Many, possibly most, people don’t realize that the King James Bible was not the first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament into English. There were seven major translations published earlier, and all of them to a greater or lesser extent (almost always greater) were dependent on the one(s) that came before them. The first, greatest, and most influential was the translation by William Tyndale. It was also the riskiest. It cost Tyndale his life.

In 1408 a law had been passed in England making it illegal to translate or to read the Bible in English without official ecclesiastical approval; this was in response to the translation activities connected with (pre-Reformer) John Wycliffe and his followers, whose English rendering was not from the original Hebrew and Greek, but from the Latin vulgate. By the time of Tyndale in the early 16th century, it was possible to learn Greek at Oxford, and just possible to pick up Hebrew, and he did so.

Tyndale was refused permission to publish a translation in England, so he went to Germany and did it there. His New Testament, from the Greek, was published in 1526; an improved second edition came out in 1534. He translated the Pentateuch and Jonah from the Hebrew before he was betrayed by an overly zealous countryman and handed over to authorities. He managed to continue his translation in prison, where he finished Joshua to 2 Chronicles. But that’s where his story ended. He was condemned to death and was strangled then burned at the stake in 1536.

But his translation lived on.  Almost all subsequent translations were based ultimately on his efforts, and almost always without acknowledgment.  Including the King James.  The King James was intentionally and by design a revision of the Bishop’s Bible of 1568 (the first English Bible translation to be done by a committee instead of an individual), which was a revision of the Great Bible of 1539 (called this because it was very large in format), which was a revision of Tyndale (for the NT and the parts of the OT he translated).

 I haven’t crunched the numbers myself, but some scholars have shown that something like 93% of the King James Bible is actually simply Tyndale.   Verse after verse it is virtually the same, with a word or three different, in many places.

As David Daniell notes in his 1989 edition of Tyndale’s New Testament (Yale University Press), some of the most familiar phrases of the Bible from the King James in fact come from Tyndale.  He instances the following:

  • Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matt. 7)
  • With God all things are possible (Matthew 19);
  • In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17)
  • Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3)

This includes a number of phrases that have become “proverbial”

  • Am I my brother’s keeper?  (Genesis 4)
  • The salt of the earth (Matthew 5)
  • Where two or three are gathered together (Matthew 18)
  • They made light of it (Matthew 22)
  • The spirit is willing but the flesh is week (Matthew 26)
  • Eat, drink, and be marry (Luke 12)
  • A law unto themselves (Romans 2)
  • The powers that be (Romans 13)
  • The patience of Job (James 5)

Many, many words and phrases are in common use still today because of Tyndale.

The Tyndale legacy in translation itself continues down to our own time.   The Revised Version of the Bible in 1881 was a revision of the King James  Bible (a revision of the Bishop’s bible, a revision of the Great Bible, a revision of Tyndale); the American Standard Version of 1901 was an American version of the Revised Version; the Revised Standard Version of 1952 was a revision of the American Standard Version; and the New Revised Standard Version of 1989 was a revision of the Revised Standard Version.   One could easily see that next to and alongside William Shakespeare (who really lived and really wrote the plays, though that’s another story!) Tyndale was the most influential figure for the English language, ever.

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2023-01-06T13:48:51-05:00January 1st, 2023|History of Biblical Scholarship, New Testament Manuscripts|

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  1. Bennett January 1, 2023 at 8:22 am

    Since you brought it up, I’d like to hear your wife’s commentary on the authenticity of William Shakespeare as author of the literary works attributed to him. As I recall, you said she is an authority/scholar of Shakespearian literature or something like that. If I got that wrong, then perhaps you could comment yourself on that topic.

    • BDEhrman January 2, 2023 at 12:22 pm

      She says it’s a complete non-issue among Shakespeare scholars themselves. It’s not the sort of thing academics argue about at Shakespeare conferences e.g. She also thinks that it’s usually driven by elitist arrogance that assumes a “mere schoolboy” (as opposed to an Oxford don) could not possibly have produced work like this.

