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Analytical-Literal Translation

John 3:8 and Acts 14:23 in the ALT

The following are commenting on the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT). The e-mailers' questions and comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My responses are in red.

>Dear Bro Gary,

In light of Bauer's lexicon & the M-text Interlinear [The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear], why did you translate John 3:8 & Acts 14:23 the way you did? Is BAGD [Baur, Gingrich, and Danker’s Greek-English Lexicon] wrong in these two places?

Bro Greg

John 3:8:

NKJV: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

ALT: “The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, _but_ you do not know from where He comes and where He goes. In this manner [or, Like this] is every [one] having been born from the Spirit.”

The reason for the differences here is the important words can be translated by either option. The following is taken from the UBS Dictionary on BibleWorks:

On “wind” vs. “Spirit.”
n Spirit (of God); spirit, inner life, self; disposition, state of mind; spirit, spirit being or power, power (often of evil spirits); life (die Mt 27.50); wind (He 1.7; perhaps Jn 3.8); breath (2 Th 2.8); ghost, apparition (Lk 24.37, 39)

On “wishes” vs. “desires:”
wish, desire, want; will; like;

On “blows” vs. “breathes:”
blow (of wind)

So the first two clearly have both options, but for the last, the UBS Dictionary only gives the former.

However, Liddell and Scott have:
to blow,
of wind and air, Od., Hdt., Att.; the breeze, N.T.
to breathe, send forth an odour, Od.:-c. gen. to breathe or smell of a thing, Anth.
of animals, to breathe hard, pant, gasp, Il., Aesch.
generally, to draw breath, breathe, and so to live, Hom.;
metaph., c. acc. cogn. to breathe forth, breathe, breathing spirit, of warriors,
to be of a high spirit, give oneself airs, Eur.;

Baur’s entry is similar to Liddell and Scott’s. So the word can definitely mean “blow,” and the lexicons do tend to favor this rendering for the NT. However, “breathe” is also possible and is the more common meaning in extra-biblical material.

Note also that the pronouns can be either neuter or masculine.

So why did I go with the rendering I did? Since I translated the first word as "spirit" or "Spirit" every place else in the NT, for consistency sake, I did so here as well. And with that translation, the possible options for the rest of the words make the most sense with the way they are rendered in the ALT.

My rendering is similar to Jay Green’s rendering in the LITV and MKJV. Green also adds a theological reason as well. His argument is that the wind does not blow where it wants to; the wind blows where God wants it to as God controls the weather.

Moreover, since most versions have a rendering similar to the NKJV, I thought it would be good to use the less common rendering in the ALT. That way, readers of traditional versions could see the other possibility. However, the NKJV rendering is lexically possible. So neither is "wrong."


Acts 14:23

NKJV: So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

ALT: And having elected by raising of hands [fig., having appointed by votes] elders for them in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

I assume you're referring to "appointed" vs. "having elected by raising of hands [fig., having appointed by votes]." I studied this one in depth. And the most literal meaning is "elected by raising of hands," as can be seen in the following lexical entries for this word [cheiroteneo]:

Friberg’s lexicon:
choose, elect by raising a hand
to signify a vote; gener. appoint, install (in an office) (AC 14.23); pass. be chosen, appointed (2C 8.19).

Liddell and Scott’s lexicon:
to stretch out the hand,
for the purpose of voting, Plut., Luc.
c. acc. pers. to vote for, elect, properly by show of hands, Ar., Dem.:-Pass. to be elected, Ar., etc.; election, appointment by lot, Plat., etc.
c. acc. rei, to vote for a thing, Dem.; so c. inf. to vote that. . ,

Given such info, I went with “elected by raising of hands” as the primary translation. But "appointed by votes" is a possible meaning, so I used that as well. The NKJV's "appointed" is possible, but it does leave out the ideal of "voting" which most definitely is included in the meaning of the word.

I did consult BAGD and the NKJV Interlinear in my work, but the primary lexicon I used was Friberg's lexicon and others in my BibleWorks program.


