I was taking a “final exam” for a Bible degree course. There were things I needed to find, and answer. Trudging through a few hundred (or thousand) pages of Biblical text can be, er, time consuming; if you don’t know just which book some particular “bit” came from. So I was doing some “web searches” on bits of text. To get clues as to: in “which book” to go “Data Diving”?
Along the way, I ran into this rather useful Biblical Tool. An online Bible, in a few dozen languages, with interlinear and concordance and even parallel Bibles. The Parallel Bible being more useful in English as we have so many translations of it and English has changed so much over the years. Other more stable languages with one historic text have less need for, or availability of, Parallel Bibles. Still, for folks with multiple language skills, it can be fun to compare and contrast some of the many ways the Bible has been translated. Both in English and in other languages.
The “main site” is here:
Being “the suspicious sort” (all ex-sysadmins are suspicious of everything. “I’m not paranoid, they are out to get me. I’m the sysadmin!” is the basic reality of that role) I saw “.cc” and was a bit worried. OK, what flaky country is THAT from? (Odd countries often being havens for less than “safe” sites…) Turns out it’s more a marketing / social thing than “some odd country haven”.
First off, it’s associated with Australia. So generally a good sign. Second, it’s a commercial operation connected with some larger and reputable companies. Also a good sign.
.cc is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory. It is administered by VeriSign through a subsidiary company eNIC, which promotes it for international registration as “the next .com”; .cc was originally assigned in October 1997 to eNIC Corporation of Seattle WA by the IANA. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, an unrecognised country by the UN, that officially belongs to the republic of Cyprus, also uses the .cc domain, along with .nc.tr.
With the help of SamsDirect Internet, eNIC managed and marketed the top level domain with great success to become the “second largest TLD registry in the United States second only to Verisign” according to Brian Cartmell, founder and CEO of eNIC who testified before the United States Senate in regard to The Governance of the Domain Name System by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on February 4, 2001. Much of the success of the domain sales came as a direct result of Sams entering into a deal with the largest radio broadcaster in the United States, Clear Channel (CC) Communications, to advertise and promote the domain on several hundred radio stations over a three month period.
Registration is made directly at second-level.
The .cc domain is preferred by many cycling clubs as well as churches and Christian organizations as “CC” also happens to be an abbreviation for “Christian Church” or “Catholic Church.” Some open-source/open-hardware projects, e.g. the Arduino project, use a .cc for their home pages, as “CC” is the abbreviation for “Creative Commons”, whose licenses are used in the projects. Canadian Club whiskey have also used .cc domains for marketing purposes.
So an “eclectic” mix of users, but generally a benign bunch. OK, I’m good with that. Christian Churches using something they like is a nice context. So, back at the site…
Across the top of the page is a banner of very small flags. Click on one, you get the Bible in that language. (Though some of the other “option” tabs go away as there may be less ‘backing material’, like Parallel Bibles, in any given language). For example, here’s the Bible in Spanish in two forms:
Spanish: Sagradas Escrituras (1569)
La Biblia de las Américas (1997)
The astute SysAdmin will have noticed that the TLD Top Level Domain has shifted to .com and a very different site. Yet the frames for the page stay largely the same. One suspects a “distributed cooperative effort” is involved.
So why bother? Well, lots of reasons. But partly it is just a good source for social insight. Here we can compare directly what folks were reading in 1569 to 1997. How much has it “changed” in 400 years? Does it matter? Is the “message” the same? How different is “Old Spanish” from “New Spanish”? Does one get the same “musty formal” feeling as with King James vs The New Living Translation?
Next up, there is a small ‘drop down’ menu on the right for “Choose a Translation”. Many of “the usual” English translations are listed. Over on the left side is a set of three drop down menus for Book, Chapter, and Verse. Nice. In the middle is a search box, then four odd “colored round things”. Hover the mouse of them and you find out they are search by topic, a library search, search of Strong’s Greek and Hebrew, and a multilingual search.