      • Bennett January 2, 2023 at 12:45 pm

        Thank you and thank her for me! I really appreciate her input. Now, the next time I get into an argument with somebody over who wrote Shakespeare’s works (yeah, I argue about many obscure things for some reason) I will have expert knowledge (hers) to refute the conspiracy theorists on the subject. FYI, I use your books, blog and videos for the same purpose in NT historical discussions (hope you don’t mind) and frankly, I am seeing more and more people begin their comments with “Bart Ehrman says…”. Mostly in a good way, of course, although….

      • fragmentp52 January 2, 2023 at 8:52 pm

        Hello Bart. Happy New Year to you and all blog members. Hope 2023 is the year when we as a species make “the great leap forward.”

        I also have two questions for Sarah about Shakespeare. Chris Hedges was on c-span a couple of days ago, and spoke for a few seconds about Antony and Cleopatra (the play). He stated among other things that :

        1. Antony and Cleopatra is his favourite Shakespeare play – what is Sarah’s favourite ?
        2. He claims that WH Auden said if we had to get rid of all Shakespeare plays except one, the one to keep would be Antony and Cleopatra because it’s the highest level of poetry. Does Sarah agree with this ?

        Thank you.

        • BDEhrman January 3, 2023 at 3:18 pm

          1. Winter’s Tale. 2. Don’t know. But she *loves* it (and is devoting a chapter to it in her next book).

          • fragmentp52 January 3, 2023 at 3:44 pm

            Thanks to you and Sarah.

  2. jayakron January 1, 2023 at 11:30 am

    ” Tyndale was the most influential figure for the English language, ever.”

    I agree. It’s also striking to me that despite the passing of 500 years no one has successfully improved on Tyndale’s lyrical style.

  3. fishician January 1, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    Kind of sad that I never learned things like this during my many years of attending church. But then, as your post illustrates, the church has been more about control and self-preservation than education and enlightenment.

  4. imu January 1, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Regarding the passage in Mark, in which Jesus narrates the story of ‘when Abiathar [sic] was high priest’, you concluded in your book that Mark probably made a mistake, but have you ever considered whether it was not Mark but Jesus himself who made the mistake of citing Abiathar instead of Ahimelech? After all, Jesus was human, and humans sometimes make mistakes. It was probably not intentional. It might have been a Freudian slip, or maybe he just got a bit muddled with the names because he was preoccupied with the message he was trying to convey. It can happen to anyone.

    The reason I ask is that if it was Jesus who made the mistake, then this suggests that Mark is a reliable narrator because he must have been tempted to edit out the mistake. We can imagine him asking a witness, ‘Are you sure Jesus said Abiathar and not Ahimelech?’ And the witness says, ‘Yes, he said Abiathar,’ to which Mark replies, ‘Well, if that’s what he said, that’s what I’ll write.’

    I know you have other reasons for doubting the authenticity of the Gospels, but do you think this is a plausible hypothesis?

    • BDEhrman January 2, 2023 at 12:51 pm

      Ah, yes indeed, that has often been suggested. The problem is that we have a lot of very solid evidence that the Gospel writers, including Mark, placed a lot of their sayings of Jesus on his lips, and so the trick is trying to show which things he really said. It would be very hard to establish this as a saying of Jesus since it doesn’t pass the kinds of criteria that historians used to figure out what words an ancient person actually spoke (it’s found only here; it fits Mark’s argument/context particularly well; Mark is a bit notorious for not having a full understanding of Judaism; etc.). In particular, even if we can determine roughly what Jesus spoke (say 40 years before Mark wrote), it’s very had to know what he said *verbatim*. Ad so it’s possble, but we just can’t say. Either way it’s a mistake. (Nothing in Mark suggests he was well versed in the Scriptures; the very first passage he quotes he misattributes to Isaiah! Mark 1:2-3)

      • imu January 2, 2023 at 3:17 pm

        I see. Can I make a couple of criticisms?