I'm glad you like it. You could do me a big favor, when the ALT is available on Amazon's or Barnes and Noble's, please consider writing a review of it. It will be probably be a couple more weeks or so before they pick it up. I'll probably make an announcement on my What's New? page when I do.

> Your response here helps me about these two verses. Take a look at Vine's though.

Bro. Greg

I no longer have Vine's lexicon. I go rid of it as I didn't find it as reliable as other lexicons I have.



I received the copies of the entries for pneuma and cheiroteneo from Baur's, Kittle's, and Vine's lexicons that you sent me. As I said, I do have Baur and also have Kittle, so I am familiar with what they says. But as I read it, Baur does say that the literal or most basic meanings of the words is as I have translated them. But he is trying to say the meanings are somewhat different in the NT. And then he gives an interpretation to support this translation.

But in the ALT I was trying to use the most basic or literal meanings of words as much as possible, along with being consistent in the translations. As I said before, I translated pneuma as "spirit" everywhere else is is used, so to translate it differently in John 3:8 would not be consistent.

Note also, this includes Heb 1:14 which Baur gives as another verse for the "wind" translation. But it's not translated this way in any of the versions I use. And frankly, such a rendering doesn't really make sense to me either.

As for cheiroteneo, again the copies of the lexicons you sent do indicate that to raise the hand in voting is the most basic meaning, but again, try to argue that it means otherwise in the NT. But again, I was trying to use the most basic or literal meaning, and in this case "to stretch forth the hand" is it. It is possible that the lexicon authors have a Presbyterian view of church government and thus are prejudice towards using a rendering that fits this view.

And you should know that I do not have a strong opinion one way or another in this regard. I think either a congregational or Presbyterian form of government is acceptable. In fact, my current church uses somewhat of a cross between the two. So in no way could my rendering be said to be a case of my prejudice affecting the translation. I have simply tried to give the most literal rendering possible.

And note that my rendering would not be incompatible with a Presby view of church government. The rendering doesn't necessarily mean the congregation is the one doing the voting. It could be taken as referring to the "presbyters" voting on what elder to appoint for a church. In fact, this is what the included figurative meaning of "appoint by vote" signifies. So I have given both options.

Maybe I could have used just "appoint" for the figurative meaning, but I couldn't see how the word could go from raising the hand in voting to simply appointing without some kind of vote.

God bless,
Gary Z.

>Concerning the passage in John chapter 3, I think you have done the greatest service to the use of biblical exegesis by stating it: The Spirit breathes. Although in atmospheric science it is known that the wind blows without a set pattern all the time, it is generally recognized that the wind does blow according to set currents that establish it trajectory. For example, wind gauges can tell whether the wind is blowing from the N-E, from the N-W or from the south (as stated by the book of Ecclesiastes/ Proverbs), and the direction of the wind is also subjected to the seasons (whether spring, fall or winter, or even summer as in the Sahara).

Early all translations--including the "perfect" KJV--do state that the wind blows where it desireth, but actually that is not correct, since true modern instruments, like anemometers (please check spelling on this last word) do indicate the strength and direction of the wind. The currents of air do have a pattern, and they generally do NOT blow "where they desireth."

Interestingly, for those who believe that the Holy Spirit is a person (e.g. the third person of the Trinity), it is interesting that the rendering: The Spirit breathes, may indicate a walking of the Spirit (as Jesus does) from a given direction (whether north, south, east or west) and bringing with Him a cool refreshing wind (e.g. like the cool breeze at the garden of Eden) and hence the Spirit and the direction of his entry do point towards "from whence the wind commeth" as stated in one of the book of the Old Testament. Now, the wind is not haphazardly blowing wherever it wants (or desires), but now rather it follows the steps of the Spirit, or the direction of the Spirit.

As one who is working in the Scientific Translation of the Bible, I see this "liberal" rendering of John Chapter 3 as good lexicographical work.


Thanks for the comments. You make some good observations. And may God continue to bless you in your translation work.

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