TRANSLATION & FORMAT
Translation Type: The Readable Bible is a literal translation in the sense that each original language word is expressed in English. However, sometimes a literal
translation is unlikely to communicate the writer’s thought to a modern audience. For instance, people unfamiliar with ancient culture probably do not understand that “sons of the bridechamber” in Matthew 9:15 refers to groomsmen. So, where the literal translation might confuse or mislead today’s reader, a thought-for-thought translation is presented and the literal translation is footnoted, or vice versa (unless the term is listed in “Nonliteral Words and Phrases Not Footnoted”). When an action verb is immediately followed by another action verb (e.g., “got up and went”), oftentimes only the second verb is expressed in the English text.
Added Words: Sometimes the author left out words that he knew his audience would have in their minds due to their familiarity with the context, culture, and language. Today English-speaking readers need those words added to the text. Thus, we supply them, as well as other explanatory words, in italics. This clarifies the text or avoids confusion for readers who (1) are not familiar with Scripture truths and the history of Israel and (2) might not recognize when figures of speech are being used.
Grammar: As is common in modern translations, the words are not always expressed in the grammatical form of the original text when that creates awkward English. Instead, the text is presented as we speak today. Occasionally, for clarity or ease of reading, we substitute a noun for a pronoun, or vice versa.
Hinneh and Idou: The Hebrew word hinneh and the Greek word idou call attention to what follows. They indicate an emotional moment, bring focus upon a dialogue or a report, or express a person’s reaction to a situation. While neither word is directly translatable into English, “behold” is used in older translations, and “look” is used in more modern ones. The Readable Bible expresses these words with a word or phrase that fits the context (e.g., “look,” “pay attention,” “believe me,” “immediately,” “suddenly,” “discovered,” or “was surprised to see”). While it is common for modern translations to ignore these words, The Readable Bible almost always renders them.
Uncertain Translation: Many Hebrew and Greek words have several meanings. If an equally viable alternate term or phrase would give the text a significantly different sense or feel than the one given by the word we render, we provide the alternate in a notation.
Weights and Measures: Current equivalents are presented in rounded, easy-to-read amounts. The literal text is footnoted. The equivalents are uncertain because ancient measures varied by time and place, and archaeological information is incomplete. Coinage can be expressed somewhat accurately in weight, but it is more difficult to translate its value into terms that relate accurately to today. The exact amount does not appear to be crucial to the meaning of any passage.
Notes: The Old Testament translation is based primarily upon the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), 5th ed. Some passages are modified due to questionable BHS text and/or more recent manuscript discoveries. Such modifications draw from the Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Targums, and Syriac text. The New Testament is based primarily upon the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th ed., with passages modified by more recent manuscript and textual discoveries. Modification sources are footnoted.
Format & Presentation Notes
The Readable Bible presents text that is as readable as any other twenty-first century nonfiction work. Here are a few of the ways that is accomplished.
Bold Type, Callouts, Headings: These features help keep you oriented and aid information searches. Callout boxes and headings that are not part of sentences are not part of the inspired text. The words in boldface are not more important than any other words of the text.
Capitalization: Personal pronouns that refer to God are not capitalized unless necessary for clarity (as there is no such distinction in the original manuscripts). The term “spirit” is capitalized when it refers to God.
Lists: Items in a series are sometimes presented in list format. These should be read
down the first column and then down the next column.
Nonliteral Text: Words and phrases not translated literally and appearing more than three times in a book are not footnoted. Instead, the literal translation is provided in the “Nonliteral Words and Phrases Not Footnoted” table in the back of the book (applies only to individual volumes).
Quote Marks: Ancient writings used “said” to indicate a direct quotation. Today we use quotation marks for the same purpose. Thus, when the manuscript text reads, “They asked him, saying, ‘[quote].’ ” The Readable Bible reads, “They asked him, ‘[quote].’ ”
Slashes: The slash between words in a footnote represents “or” or “and/or.”
Spurious Text: Spurious text is in brackets.
Tables: Tables are used for object specifications, genealogies, census and other numerical data, and some lists. Table headings list the verses that are rendered solely in that table. This list does not include verses referenced in the table that are fully rendered in their normal location outside the table. In the Old Testament, quantities in italics are calculated, not in the Hebrew text.
Verse numbers preceding table text refer to the text following until the next text with a verse number next to it. Verse numbers that follow table text apply to both the text preceding it and the text after it until the next entry with a verse number next to it.
Text Location: Some text has been moved to increase readability and clarity, to conform with modern paragraph construction practice, or to group like information in a single location. When text is moved to a different page, its chapter and verse(s) are noted in its new location, and its new location is noted in its original location. On occasion, adjacent verses are grouped together when sentences and phrases have been rearranged to conform to English composition norms.
Transliteration: When a transliterated proper noun first appears in the text, if its English translation adds clarity or meaning to the text, it is provided within parentheses like this: “Nod (i.e., Wandering).”
Contractions: Rather than adhere to modern literature standards such as MLA style or Chicago Manual of Style, the translation varies language style according to context. Contractions are used as they might normally be used by today’s writers and speakers (i.e., inconsistently, not in every possible place, but in many). This results in a more natural text that improves readability yet does not affect meaning.