        I don’t think memory works quite the way you suggest. In your book, you have described the occasion when you realized there was a mistake in Mark’s gospel very vividly. You remember the comment your professor wrote on your essay *verbatim*, even though it was 40 years ago. This is because it was a moment of profound realization, a turning point in your life.

        In the passage, Jesus says something profound about the Sabbath. He says the Sabbath was not intended to be restrictive, rather it was ordained for Man’s benefit (it’s good to take a break once a week from work and emails and blogging). This is a completely different perspective on religion from the Pharisees. The statement would have touched people just like your professor touched you. It is also the product of a genius mind, and Mark wasn’t such a genius.

        Do arguments like this appeal to you?

        • BDEhrman January 3, 2023 at 3:10 pm

          The reason I remember that incident so clearly is precisely because it was not an oral statement. It was written. And I read it repeatedly afterward. Like virtually everyone, I frequently misremember oral statements (esp. if I just hear themn once. Even if they’re prfound I later learn I botched them). I’m not sure if you’ve read much on what anthropologists and psychologists say about that, but it’s all really interesting. I talk about it a good bit in my book Jesus Before the Gospesl

          • imu January 4, 2023 at 5:08 am

            I’m afraid that’s not very convincing. It was the occasion that made you remember your professor’s words rather than the fact that he wrote the words down. If he had spoken the words instead of writing them down, you would have repeated the words over and over again in your mind. I’m sure he wrote many other comments on your essays that you DON’T remember because they weren’t special even though they were written down. Your books contain many of your personal memories. You recall these memories vividly even though nothing was written down at the time. It would be a mistake for a reader to ignore these memories. These memories are the most authentic parts of your books because they tell me who Bart Ehrman is.

          • BDEhrman January 5, 2023 at 6:15 pm

            I don’t agree with that. You may want to read my book on memory, Jesus Before the Gospels. There have been a LOT of studies of memory by psychologists, and it has been repeatedly shown that a memory is necessarily more accurate when it is more vivid. Just the opposite. Some of the experiments that prove this are hilarious and scary (because we swear by our vivid memories but they are often demonstrably wrong) (emphasize: demonstrably!)

          • imu January 4, 2023 at 5:09 am

            I haven’t read Jesus Before the Gospels, but I have read many of your other books. Nowhere have you distinguished between retrospective witness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable, and memories people have of special occasions in their lives, which are very reliable, for example memories of your first girlfriend, the birth of your children, the death of a loved one, or the moment you realized there was a mistake in Mark. You treat the Gospel writers as if they are police officers after a major incident taking witness statements from bystanders. In reality, they collected the vivid memories of people whose lives were changed in a big way by Jesus. These memories are not the inerrant words of God, but neither are they folklore.

            I hope you don’t mind being challenged in this way, but I think this is a major flaw in your approach to the Gospels. What do you think?

          • BDEhrman January 5, 2023 at 6:20 pm

            YEah, we usually *think* these memories are reliable, but it turns out they’re not. I certainly don’t mind being challenged this way, not at all. I got interested in memory for just these reasons. For two years (this was probably seven or eight years ago?) (wish I could remember! 🙂 ) I stopped reading scholarship on early Chrsitianity/NT and did nothing but read studies of memory, mainly psychological studies and anthropological studies of oral tradition (along with sociological analysis of “social memory”). When I wrote up my results for my book I had the chair of the Harvard department of Psychology read it, Daniel Schachter, one of the world’s experts on “false memories,” to make sure what I was saying faithfully represented the scholarship, and he confirmed it for me (BEFORE I sent it to the publisher!). So at least check it out — or check out the research on it. As well as what we know from anthropologists about how memories get passed along in the oral tradition.

          • imu January 6, 2023 at 3:46 am

            So, I looked at your book. Your thesis rests on various assumptions, especially the assumption that that there was a long chain of transmitters between Jesus and the gospel writers. I have a word limit, so can I respond with an analogy?

