Currency and Weight

Edward D. Andrews

Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version  (UASV)

What exactly is meant by “unknown?” This is the gulf that exists between those of Bible times and us today, in our modern world. There is a difference in time, custom, and culture, places, language, and worldview. How many reading this CPH Blog article personally washes the feet of their guests when they visit our home? In addition, according to another Jewish scholar, Abraham Ibn Ezra, it was the custom in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for a servant to take an oath in a certain manner, placing his hand under his master’s thigh, the latter sitting upon his hand. How many today have a special friend over for dinner, has him lean on his bosom[1] during a meal, as they recline on a couch.[2]

The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2If a name, such as Raphia, is used, one will not know if it is a person or a city that is being talked about. If a product costs one denarius, the reader will not understand the value. Was the purchased product expensive, or affordable? The use of temple or priest might bring to mind modern-day applications of what the reader has knowledge of, which could be inaccurate.

There are many features that can be added to a translation, which will aid the reader about the unknown. For example, footnotes, images, tables, glossary, and so on. However, as far as the text is concerned, the translator will want to be faithful to the text. Before delving into the unknown, let us take a moment to lay out the steps of the Bible translation process. Our unknown example would fall under Bible background information, i.e., the historical setting. John 2:4 is what we call a Bible difficulty because if read aloud, from a literal translation, it would seem to the modern-day mind that Jesus is being abrupt, curt, offhanded, or even disrespectful to his mother. This is because it is an unknown. Before delving into our translation process, let us see how translations attempt to resolve the unknown.

John 2:4 (UASV)

nd Jesus said to her, “What have I to do with you,[3] woman?[4] My hour has not yet come.”

John 2:4 (LEB)

And Jesus said to her, “What does your concern have to do with me, woman? My hour has not yet come.”

John 2:4 (CEV)

Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come: You must not tell me what to do.”

John 2:4 (ERV)

Jesus answered, “Dear woman, why are you telling me this? It is not yet time for me to begin my work.”

John 2:4 (GNT)

“You must not tell me what to do,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

John 2:4 (NLT)

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

Do We Still Need a Literal Bible-2As we can see, the UASV stays with the literal wording; while others attempt to soften, what they perceive will be misunderstood. The East to Read Version and the New Living Translation do this by inserting “dear,” which is not in the original Greek. The Lexham English Bible simply removes “woman,” replacing it with “her.” The Good News Translation removes “woman” as well, replacing it with “you.” The Contemporary English Version and Today’s English Version chose to replace “woman” with “mother.” The best solution is to add a footnote to a literal translation that states, “The Greek does not denote any disrespect.” If it is a study Bible, the footnote could be extended to offer a more lengthy explanation. The reader should be brought up to the text as they grow in knowledge and understanding of the Bible background and custom and cultures of Bible times, as opposed to having a dumbed-down translation. For example, that the expression, while not disrespectful, is forceful, to let Mary know that Jesus was not taking directions from the Father, his time was short, and his ministry had begun. This expression is not paralleled in ancient Jewish or Greco-Roman literature.[5] However, Jesus’ words to the apostle John, the beloved disciple, while Jesus was being executed, to care for Mary as though she were his mother, evidence that Jesus was not disrespectful to his mother. – John 19:25-27

Translating the Unknown

First, let us take just a moment to talk about the translation procedure. Of course, to a person, who has never studied Greek, it will simply look like a collection of unrelated words. Below is John 2:4.

While many Bible scholars speak negatively of using an interlinear, we do not. It is a nice neat way of getting from “A” to “B.” We must keep in mind; yet again, Greek does not care about word order, because it has grammatical tags, which let the reader know what role a word is playing within the sentence. Let us now break our sentence apart and add our English equivalents above the appropriate Greek word.

John 2:4 Greek to English Interlinear

καὶAnd λέγειis saying αὐτῇto her the ἸησοῦςJesus ΤίWhat ἐμοὶto me καὶand σοί,to you, γύναι;woman? οὔπωNot yet ἥκειis arriving the ὥραhour μου.of me

Literal Translation

Now that we have established our interlinear translation, we can now move to bringing them together into clauses, followed by sentences. In that we favor a literal translation philosophy, we will attempt to retain the word order of the Greek as far as possible. Our next step is to develop our English sentence.

