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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Translation Principle 12: Rectifying Time-Altered Terms

Welcome back to our exploration of the TLV Key Principles! As the Chief Theologian for the TLV Bible Society, it is my joy to walk you through these principles and help you understand the underlying process of how our team developed the Tree of Life Version.

We have moved into our twelfth principle: restoring the earlier work of translators by providing new terms for words whose meaning has become altered by changes in language over the centuries. As I’ve mentioned before, language is dynamic, fluid; not static. Meanings change through time and circumstance.

Today, for example, the word “Apostle” in Christian nomenclature denotes one of the early movement’s elites, and is understood as a Christian-based title. Without diminishing anything from the callings of the Peters, Johns and Pauls of the world (and Word), in the first century, the word “apostle” was a coined, pre-Christian term meaning “Sent Ones.” It carried no specific religious connotations at the first. However, now, the word is completely defined by its early first century AD uses. Present-day dictionaries primarily define an apostle as “one sent on a mission such as one of an authoritative New Testament group sent out to preach the gospel and made up especially of Christ’s 12 original disciples or the first prominent Christian missionary to a region or group.” The aforementioned leader-evangelists, of course, weren’t just dispatches or “sent” messengers. They were, as we know, enlightened ambassadors of a dawning Kingdom. With no mind to disrespect them, we content ourselves with the first century term.

The same issue and problem is true – if not the more so – with another term used in the Bible: “saint.” Through time, the designation “saint” is used to denote someone special, someone recognized and granted an elite religious status. In fact, the modern dictionary only defines it in this manner. In the first century, however, it was a generic word for all believers – not simply particular individuals recognized and ratified by a powerful ecclesiastical body. This knowledge is a critical part of understanding the relationships between authors and audiences of the epistles. For the TLV, we disregard “saint” and go with the Hebrew for it: kedoshim–meaning “holy ones.” We, thus, divest some of its mythological implications, by placing the designation back into its Hebrew context.

Additionally, by using kedoshim, we connect the testaments in a subtle way that reinforces the meta-narrative of the Scriptures. This creates an subconscious understanding that God has had kedoshim since the beginning – not just upon the arrival of His Messiah.

Be sure to look at Psalm 145:10, Proverbs 2:8, Romans 15:25, and 1 Corinthians 15:9

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