            Imagine a journalist called Mark living in the year 1980 CE. He decides to interview Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, and children of survivors who heard stories from their parents. The survivors remember the Holocaust vividly even though it was 40 years ago. They describe what happened in graphic detail. They also describe spiritual experiences, but they are obviously sincere. Mark is moved by the stories of the survivors. He says to them, ‘The world needs to hear your story! I take it upon myself to tell your story to the world!’

            Mark proceeds to write a book. In later times, people refer to his book as a ‘gospel’. He wants the book to appeal to the public, so he writes it in the form of a narrative. The survivors cannot remember the exact dates that certain events happened, so Mark has to decide on the order of the events for his narrative…

          • BDEhrman January 8, 2023 at 9:22 am

            Yes, that is one of the options. If you’d like to see discussions of why that’s not what historical scholars think is what happened, you should read my book.

          • imu January 6, 2023 at 3:48 am

            … There are also some gaps in the overall narrative, which Mark fills with information from other sources. However, he does his utmost to faithfully relay the experience of the survivors. Before releasing the book, he shows it to the survivors, and they confirm that it is an accurate portrayal of their experiences.

            Many years later, the historical evidence of the Holocaust is all but lost. All that survives is Mark’s gospel, and three other gospels written by journalists like Mark (you can guess their names). In this future world, there are religious zealots who worship the gospels, which they believe to be the literal words of God. They believe that the Jews suffered and died in the Holocaust so that the sins of mankind could be forgiven. Meanwhile, there are secular historians who snigger at the gospels because they were written decades after the events in question. They point to minor discrepancies in the text, and they say that the gospels are little more than folklore. They believe that the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust has been vastly exaggerated.

            Do you see that both the zealots and the historians are misguided?

          • imu January 12, 2023 at 2:59 am

            Hi! So, I’ve finished reading Jesus Before the Gospels. Like your other books, it is very well-written and informative. Often, when you talk about ‘memories of Jesus,’ I think you mean the beliefs of people who lived later rather than the recollections of people who met Jesus. I think there is less distortion in the Gospels than you argue for various reasons including the following.

            I don’t think Jesus was remembered by early Christians as someone ‘humiliated’ and a ‘convicted criminal’. For his followers, Jesus was an inspirational teacher and an innocent man who was wrongfully crucified. They felt about his crucifixion the way people today feel about the Holocaust. A powerful experience like that produces powerful memories with a strong emotional component. I think you have made inappropriate generalizations about memory based on the psychological studies you have cited. There is good evidence that memories of powerful events like the Holocaust are very reliable. It is also important to emphasize individual differences in memory, that is, some people have much better memories than others, and it is possible to test the reliability of a person’s memory.

          • BDEhrman January 13, 2023 at 12:56 pm

            Yes, past figures are “remembered” any time someone thinks about them. (The word “remember” simply means “called to mind”)

          • imu January 12, 2023 at 3:01 am

            Mark was highly educated and resourceful. His Gospel was his magnum opus, the culmination of his life’s work. Therefore, it makes no sense that he would rely on tittle-tattle at the local watering hole for his information. I think Mark sought out the most reliable witnesses he could find, closest to Jesus, and he tested the reliability of these witnesses (it is not difficult to do this). Unlike Paul, Mark did not have the agenda of setting up his own church. If Mark’s Gospel represented the views of one sect of Christians, why did other Christian sects not reject his Gospel? Early Christians argued about almost everything, but they never argued about the authenticity of the Gospels. The only rational explanation is that the Gospels were authentic.

            I liked your comparison of the temporal Kingdom of God in Mark and the spatial Kingdom of God in John, but remember Einstein taught us that time is just a spatial dimension of space-time! It is likely that Jesus, like any great teacher, communicated the same idea using different modes of explanation, and his students latched onto the explanation that made most sense to them. We see this happen even today.