We can take the English equivalent of the Greek clause, “And says to her, the Jesus,” and render it literally as

  • And Jesus said to her,

Then, we can take the English equivalent of our next Greek clause, which is a question, “What to me and to you woman,” and keep it literal as,

  • What have I to do with you, woman?

The English equivalent “woman” can be literally translated as “woman,” but more on that in a moment. Finally, we move onto our last Greek clause, “not yet is come the hour of me,” and render it literally as,

  • My hour has not yet come.

When we put it all together, we get the translation below. Note that our translation has a footnote that will remove any misunderstanding for our readers.

John 2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

4And Jesus said to her, “What have I to do with you, woman?[6] My hour has not yet come.”

Dynamic or Functional Equivalent Translation

However, as we saw, the interpretive translations take issue with the literal rendering of “woman.” Concerning the literal rendering of “woman,” in one instance the interpretive translators will tell us “Jesus’ use of “woman” (UASV) in direct address was not considered disrespectful (compare Matt 15.28).”[7] However, rather than put this informative statement in a footnote, in the next instance, they want to add their interpretation into the text, removing the difficulty for the reader.

A number of serious problems are involved in translating “woman” literally. In some languages a man would address his own wife this way, and so this rendering cannot be employed here. In other languages, to address one’s mother as “woman” would be insulting; it could even be interpreted to mean that Jesus was denying that Mary was his mother. The closest equivalent in many languages is simply “my mother” or “mother,” but in others, an equivalent expression showing proper respect would require the omission of any expression of direct address, as in TEV.[8]

THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENTThe closest equivalent is not “mother,” it is “woman.” The trouble with removing a difficulty, you remove an opportunity at Bible education, enabling the students to appreciate a Bible background to Bible times, with one simple footnote. Rather than bring our translation down to the seventh-grade level, let us bring our Bible student up to the tenth to the eleventh-grade level of biblical understanding. The dynamic equivalent translator is more concerned with ‘re-expressing the meaning’ that they wish to convey in the translation, as opposed to expressing the meaning, which God meant to convey by his inspiration. Some solutions that they offer in translating the unknown are (1) use a descriptive phrase, (2) the substitution of something similar, or (3) use a word that is more general in meaning, or (4) use a word or phrase that is more specific in meaning.

See Full Article Here: JOHN 2:4 Was Jesus Disrespectful to His Mother?

Descriptive Phrase

Below we are going to investigate Luke 7:2, taking the terms “centurion” and “slave” into consideration. We will discover that the UASV (and NASB) remains literal on both terms, while the ASV, ESV abandons their translation philosophy when it comes to the term “slave.” The CEV and GNT abandon literalness with the term “slave” and “centurion.”

Luke 7:2 Greek-English Interlinear

ἙκατοντάρχουOf centurion δέbut τινοςof any δοῦλοςslave κακῶςbadly ἔχωνhaving ἤμελλενwas about τελευτᾷν,to be deceasing, ὃςwho ἦνwas αὐτῷto him ἔντιμος.in honor.

Luke 7:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

2 And a certain centurion’s[9] slave,[10] who was honorable to him, was sick and about to die.

Luke 7:2 (ESV)

2 Now a centurion had a servant[11] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.

Luke 7:2 (ASV)

And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick and at the point of death.

Luke 7:2 (CEV)

In that town an army officer’s servant was sick and about to die. The officer liked this servant very much.

Luke 7:2 (GNT)

A Roman officer there had a servant who was very dear to him; the man was sick and about to die.

MISREPRESENTING JESUS_Third EditionAlmost no Bible readers today are going to know what a “centurion” is; therefore, this is an unknown. A literal translation should retain this word, and offer the Bible reader a footnote that informs him of its meaning: in ancient Rome, a centurion was an officer in charge of a hundred foot soldiers. The NLT was the only one to address this but accomplished the task in the opposite manner. It chose to put the descriptive phrase in the text, and the literal rendering in the footnote. This is not the preferred manner. If the difficult reading is retained, it will move the Bible reader to pause and look at his footnote for clarification, which adds more information as well. Additionally, the reader will learn that a centurion is not only a Roman officer but also an officer over a hundred foot soldiers. If the easy reading is retained in the text, the student will just read on, ignoring or not noticing the footnote, having learned nothing about the historical setting of Bible times.

Now, we will turn our investigation to another example, Revelation 9:17, taking the term “breastplate.” You will discover that the literal ESV remains faithful to its translation philosophy, while the NLT follows its philosophy of inserting a descriptive term.

