this is a great article.

  163. Ruth -  January 15, 2012 - 8:10 pm

    For any other book, translation would be a major issue, but because the Bible is a living book, meaning that it is the word of God, it maintains its integrity through translation. Sometimes the translation we are using highlights different aspects of the scripture, which God may use at that time in our lives.

    For the past year I have had this question in my head: “Why are you here?” I opened up The Message Bible (which is a paraphrase, not word-for-word) and went straight to Matthew 5:13-16. It read, “Let me tell you why you are here…” I can guarantee that is not a word-for-word translation (though it says the same thing), but God used it to answer my question word-for-word.

  164. Tooter McJenkins -  January 15, 2012 - 7:33 pm

    excellent article

  165. L-guy -  January 15, 2012 - 7:28 pm

    That would be awesome!

  166. Alvin Gongora -  January 15, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    The translation of the Bible into the vernacular has played a key role in the development of education in so called third world countries where Christianity as grown deep roots in the common population.


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