          • BDEhrman January 13, 2023 at 12:58 pm

            It’s possible you’re right, but I can’t think of any evidence to suggest Mark proceeded that way, other than that’s how a modern researcher would certainly do it.

  5. veritas January 1, 2023 at 7:53 pm

    Bart thanks for crediting Tyndale for the KJV Bible. Some years ago, while in the Mormon church, I did some research on him. He truly was a literary genius. For one thing, he was only 42 when executed. He spoke some seven languages,including proficiency in ancient Hebrew and Greek. I am surprised how little information and credit is attributed to him when speaking of KJV Bible on numerous internet sites related to this bible.. Even the History website speaks very little of him as does Britannica. According to English Historian John Foxe, he was given a chance to recant and did not, then yelled out,” Lord,open the King of England’s eyes”, then burned at the stake in Vilvoorde,Belgium,condemned as an heretic by special commissioners of the Holy Roman Empire. I think his eloquent use of words in the translation made the KJV a classic and best seller,still today. I am amazed how his name is still suppressed today,and very little credit given, as the first translator of the KJV. Truly ahead of his time.

    • AngeloB January 7, 2023 at 9:53 pm

      I wonder why his name is still suppressed?

      • BDEhrman January 8, 2023 at 10:14 am

        I wouldn’t say it’s suppressed; most translators acknowledge his influence. But they don’t exactly shout it from the rooftops. These days of course the language is so different that they stand in his line rather than depend on his vocabulary.

  6. JacobSapp01 January 1, 2023 at 7:57 pm

    Happy New Year Bart!

    This isn’t exactly related to KJV, but have you heard anything about when the NRSVue will receive a study Bible? Perhaps an Oxford or Harper Collins edition? So far, I only have been able to find standard, bare-bones copies.

    • BDEhrman January 2, 2023 at 12:52 pm

      No, I haven’t heard. I”m not sure publishers will think the new edition is signficantly different to justify an entirely new study Bible, but I simply don’t know.

      • AngeloB January 9, 2023 at 11:27 pm

        I’m currently reading the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Apocrypha in the Harper Collins NRSV.

  7. tom.hennell January 1, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    ” Almost all subsequent translations were based ultimately on his efforts, and almost always without acknowledgment. Including the King James. ”

    As you say, Bart, it is not usual for versions of the Bible to acknowledge their use of previous translations by name; nevertheless the King James Bible does state on its title page that its text is “with the former translations diligently compared.”

    Moreover, the instructions to the translators issued after the Hampton Court conference of 1604 did explicitly require the Tyndale translation to be consistently consulted.

    ” These translations to be used, when they agree better with the text than the Bishops’ Bible: Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s , Whitchurch’s [Great], Geneva.”

    So, the dependence of the KJV translators on Tyndale was not concealed in any way.

    What does seem to have been down-played though; is that although the above list (clearly deliberately) excluded use of the (Catholic) Rheims New Testament, the King James translation committee appear to have routinely consulted this version alongside the others. Indeed the Rheims New Testament is very commonly found to be the source where an alternative – more literal – English wording is offered in a KJV marginal note.

    • BDEhrman January 2, 2023 at 12:53 pm

      Interesting. Thanks.

      • tom.hennell January 3, 2023 at 10:41 am

        The Rheims translators are much criticized (and mocked) for rendering ‘theologically meaningful’ terms with Latinate neologisms, rather than the common English. But in descriptive narratives they were often closer to Tyndale, and closer to everyday idiomatic English of the time, than were the King James translators.

        As with Mark 5:39

        And went in and sayde vnto them: why make ye this adoo and wepe? The mayde is not deed but slepith.

        And going in, he saith to them: Why make you this adoe and weep? the wench is not dead, but sleepeth.

        King James
        And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.