Revelation 9:17 Greek- English Interlinear

17 καὶAnd οὕτωςthus εἶδονI saw τοὺςthe ἵππουςhorses ἐνin τῇthe ὁράσειvision καὶand τοὺςthe (ones) καθημένουςsitting ἐπ’upon αὐτῶν,them, ἔχοντας(them) having θώρακαςbreastplates πυρίνουςfiery καὶand ὑακινθίνουςhyacinthine καὶand θειώδεις·sulphurlike; καὶand αἱthe κεφαλαὶheads τῶνof the ἵππωνhorses ὡςas κεφαλαὶheads λεόντων,of lions, καὶand ἐκout of τῶνthe στομάτωνmouths αὐτῶνof them ἐκπορεύεταιis going out πῦρfire καὶand καπνὸςsmoke καὶand θεῖον.sulphur

Revelation 9:17 (UASV)

17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they had fiery red hyacinth[12] and sulfur breastplates[13]

Revelation 9:17 (NLT)

17 And in my vision, I saw the horses and the riders sitting on them. The riders wore armor that was fiery red and dark blue and yellow …

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COPYISTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENTHere again, we have an unknown, “breastplate.” Very few, if any Bible readers are going to know what a “breastplate” is. Again, the best option here is to retain the corresponding English term in the text and add a footnote: a piece of armor that covers the chest. You will notice that the ESV does not offer the note, and the NLT does not offer the reader the literal translation as an option in a footnote. Therefore, once more the Bible reader is left ignorant of deeper Bible study information. What the interpretive translators fail to appreciate is that they are leaving their readers uninformed by dumbing down their translations, i.e., dumbing down their readers.

One thing that most Bible scholars agree on is the fact that the biblical illiteracy level has grown to encompass over ninety percent of about two billion Christians. An article runs in Biola Magazine, dealing with just this issue. It was titled, The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy and What We Can Do about It. It should be noted that Biola University is one of the top apologetic schools in the United States. It reads, “Wheaton College professor Timothy Larsen comments that ‘it has been demonstrated that biblical literacy has continued to decline. … Gallup polls have tracked this descent to a current ‘record low.’”

In “The 9 Most Important Issues Facing the Evangelical Church,” theologian Michael Vlach cites “Biblical Illiteracy in the Church” as his final concern. He agrees with George Barna’s assessment that “the Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy.”

New Testament scholar David Nienhuis summarizes his understanding of the situation in an article titled “The Problem of Evangelical Biblical Illiteracy: A View from the Classroom”:

For well over twenty years now, Christian leaders have been lamenting the loss of general biblical literacy in America. … Some among us may be tempted to seek odd solace in the recognition that our culture is increasingly post-Christian. … Much to our embarrassment, however, it has become increasingly clear that the situation is really no better among confessing Christians, even those who claim to hold the Bible in high regard.[14]

Here is a great irony; the Christian church is starving spiritually, and those feeding them are unable to identify the cause? The reason for this growth in biblical illiteracy has been right in front of them all along. They have been on a diet of baby food. The church has been feeding them spiritual baby food for decades. What would happen to an adult, if they ate nothing but baby food for 20 years? They would not be getting the nutrients they needed. This strange diet would end with an early death. The apostle Paul dealt with this very situation in the book of Hebrews. We will offer the text and a lengthy quote from a commentary as this is likely the most important point considered in this publication. Thereafter, we will return to the question that the above article asks, “How Did We Get Here?”

Hebrews 5:11-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness since he is a child.14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

5:11 This verse explains the subject of Melchizedek’s relationship to Christ as an issue which is hard to explain. This was not because it was an unfamiliar subject. It was because they were slow to learn. This phrase highlights their slackness and dullness.

The fact they were slow learners was their own fault. They were no longer capable of receiving solid instruction. They had closed their ears to God’s message. Jeremiah’s descriptions applied to them: “The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it” (Jer. 6:10).

Verses 12–13 describe the results of this dullness. Verse 14 outlines a solution ready and available if they will follow it.

5:12. The writer of Hebrews had spoken strong words against his readers. He now justified his weighty challenges.

