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Analytical-Literal Translation:

Frequently Asked Questions

By Gary F. Zeolla

The Analytical-Literal Translation of the Holy Bible: Second Edition is a new Bible version dedicated to the glory of God. It is published by Darkness to Light ministry. The standard abbreviation for the Analytical-Literal Translation is "ALT." This page presents common questions with their answers on this new version.



Why the name Analytical-Literal Translation?

        "Analytical" refers to the detailed "analysis" being done on words and grammatical constructions of the Hebrew and Greek texts. "Literal" refers to the words, word order, and grammar of the original languages being rendered as closely possible with only the bare minimum changes made for readability sake. "Translation" refers to the ALT's practice of often translating words many versions simply transliterate. For more details on these points, see ALT: Unique Features.

          Moreover, in the initial stage of production, the ALT was an updating of Young's Literal Translation (YLT) by Robert Young (1822-1888). Robert Young was also the author of Young's Analytical Concordance. So using the words “Analytical” and “Literal” in the title seemed suitable.

Furthermore, the acronym "ALT" is fitting as the ALT is intended as an "alternative" to traditional translations. It is more literal and analyzes the exact details of the original text to a greater degree than most versions.


Why did the ALT start with Young's Literal Translation?

A practical reason for having begun with YLT is it is in the public domain. As such, derivative works of it can be done without copyright infringement problems.

Otherwise, YLT was chosen since it is a very literal translation. So updating the archaic language in it for stage one provided a "jump start" in producing a literal translation in modern English. Later stages made significant changes to the text, but the literalness of this version provided a good starting point.

There was also a major advantage in later stages by starting with an updated, completed translation rather than doing a completely new translation. As I was working on the ALT, I was constantly doing detailed word studies to determine the best translation(s) of the Hebrew or Greek words.

By starting with a completed translation, once a study was done, I could then search for every occurrence of the word throughout the entire New Testament and make changes to the text as needed. So I only had to do each word study once.

If I had been starting from scratch, I would have had to either somehow remember how I translated a word each time it was encountered, or redo the word study each time. Most importantly, by making needed changes throughout the text all at once I was able to assure a consistency in translation better than if I was depending on memory or redoing studies as I went along.


Where is Young's Literal Translation available?

The YLT is available on the BibleWorks and Online Bible CD ROMs, along with many other Bible software programs. Both versions are also available on many Internet based Bible programs.

The text and Introductions to YLT are posted on the Public domain section of the Biblical Foundation Studies Web site (www.bible.org). YLT is available in hardcopy format from Baker Book House. An edited version of Young’s Introduction is contained in the eBook Companion Volume to the ALT.


Who translated the ALT?

This writer, Gary F. Zeolla, was the primary translator. Translation suggestions and proofreading were taken from anyone who wanted to contribute, and quite a few did. But this writer, with much prayer and dependence on God, was the one responsible for all final decisions on this project.


What are your qualifications?

I attended Denver Seminary from 1988-1990, where I took Hebrew and Greek. I have also struggled for most of my Christian life over the Bible versions controversy (see My Bible Versions Experiences).

In 1994, my book Differences Between Bible Versions was published. It began to embroil me in the Bible versions controversy. I got further involved in this controversy when I posted the contents of that book on Darkness to Light's Web site in December of 1996. Since then, I have received much e-mail and have been writing additional articles on this subject (see Bible Versions Controversy). And an updated edition of my Bible versions book is now available.

Being embroiled in the Bible Versions controversy has forced me to spend much time dealing with translation questions. I have learned to use the many quality Greek and other Bible study aids available to adequately answer these questions and document the accuracy of these answers.

Moreover, there are some very good Bible versions available which I recommend on this site and in my books. I consulted many of these in the production of this translation. But I have never been completely satisfied with any available version. So the idea of producing my own Bible version has weighed on me for some time.

So believing God was leading me in this direction, I decided to embark on this project. The reader will be left to judge whether this project was truly God-lead and proves to be worthwhile.