        The Rheims translators appear to have based their version on a Latin/English diglot New Testament, published in Paris in 1538; and may well have been unaware that the English column was Tyndale’s version (albeit adjusted by Miles Coverdale to use ‘ecclesiastical’ terms – church, bishop; where Tyndale himself had eschewed these – congregation, overseer).

        But I propose that Rheims’s ‘wench’ conveys the Greek meaning better than the KJV’s prissified ‘damsel’; and much better than the Geneva version’s, ‘child’.

        • BDEhrman January 5, 2023 at 6:02 pm

          Ha! Well, I’m not so sure. Wench?? Isn’t that a derogatory term usually used with sexual inuendos, and these days more commonly meaning something like “prostitute”? The Greek word PAIDION is just the diminutive for PAIS (both are neuter), and means “young child” — no?

          • tom.hennell January 7, 2023 at 8:52 am

            Exactly the problem Bart; the numerous references to Jairus’s daughter in Mark are all diminutive; in the Geneva bible only verse 23 is – ‘little daughter’. Otherwise she could be an unmarried girl of any age; were it not for the specific note at verse 42.

            Though it’s possible that the Geneva translators were familiar with the Scots and Irish dialect form; “is it a boy or a child?”; where ‘child’ = baby girl. In English usage of the time however – as in Shakespeare’s ‘Winter’s Tale’ – this phrase marks out the speaker as a country bumpkin.

            English terms for female youngsters were a minefield for 16th and 17th century translators. Jennifer Higginbotham has a fascinating study of the multitude of words used; showing how meanings could change radically over quite short periods.

            So, when Tyndale wrote, ‘girl’ could still stand for an unmarried person of either sex; while ‘maid’ , Tyndale’s preferred term in this passage, did indeed stand for any very young female. By the end of the 16th century ‘maid’ is a sexually unavailable female of any age, while ‘girl’ is an unmarried female who is not a ‘maid’.

          • BDEhrman January 8, 2023 at 10:06 am

            I thought you were referring to the most appropriate translation today.

  8. ervenema January 1, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    “In 1408 a law had been passed in England making it illegal to translate or to read the Bible in English without official ecclesiastical approval”.

    Sounds eerily similar to Daniel 6:7: “All the administrators of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to any god or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the den of lions.”

    William Tyndale was convicted of heresy and executed by strangulation, because… he translated the Bible in English without official approval…

  9. Truncated January 1, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    Did you mean “eat drink and be married”? 🙂 Those darn textual corruptions………

  10. Em.Freedman January 2, 2023 at 4:25 am

    Hi Dr Ehrman!

    Just wishing you a very happy new year!!

    Thank you for all that you do

  11. timcfix January 2, 2023 at 11:48 am

    You mentioned that Tyndale learned Hebrew while also learning Greek. I am led to believe that most, if not all, bible translations are from the Septuagint. And if some are by Hebrew then they still are following the Greek traditions, i.e. ‘a Savior born of a virgin’ rather than ‘a Savior born of a young woman’. If there are any Christian bibles translated from the Hebrew tradition I would be interested in knowing about them. Right now I’m trying the latest Hebrew translation.

    • BDEhrman January 2, 2023 at 12:57 pm

      No, modern translations are never basedon the Septuagint; they all translate the Hebrew. (You can indeed buy a translation of the Septuagint, but it’s not that easy to find; and no entire Bible that I know of translate it as the OT)

      • Wayne January 2, 2023 at 5:14 pm

        Dr Ehrman, Bibles before the KJV like the Tindale and the bishops translated the opening verses of John 1 with “it” instead of he & him and didn’t capitalize the W in word. So from the KJv onward do have a case of bias

        • BDEhrman January 3, 2023 at 3:11 pm

          I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

      • Diane January 3, 2023 at 1:45 pm

        I dunno about all that, Bart–I’m sittin’ here lookin’ at my New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford, 2007)…

  12. giselebendor January 2, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    It’s almost comical that after 7 years of work by 47 scholars- talk about a committee- the glorious resulting KJV was practically a copy of blessed Tyndale’s translation. And they already had the printing press, which would have facilitated corrections without the meddling of many equivocal scribes.

