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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Translation Principle 11: Clarifying Terms for Law

Welcome back to our series on the TLV Translation principles. As we approach the latter half of these principles, we see the care and attention that our theologians have taken to clear up confusion in as many areas as possible. This week’s principle focuses on clarifying terminology surrounding the “Law.”

We use the word “Torah” to refer instructions in the Five Books of Moses – Genesis through Deuteronomy. Since the New Covenant writings preceded the final canonization of scripture, we will avoid using the word “TANAKH” within the biblical text. The term TANAKH is an acronym for Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim – the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

While the same word in the Septuagint for ‘Law’ is used repeatedly, the New Covenant writers are often referring to different realms of laws in both Jewish and Roman culture. Additionally, sometimes when debating Jewish laws, biblical writers are debating current Jewish interpretative traditions–or, practice-based interpretations and applications of biblical texts that are adaptations to then-current moments in Jewish cultural experience and history. These are commonly, and mistakenly, referred to as the “oral laws.”

When these debates about different types of laws and applications in Yeshua’s day are translated as “law,” New Testament readers easily get confused. In the interest of clarifying, we are especially careful to use terminology that differentiates between actual biblical laws, natural laws, Roman laws, various rabbinical traditions and Jewish customs.

Be sure to look at Luke 2:27, 42, Acts 26:3, Romans 2:13-14, and Hebrews 7:12!

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