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Analytical-Literal Translation

Equivalencies and other Comments

By Gary F. Zeolla

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

> Hi, Gary, ...

[I've had] enough free time to look over stage 2 of John 1-11. I read the whole thing, in fact.

I really like the conversion of units you've included, for example, the time expressed in our terms and stadia converted to miles and kilometres. In retrospect, I am amazed that dynamic equivalency versions haven't done this.

The NIV faithfully renders the seventh hour as "the seventh hour" in John 4:52, without the added illumination (1:00 p.m.) that the ALT simply provides. That seems quite contrary to the NIV's goal of representing the Bible thought-for-thought in modern terms. It seems like they translate dynamically when they need to be literal, and are strictly literal when a dynamic translation would ease understanding. Sometimes I suspect the goal of dynamic equivalency is truly the obfuscation of the message, not the clarification thereof!<

I thought putting equivalencies in brackets would be of help. I didn't want to just "change" it as "some" versions do. But without an explanation it is rather cryptic. The only thing I'm not sure about is monetary units. Those will be little more difficult to summarize in a short note. But either way, I still have my Measurement and Monetary Units page for anyone who wants to look it up.

But note, a minor snag was encountered in indicating the time equivalents in John. I was assuming John was using the Jewish method of counting time, with the day beginning at sunrise (6:00 a.m.). However, in 19:14 John indicates the trial of Jesus occurred at "about the sixth hour."

If he is following the Jewish method of time counting then this would be 12:00 noon. However, Mark tells us that Jesus was crucified at "the third hour" (Mark 15:25). Assuming Mark is following the Jewish method, then this would be 9:00 a.m. But this would have Jesus being crucified three hours before His trial!

The easiest way for this to be reconciled would be to assume John is following the Roman method of counting time, which is the same as ours. So Jesus trial would be at about 6:00 a.m. It would make sense for John to be using the Roman method since he was writing at the end of the first century, over 20 years after Jerusalem was destroyed.

But then, the question arises if John is using the Roman or Jewish method elsewhere. He could conceivably be using the Jewish method elsewhere as it was most natural to him, a native born Jew. But then switch to the Roman method in 19:14 since he is discussing a Roman trial. Or, he could be following the Roman method throughout.

Since it could be either, I decided to include both the Roman and Jewish time equivalents throughout John and let the reader decide which is correct. Elsewhere, I will assume the Jewish method is being used.

So the equivalency in John 4:52 now reads, "at the seventh hour" [i.e. 1:00 p.m. Jewish time or 7:00 p.m. Roman time]."

> The ALT is living up to my expectations and then some.<

I am very thankful that it is looking pretty good.

> I have one question: Is the part about the angel stirring up the water (John 5:4) present in the Majority Text? I know the ALT is in Stage Two going against the TR, it is just a point of curiosity whether the MT contains the verse. As you know, the CT does not. The circumstances of the passage are rather cryptic without John 5:4. To the "consensus" mind, of course that means some tenth century monk added verse 4 to aid our understanding. What's the truth of the matter? Is it in the MT?<

God bless,
Reese Currie
Compass Distributers

Yes, it will be staying. The passage is definitely in the MT. And you're correct, without it, the text makes little sense.

>Monetary units would really be tough to express in modern terms. You sure can't say, "[about 500 bucks]" because that changes meaning faster than anything else! Having looked over the Equivalents page, it occurred to me that most of your readership probably think a homer is a big, stupid pear-shaped guy who is Bart's dad.


Correct on both points. The Living Bible put monetary units into 1960's US equivalents. Needless to say, they're rather archaic by now. The best way to give a equivalency would be to put, for example, "100 denairus" [about 100 days wage for a workman]. But that might be a bit expressive for a bracketed note.

For other units, I could give the equivalent in ounces or grams of gold or silver, as I have it on my Equivalents page. But that gets rather difficult too, especially with having to give both English and metric units.

I'll just deal with it on a case by case basis. Maybe give the equivalency only when it actually matters to the interpretation of the text.

> This thing about John is tremendously interesting. I wonder how many times "chronology" has been brought up as an inconsistency in the Bible when it is actually so easily explained. This also serves to show that Mark/ Matthew/ Luke were written prior to 70 AD and John some distant time after.

That makes the position that the Gospels were written around 200 AD quite hard to support. (Although, I suppose the very existence of P66 [a early second century papyri, Scripture portion] kind of wrecks that theory anyway. But I have heard it stated nevertheless in such theological sewers as A&E's "Mysteries of the Bible").<

I hadn't thought of that; but you are correct. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, using the Jewish method of counting time would be an argument in favor of them being early.

> Where do you stand on Marcan priority/ Matthean priority? You have very reasonable views on text transmission, so I just thought I'd ask if you'd thought about that issue.<

The early Church (2nd to 4th century) was unanimous in believing Matthew was written first. That is why it is included first in the canon. For that matter, the order in which the Gospels are in now is the order they have always been because that is the order in which they always were thought to have been written (at least until the 1800's).

Think about it, since Luke wrote both Luke and Acts it would have been more "logical" to have put the one after the other. But John is in-between because the Gospels are in the order they were written.

That said, I have seen nothing written in the past 200 years which I would consider to be convincing enough evidence to override this unanimous opinion of the early church.

>> So John 4:5 now ends with, "about the sixth hour" [i.e. 12:00 noon Jewish time or 6:00 p.m. Roman time]."<<

> Hmm. I agree it is good not to interpret it. Out of interest, I checked to see which time the New Living Translation uses, and it uses the Jewish time. There's the price of allowing exegesis to be confused for translation.<

Very disturbing. I just checked and the NLT has "about noon" in John 19:14. So the NLT introduces into the Bible the "contradiction" discussed earlier.

>I think perhaps the main barrier to literal translation understandability is actually covered by the ALT. What's a cubit? ...

Your friend in Christ,

Interesting you should use "cubit" as an example as that is one term that I am translating rather than transliterating. I figured at least some people would know what a cubit is. I knew what it was before I ever read the Bible; I believe from studying about the Egyptian pyramids in school. In any case, to be sure, I will be giving the English and metric equivalents for the cubit, as with other measurement units.

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