At one time I’d spent a fair price to get just a 4 version Parallel Bible. I’ve occasionally wanted an interlinear, but could not justify the cost (or the shelf space) for something where I can barely pick out a few Greek words and no Hebrew. (The notion being that I’d slowly pick up bits, maybe, and could at least see that “the same word” in English was or was not a different Hebrew or Greek term in the original. Sometimes a couple of original language words map to only one English word, so some “digging” can turn up a tiny bit that was ‘lost in translation’.
In my experience, almost always of no importance; and largely related to nit-picks like the use of the “Dual” number in Greek that does not exist in English. We say “they” not “They-exactly-2-number-marker”. Usually the context makes it clear there are only 2 talking. Often a decent translator will ‘fill in’ when it is ambiguous without the marker. (So if text had Jesus talking to Matthew AND others in a group, and then said “Then they-2 left together”, the translator might write “Then they both left together” showing that Jesus and Matthew were the “they” and not the whole group.) Yes, I once spent a few months reading various interlinears and translators notes to find out that the bulk of “discrepancies” were directly tied to trivial grammar differences between the languages.
But still, it is nice to be able to check for yourself. So now I don’t need to find $50 to $100 for more books (rather large and heavy ones at that, not printed on the tissue paper thin stock of small Bibles… and having much more text than a single reading, being in 2 or 3 languages and with added space and pronunciation guides and translation notes and… ) It is very nice to have it available.
OK, right under that is a large area where I’m presently getting a “file not found” error message. I can’t quite read the name of the file not found, but it doesn’t seem to interfere with the parts I care about. Trying to read the top 1/2 of the characters I think it says something like referencebible.org/mainmenu17.htm
Below that, the main style resumes again, and on each side there are “chapter” and “book” buttons with arrows, to step forward or backwards by book or chapter.
Then a line of three letter abbreviations. Each one a particular translation or version of the Bible. (We have a lot of them in English) For example, the KJV King James Version and the ASV American Standard Version:
Again the observant SysAdmin will note the changing URLs. Either a distributed effort, or someone has bought a lot of domain names…
Then there are a bunch of tabs. Most often 9 in the English versions, sometimes less in other languages. Parallel gives a parallel bible of several versions. Lessons, Topics, TSK “Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge” looks to make connections to other books and translations, comments, an Interlinear with Greek / Hebrew, then a Hebrew tab that looks to do more detailed meaning of the Hebrew, not just place the words on the page.
The Lexicon tab goes more into the particular words and meanings and connections via Stong’s along with the word origins. Then that Multi tab is a fun one. It gives the same text in a few dozen languages all on the same page. Lots of fun for us folks who like to look at the structure of other languages ;-)
But in many ways, it is that Parallel tab that I like the most. On one page, a dozen and a half of the most common Bibles.
Far more “parallel” a parallel Bible than I could ever own in physical form. (It would be huge…) So if you wonder if the New International Version has messed up some favored passage from the KJV, or if that ASV you used as a kid is much different from the NIV, well, it’s a quick look. You can also compare the very old versions with the very modern ones. Grieve for what has been lost of the poetry and majesty of older English (and enjoy actually knowing what it said by reading the modern one ;-)
Built in Concordance and links to other verses on the right with cross references.
Nice. Just very nice.
