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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 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 Church became mostly Latin speaking and began using the Vulgate in the fourth century that use of the LXX began to fade. So the LXX was very important in early Christian history.
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 several volumes as I am working on it. That way, if I don’t finish it, at least I will have published some of the OT. It will also enable me to get around the size limitation of my publisher.
Specifically, the 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]
Volume IV – The Major Prophets (Isaiah to Daniel)
Volume V – The Minor Prophets (Hosea to Malachi)
I have no idea how long it will take me to finish this project, but my best guess is that it will take at least a year for each volume. If or when I ever 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 if or when I ever get to that point.
Another thing I am not sure on is if I will publish a sixth volume containing the Apocrypha. These are the “extra” OT books found in Catholic Bibles. They are used by Catholics as they are contained in the LXX, and many early Church Fathers quote from them as Scripture. However, the NT writers do not. So for that reason I do not accept them as being God-breathed as the rest of Scripture is, but they are worth reading to fill in the “gap” between the OT and the NT, since these books were written during that time period.
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.
For a follow-up to this announcement, see Facebook Posts about the ALT: Old Testament.
ALT: Old Testament - Project Announcement. Copyright © 2012 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The above article was posted on this Web site April 28, 2012.
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