We are excited to announce that the Tyndale Center for Bible Translation has made its first contribution to scholarly literature on Bible translation.
Dr. Aaron Shryock, director of the Tyndale Center, and I have just published an academic article entitled “The Translation of עָפָר ˁāpār ‘dust’ in the Latvian Bible” in Ceļš (“The Way”), an international, peer-reviewed journal of the University of Latvia.
Growing up mostly in the United States, I never thought I would do research on my own Bible, in my own mother tongue. While at The Master’s Seminary, I focused on Hebrew and Greek, not Latvian.
However, two years ago, I was sitting in the office of Dr. Shryock. As we talked about the Hebrew language and also the Latvian Bible, the idea was born of researching the history and current translation of the Latvian Bible. Now those ideas have come to fruition with the publication of an article of the translation of single Hebrew word in the Latvian Bible.
Every existing translation needs careful and periodic revision
Why study one word in one language? The Tyndale Center for Bible Translation aims to advance the translation of the Bible into the world’s languages for the sake of the gospel. These efforts to advance Bible translation include raising awareness of the importance of Bible translation, teaching courses that equip our students to engage in the ministry of translation, and, finally, producing scholarly resources that move the task of translation forward.
While there is a great need to produce translations of God’s Word into new languages, every existing translation needs careful and periodic revision. A fundamental reason for the need to update existing translations is the fact that every human language is in a slow state of perpetual change. Hence, the more time that passes, the more a translation becomes out of date.
Another important reason to revise current translations is the fact that no translation is itself perfect. Given the complexities involved in such a monumental task, undertaken as it is by fallible humans, it is no wonder that our translations need to be improved.
As part of this goal, Dr. Shryock and I researched the translation of the Hebrew word עָפָר ʕāpār ‘dust’ throughout the history of the Latvian Bible.
Latvian is a language with approximately 2 million speakers worldwide, spoken primarily in the country of Latvia, located in Northern Europe. The first translation of the Bible into Latvian was accomplished by pastor Johann Glück in the late 17th century.
In our article, we examine in detail the various senses of the word ʕāpār ‘dust’, which occurs a total of 110 times in the Hebrew Bible. Additionally, we catalogue the various ways the word has been translated throughout the history of Latvian Bible translations. We then proposed some revisions for future translations of the Latvian Bible.
We praise the Lord for this opportunity to have made a small but substantive contribution to the Latvian Bible and, more generally, to broader scholarship on Hebrew translation. We hope that the Tyndale Center will continue to publish scholarly work that advances the translation of God’s Word into the languages of the world, for His eternal glory and praise.