Will I use it much? I don’t know. I’ve mostly “finished that fixation” a couple of years back. Found my answers to a “good enough” degree, and moved on. The ‘answers’ I found were that the translators did far far better than I ever could, documented where they had concerns, and most of those were rather trivial things, like translating “neutral” gender into he / she since English lacks the 3rd gender, or the Dual number. Hardly earthshaking to have “They-neuter went” vs “They-male went” vs “They went”. Or sometimes “They, John and Mary went” filling in proper names to show why one gender would not work, or “They, John and Matthew went” to make it clear both were male. Such was the stuff and minutia that preoccupied the translators. Still, it is nice to see just how many “versions” say almost exactly the same thing, over many hundreds of years. (And a bit of an annoyance at how some of the modern “Free Translations” have, IMHO, taken a bit too much license… )
I’ve mostly also answered the question from my “many language quest”. The answer to “What language is most suited to clean ‘tidy mind’ thinking?” is “the one which you learned from birth”. Every language has weird quirks and rough spots. A native speaker bridges them effortlessly with circumlocutions. A non-native struggles. Is there some advantage to one over the others? Yes, likely so, but only if you were born into it. Hungarian has a verb case for “asymptotic”. Approaching but never quite touching the house. Perhaps that is why so many name physicists were Hungarian. (Finnish is a related language with similar properties – and nearly impossible to learn properly for an English speaker past childhood, IMHO ;-) Japanese has structures built into it for all sorts of apologetics and honorifics and ‘saying no while not saying no’ and statements of relative status and so much more “baggage” to the English speaker; while the Japanese feel lost in terms of status awareness in English and feel English a bit brusque.
So it mostly depends on what you know most intimately. An experience English speaker knows “asymptotic” and how to say “Humble apologies from this wretched one oh Majesty, lunch is here, should it be acceptable.” More words, but still a decent “suck up”. French has 7 past tenses (so you can very precisely order the past) but not so many future tenses. Russian makes do with only one past tense. So “Hitler invaded Russia” in French can clearly mark that as well in the past and more passive, where in Russian one would say “Hitler invaded Russia a long time ago” or “Hitler invaded Russia this morning” (more or less) to make it clear how the timing runs. In the end, it is still which one you know best that will work best for ‘a tidy mind’ thinking.
What does that have to do with a Bible site? Simple. It lets folks see the same thing for themselves. To see how various languages are not all that different in final effect. To see how the ancient Hebrew carries the same notion as Modern English, or even not so modern English. Yet also to see some of the “lumps”. Where things are lost that ought not be lost. Where “free translations” lose some poetry, or some punch. And where Old English is just too obtuse to mean anything today.
For me, it’s just an interesting place to “kick around” for folks interested in languages, history, social structure and change, and even just the occasional bits of very old wisdom still found in some of those pages. Along with the sporadic answer to questions like “What makes Maccabees a non-book for some, and included for others?” Yes, I’d wandered through the Apocrypha in a couple of versions too. FWIW, some of the books some churches ‘left out’ are just not very important. Maccabees, for example, being largely just some history of those Kings. In? Out? Not much difference, really.
With this site, it’s like having a much larger Bible library to “kick around in” if the muse strikes me again. Or if some new question comes along to be a “dig here!” du jour. (Like that time I wanted to find out exactly what Ezekiel said and did it really sound like Space Aliens or more like God and Angels? Was it more, or less so, in older versions or in the original language?
For now, I’m probably pretty much done with such things. But you never know. Sometimes questions come up from the oddest places at the most unexpected times. This will let me scratch those particular itches a whole lot faster.
So I hope you enjoy that resource.
(For those of you not interested in the Bible, or about to post anti-religious complaints, please don’t. This is a place to be positive toward fellow travelers in life and accepting that each of us has our own way. I don’t care if you ‘believe’ or not. There is still a lot of good wisdom, interesting stories, and very old history in the collection of books that make up the Bible. Accept it for what it is to you, and let others do the same. Any complaints or insults to the beliefs of others will be snipped. It’s just not polite. I value polite… )
FWIW, in looking up some of the things I needed to find, I wandered some bits of the Bible I’d not read before. The amount of history in it is fascinating in its own right. So many kings, with so much ambition, do so much war making just to gain personal power and wealth. (Yes, I was reading Kings). Helps, in a way, to see how our present world is not so much different. With so many “Kings” of today, just as then, trying to take what they can by subjugating others. With so many “just plain folks” caught in the middle between Evil and Worse. Some things never change…
And I think that is a large part of what I find fascinating in the Bible.