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The Purpose of the Previous Post

Posted: August 10, 2016 (3:14 PM) by CalvinDude
If you read my blog regularly (and let's face it, you don't), you can probably already guess the purpose of my previous blog post. Essentially, what I did was create a custom text tag for my blog that gets replaced by data from a database that will contain the Greek NT. Right now (as I write this) the database has an entire two verses. John 1:1 and John 1:2. But it will slowly be filled until the entire NT is in there.

Of course, that's what I did. I still haven't said the purpose for it though! It goes back to my previous thoughts about the need in America for there to be a good public domain translation of the Bible. I want to go ahead and try to fill that need by writing my own translation of the Bible with the expressed purpose of having it as a public domain translation, meaning that it would be free to use anywhere without worrying about copyrights or paying royalties to me, or some such.

Right now, the only English Bible that I am aware of that is in the public domain is just the KJV.

Of course, sharp people will note that I could still run afoul of the law if I use a Greek text here on my site that is not also in public domain as the basis for my translation, but that is why I'm using the Greek text compiled by the Perseus Project. Specifically, they are using the 1885 version of Westcott and Hort's The New Testament in the original Greek, which is already in public domain. While that is not the most up-to-date version, it is sufficient to provide my translation, and I will of course reference some more modern texts in the process.

Finally, as to the actual translation I will provide, I'm actually going to provide two translations (as well as my own commentary on this blog). The first translation will be a more formal word-for-word translation; the second will be a concept-for-concept translation. To use more technical terminology, the first is what we would call "formal equivalence" and the second is "functional equivalence" or "dynamic equivalence". I believe the functional equivalent translation would be easier to read, but due to the fact that functional equivalent translations require far more interpretation than just straightforward translation, I think it necessary to have the formal equivalence aspect too.

Of course, one might question just who I am that I think that I can give a translation of Scripture that's "better" than anything else out there. Well, to answer that: 1) I don't think it will be "better" than what's out there, which is already superb; rather, I'm providing this so the text can be used without copyright restrictions, not because I think the other translations are bad. And 2), I think anyone is capable of understanding the reasoning and arguments for why a specific translation and/or interpretation choice will be made, which is why I'm going to be doing this alongside a commentary. Anyone will be free to look at the Greek text, look at my reasoning for why I interpreted the text the way I did, and come to their own conclusions as to whether my translation is worthwhile or biased.

I know that I've mentioned before my desire to do this task, but now that I have some coding in place it actually has become feasible to do so. It will still be quite lengthy, because I'm not going to be doing it haphazardly. It will also take a bit of work, especially as my database grows with the Greek text that I still have to enter in manually. But it's only the Greek New Testament for now (if God blesses me so that I can actually get good at Hebrew, then I can add that too). While I don't have infinite time on my side, I will perhaps have enough to make this service worthwhile to others.

Comments 3Rating: 0

Kent McDonald Rating: 0
I admire you for offering to undertake this enormous project. Even translations that use multiple translators take years to complete. I don't envy you. One word of caution, though. I'm sure you are quite aware of the dangers inherent in attempting this translation as a solo project. Although you are creating a translation rather than a paraphrase, criticism comes easily from the naysayers. The Living Bible (paraphrase) and The Message stand as living proof of where one can go wrong. Are you going to be seeking the counsel of Greek scholars to help you ensure against error?

Also, I noticed in your previous post that the English in your interlinear example is following English grammar rules rather than Greek grammar. My Nestles interlinear doesn't read as comfortably with regards to English grammar placement of words. Are you doing that intentionally, just to make it easier to read?

That is all I have for now. I will pray that God blesses your endeavor with clarity of thought, understanding, and determination to finish. :-)
Kent McDonald Rating: 0
BTW, is it your intention to create a Greek-English Interlinear in the process?
CalvinDude Rating: 0
Hello Kent,
Thanks for your kind words! While this is starting off as a solo project, I'm actually open to anyone who wishes to help, so long as they agree with the principal that the end result needs to be a public domain translation and no one is getting paid for anything. I imagine very few people will be interested in that, given the need for food, etc.

As for the English in the interlinear, thus far I have been using a more English grammar there, at least in regards to not translating words that aren't spoken in English. For example, I could just use "the" for the interlinear translation of "τόν" in the "πρός τόν θεόν" phrase of John 1:1, but since English doesn't say "with the God" it doesn't fit.

I've actually been torn on which way to do it. It would actually be easier to code it where I just do a strict word-for-word replacement. It did require a bit of finagling in the code to get it to display the way I have, and right now I'm not happy with it because the way I've got the code set up I can ignore words that are not translated in English grammar but I don't have a way to dynamically add in words that are added in English. (This is why the interlinear text currently says "In beginning" instead of "In the beginning" although in my first mock-up several months ago, which wasn't connected to any database, I had it display "In (the) beginning" there.)

Actually, I think I might just go ahead and let the interlinear be a one-for-one translation. Of course, even then I'm still picking which of the multitude of meanings is the "one" to be displayed. (But that's also why I added all the other meanings in a popup if you hover your mouse over the Greek word.) Still, I figure I could probably argue sufficiently clearly while doing the commentary portion to justify my wording choices. So I'll probably make that change when I'm able to do so.

Anyway, to answer some of your other questions:
Are you going to be seeking the counsel of Greek scholars to help you ensure against error?
I will certainly try to contact many of them. I'll also have the comments open so anyone who has any concerns would be able to comment (essentially, I'll be doing a verse or two at a time--really, actually more of a Greek sentence or two at a time rather than specific verses--and they'll begin as blog posts with the ability of anyone to log in and comment, just as they can now). Additionally, I have a few people in mind whom I would run the final translations by. I've also got several resources for Greek research, and of course will also be using the various translations that are available already out there. The nice thing is that the majority of Greek is not too controversial. Still, there will be times when I know that me working alone I could overlook something, and I intend to mitigate that as much as I can.

BTW, is it your intention to create a Greek-English Interlinear in the process?
It is not a primary goal, but it is basically going to happen naturally anyway, as I put the verses into my database. I'll still be picking the best definition that fits the context of the sentence as I think it would be a mistake to just have the interlinear be the first definition listed each time (especially since the definitions I'm loading in the database are not sorted by frequency of use). But my primary work will be in arguing for the various interpretations rather than working on getting the interlinear text perfect.

One final thing is that I'll be going through several drafts of this project, all done through my blog here. So certain wording might change over time on some passages. For the formally equivalent translation, there probably won't be much noticeable change since the Greek is fairly settled on that side. But in my functionally equivalent translation, there could be some variance as I try to find the specific English words that most closely match the Greek concepts in today's English. And one of the things I can foresee, especially in Paul's epistles, is the need to deviate from the normal verse structure in order to convey the concepts better. Paul, as I'm guessing you're already well aware, could write entire chapters in a single Greek sentence, and sometimes rearranging the sentence makes more sense in English, but that could make a verse appear after another verse that it currently appears before in our Bibles. So I'm actually thinking I might even post the functionally equivalent translation without any chapter or verse headings, while leaving them all in place for the formally equivalent translation.

But I'm also open to any and all suggestions :-)
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