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Hebrew Gospels Update

"Anyone who translates a verse [of Scripture] literally is a liar; anyone who adds to it is a blaspheming libeler." (b.Kiddushin 49b)

Many eager readers have inquired about and requested an update on the forthcoming translation of the Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels. We are not letting our excitement over such a monumental work get ahead of us--we are working through this project carefully with a grave sense of responsibility. Translation is a tricky business and we want to make sure we accurately present the Scriptures. We have added some additional layers of reviewers to our processes which require additional time. However, I am pleased to say that for the most part we are still on track for a winter release.

Please continue to pray for us as we work through the final stages of this work.

Translation and Review Process

We have been issuing the text in sections of several chapters at a time to numerous reviewers. The feedback has been extremely helpful. These reviewers have provided feedback about translations that read awkwardly or are unclear. They have helped us to decide what types of terms should be left in Hebrew or marked as idiomatic.

After we make corrections and revisions based on feedback from these reviewers, we send it to a professional editorial company who helps iron out inconsistencies and errors. This process has proven invaluable and has improved the result dramatically.

Delitzsch, Dalman, and the Eleventh Edition

One of the strengths of the Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament is also one of its weaknesses. Delitzsch's original edition was revised and re-published numerous times over the course of decades. Each revision was an improvement over the last, resulting in a highly-polished gem.

A very helpful resource for information related to the different versions is the book Traductions hébraïques des Evangiles, vol IV: Die vier Evangelien von Franz Delitzsch. In addition to explaining the differences between each edition, the book also provides helpful history and reference material.

We have based our translation on the eleventh edition of Delitzsch's New Testament, published in 1892, two years after Delitzsch's death. We feel that this edition captures the culmination of Delitzsch's lifetime of work.

In January of 1890, Delitzsch expressed in his will:

Should God call me away from this world, there are two men who are in a position to issue the new edition upon the basis of my manuscript: Dr. Gustav Dalman, Ephorus of the Seminary in our Institutum Judaicum, would be the editor, and Mr. Isar Kahan (Cohen), a teacher in the Seminary, would help in the correction of the proofs, while Mr. Jechiel Lichtenstein, a teacher in the Seminary, would at need take Mr. Kahan's place or act as a second corrector, all this with the constant help of our missionary Mr. Farber.

One reviewer raised an issue regarding this edition. Dalman had a difference of opinion with Delitzsch regarding the primary language of Yeshua first century Jewish Galilee. Delitzsch believed that Hebrew would have been the Yeshua's predominant language, whereas Dalman held to the more common scholarly opinion that it was Judeo-Aramaic. Dalman is famous for his own theory of Aramaic reconstructions of Yeshua's teachings. Did Dalman's editorship in this edition corrupt the integrity of the translation?

After researching this question, we found that the eleventh edition was indeed an improvement based on Delitzsch's own work. A letter written to the Steering Committee after Delitzsch's death explained:

The changes refer almost exclusively to questions of language, and Dr. Delitzsch's wishes have been clearly indicated to him in the many conferences which they had. Associated with Dr. Dalman is Mr. Cohen a learned Christian Israelite, the translator of the Psalms into the Heb/ German. Dalman is by birth a Christian, but has worked with Delitzsch for many years. Both Dalman and Cohen have assured me that their great wish is: not to carry out ideas of their own, but to see that Dr Delitzsch's wishes are faithfully carried into effect.

The collective efforts of many Godly people shaped the Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament into a tool that has served the kingdom well. It is our hope that through republishing this work we will continue the good efforts of Delitzsch and his colleagues a vision that at its heart had the intention of restoring the New Testament back to its original voice. We are honored to be connected and a part of this historic work.

Primary & Secondary Usage Updates

Connecting with and carrying forward such a monumental work is a heavy load to bear. We sense that the work will not be a popular one, so-to-speak, but an essential tool to communicate the Gospel message effectively to Jewish ears. Delitzsch, Dalman, Lichtenstein, Kahan, Biesenthal, Baron, and many other early Messianic Jewish pioneers developed and used this edition of the Hebrew New Testament as an effective tool to communicate the Good News of the kingdom to inquiring Jewish people.

It was also important to Delitzsch that his New Testament would be made available for free to all Jewish people interested. We will carry forward this mandate and offer the Gospels for free to Jewish people seeking truth about Yeshua. We have been spending a lot of time on the road meeting with various Messianic Jewish leaders and Jewish outreach efforts--sharing the vision of this project with them, asking them to serve with us as points of contact for this resource. We have found a favorable response and look forward to providing this resource to them for our shared mission to bring the Gospel message to the Jewish people.

A secondary use or purpose of this new translation is to expose the absolute Jewishness of the Gospels to Christians. The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels will be unapologetically Jewish. As you know there are many valid and solid translations of the Bible. Our translation will not be any more authentic or authoritative than others. Ours will serve the purpose of revealing the essential Jewishness of text and the teachings of Yeshua. We hope it will help connect the nations back to the original voice, culture, and contexts of the Christian faith. We have met with dozens of pastors, Christian scholars, and church leaders who also share in the vision of this work. The Scriptures are the core source of truth--there is nothing more effective than Scripture to shape one's understanding and perspective. Thus, having a Bible that sets a Jewish understanding and foundation from the beginning is essential for the church as they recognize and become shaped by the Jewish Gospels and an understanding of the centrality of Israel and the Jewishness of Jesus.

Much of our time is spent in communicating the vision, need, and purpose of this transition. When you consider taking on the responsibility of a new Bible translation it is understandably met with much skepticism and suspicion. We pray that many will catch the vision of the need for this unique translation for both the purposes of outreach and also personal learning and understanding.

In Closing

Foundational ideas and historical understandings such as this are obvious reasons why the new Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels (DHE) translation will benefit the body of Messiah today. A deep and rich connection to Israel and the Jewishness of Jesus is found in Mr. Delitzsch's Gospels, and it is one that we feel is vital to the maturity of this movement.

Please consider helping us complete our funding. We are about 95% of the way to our goal. Thank you for your support. Your support will go along way to completing this work in a compelling way and financially support the distribution of this Bible into the hands of those that need to encounter Yeshua--the revelation to the Nations and the hope and the glory of the people of Israel.

Support the Delitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels

About the Author: Boaz Michael is the President and Founder of First Fruits of Zion.

Discussions & Comments

Please keep each of your comments short (around 250 words or less). Comments beyond this length, or of an unreasonable antithetical nature, could be subject to editing or removal.

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Archived Comments

Actually a question...What Hebrew and Greek text are being used for this project?

Clyde Dye | October 27, 2010 9:14 AM

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