    Tyndale’s destiny reminds in some ways of Jesus’: essentially doing good, betrayed and ignominiously executed.

    I gather that Tyndale’s Bibles were no longer in circulation by the time the KJV was produced. Thus, there was no public comparing of the versions, and the KJB was not exposed for what it was, as we now learn : a copy of the original efforts of an executed heretic .

    If ,as you mention, no official credit was given to Tyndale and the work passed as the KJB, a new creation prepared by a scholarly committee, could this be considered a hoax or a forgery?

    The vast majority of readers know nothing about this.Today it would be a blatant case of copyright infringement.

    With regards to Shakespeare, I recommend the film Anonymous. Saw it 3 times.

    • AngeloB January 14, 2023 at 4:51 pm

      Copyright infringement indeed!

  13. Wayne January 2, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    what I mean is do they use the words he and him and capitalize the W to fit their logos christology and ultimately the Trinity

    • BDEhrman January 3, 2023 at 3:13 pm

      Oh, OK. Yes, there is always some kind of bias in translation since translators are humans and humans have biases! There’s no way to give a mechanical translation that is perfectly accurate. Just can’t be done. Scholars have long argued (and shown) that in fact translation necessarily involves interpretation, and texts are never self-interpreting.

      • Wayne January 6, 2023 at 3:20 pm

        thank you DR. I just now realized I have 200 words I can type not 200 Characters LOL I’ve always tried to stay within200 characters and I hope this isn’t me asking the same question twice but in tyndale NT , he didn’t feel the need to capitalize the W In in the beginning was the word jh 1:1 and the pronouns he in verse 2 and him in verse 3- 4 is translated by William as “it”. so does the Greek demand logos to be capitalized and who’s correct Tyndale or King James , should it be it or he?
        it could be understood by Tyndall’s Translation that the word is God’s wisdom purpose and plan for humanity and that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s wisdom john 1: 14. therefore it was God’s wisdom that was with him in the beginning like Proverbs 8. And not a distinct individual divine being, IDK. I appreciate your scholarship and your interest in making it accessible and understandable to lay people

        • BDEhrman January 8, 2023 at 9:36 am

          Ancient Greek didn’t differentiate between lower case and upper case letters, and the word itself is just a word. The difficulty is the context. The word “logos” simply means “word” or “reason” or “argument” (depending on the context), so normally it is an “it.” But in John 1 the word is a reference to a pre-existent divine being who became a man, and so normally that is a “he.” Translators have to decide, then, whether to call the Logos in this passage “it” or “he”.

  14. colegruber January 3, 2023 at 4:54 am

    Sorry, just taking advantage of the latest post to ask a question the Gold Q&A left unanswered (which is obviously no big deal). I figured your answer would be short enough to re-ask the question here.


    What books in religious studies and its expanded field published in the last five years or so would you say are the most ambitious, sophisticated, and/or potentially groundbreaking? I’m primarily thinking about texts coming out of academic presses intended for scholarly audiences, but if there’s a non-scholarly trade book that’s just jumping out at you, I’d love to hear that too. Also, if the most mind-bending, discipline-shifting thing ever was published in, like, 2010, then that’s ok too.


    • BDEhrman January 5, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      This is a great question, and I’m afraid I have a lousy answer. Off hand, nothing comes to mind that has broken new ground or made a significant and lasting intervention in the field.

  15. bradseggie January 11, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    As to Shakespeare, what is your wife’s take on Michael Blanding’s “North by Shakespeare”?

    Recent information, computer analysis showing the true author is Sir Thomas North (e.g., ideas and wording coming from North’s Diall of Princes and other books)? New technology says “William, you are NOT the father”!

    • BDEhrman January 13, 2023 at 12:52 pm

      I’m afraid I don’t know!

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