The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Bible Versions, Translations & Language


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Keywords: Bible, Prophecy, Ezekiel, Biblical Prophecy, Ancient History, Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Middle East, End Times, Scriptures, Old Testament, New Testament, Religion





Bible Versions, Translations and Language

Italics, Punctuation and Capitalization in Bibles


    Each language has its own grammar. Sometimes, to put something into good English the translator has to add words that do not exist in the original language. For instance, Hebrew does not have words for "a", "an", "am", "is" or "are". Some translations use italics to indicate words added, e.g.:

    Hebrew: Ah-NEE     EESH.
    English:  I am a man.

    (Above, I also used color, in case your default typeface doesn't show italics well.)


    The original Hebrew and Greek texts do not have punctuation. All punctuation is added by translators. Consider the difference between, "Ask my friend Bill," and "Ask my friend, Bill." The words are the same but in the first sentence I am talking to someone other than Bill and in the second sentence I am talking to Bill. In the first sentence I am talking about Bill and in the second sentence I am talking about someone or something else. The entire meaning of the sentence was changed by adding a comma.


    Original Bible Texts

    The Old Testament is written mainly in Hebrew, with a few parts in Aramaic, a related language.  Neither language has upper- and lowercase letters. The original Greek texts used only uppercase.


    Blumrich used several German-language Bibles. In German every noun is capitalized.


    All capitalization is added by the translators. Generally, in the middle of a sentence Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit and He, Him, His, You, Your  and Yours refer to God or Jesus.

Translations and versions

There are numerous translations into English, referred to as "versions".

    Many people who are not familiar with the Bible have only heard of the King James Version, a translation completed about 400 years ago, at the time of Shakespeare. The King James Version is also referred to as the Authorized Version. In catalogs and commentaries it is often referred to by the initials KJV or AV. The translation was originally finished in 1611 at a time before English spelling and punctuation became standardized and many variations subsequently arose. Although many people who support the KJV think they are using the 1611 translation, the version that is actually in general use today is the 1769 Oxford University update with standardized spelling and punctuation and corrections of errors in the original translation.

    Most people find it difficult to read the KJV because the language is so archaic and several hundred words have changed meanings over the past four centuries. Even subsequent updates as recently as the early 20th century continued to use thee, thou, thy, thine, doth, hast, whither, thither and other obsolete words.

Version abbreviations are always spelled out, never pronounced as an acronym.

    For instance, NIV (New International Version) is pronounced "en, eye, vee", never "nihv". The same for NAB, AV, TEV.

Many people are not aware that there are many translations in modern English.

    The best-selling modern English translation is the New International Version (NIV).

    The one most popular with people interested in in-depth study is the New King James Version (NKJV).

    The New Living Translation (NLT) is a paraphrase that does not track the original text closely. In some cases, it adds material or the text departs from the source text to make it clear to the reader what the source text means. It is a great help for beginners and is regularly used by teachers and preachers—in combination with a good translation.

    There are many other good modern English translations, including the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New American Bible (NAB), and the Contemporary English Version (CEV), which is especially good for children and people whose native language is not English.

    (As this website points out, the translators of the New American Bible (NAB) rearranged some of the verses in Ezekiel; I have not checked, but I assume they did the same in at least a few other places. Although many people—including me—have a problem with that, in their defense they are highly regarded biblical scholars, not a few jerks who just decided to go their own way.)

Many translations are based on the King James Version.

    If you read various translations, many of them sound suspiciously similar. The reason is that all those versions are updates of the King James Version by various groups and they try to change the original text as little as possible.

    Updates of the King James Version include the following. Some are not recent and still use archaic language. 



    American Standard Version



    Jewish Publishing Society (Old Testament)



    Revised Standard Version



    New Revised Standard Version



    New King James Version



    Modern King James Version

Many people incorrectly assume that because there are numerous "versions" none of them are reliable. They assume the different "versions" contradict each other.

    Five versions compared: Romans 10:9-11         Luke 1:1-4

    As you can see, the only version that is particularly different in wording is The Living Bible. The author states straight out that it is a paraphrase. He wrote it to help his young daughter understand the Bible and it became so popular that he wound up having it published. Its successor, the New Living Translation was written specifically for publication.

    Most people who study the Bible at least occasionally have at least two or three different translations, for comparison. King James versions (including the newer ones) are deliberately translated  to sound "majestic". The NIV is written at a seventh-grade language level. The language of the Living translations is so "ordinary" that often you can't tell whether the person is reading from the book or speaking about it.

    There are also numerous Parallel Text editions which have several versions side-by-side to make comparisons easier.


One problem with all modern English translations is that all of them are copyrighted.

    This has been done to prevent unauthorized changes to the text followed by republication, a favorite tactic of people promoting false teachings.

    Currently, an all-volunteer project is underway on the Internet to produce what will be called the World English Bible. This is intended to be a high-quality modern English translation that is not copyrighted. The New Testament (Greek/Christian) part has been fully translated and checked. The Old Testament (Hebrew/Jewish) part is available in "quasi-modern" English, i.e., it is readable but not yet in good modern English.

A related problem is that because modern English translations are copyrighted, they generally are not available on the Web for free.

    However, various modern-language publishers have permitted and/or to distribute their versions free on the Net as modules for a (free) downloadable software program.


Study Bibles are standard translations with additional study materials.

    What is a denarius?
    What is an ephah?
    What is a cubit?
    Where was Persia?
    How big was Noah's Ark?

    a Greek unit of money (like a dollar)
    a unit of measure (like a pint or a quart)
    a length of measure (like a centimeter)
    We are not certain because historically the length of a cubit has varied. Using an 18" cubit, the Ark would have been about the size of 522 railroad stock cars and could carry more than 125 thousand sheep.

    How do I know? Study Bibles contain commentaries, outlines, maps, cross-references, etc. There is no "standard" set of "official" notes. Often, the notes emphasize particular themes. For instance, in a "Prophecy Study Bible" almost all the notes would relate to prophecy, but most Study Bibles do not discuss prophecy much. Of course, because the people who prepare notes are not the translators, you cannot judge the quality of the notes by the quality of the translation.