THE NEW TESTAMENTFirst, he said, “You’ve been Christians long enough to be teachers, but you still need instruction in the ABCs.” They should have been able to pass on their basic understanding of the Christian message to others. Instead, they needed a good review of the elementary matters themselves. Not only had they failed to move forward in their understanding; they had lost their grasp of the elementary truths of God’s word. “If the dark things do not become plain then the plain things will become dark” (Thomas Hewitt).

Second, these believers were in need of milk, not solid food! The term milk represents a beginning level of instruction for Christians. The term solid food describes advanced instruction. Both the milk phase and the solid food phase were important and essential. However, someone who never reached the solid food stage was seriously defective.

As I write these words to you, I am looking forward to going home tonight and finding my two-month-old granddaughter in our house. She is spending her first night alone with us. She likes motion, varied colors, soft words, and milk. She can’t walk, roll over, or talk. She can give heart-stealing glances at adoring grandparents. If she skipped this stage and bounced into this world as a rollicking teenager, something would be out of place. If fifteen years from now, she still could not walk, roll, or talk, we would be quite concerned. For now, she is quite normal in her development.

The writer of Hebrews was concerned that his readers should be showing signs of Christian maturity. They were still caught up in issues only “baby” Christians found to be important.

5:13. This verse explains the meaning of the “milk” metaphor in verse 12. Three important features are mentioned.

First, those who lived on milk are called infants. The child should appear before the man, but grown men should not meet their nutritional needs on a diet of milk. No one should remain a child forever. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that “when I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” These believers needed to move out of spiritual infancy.

Second, those who lived on milk were described as not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. The phrase “not acquainted” (apeiros) describes someone who lacked experience. They lacked this experience because they had failed to develop the skills which their conversion made available to them. The readers themselves were to blame for this stunted growth.

REASONABLE FAITHThird, commentators differ in their understanding of the teaching about righteousness. The term may be a general reference to the gospel. It may also take righteousness in the sense of that standing with God which faith in Christ brings (Rom. 3:21–26). The term may also refer to a lifestyle of upright behavior. A teaching which produces righteous behavior may have been intended. It may be best to combine all of these understandings and suggest that the intention was to describe a teaching about Jesus which produced right standing with God and caused upright living in daily behavior.

The hearts of these people were dull and disinterested. Their intellects were preoccupied and uninformed. “The intellect is not over-ready to entertain an idea that the heart finds unpalatable” (F. F. Bruce).

5:14. Babies must have milk. Their stomachs have not yet adjusted to the digestion required of solid food. Mature adults need the varied nutrition which solid food gives.

The readers of Hebrews were compared to babies who needed to learn again the elementary truths of God’s Word. These truths involved the basic teachings of the gospel, particularly as seen in the Old Testament. The readers did not know and understand these truths because they had not applied themselves to them. The solution to this dilemma lay in developing their spiritual senses through practice.

The training they needed involved a steady application of spiritual discipline. Spiritual maturity would not develop primarily from a sudden burst of insight. It would come from dogged usage of spiritual resources.

God has given believers faculties to make spiritual judgments and to develop understanding. God gives Christians training in understanding (Heb. 12:11) so that it can produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11).

Christians are able to distinguish between good and evil. The terms good and evil may have both a moral sense and a theological sense. Christians are those who can spot moral evil and avoid it. They can see moral good and attach themselves to it. Christians also can distinguish between true and false doctrine. They will turn aside from the false and faithfully follow the true. Living the Christian life demands the spiritual skills of stamina seen physically in a long-distance runner. Unswerving, relentless applications of Christian truth and practice will equip us for a lifetime of usefulness which will continue into eternity.[15]

We now return to the question from the Biola University Magazine, “How Did We Get Here?” The author of the article offers several reasons for the biblical illiteracy we are now experiencing. They offer the following reasons for the current biblical illiteracy epidemic,

  • Distractions: Might it be that our commitment to fun has resulted in famine, our laughter has yielded loss, and our distractions are ultimately leading to our destruction?
  • Misplaced Priorities: More time watching television than reading/studying/memorizing God’s Word, More time on social networking sites than reading God’s Word, [and] More time playing video games than reading God’s Word.
  • Unwarranted Overconfidence: In short, the sense that we know a lot about the Bible because we grew up going to church is misguided.
  • The Pretext Of Being Too Busy: Some people are simply busier than others, and some of those who are excessively busy cannot easily change their lot in life. But on this one point we really shouldn’t budge: Reading and learning the Bible is such a fundamental priority for all who want to call themselves “Christians” that even a person in the category described above is not exempt.

