Tuesday, May 25, 2010

OET Literal Version

Most Bible translations consist of only one version, but a number of editions, perhaps with British vs. American spellings, with or without cross-references or study notes, mini-concordance, etc. However, the Open English Translation (OET) of the Bible comes from the beginning with more than one version with different aims, but expected to be used together just like a modern builder might use a nail-gun for many tasks, but pick up his hammer for others.

The first OET version I want to introduce is the Literal Version (OET-LV). Here's an initial list of some of the Literal Version features:
  • It will attempt to follow the original (Hebrew and Greek) Scriptures as closely as possible (at the expense of sounding "wooden" in English)
  • This means being as literal as possible -- trying to match pretty much word-for-word (thus idioms won't be adjusted)
  • Any non-trivial words that must be added to the English for understanding will be clearly marked as additions
  • Every attempt will be made to make the English glosses consistent (at least for the primary meanings of words)
  • Primary and extended meanings of words will be marked using slashes, e.g., (מַלְאָךְ) messenger/angel
  • Slashes may also be used to denote an English range of meaning that's perhaps different from the word in the original languages, e.g., sorrow/mourning
  • Underscores may be used to join English words coming from a single source language word, e.g., cause_to_stumble, except that small grammatical features like articles, prepositions, and conjunctions maybe be exempted from this
  • Where it seems to critically affect the meaning, grammatical features that are not normally in English (such as marking gender or distinguishing between you singular and plural) will be marked
  • The divine name will simply be rendered as YHWH
  • People and place names will be transliterated more accurately, e.g., Yonah instead of Jonah, Yesous instead of Jesus (but not going to the trouble of using additional markings to distinguish the long and short vowels, etc.)
  • Only proper nouns (and sentence beginnings) will be capitalised in the text, thus there will be no God only god
  • The translation will be rendered into English sentence by sentence (with ambiguities marked in footnotes), i.e., the 19th sentence of the English New Testament should match the 19th sentence of the Greek.
  • There will be no section headers or paragraph markings -- it will generally be displayed by sentence (as traditional chapter and verse numbers will be downplayed in all OET versions)
  • Only original measurements will be used, e.g., cubits not metres.
  • There will be extensive footnotes about variants (and missing or unclear sections) in the early manuscripts
  • The  OET-LV is aimed at readers and students who don't read the original languages themselves, but want to get a good idea of what they actually say
  • It is hoped that the web-based publication can also provide live links to facsimiles of the original documents.
A very rough sample of a small book can be seen here: Jonah

Please note your suggested improvements in the comments -- I want to hear your ideas for improvements.

So hopefully you can see that the OET-LV is aimed to give pastors and all those studying the English Bible relatively good access to the original texts, even if they are impeded by not being able to read the original languages.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Introduction to the Open English Translation

I've been thinking for a loooong time about starting a new English Bible translation (unashamedly inspired by the public domain World English Bible (WEB) of Michael Paul Johnson and team). After much searching and pondering, I've come up with the name: Open English Translation (OET) of the Bible.

Open (unashamedly inspired by Open Source software) expresses my desire to make it freely available for others to use or adapt in any way. I haven't decided on a licence yet, so feel free to make suggestions. I'm also wanting to make it open in the sense of open for others to join in and help with (but that doesn't mean that it would be open to everyone -- just those who show a genuine interest and ability). As mentioned in prior blogs, there's a number of others way ahead of me in developing the necessary (web) software tools for that kind of project.

English because it'll be an English translation. (It seems a little ethnocentric to me to leave the language qualifier out of the title, although it is true that in most cases that language of the title itself indicates the language of the translation.)

Translation just to remind readers/users that it is indeed just a translation of the original Scriptures. (Again it seems a little deficient to me if a book called something like The Holy Bible doesn't clearly remind its readers that it's not the original.)

I'll try to progressively blog about various aspects of the OET over the next few weeks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A sad scenario

I second the story at Distant Shores Media. We hit the same problem with our experience in Asia -- the local church leaders and others wanted to take popular Christian resources and adapt them for their use. In the situation that we were in, it was often more to do with Christian songs and music rather than the Bible because the Scriptures were still in the process of being translated and checked.

