empowering the global Church to draw from deep wells and defend the truth
Free Biblical Language Study Tools. Forever.
Serious Biblical Language Tools for the Global Church
Western nations do not need to translate more books written by their celebrity Christian leaders and then give/sell them to the global Church. Instead, the most strategic gift we can give is access to serious biblical language tools in the languages of those without them. Serious biblical language tools include the following: lexicons, grammars, reader’s bibles, and text critical information–ideally accessible and tagged within a universal app (for mobile devices, offline computers, and web browsers). See below for more information on each of these.
Things have changed
- Much of the world has been reached with the gospel, churches abound, translations of the Bible are abundant compared to a hundred years ago, and people are hungry to grow in their faith.
- Advances in our understanding of second-language acquisition have led to a better, more natural pedagogy that empowers all people to learn Hebrew or Greek regardless of their educational background or personality. With free courses like Aleph with Beth and Alpha with Angela, tens of thousands of people from nearly every country of the world are now learning the biblical languages with joy and unprecedented success.
- Industrialization and technological advances have led to the superabundance of our current historical moment, which in turn has freed many people from subsistence living and given them the option of enjoying education.
Because people in so many countries are now learning the biblical languages, soon they will be wanting to use their knowledge for deeper study of the Bible. And for that they will need tools. Teaching someone Hebrew and then leaving them high and dry without basic tools such as a lexicon is tantamount to training a man to do surgery and then denying him access to a scalpel. It doesn’t matter how gifted, skilled, and knowledgeable he may be; he’ll end up severely limited without this crucial tool.
Many today retain a paternalistic attitude toward minority language groups and claim that these people don’t need to learn the biblical language or other related disciplines such as textual criticism, even for the sake of Bible translation. Our simple response to them is: Do these minority groups deserve to have local doctors and surgeons? Do they deserve to have their own hospitals? Or should we tell them that they’re too primitive and small to ever aspire to such specialist training that would enable them to care for the health of their own people? Should content themselves to forever rely on outside experts and travel to other cities and countries if they need high quality healthcare? Access to serious biblical language knowledge and resources is just as highly specialized as advanced medical knowledge and the best healthcare. If they want either one of those, we should not deny them access. It could be argued that these biblical language tools are just as necessary to the spiritual health of the local churches as ultrasound machines are necessary to their physical health. And it should go without saying that these resources are crucial to the health of any Bible translation; any claim to the contrary emerges either from naivety, ignorance, or a (perhaps unwitting) patronizing perspective.
Proposing a Way Forward
Out of the world’s 45 major languages only English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hungarian, German, Russian, and Indonesian have a Hebrew lexicon (20%). Massive languages like Hindi still have nothing. There are more resources for Greek, but the need is still sizable. BDB for Hebrew and LSJ for Greek are two excellent lexicons that are in the public domain and ready to be translated.
Text Critical Information
The Preliminary and Interim Report is about to be released as open access, and could then be translated. The formidable Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament has been released as Open Access, and we have been given permission to translate and distribute it freely.
Original Language Reader’s Bible
Once interlinear glosses for each Hebrew word are translated into a language, a digital original language reader’s Bible can be created. This allows students of Hebrew to touch a word they don’t understand and instantly have a gloss pop up in their language.
Aleph with Beth and Alpha with Angela are actively developing public domain grammars that accompany their videos, which can be translated freely. Gesenius’s Hebrew reference grammar is also in the public domain.