Dr Michael Burer of Dallas Theological Seminary is the assistant project director for the NET Bible and he recently blogged about an interesting new footnote in the NET Bible. The NET is noteworthy for its excellent translators’ footnotes that shed interesting light on decisions relating to the rendering of the biblical text into English.
It seems there is now a new footnote for Joshua 8:18. There, the translation uses the term “curved sword” instead of the usual ‘spear’ or ‘javelin’, which are typically found in other Bibles. The new addition explains this choice:
tn Traditionally “spear,” but see HALOT 472 s.v. כִּידוֹן, which argues based upon evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls that this term refers to a curved sword of some type; note the definition “scimitar” given there.
Dr Burer explains:
1. Just because something has always been translated a certain way does not mean that it is correct.
2. We should always value the light ancient documents shed on our understanding of the Scriptures, even for an issue as mundane as the meaning of a single, obscure word.
3. We should always use the most up to date, accurate tools available. (In this instance, HALOT has the more accurate information as opposed to the other well-known Hebrew lexicon BDB.)
These are all excellent points, and one that Bible translators should bear in mind. I’ve long been a big fan of the NET Bible and you may be interested in my previous review of the translation here.
Andy Cheung teaches Biblical Languages and New Testament on the distance learning, Theology degree programme at King’s Evangelical Divinity School.