Are these the reasons for our current biblical illiteracy within our churches? No. They are only a small fraction of a greater problem. What exactly is the problem?

Bible Translations by Grade Level

  • They dumb down adult Church Bible study books to a 6th-to-7th-grade level
  • They dumb down Bible translations to a 6th-to-7th-grade level
  • They study baby milk who is Noah’s father instead of how to explain the doctrine of salvation
  • The church service after the baby milk Bible study for adults encompasses singing of many songs, several 20 minute prayers, praising some group of Christians in the church and; then, finally closing with a baby milk 15-minute sermon from the pastor.

Dumbing Down Our Bible and Literature

We have been dumbing down our Bible translations and our books that we use in our Bible study classes at the church for decades. These books are written on a 5th-6th-grade level, containing almost no substance at all. Our translations have also been dumbed down to 3rd – 8th-grade level. By dumbing down our books and our translations, we are in essence, dumbing down our churchgoers. The second greatest issue is low expectations. The church is in such fear of losing the members that have, or not gaining new members, so they do not have an environment of expectation for their members.

  • Expectations I: The church has low expectations of its members. They view them as unable or unwilling to learn the deeper things of God.
  • Expectations II: The church expects to save everyone. While this is an admirable goal, it is hardly realistic that everyone is going to accept Christ. Even Christ himself said that the world of mankind alienated from God hated him and would hate his disciples. Most are not interested in the Good News. True Christianity needs to focus on finding the right-hearted ones and quit chasing after, catering to, and imploring those who are not interested.
  • Expectations III: The church does not expect its flock to be serious Bible students, who are deeply interested in the deeper things of God. They believe that if they ask more of their flock, they will lose most of their members. First, most Christians are very much interested in attaining a deeper knowledge of the Word of God. They are buying far more books on Bible study and Christian apologetics than they are on Christian living.
  • The church is ill equipped to teach this generation of Christians because they are trying to be all things to all people, when almost all people are truly not interested in being a disciple of Christ. By catering to the uninterested, offering nothing more than spiritual milk, as opposed to solid food, they are starving those that would respond to higher expectations. We now return to the issues of translating the unknown.

Substitution of Something Similar

The dynamic equivalent translator will take the literal rendering, and because it is an unknown to the reader, he will attempt to find something similar that the reader can identify with. We will now consider a few examples and see whether this is beneficial to the reader or really detrimental in the long run. It is only common sense that a reader of a literal translation, who is being given the English equivalent, along with translation features, will be far more informed:

  • a concordance at the end of the Bible,
  • Maps at the end of the Bible,
  • A glossary of biblical terms,
  • Bible topics explained,
  • Appendices defining difficult translation decisions,
  • A section on the basics of biblical Greek, Hebrew, and textual criticism, and
  • Scriptural cross-references
  • Footnotes are very important to help one to see that the three original languages of the Bible, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, speak as one. Additionally, where the English translation may vary from the critical text(s) that are being followed, the footnotes display the source for the English translation by signifying the manuscripts and versions that support the translation decisions. In addition, the footnotes can help the reader to see alternative English renderings of the Hebrew and Greek texts, together with variant readings of other manuscripts and versions.

Although the translation is to be literal, many footnotes contain further valuable literal renderings. These could share (1) basic language meanings, (2) word study or (3) lexical definitions of the original word or phrase. Information is provided concerning the meaning of names of books of the Bible, persons, and places, as well as geographical data. Money, weights, measures and calendar dates are transformed into modern terms. Footnote information is supplied to support the accuracy of the Bible, such as Bible difficulties. Useful material regarding important Bible chronology can be given.

Short items regarding things such as structure style, figures of speech, play on words, idioms, metaphors, and euphemisms can be used in the footnotes to educate the reader about the original Bible languages. In addition, the footnotes can contain grammatical information regarding gender, number, case and verb forms of the original languages as they relate to the English translation.

John 12:3 (UASV)

Mary, therefore, took a pound[16] of expensive perfumed ointment made from pure nard,[17] and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

John 12:3 (NASB)

Mary then took a [18]pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

John 12:3 (CEV)

Mary took a very expensive bottle of perfume[19] and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped them with her hair, and the sweet smell of the perfume filled the house.

