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


Textual Analysis - Translation Errors


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Keywords: UFO, unidentified flying objects, Bible, flying saucers, prophecy, Paleo-SETI, ancient astronauts, Erich von Däniken, Josef F. Blumrich, Zecharia Sitchin, Ezekiel, biblical prophecy, spacecraft, spaceship, NASA, Roswell, aircraft, propellant, extraterrestrial hypothesis, Jacques Vallee, interdimensional hypothesis, Project Blue Book, Condon Report, ancient history, Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, Middle East, end times, engines, rockets, helicopters, space travel, aliens, abductions, alien abductions, crop circles, extraterrestrials, astronomy, economics, biology, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Space Shuttle, Apollo, stars, planets, solar system, scriptures, design, fuel tank, aerodynamics, fuels, hydrogen, oxygen, wheels





Textual Analysis

Textual Analysis
Translation Errors

Textual Analysis - Interpreting Text and Testimony

Extensive research, including communications with Blumrich's son Christoph, who helped his father research the non-technical aspects of Spaceships, shows that Josef Blumrich was an unsuspecting victim of both poor and lazy Bible translation practices and also slipshod editing practices by the publisher of his original German version Da Tat Sich Der Himmel Auf.

It's important not to forget the situation in which Spaceships arose. Von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods? was a publishing blockbuster. When Blumrich first read von Däniken's statement that maybe Ezekiel saw a spaceship, his reaction was to check a Bible. It turned out—purely by unfortunate chance—that the Bible he looked at contained a mistranslation that convinced him to read further and that, in fact, von Däniken's speculation was correct.

Blumrich did check other Bibles. The problem was compounded when an English Bible contained the same "round feet" mistranslation.

With a claim so controversial and an author who couldn't read Hebrew, Blumrich's original publisher should have sent his book to someone who knew Hebrew and asked, "Does the original language actually say what he claims, or is there a mistranslation somewhere?" But, no doubt, the publisher wanted to cash in on the Chariots of the Gods? craze, so they didn't bother.

As I point out elsewhere, apparently the 1957 German translators realized modern city dwellers wouldn't know the shape of a calf's foot or what the significance was. They concluded "round" would be the best-understood concept, so they used that word—just as "Red Sea" was substituted in "Moses parted the sea of reeds" when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek around 250 BC.

But how would the English-speaking translators even know about the German translation?

The translations were done by biblical scholars at universities. They normally can read at least English and French and German and Classical Latin and Medieval Latin and biblical Hebrew and Classical Greek and Koine Greek (Greek spoken in the Hellenistic Greek period that started with Alexander the Great and was still in use well beyond New Testament times.)  Most of them can also read Aramaic, the language that was spoken in Babylon (modern Iraq) in the time of Ezekiel and beyond the 6th century A.D., and the Syriac dialect of Aramaic—it's their job to know all those languages well enough to understand the subtleties of the words, recognize plays on words, changes in use of words over time, etc.

Regarding how the Catholic 1970 NAB came up with the same mistranslation, Bible translators routinely check existing translations in multiple languages for phrasing ideas. Also, university scholars are expected to read the work of others in their field. The 1957 also Catholic translation was completed while the NAB was still being written. Obviously, the NAB translators saw "round feet", understood the reasoning and decided to copy "round".

Unaware of these translation practices, Blumrich reasonably—though incorrectly—assumed that "feet were round" was an accurate translation of Ezekiel's original Hebrew text.

"Literal" versus "dynamic" translation

This site documents that Blumrich relied on two significant mistranslations as the basis for his theory: "vehicular structure" and "round feet". He found both mistranslations in one little-known 1957 German-language Bible translation that had been done less than twenty years earlier, although one was also duplicated in an English-language Bible he used to check his first source.

An obvious question is how could even just one significant mistranslation slip by knowledgeable and experienced biblical translators?

The answer is, "Things are not always as they seem."