The pastors' cooperative organisation didn't have the resources to seek (or pay for) the international permissions to use and translate or adapt these materials. So either they don't use them at all, or else they may feel pressured to go ahead and use them without the permissions. Either scenario sadly limits the ministry of the indigenous churches.

Thumbs up to the slowly increasing number of people and ministries who are forgoing the urge to control and profit from their productions (often already paid for by offerings, donations, or other funds) and who are making their materials available for the rapidly growing church in the third world to make full use of. I'm hoping one day to be able to highlight them at Freely-Given.org.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Open discipleship resources

I was just thinking about this topic myself yesterday, and today Tim at Distant Shores Media (DSM) has written another good blog entry.

It's also interesting that DSM list The Open Bible Translation as one of their (future?) Door43 projects. Very similar name to my Open English Translation (OET) that I have started work on, although I'm yet to publish any details (apart from the brief mention here).

So why not just combine with one of the several open translations mentioned on this and previous blogs? Yes, I'd like to in terms of sharing resources, but it would depend on agreeing on a common philosophy of translation. That, of course, depends on your target audience amongst other many factors. I guess I need to get into gear and start placing my thoughts into a public forum, but I'm in a place of major job decisions and transition over the next few weeks so it won't likely happen before late June at the earliest.  :(

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Holman Christian Standard Bible

 I was already aware that the NET Bible was developed because Bible.org was wanting to publish free Bible studies on the Internet, and had problems getting copyright permissions. They put it like this in their preface:
Bible.org’s ministry objective is to be used by God to mature Christians worldwide. To accomplish this we needed to quote a modern Bible translation in the production of thousands of trustworthy Bible Study resources that could be offered on the Internet for free. We predicted in 1995 that the number of Bible verses quoted in these studies would soon surpass available legal permission limits. We tried for a year, but could not obtain the necessary permissions. Lack of a legal ability to quote the Bible online makes online Bible studies impossible and threatened bible.org’s “Ministry First” model. Quite simply the only way we could secure permission to quote a modern Bible was to sponsor a new translation – the NET Bible. We now want to ensure that other ministries and authors don’t experience the same roadblocks. The NET Bible is not just for bible.org, but for everyone.
(There's also more written here.)

But I was surprised to learn today that the Holman Christian Standard Bible was also published partly for reasons relating to copyright as explained here:
In 1998 the people at Broadman & Holman were seeking to buy the copyright of some already-existing Bible version for use in their publishing projects. For many years they had been using the New International Version, but this was not convenient for them, because the copyright holder of the NIV (the International Bible Society) had sold exclusive North American publishing rights for their translation to the Zondervan corporation in Grand Rapids, and Zondervan would allow other publishers to use the NIV only under some very expensive and restrictive license agreements.
 So one just can't help wondering how many Christian ministries around the world continue to be frustrated in their outreaches and discipleship programs because of copyrights on Bibles. Personally, I think the world is ripe for a new approach.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The M108 project

Ryan Cartwright, a web developer / IT consultant in the UK, writes in his Crimperman blog about a new project, tentatively called m108 (from Matthew 10:8 "...you received freely, so freely give."). He's started a discussion about how to best encourage Christians to make music, video, art, literature, etc. freely available on the Internet.

So far he seems to have attracted about just a few people who've expressed some interest in his ideas. Obviously, you need to have a much higher profile way of making your ideas and site known in order to attract sufficient interest to really get the ball rolling. It seems you need a critical mass of several hundreds of people to even get started; several thousands to make even a small ripple in the pond. But maybe one high-profile artist getting involved could have a greater effect than even tens of thousands of unknown individuals???

That's why I've dreamed a lot (esp. last year) about starting a high-profile lobbying organisation called FreelyGiven.org or something similar, to seek sponsorship in order to personally contact or even visit high profile Christian artists and ministries in order to encourage them to make more of their output available freely to the church world wide (esp. the rapidly growing church in developing countries). But alas, too many things to do, and only one lifetime to do it in...