Saturday, January 31, 2009

Francis Werner

I have mentioned Julia E. Smith as a Bible translator of the 19th century who had provided the most literal, or word for word, translation of the Hebrew Bible available until recently.

Last year the Ancient Roots Hebrew Bible appeared. Francis Werner was inspired through her own Bible study and by Beth Moore to provide a "translinear" translation of the Hebrew Bible. She writes,
    The Translinear method was born from a detailed scientific analysis of several bible versions. A portion of the analysis can be found in the Compare Bible Versions section of this website. (I have published the analysis of 20 bible versions under the Truth in Translation series. Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Surprising Bias in the Old Testament is now available on this website.) The reason we need resources like cross-references and Interlinear bibles is because none of the bibles that have been published to date are close enough to the original language. They have extra words, are missing many unique words, and were not utilizing English consistently with the original language.
    So all the classic bible study tools are needed to find out what the ancient text really said.But what would happen if all the all the ancient words matched the English language 100% of the time? You wouldn’t need a cross reference column. You wouldn’t need to compare them in an Interlinear bible. You wouldn’t need to double check the original word in a concordance.

    The highest compliment I've received so far is from a Hebrew professor in town: "This would be very beneficial for our students, mainly because they will be able to tell much more than the usual translation gives them concerning some of the features of the original languages without having to know those languages." And I didn't even bribe him.
    Put on the "magic glasses" and see the Old Testament exactly the way it was written. Transport yourself to the Ancient Roots of the original language with the most exact methodology ever published for completeness and consistency. Join me and enjoy the outpouring of insights.
You can browse this Bible here. Werner has also reviewed other study Bibles on Amazon. For an academic review of her accomplishment I recommend this commentary. Her book Truth in Translation has also received singularly negative reviews.

However, she has provided a view into the Hebrew roots of words and if one wants to find more about the poetic language and imagery of Hebrew, this reveals something of the language to non-Hebrew readers. Here is the Babel story from the Ancient Hebrew roots Bible,

    All the land was of one lip and of one word. As they were journeying east, they found a canyon in the land of Central-Iraq and they dwelled there. They had brick for stone and had bitumen for clay. Man said to neighbor, "Brick whitens by burning it thus on a pyre." They said, "Thus we will build a city and a tower with its head in heaven to make our name. Otherwise we will scatter over the face of the all the land." Yahweh descended to see the city and the tower which the sons of Adam built. Yahweh said, "Behold, one people, all with one lip, all began to do this! Now none are protected from their plotting which they do.
It has a close resemblance to Julia Smith's version. It is an odd thing really. I have seen some people invent the most impossible interpretations of the Bible from using interlinear's like Werner's. But the truth is that even among those who claim to know the original languages well enough, one sometimes comes across oddities. I recommend using this Bible in combination with your favourite translation, perhaps the NRSV.

In my view the Ancient Roots Hebrew Bible is one more tool, and does not replace learning Hebrew, but realistically who has time. It also reflects the desire of women to participate in the creation of meaning around the sacred text. Perhaps if more women were included in the academy women might not produce translations which so singularly lack endorsement.

Francis Werner must be listed as a woman bible translator.

7 comments:

Bob MacDonald said...

Suzanne - where does this lead? Language does not work the way this translation implies. The Strong's numbering system is an idiosyncratic and primitive identification mechanism. There are many better possibilities. The site you pointed to looks to me to be exploiting a desire that should not be exploited.

Are you OK?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I'm okay. I have known about this Bible for over a year. Of course, translataon does not work this way. But how else can one develop theories for why the LXX translators did not translate the word for lip at all.

This is very similar to Julia Smith's Bible. Please note that I have linked to a negative review of this Bible. However, I still think that some people may want to know that it exists.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

You are perhaps right about Strong's. I never have figured out how that works.

Bob MacDonald said...

Sorry about all the spurious links - it is a google bug in their blogger gadgets.

I am glad you are well. I worried that there was just too much snow in Vancouver this year :)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

There is too much snow, not that much but with no snow plows it was not pleasant. And then the computers were down for three weeks at school, another odd thing.

But I am well and will soone be seeking a little extra vitamin D for a week. :-)

A. Frances Werner said...

Suzanne--
I'm sorry I'm late joining the discussion. I'm really intrigued by your comment about the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible (ARTB) being similar to Julia Smith's translation. I can find the translation online, but it only has a page or so as an introduction. Do you have any other resources showing the background of the method she used?

Thank you for reviewing my work. I'm happy to answer any other questions or suggestions you may have.

My main focus has been to restore the complete Hebrew vocabulary into English and would appreciate your insights.

A. Frances Werner
artb@translinearbible.com

ounbbl said...

Do you all really have time to read her work? Of course, unless you live till 100 year old strong, or unless you have nothing else to do ;-<

I even don't have time to go through all the wonderful works by Everett Fox, Robert Alter, etc.