John 12:3 (NLT)

Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[20] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

Once more, we have an unknown, “pure nard.” (Gr., nardos) We can see that the UASV did not abandon its translation philosophy. It even offered a detailed footnote on the weight or measure, as well as some background on the term “nard.” The NASB did this as well. The CEV did the opposite of what it should have done. It offered a dynamic equivalent, “bottle of perfume” in place of “a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard.” However, they offered an informative footnote. The NLV did the same minus the footnote. However, the GW, NIRV, NCV, WERV, GNT and the NLT went with the literal rendering (Gr., nardos), “nard” or “pure nard.” However, they failed to offer any footnote explaining the unknown term. An easy to read rendering with an informative footnote will have very few grow in knowledge by their looking at the footnote. Why? There is no real incentive for the reader to pause and look at the footnote. However, a literal translation with a difficult reading will force the reader to the footnote if they want to know what the unknown term is.

It is a known sociological fact that if one has something done for them on a regular basis; it creates in them a spirit of dependency and weakness, and the provider becomes an enabler. Imagine a child that is raised by a mother or father, who is there at their every whim, solving their problems, doing their homework for them, requiring nothing from them, and bailing them out of every difficulty. Now, imagine a mother or father, who requires that the child does their homework, works through their problems, requires that they live in a certain manner, and makes them deal with the difficulties that they get themselves into, but is there if needed.

The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have families that are known as welfare families for generation after generation. Why? Because they give them a check for nothing, and a debit food card for nothing, and a first-rate medical card for nothing, as well as beautiful government housing for next to nothing, and utilities that are extremely low. The parents raise their children on this assistance program and pass on this dependent and entitlement dependency. Therefore, most of the children grow up and raise their family on the government programs, and pass on the same spirit. It is nothing to have five generations of families on complete government dependence.

This same dependent and entitlement dependency is being developed in the churches around the world. They have members that are dependent Bible students because they are completely provided for, with no expectation of doing any of the biblical studies or research for themselves. They should all possess a Bible that is literal and full of helps for the reader outside of the text. They should possess a Bible dictionary, word study books, books on custom and culture, apologetics, archaeology and so on. They should be expected to buy out time for personal study and family study.[21] People will do what you expect them to do.

More General in Meaning

The interpretive translator wants to provide the reader with a word that is more general than the literal rendering. The example of general would be “animal” as opposed to “dog.’ Dog is a specific kind of animal, while the term animal encompasses many kinds: horses, cows, pigs, chickens, etc. Another example would be “furniture” as opposed to “table.” Still another example would be “building” as opposed to “house.” Our last example deals more with action, “to strangle” as opposed “to kill.” This is primarily the objective for languages and areas of the world that do not have a word that is equivalent to the original language word. The dynamic equivalent translator will attempt to replace a biblical word, with a more general term, believing that he does not lose the meaning of the message. Is this really the case?

In the case of our focus on original languages into English, meaning will be lost. This may not be the case in many other languages around the world. This will be covered more fully below. For now, considering the English translation, the Bible writer may use a body part (arm, hand, head), an animal (lion, eagle, bull), geographical location (desert, mountain, plain, valley), plant (lilies, olive tree, acacia tree), crops (grapes, dates, figs, olives or flax, barley, wheat), money (silver or gold), and so forth.  Our knowing something about a specific body part, the animals, geography, plants, crops, or money of the Bible provides helpful background, shedding light on the meaning of specific Biblical statements.

Genesis 8:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters was abated from the earth.

Dynamic Equivalent Interpretive Suggestion

11 in her mouth was a freshly plucked leaf.

Olive Tree_01

When we consider the Bible difficulties of this account, we can see that the olive tree plays a very important role in the resolution of that Bible difficulty. Thus, once again to remove an important literal rendering for some general term can harm the Bible student’s understanding of the text and his or her ability to explain any difficulty.

Think of the olive tree, one of the most valuable plants in Bible times (see above image). This striking tree is often twisted, crooked, and knotty, is quite strong, and often living for centuries. Think of the level of destruction that the flood must have caused. How could the trees have survived? The olive is a very strong and resistant tree, so it is possible that it could have remained alive under water for many months of the flood. After the flood waters had gone down, leaving the tree on dry ground once more, it could then have put forth leaves again. Another alternative is that the dove was carrying the leaf of a very young sprout that came up after the flood waters had gone down. Evidence of what has been said in the above is borne out in the books on the market that evidence the metaphorical meaning behind many word choices. Such as The Metaphorical Use of the Names of Parts of the Body in Hebrew and in Akkadian, by E. Dhorme, Paris, 1963; Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, by E. W. Bullinger, 1898.

