[sword-devel] GNU and OS ideologies and indulgences

Michael Rempel sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 15 Dec 2001 14:57:44 -0800

> > > In The Beginning (c), bibles were printed and nobody cared about the
> > > licence.
> > > But in these last times (c), bibles can be mass-produced by anybody
> > > digitally, and the issue of licence is suddenly seems important. We
> > > need
> > > a GNU translation!
> >
> > Isn't that  what World English Bible (WEB) is all about?
> Nothing against the WEB (which I think is terrific) but I'd love to see
> a translation produced through open source development methods
> (distributed, community-based editing & creation).  I think this is
> where Project 'eL' is headed, but once that project has a system
> developed, there's no reason why we couldn't use it to produce
> translations.  I would bet that we could find enough interested and
> qualified individuals to produce translations in English and German, at
> least.
> Deciding who is qualified, logging all the changes, and requiring that
> translators make notes on all changes (a cross between the NET Bible
> notes and CVS log entries) are some sticky issues to anticipate. :)

Translation is a sticky issue, not simple to resolve.

Change from what standard? Why is it the standard? What kind of translation
are you after, transliteration, inductive knowledge? Accepting tradition
that differs from earliest texts or not? What is your audience?

The RSV is free because the copyright ran out on it. The other free texts
are similar, or have never had copyright. The NASB is probably one of the
best available texts, how and why are you going to change it? Are you going
to investigate the Greek and Hebrew texts, and debate the merits of the
various translations you find there? Are you going to present alternative
wordings? Are you going to allow for linguistic double and tripple meanings
as they were understood by the writters, or simply stick with the
translation tradition?

Justify all your answers.

The best answer I can give you for all of the above, is that all these
translations are in existance because no one translation is adequite to the
task, even with the best schollarship available. It is also not really
possible to get a text that even manages to outline all the possibilites for
interpretation and understanding. I have a text on the creation story alone
that runs hundreds of pages of interpretatve discourse.

I think the best that can be done is what you have already done, make free
resources available to all, and make expensive ones as available as you can
within reason. The millions of dollars paid for translating one version of
the scriptures does not get spent on expensive equipment, or high paid
salaries, it is spent carefully on rather inexpensive salaries for highly
trainned people who all but volunteer to do it, excepting that they need to

Try writting out a book of the Bible or two by hand. The ancient Kings were
commanded to do it by God, and to keep the scriptures they wrote with them
at all times. It is a valuable excercise. Try the Torah (the pentatuch if
you prefer, the first five books of the Bible) as a start. I doubt you will
get it done in a year of concientious effort. And that is just copying.

It will take more than just a little idealistic fervor to get a translation
made that means anything to anyone as well. It will have to have credibility
apart from it's cost that can compel people to look at it over what is
already easily available on their shelves.

The Saviour always said to count the cost before hand, I hope this helps you
see what you are asking and understand the cost.


> --Chris