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ALT: Old Testament
By Gary F. Zeolla
The first edition of my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT) was published in 2001. Ever since then, I have had many requests for an Old Testament (OT) to go along with the New Testament (NT). But I have been hesitant to start such a project for a couple of reasons.
First, my knowledge of Hebrew is nowhere near as good as my knowledge of Greek. I can muddle through a few verses now and then in the Hebrew OT, but to do the entire OT would be beyond my abilities.
Second, the OT is about 3-1/2 times as long as the NT. So translating all of it is a massive project, and with my poor health, I was afraid I would never finish it. It could take many years to finish it.
Third, my current publisher has a limit of 740 pages for any hardcopy books to be published through it. The only way to fit the entire OT let alone the entire Bible into that limited number of pages would be to use very small print. And even then, it would be hard to get it all to fit.
But having finished a couple of projects recently, I needed to come up with a new project to start. And an ALT: OT is the only thing I can think of. And praying about it, I really believe that is the direction God wants me to go. So on April 22, 2012, I began work on the ALT: OT. But to overcome the above mentioned problems, I have come up with some unique ideas for it.
First and foremost, rather than translating the OT from the Hebrew text as is done with most Bible versions, I am translating it from the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX is a third century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The name and abbreviation comes from the tradition that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars worked on its translation, six from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The importance of the LXX is that it was THE Bible of the early Church. This can be seen when comparing quotations from the OT in the NT. When it can be determined, more often than not, the NT writers are quoting from the LXX rather than the Hebrew text. This is documented in my Scripture Workbook: Second Edition, in Scripture Study #2, “The Use of the OT in the NT.”
Once the Church became predominately composed of Greek-speaking Gentiles rather than Aramaic-speaking Jews, the LXX was used almost exclusively. This can be seen when reading the writings of the early Church Fathers of the second and third centuries. They almost always quote from the LXX when quoting the OT. And many translations of the Bible into other languages in the early centuries were done from the LXX rather than the Hebrew text. It was not until the western Church became mostly Latin speaking and began using the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century that use of the LXX faded. But the Eastern Orthodox Church continues to use the LXX to this day.
The LXX has been translated into English a few times. The “standard” is the one by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, published in 1851. But his text utilizes Elizabethan English like the King James Version does, with “thee’s” and “thou’s” and other archaic words. Brenton’s text is a good translation, basically a “formal equivalence (“word for word”) translation, but not as literal as my ALT is.
But Brenton’s text does give me a good text to start with. That gives me a “head start” on the translation. But the text I am working from is not broken up into paragraphs and does not have quotation marks. So as I am working on it, I am updating the language, adding paragraph breaks and quotation marks, making the text more literal, and adding the unique bracketed “analytical” features of the ALT.
As for the massive size of the OT, the way I am going to work around that is to publish the ALT: OT in five volumes as I am working on it. That way, if I don't finish it, at least some of it will have been published. And this will enable me to get around the size limitation of my publisher. But along with paperback and hardback formats, the volumes will also be available in a variety of eBook formats.
Specifically, the five volumes will be as follows.
Volume I – The Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) – Started 4/22/12, finished 9/26/12.
Volume II – The Historical Books (Joshua to Esther) – Started 9/26/12, finished 3/19/13.
Volume III – The Poetic Books (Job to Song of Solomon) – Started - 3/19/13, finished 8/31/13.
Volume IV – The Prophetic Books (Isaiah to Malachi) – Started 8/31/13, finished 3/21/14.
Volume V – The Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books – Started 3/21/14, finished 10/12/14.
When I finish all of it, I have no idea if or how I will publish the entire OT, let alone the entire Bible (OT and NT) in one volume, but I will worry about that when I ever get to that point.
So that is my plan. At this writing (4/28/12) I have finished the first draft of the first 16 chapters of Genesis. And I am pleased with how it is coming out. But it is obvious that this will be a slow and tedious project. But it will also force me to study the OT closer than I ever have before. So despite the tediousness of it, it is actually a rather uplifting experience, as doing the NT was.
January 26, 2014 Update
Readers should note the change in the volumes. The Major and Minor Prophets are going to be combined in Volume IV, rather than being two separate volumes as originally planned. The reason is, the length of them did not warrant two volumes. Volume V will now be the “Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books.”
On the later point, the LXX includes books that are not found in the Hebrew text. Most of these books were written between the time of the Old and New Testaments (c. 400 B.C. and the first century A.D). There is debate whether these “extra” books are inspired ("God-breathed") or not.
None of them are included in Jewish or Protestant Bibles, and are thus called “apocryphal” meaning they are not considered to be inspired. But many are included in Roman Catholic Bibles and are called “deuterocanonical” (second canon) meaning they are considered inspired and thus part of the “canon” of Scripture. Most of the rest are also considered deuterocanonical and included in Eastern Orthodox Bibles.
But whether inspired or not, all of these books are a part of the LXX, and they make for interesting reading as they fill in the “gap” of Jewish history and thought between the Testaments. Those who consider these books to be inspired will have the most interest in having a literal translation of them. But even for those who do not, it is good to be familiar with their contents as they might come up in conservations with those who do. As such, there will be a Volume V of this ALT: OT containing these apocryphal/ deuterocanonical books.
Note: The protocanonicals (first canon) are those OT books which are included in Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Bibles. These are found in Volumes I-IV of this ALT: OT.
March 21, 2014 Update
On March 21, 2014, I finished Volume IV. And with that, my translation of the Greek Old Testament (OT) Septuagint (LXX) is complete. I started this project on April 22, 2012, so it took me 23 months to finish it. That is far less time than I thought it would take. So if you've been waiting for a literal translation of OT: LXX, such is now available. Follow the links above for details on ordering these volumes.
By completing the OT: LXX , I mean I have finished all of the protocanonical ("first canon") books. By that is meant, the 39 books that all major Jewish and Christian groups believe are inspired and thus part of the "canon" of Scripture. I will now start work on "Volume Five: The Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books." These are the rest of the books found in the LXX for which there is dispute between groups as to if some or all of them are inspired. I will address that dispute in the volume. But more on that later. For now for I will just praise the LORD for giving me the strength and ability to finish the protocanonical OT so quickly.
October 12, 2014
With the publication of Volume Five on October 12, 2014, I have finished translating and publishing the Old Testament. I began the project on April 22, 2012. So it took me about two and half years. Having previous published the New Testament, the entire Bible is now is now available in the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT): the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament.
I praise and thank the LORD for having led me to take on this massive project and for enabling me to finish it. There have been a lot of adversities along the way, but somehow He has pulled me through. May the LORD bless all who read the ALT Bible.
All of the volumes and related books are listed on my Christian Web site at: Books and eBooks by the Director of Darkness to Light.
ALT: Old Testament - Project Announcement. Copyright © 2012-2014 by Gary F. Zeolla.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
The above article was posted on this Web site
April 28, 2012.
It was last updated October 12, 2014.
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