For a sample of the type of research I am used to doing, see Verse Evaluations and Word Studies. See ALT: Reference Works Consulted for a listing of books and software I have used in prior research and on this project.


Aren't there disadvantages to a one-person vs. a committee translation?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach to Bible translation. Most major translations today are produced by committees (such as the NKJV, NASB, and NIV). Even the KJV was produced by a committee. However, many quality translations have been produced by individuals, dating back to Wycliffe and Tyndale.

The first advantage to the committee approach is having multiple people working on the translation prevents any one person's theological bias from entering the text unnecessarily. Secondly, the chance of mistakes is reduced.

However, the fist advantage can actually turn to a disadvantage. There might be times when the lexical or contextual data supports a specific translation but it cannot be used because of the objections of someone on the committee whose theology disagrees with the appropriate translation.

In addition, with multiple people working on the translation it is more difficult to keep a consistency throughout. Even with a general editor overseeing the work, the same word may be unnecessarily translated differently in different texts because different translators worked on them.

The advantages and disadvantage to a one-person translation would be opposite to the above. The chance of theological bias or mistakes increases. However, the single translator can go ahead and render a word in the manner the lexical and contextual data dictate, even if it might be opposed to someone else's theological opinions. However, I made every effort not to allow my own theological biases to infiltrate the text. See the article Baptism in Bible Translation for more in this regard.

In addition, with this writer being the primary translator, I was able to maintain a consistency throughout the translation.

That said, the ALT is not truly a one-person translation. It is true this writer is the primary translator and will have the final say as to what goes into the translation. But, as C.S. Lewis put it, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

First, the ALT, in it initial earliest stage, was an updating of Young’s Literal Translation. So Robert Young, even though they he has been deceased for over a century, was major contributors to this work.

Second, in working on this project I utilized a large number of hardcopy and software reference tools (see ALT: Reference Works Consulted). A multitude of scholars worked producing these references. I compared multiple lexicons and grammars when making translation decisions. I also compared a wide variety of other Bible versions, interlinears, Bible dictionaries, and similar reference works as well. In using these works, I made sure there was solid, scholarly basis to my translation decisions, especially ones which might be considered controversial.

Third, this translation was produced in several stages. As each book progresses to a new stage it was posted on the Internet. This gave others a chance to review my work and make suggestions or point out any mistakes. So by the time this translation was actually finished, many people had the chance to read it and provide input.

So with one primary translator, but with a dependence on the "giants" who have gone before me, and Internet users reviewing my work, it is hoped the ALT combined the advantages, while avoiding the disadvantages, of each translation approach.


Who developed the computer program used in updating YLT?

The computer program used for updating the DBY and YLT in stage one of this production was developed by Reese Currie. His efforts in this regard are much appreciated.


What Greek text is the ALT based on?

The Greek text the ALT is based on is the Byzantine Majority Text (MT), specifically: The Greek New Testament According to the Byzantine Textform: Second Edition. Complied, arranged, and thoroughly updated by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont. Publication forthcoming.

Maurice Robinson graciously provided a list of updates to the Byzantine text from the first to the second editions to the translator before it was even published. So the second edition of the ALT is as up-to-date as it can be.

Textual variants between the MT, the Textus Receptus, and the Critical Text are included as an appendix in the ALT.

For discussions on the different, published Greek texts available, and the MT was used for the ALT, see the articles listed under at Greek Text-types and this writer’s book Difference Between Bible Versions.


Why yet another Bible version?

There are many, many Bible versions currently available. But, as my book Differences Between Bible Versions details, out of these, only a small handful do I consider to be worthwhile. In my opinion, the number of what I believe to be very poor versions far outweighs the quality ones. So having produced what I pray is a worthwhile version will help tip the scales in the direction of the quality versions available.

Moreover, there are unique features in the ALT which are not to be found in even the worthwhile versions. See ALT: Unique Features for an overview of some of these.


What is the readability level of the ALT?

Readability is rather subjective, so this question is hard to answer. It will be said, the primary concern of this translation was accuracy and faithfulness to the original text. But it is this writer's belief that I managed to produce a literal translation with a reasonable degree of readability.


