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Bible - How it came to be

A detailed look at how the Bible was preserved


               TRANSLATING THE HEBREW
                    INTO ENGLISH

     
     We have then only a few OT Hebrew manuscripts.  None of them
are from before the 9th century A.D. That's all just fine,
because if the Eternal God has said HE will not only give us His
word, but that He will also make sure it is preserved accurately
even to the letter, and the jot and the tittle would not be lost,
then the above facts really do not matter. If the Almighty has
said He will do something, He does have the POWER to do it, and
He WILL DO IT, but He will do it IN THE WAY He decides.  He  has 
the   free  choice to preserve His word DIFFERENTLY from one part
of His word to another part, if He wants to, after all we do not
tell Him what he can or cannot do. 
     He so decided that His word would be preserved in two basic
languages - Hebrew and Greek - some parts He chose Aramaic as we
have seen.  He used in the main, the Hebrew language for the OT,
and He inspired the scribes and the copyists of those OT
manuscripts and scrolls to formulate a very strict and demanding
set of rules and regulations to make sure His word was copied and
preserved fully and accurately.
     
     Now, it is one thing to have the full and accurate words of
the Lord in writing on scrolls or in codex book form, remembering
that it was capital letter after capital letter, no sentences or
punctuation of any kind in the originals, AND to be able to
accurately understand and present the different words to make
logical thoughts and ideas in the minds of people wanting to
comprehend those words of the Lord.  
     In other words, you may have the literal letters of the
literal words God inspired to be written on paper, but
translating them into understandable form for different peoples
of different languages in different nations of the earth, is NOT
AS SIMPLE as saying your ABC's.
     First of all, Hebrew is a certain language with certain
distinct traits, and then again so are many other languages.
Going from one language with certain specific traits into
another language with certain specific traits, can be VERY
DIFFICULT at times, in some parts of the linguistic transition
and movement from one language to another.
     We shall see all this clearly as I bring you quotes from a
certain Hebrew/English Interlinear. 

From the Preface of the Hebrew/Greek/English Internilear by
Green, p.7-13

     " This work, we believe, contains all the Hebrew and Aramaic
words which have been preserved for us by the Masoretes, and
which in total has become known as the Masoretic Text. this work
also contains the Greek words as printed in the Stephens
Edition of 1550, which has become known as the Textus Receptus,
or, Received Text.......Why did we use these particular texts? 
It is simply because these are the only texts which can justly be
designated as 'received' texts. In worldwide acceptance they
tower so far above any other original Hebrew or Greek texts that
there is no doubt but what they must be used in a work such as
this is.......They are the 'Received Texts' because no other text
has been able to win the adherence of any group powerful enough
to displace either the Masoretic or the Received Text from their
place as the standard by which all others are measured........


              SPECIFIC DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED


     ......In rendering the Biblical languages into English we
particularly found it difficult to deal with the following:

FIGURES OF SPEECH.

     The Hebrew speaks of the 'lip' of the river, rather than the
'bank' ;  sometimes the 'mouth' of Jehovah, rather than the
'word' or 'command' of Jehovah;  'lifting the heads' rather than
counting etc........
     (Note:  Many readers of the Bible do not understand that it
is full of what is known as 'figures of speech.'  So much is this
so that Mr Bullinger wrote a 1104 page book on the subject,
called Figures of Speech used in the Bible.  This book I highly
recommend to all Ministers and Bible class leaders in the Church
of God - Keith Hunt).

PARTS OF SPEECH.

     It is not always possible to render the parts of speech in
literal form, and at the same time convey the meaning to the
English reader.

INTERPRETATION.

     There is always interpretation in rendering one language
into another, and it is necessary to consider the entire context
before making a translation........

IMPLIED WORDS.

     There are many instances in which the verb, or other words,
are implied within the Hebrew word, either by the sentence
structure, the syntax, or the context. In such cases the
translator has supplied the word, even though it is not
represented by Hebrew characters. In these cases the word
supplied has been put in parentheses so that the reader will know
that they were supplied by the translator. In the marginal
translation these supplied words may be in italic type.

PUNCTUATION and CAPITALIZATION.

     It should be realized that in the original Biblical
languages, both Hebrew and Greek, all letters were capital
letters, as we think of them........It should also be noted that
there was no punctuation in the original manuscripts, either in
the Hebrew or Greek.......In the English translation in the
margin we have followed modern English punctuation rules,
our authority being The Chicago Manual of Style.......

NON-CONCORDANT TRANSLATION.

     As in all languages, parts of speech may be fluid enough to
have many meanings for one word or particle, usually depending on
its contextual circumstances.......

     (Note;  An example would be the English word 'present.'   In
one context it is something you give to someone as a 'gift' or
'present.'  In another context you are 'present' at a meeting of
the school board.  The word in English is said exactly the same
in both situations but as you see the meaning is quite different
in both circumstances- Keith Hunt).

NON-AGREEMENT OF NUMBER.

     Singular pronouns are often translated by the plural
(normally a Hebrew collective) - for example, the literally TO
HIM may appear as TO THEM.  Numbered objects are often singular
in Hebrew. For example, literally, it is written FOUR HUNDRED MAN
but herein it will be rendered in the plural, FOUR HUNDRED MEN.

SPACE LIMITATIONS.

     ......A moment's reflection on the difficult task of putting
English meanings under Hebrew words will show that many short
words require long English translations, or even more than one
English word at places......."

End of quotes from Green's Interlinear.

     (Note:  Concerning "space limitations," this is often a
common difficulty going from one language to another language. 
Seeing the difficulty going from Hebrew/Greek to English is the
reason why the translators of the AMPLIFIED BIBLE came forth with
that particular translation of the Old and New Testament
Scriptures - Keith Hunt).

             ............................


Written December 1997

To be continued


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