"Literal" versus "dynamic" translation

An ever-present issue when translating is, "What is the best translation?" The answer is, "It depends on the circumstances." Consider this situation: The Bible claims that there is only one God. Therefore, anything else claimed to be a god must be a false god. One of the Ten Commandments says, "I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods before me." Suppose you are teaching a group of children. Don't you think they would take that to mean that God is saying that "other gods" exist? Suppose instead you tell them, "The first of the Ten Commandments is,  'I am the Lord your God. You shall not have false gods before me.'" Technically, it is not "the best" translation because it does not translate the individual words most accurately. But for the intended audience it better communicates the true meaning of the passage.


The Hebrew word yom, has the same group of meanings that the English word "day" has:

  1. the daylight part of a day.
  2. 24 hours
  3. 12 hours
  4. midnight-to-midnight (Roman and modern method of measuring a "day")
  5. sundown-to-sundown (Jewish method of measuring a "day")
  6. an extended period of time with a definite beginning and end (In my father's day . . . .")

The first chapter of the Bible says that God created animals, fish, the moon, sun, stars, people, etc., "in six days".

The beginning of the second chapter of the Bible says in Hebrew ba-yom, which literally means "in the day", not in the days, which would be ba-yah-meem.

Genesis 2:4.  This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

That is from the New King James (NKJV) translation, considered one of the most accurate.

The New International Version (NIV), the best-selling modern English translation, reads:

GE 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

    When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens

Technically, "when" is not as accurate a translation as "in the day". It "hides" the apparent discrepancy between Chapter 1 (six days) and Chapter 2 (one "day"). According to the translators, the NIV translation uses language at a seventh-grade reading level. It was intended for the general public, not for heavy-duty scholarly research and detailed analysis.

It is important to understand that "literal versus dynamic" is not a "Protestant" or a "Catholic" or a "Bible" or a "religion" issue—it is an issue all translators constantly face.

Blumrich's case involved the same sorts of "errors".

"Round feet"

Blumrich initially based his conclusion that Ezekiel was describing a landing strut/pod on one translation that said the "feet were round" when the Hebrew text says the feet were "like the sole of a calf's foot". The translation was "erroneous" in the sense that it used completely different words. However, the translators knew that most modern German speakers would have no idea what point Ezekiel was trying to make with the description. What is the size and shape of a calf's foot? What is the difference between the foot of a lamb calf, a goat calf and a cow calf? They assumed the most significant aspect was roundness, so the translators decided to use a "dynamic" translation intended to convey the substance—as they interpreted it—rather than literally translate the words.

Keep in mind also that the German translators were aiming for the general public. They never expected that a mechanical engineer would try to interpret a religious vision as a spacecraft.

Christoph Blumrich has emailed me that Blumrich did eventually check other Bible translations.  Because Blumrich was Catholic, one of the English-language translations he checked—the New American Bible (NAB)—was also a Catholic translation. The American Catholic translators had copied the "dynamic" translation. When Blumrich saw the same text in two different languages in two different Bible editions purchased more than a decade apart on different continents, he (incorrectly) assumed the "round feet" wording was an accurate translation.

"Vehicular structure"

The same applies to "vehicular structure" instead of the Hebrew text's "vision". Ezekiel does say that in his vision he saw God riding in a vehicle of some type. So in that sense, saying that the "vehicle" in this vision is the same as the one in the previous vision is again a "not the actual wording" error but is a reasonable "dynamic translation" and as a dynamic translation would not be considered an error.

Once again the translators were writing for the general public and it never occurred to them that a mechanical engineer would interpret their dynamic translation as a description of a spacecraft.

Why didn't the translators add notes?

Another question is why the translators did not either do a literal translation and add an explanatory footnote or add a footnote containing the literal translation.

Translations and footnotes are separate. Often they are done by different people. Again, whether to include any footnotes is a matter of the translators' philosophy of translation.

Blumrich chose to ignore contrary translations.

Blumrich examined two commentaries and a very small number of different Bibles in two different languages. He mentions that there were differences in the translations. However, rather than consulting someone knowledgeable in Hebrew, he simply chose the one text that supported his view, "dismissed" the four that did not say "round feet" and the five that did not say "vehicular structure" and "declared" that there was no point in consulting a language expert because "it would just be one more opinion".

I am well aware that some people feel it is unfair to criticize the work of someone who is no longer around to defend it. But when someone chooses to present his ideas to the general public, that comes with the territory.


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