How does the ALT handle the "inclusive" language controversy?

The inclusive language controversy refers to the debate over using masculine language in Bible translation versus using inclusive type of language which includes both men and women (i.e. using “man” vs. “person”). The basic philosophy of the ALT in this regard was to render the text in as inclusive a manner as possible but without sacrificing any accuracy or faithfulness to the original texts.

More specifically, where the original text is masculine, masculine language was used. Where the original has an inclusive connotation, then it was rendered in an inclusive manner. Where the original text is ambiguous, then decisions were made on a case-by-case basis. But under no circumstances was the text altered to make it inclusive where it is not.

Overall, the ALT is more inclusive than most traditional versions, but not as inclusive as some newer translations. For more details in this regard, see the discussions under relevant terms in the Glossary and Translation Notes contained in the Companion Volume to the ALT.


What do words in brackets indicate?

Any words, and only words, not specifically indicated by the vocabulary or grammar of the Hebrew or Greek text but which are added for clarity are offset in brackets. Also in brackets are the types of materials generally seen in footnotes. For further details in this regard, the ALT: Unique Features page.


Is the ALT available in hardcopy format?

The ALT is available in a variety of hardcopy formats. Click here for details.


Is the ALT available in a searchable, software program?

The ALT is available in a variety of digital formats. Click here for details.


Will there be an Old Testament for the ALT? 

Initially, my plans were for the ALT to include both the New Testament and the Old Testament. However, I changed my mind on producing an OT for the ALT for the following reasons: 

1.  I updated Young's Literal Translation (YLT) for the first stage for the ALT: NT. This greatly increased the speed at which the ALT: NT was able to be produced. It also enabled a consistency to be given to the ALT, as discussed above.

However, Young had some unorthodox ideas in regards to the "waw conversive" in the Hebrew text of the OT. Without going into technical details, it will just be said that Young did not believe this construction had any significance whereas most every other translator and Hebrew scholar does. This was not a minor point as it affected the way tenses are rendered throughout the OT in YLT. So Young's ideas in this regard basically leaves his OT useless. So that left me without a literal translation to update for stage one.

The plan then was to update the OT of Darby's Bible. But looking over Darby's, it is not truly a literal translation but more of a standard formal equivalence one. It's a good translation overall, but just not literal enough to be called a literal version. So even using it, a lot of work would be needed to make the text truly literal. And starting from scratch would be even more time consuming and difficult. 

2.  

The first edition of the ALT was begun in November of 1998 and was completed in January of 2001. It was published in hardcopy format in September of 2001. Then over the next couple of years, I was periodically reviewing and updating the text. And I found many needed corrections and improvements that could be made. So I was not fully satisfied with the text as it stood. So in December of 2003 I decided to have a second edition of the ALT published. the final corrections were I sent to my publisher in January 2005. It is now in its final stages of preparation and will probably be available by April 2005. Once it is published, I should then be fully satisfied with it. So from the first conception of the New Testament of the ALT to the publication of the second edition there will probably be a span of almost six and half years.

The OT is over three and a half times as long as the NT. So even going at the same speed it could take upwards of two decades to get the OT to where I would be fully satisfied with it. And without a quality literal OT to start with, it could take even longer, possibly the rest of my life (I'm currently 43). And I am not about to make such a long commitment. Too many things could happen that would prevent me from finishing. And it would not be good to start and not to be able to finish (see Luke 14:28-31).

For a literal translation of the OT, it is recommended the reader attain a copy of the KJ3 Literal Translation of the Bible. The KJ3 was translated by Jay P. Green and is available from SGP Books.

Update on an ALT: OT:

Long after the above was written, I changed my mind and decided to work on an ALT: OT on 4/22/12. For details, see ALT: OT.


Is the ALT copyrighted?

Yes, the ALT is copyrighted. See the Copyright Page for the policy for reprinting and quoting the ALT.


Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above FAQ page was first posted on this Web site January 8, 1999.
It was updated to be in accordance with the second edition January 31, 2005.

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