To translate the Bible for people who speak tribal tongues often presents immense complications to Bible translators. Many times, there are just not enough words in these languages to make literal translation possible. Local sayings, often humorous and odd to English-speaking people, must be used. For example, the people of Liberia have no word for “prophet;” the word has to be translated “God’s town crier” to be understood. The word “worship” in the language of the Cuicatec of the indigenous group of the Mexican state of Oaxaca becomes “wagging one’s tail before God.” And in the tongue of the Chokwe is the Bantu language spoken by the Chokwe people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Zambia. For them, the phrase “he smote his breast” has to be phrased “he beat his head.” This is because smiting one’s breast, to these tribesmen, is a gesture meaning approval. Therefore, if the phrase were translated literally, it would convey just the opposite of what is intended, it would convey the meaning expressed in English by the phrase “he patted himself on his back.”

Again, this author is primarily dealing with translating from the original languages into the English langue. While you might use a more generic term or some local idiom in a language that lacks a specific term, there needs to be a footnote explaining and describing what they are missing by not having such a term. If there is some message that is revealed by the missing term, it needs to be conveyed, or the meaning is lost. In addition, these third-world countries have shown themselves to be more studious than the Western world. Therefore, a literal rendering with a footnote would be a means of further Bible education, which would be greatly appreciated. Moreover, English is the de jure/official language of seventy-nine countries (e.g., Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, etc.) In addition is the de facto language of seventeen other countries (e.g., Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, etc.). Then, there are thirty-four country subdivisions where English is the de jure official language.

Money, Weights, Measures

Like any culture, the Jewish people had terms for money, weights, and measures that were unique to their culture, and differed throughout the 1,600 years that the 66 Bible books were penned; such as, shekels, talents, denarii, and minas. The literal translations will simply render the original language words, with a footnote indicating the modern-day value. The interpretive translations offer just the opposite, as they will render it in the modern-day equivalent in the text, and on occasion provide the original language information in a footnote. Many of the different versions do provide a table of measures at the back of their translation, as the one found below.

Dry Measures

                                                 Modern Equivalent

1 cab                 =  4 logs                       1.22 L (2.2 dry pt)

1 omer              =  1 4⁄5 cabs                   2.2 L (2 dry qt)

1 seah                =  3 1⁄3 omers                7.33 L (6.66 dry qt)

1 ephah             =  3 seahs                     22 L (20 dry qt)

1 homer            = 10 ephahs                  220 L (200 dry qt)

Liquid Measures

                                     Modern Equivalent

1 log                 = 1⁄4 cab                       0.31 L (0.66 pt)

1 cab                 =  4 logs                       1.22 L (2.58 pt)

1 hin                 =  3 cabs                       3.67 L (7.75 pt)

1 bath               =  6 hins                       22 L (5.81 gal)

1 cor                 = 10 baths                     220 L (58.1 gal)

We would suggest that it is best to keep the literal rendering, and place the equivalent in a footnote, because the reader is more likely to pause and investigate further, increasing the education of the Bible background information.

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…liberties in a multi-cultural society that is becoming increasingly secular. This work provides an ethical framework in which euthanasia and assisted suicide can be evaluated. These issues are on the radar indicating a collision course with Christian values. It is time for Christians to be …

JOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK: Experience the Ministry of Jesus in a Spiritually Captivating WayJOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK

Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark‘s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use …

ANGELS & DEMONS: The Bible AnswersANGELS & DEMONS The Bible Answers

What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control …

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT The Christian Worldview

An Encouraging Thought elucidates the ways in which Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are informed by and communicate a biblical worldview. This book will help readers appreciate the ways in which a biblical worldview informs Tolkien’s work, to the end that their own faith may be confirmed in strength, focused in understanding, deepened in joy, and honed in its ability to communicate the Gospel.

