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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Open Source Bible Translation software #2

And here is another webpage I found where the author is interested in open source English Bible translation. Unfortunately, the project idea does not seem to include a need for English scholars, exegetes, et al. And the claim that "the original language of the New Testament was Aramaic" is not supported by very many biblical scholars, as far as I know. I've heard the idea before, but I think most scholars believe that the N.T. was originally written in Hellenistic (Koine) Greek, even if there were some oral or even written source documents in Aramaic of some parts of the N.T.

My dream for Open Source Bible Translation would be that it would include the best scholarship among the several disciplines necessary for doing the best quality English Bible translation possible. FWIW, I don't think a new translation project for English is needed. It would be enough to revise a version that already exists if there is enough will to incorporate significant input from scholars from all necessary disciplines. The result should be high quality contemporary literary English that is understandable by any fluent speaker of a standard dialect of English, as well as having a consensus of a wide body of biblical scholarship for all wordings which appear in the text itself, plus footnotes for all wordings which do not have such consensus.

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14 Comments:

At Sat Aug 06, 08:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Wayne,

I actually wrote a paper on a contrastive analysis of certain Aramaic and Greek expressions in the NT and discussed whether they were the kind of lg that an Aramaic native speaker would make speaking Greek as a second lg, whether they were Septuagint expressions or whether it was valid to consider that parts of the NT was a translation. Of course, one can never tell but we weren't allowed to take the Greek NT course without taking Hebrew first.

Suz

 
At Sat Aug 06, 09:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suz, I have no doubt that there is Semitic influence on the Greek of the N.T. I think the Jerusalem School research continues to support that. What I was just referring to was whether or not the N.T. itself, as a whole, was first written in Aramaic. I don't think there is any evidence to say that it was. I think it is just as likely that the entire N.T. was written by GSL speakers (Greek as a Second Language) with some literal translations from their first language, Aramaic (and they could read Biblical Hebrew).

I know that the theory of Semitic Greek in the N.T. has been "discredited," and I am not necessarily saying that the Greek of the N.T. is significantly different from the Greek found in other Hellenistic Greek documents of the N.T. writing time period. I'm just think there is good evidence that some of the wordings in the N.T. look like they have Semitic influence.

Once again, oh, to be able to go back in a time machine and get sure answers for some of these questions!

 
At Sun Aug 07, 12:55:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirby said...

Any idea which translation owner would allow a free project to be based on it?

 
At Sun Aug 07, 07:05:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Any idea which translation owner would allow a free project to be based on it?

The WEB translation (see under Versions in the margin of this blog) already is open source. But it has mostly lay people, untrained in exegesis and literary and translation principles, doing the revisions. I don't think the translation philosophy of the WEB team would be open to the kind of literary revisions I'm thinking of to bring the translation up to contemporary literary English.

The NET Bible was partially open source, but is largely settled in its text now. Again, there is a set translation philosophy which might not be open to much further literary revision.

My dream would be that the ESV Bible could be the one, but I don't know if its Translation Oversight Committee would be open to open sourcing. All I can do is drop hints, I guess :-)

 
At Sun Aug 07, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Another option would be to do it from scratch, a chapter added to the rough-cut every couple of weeks...

BTW you might be a bit wary of the idea of a scholarly "consensus" the bibliobloggers gave this one a doing over recently and reached no consensus on whether consensus was desirable... (see e.g. Mark G's summary.)

 
At Sun Aug 07, 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Right, Tim, doing it from scratch could work, but I personally do not see any need for another English translation for quite a few more years, until the English language changes enough more to require a new translation.

BTW, there is an open source translation going on from scratch now on the Plain English Bible blog (look for it in the margin of this blog). But I'm thinking more of a very big project with many exegetes, perhaps just as many English scholars (one of the biggest lack on most English translation teams), and translation scholars.

As for consensus, you're right. And I did follow a little of the discussion about consensus. Mark G does a great job with his webpages and blog. And he networks well.

 
At Sun Aug 07, 01:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Tim, I didn't get the name of the open source translation blog quite right. It is the New Testament in Plain English blog at url:
http://plainbible.blogspot.com/

 
At Sun Aug 07, 05:26:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirby said...

Inspired by your posts, Wayne, and by the New Testament in Plain English process, I have made a blog entry on Open Access Translation here.

 
At Tue Aug 09, 11:17:00 AM, Blogger David Romano said...

why not use the most recent (that i know of) public domain translation, i.e., the ASV? isn't it better than going from scratch? do you know if plainbible already looked at this and decided against it? i know it's over 100 years old, but what are pros & cons?

 
At Tue Aug 09, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

why not use the most recent (that i know of) public domain translation, i.e., the ASV? isn't it better than going from scratch? do you know if plainbible already looked at this and decided against it? i know it's over 100 years old, but what are pros & cons?

Hi David, the WEB Bible project uses the ASV. The RSV is a revision of the ASV, as is the NASB. I don't think that the plainbible folks wish to work from the ASV since the ASV is so outdated. I don't think there is a need for another English version or another revision of the ASV. There simply is a need for one or more English Bible translations to be turned into a completely open source project, to take advantage of all the resources available which are needed from English scholarship, linguistics, translation theory, and exegesis.

 
At Tue Aug 09, 06:17:00 PM, Anonymous Zack Hubert said...

I'm not sure if people are familiar with the functionality which I have hidden on my site, but it has complete "create your own translation" capability, which I could readily extend to include committee review if desired.

I'm about half way through translating the New Testament, so it's been pretty well tested :)

 
At Tue Aug 09, 08:08:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I'm about half way through translating the New Testament, so it's been pretty well tested

Zack, is your translation hidden somewhere on your site. I have looked and looked but cannot find it.

Yes, your kind of site, with all the wonderful exegetical resources would be a good place for a full-scale translation project with committee review and field testing on website visitors.

I have linked to your site since the early days of this blog. Keep up the good work.

 
At Tue Aug 09, 10:19:00 PM, Anonymous Bob Firth said...

At Zack's site any user can do their own translation, so Zack is just referring to his own private user translation... but allowing the possibility of making some translations open to a wider audience.

Bob

 
At Wed Aug 10, 09:48:00 PM, Anonymous Zack Hubert said...

Yep, right now the website is just set up for individuals to record their translations for personal edification, however, it'd be pretty straightforward to build around it a workflow system for committee translation...I'd have to learn how that works first though ;)

Here's the tutorial on my website:

http://www.zhubert.com/tutorial-user-trans

 

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