Bible Doctrines

WHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What is the Bible’s viewpoint? Without delving into an endless stream of what man has said, Andrews looks at what the Bible says about death and the like. Why do we grow old and die? What happens at death? Is there life after death, or is this all there is? Do we have an immortal soul? …

IDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast RevealedIDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast Revealed

Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it …

UNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithUNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” [Isa 45:18] He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and …

The SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithThe SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who …

WHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in …

Miracles? - Do They Still Happen Today?: God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith HealingMIRACLES – DO THEY STILL HAPPEN TODAY? God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith Healing 

Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place. There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that are often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve …

HOMOSEXUALITY - The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithHOMOSEXUALITY – The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the …

Daily Devotionals

DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS: Growing Up In Christ

Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL Daily Musings From the Old Testament

Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musing From the New Testament

Paul counseled, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2) It is, for this reason, Marshall has penned the DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musings From the New Testament, which can help us be protected against Satan’s efforts at controlling our mind and heart.  For each day of the year, DAILY DEVOTIONAL provides a Daily Bible Reading and comments for consideration.

BREAD OF HEAVEN: Daily Meditations on Scripture

BREAD OF HEAVEN helps the reader to have a greater understanding of the timeless truths of Scripture and a deeper appreciation of the grandeur of God. It offers meditations on selected Scriptures which will draw the reader’s attention upwards to the Savior.

Christian Fiction

THE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm's LengthTHE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm’s Length

…desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of JudasIscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings …

THE SECRET HIDEAWAYTHE SECRET HIDEAWAY ON BRIDGETON HILL

Rachael Garrison knows all the shrewd ways to successfully close multi-million-dollar real estate deals with her father’s famous New York real estate enterprise. But beyond her savvy to rake in huge deals is her premonition that an impending global takeover of the world’s financial wealth is on the horizon by evil leaders of The Great Ten Nations. From New York City to the Irish Hills of Michigan, and into the streets of Detroit her life takes on enormous purpose as

THE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed WrathTHE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed Wrath

Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of thebeast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up …

SEEKERS AND DECEIVERS: Which One are You? It Is Time to Join the Fight!

There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to  …

The Shadow Flames of Uluru: Book ONE in the CHAOS DOWN UNDER 

When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe our humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreak havoc in their hometown, they must journey into …

WRITE PLACE, RIGHT TIME: The Pre-Apocalyptic Misadventure of a Freelance Journalist 

“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.

[1] The term is used with reference merely to the forepart of the human body (male or female) between the collar and the stomach.

[2] At large feasts in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, couches were placed around three sides of a table.

[3] Lit What to me and to you, which is a Hebrew idiom; a question indicating objection. It is found in the Hebrew Scriptures, namely, in Josh. 22:24; Judg. 11:12; 2Sa 16:10; 19:22; 1 Ki 17:18; 2 Ki 3:13; 2 Ch. 35:21; Hos. 14:8. Jesus meant no disrespect. In the Greek New Testament, it is found in in Matt. 8:29; Mk 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28; John 2:4.

[4] he Greek does not denote any disrespect.

[5] Cf. R. E. Brown et al., eds., Mary in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978), 188.

[6] “The Greek does not denote any disrespect.”

[7] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of John, Helps for translators; UBS handbook series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 57.

[8] Ibid. 57

[9] A centurion was an ancient Roman army officer in charge of a hundred foot soldiers.

[10] A person who was legally own by another, a subject of a king, subjugated people who paid tribute, or royal servants.

[11] Luke 7:2 Greek bondservant; also verses 3, 8, 10

[12] The hyacinth is identified with the sapphire by some (Rev. 9:17 NRSV, TEV) or turquoise (Exod. 28:19; Rev. 9:17; 21:20 REB; Exod. 28:19; Rev. 21:20 TEV). Others identify it with zircon, a brown to grayish gem, or essonite, a yellow to brown garnet (semiprecious stone).

[13] A breastplate is a piece of armor that covers the chest.

[14] http://magazine.biola.edu/article/14-spring/the-crisis-of-biblical-illiteracy/

[15] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 95–97.

[16] Greek (litra); a litra, that is, a Roman pound, about 327 g (11.5 oz)

[17] Greek (nardos); a thick, aromatic plant, in which the stems and roots are generally considered the source of the nard or spikenard mentioned in Scripture

[18] I.e. a Roman pound, equaling 12 oz

[19] very expensive bottle of perfume: The Greek text has “expensive perfume made of pure spikenard,” a plant used to make perfume.

[20] Greek took 1 litra[327 grams].

[21] If the church is located in a poor section of a community, the church should have a library that allows their members to check these types of books out of the library.

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