That's it. The translation should not favor any theology and should allow readers to read texts the way it really is

For example

Elohim -> gods

Yea, I know that Elohim are often followed by singular words. So, why not just preserve that grammar missmatch. Bara Elohim, for example, can become gods creates. Why let the translators decide whether God is one or many. Why not let every readers decide what it means by it self.

  1. El -> God
  2. Elyon -> Most High (El Yon) so not to close possibility that Elyon may be a different God than Yahweh or Elohim.
  3. El Roi -> God who see (Roi God/El Roi) again, not to close possibility that El Roi may simply be a different God.
  4. Yahweh -> Yahweh (He is/He causes).

I mean, duh... Translating Yahweh into Lord simply doesn't make sense.

Atheists often say that Torah has polytheistic root. Christians believe that there is only one God. Then Jews have slightly interpretation.

In all cases, every interpreters interpret bible according to their theology.

Why not let the readers decide what it really means and translate the bible as faithfully as possible? Is there such translation.

Most bible translation for example, uses LORD to replace YAHWEH. Well, that alone shows that the translator has a hidden agenda. Namely that he has a theology that Yahweh name is too sacred to pronounce.

I want translators that translate for the sake of translating. If possible, I prefer atheistic or agnostic translators. Are there any?

  • 2
    Most of this question is a rant that should be part of an answer rather than in the question itself. Shorten this and focus it.
    – Dan
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:32
  • I shorten it further. What do you think now?
    – user4951
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:04
  • 4
    It is still mostly a rant that belongs more in an answer than a question. You make a bunch of unsourced assertions about what a translation should do (according to whom?), a bunch of theological positions on the godhead, and on and on. Focus your question on the text and keep it concise. There are so many assumptions in this question, anyways, that show you have done minimal prerequisite research - at least give sources for them. Keep in mind that this is not a discussion forum.
    – Dan
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:22
  • 1
    You need to define "literal" before this is a good question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 4, 2014 at 1:21
  • I found others anomaly. Bnei Elohim is often translated as angels. Methuo is often translated as have drunk satisfied (rather than as alcoholically intoxicated). It's as if the translator try to keep bible politically correct.
    – user4951
    Jun 5, 2014 at 2:32

5 Answers 5


The first part of the question, about "singular elohim" already has an excellent answer to a related question. I will pass over the flawed commentary (which also gets a response at the answer linked above) to get to the main question posed here:

Why not let the readers decide what it really means and translate the bible as faithfully as possible?

Because it takes linguistic competence to give a "faithful" translation, and a simply providing an interlinear does not provide that competence. I would ban them, if I could. Simply aligning a Hebrew (or Greek) term with an English gloss is no basis for making interpretative decisions about the text in the absence of knowledge of the language ... in which case the interlinear is not needed in any case.

At least OP could spend some time with a classic work like Eugene Nida's Toward a Science of Translating (2nd edition, 2003; the 1964 first edition has a preview on Google Books) to get an insight into the issues involved, and to understand why the question as posed is misguided.

Is there such translation.

There are some very literal translations. The New American Standard Bible is among the best of them, as it sets out to be as literal as possible while rendering a sensible English text. It is widely available online, conveniently at the BibleGateway.


You are probably best off looking at an interlinear Bible, rather than a translation. Then you can read the meanings of each word or phrase in context, in the order in which they were presented. If something seems odd or raises questions, you know precisely which (original-language) word to go look up.

The trick here is that any translation involves restructuring of the original language's grammar and syntax. There simply aren't equivalent words in English for every word or grammatical unit in the source languages, but that doesn't mean that those original words lack meaning in context. In other words, the problem is that a word-for-word translation is not merely difficult, but impossible.

Imagine, for example, the classic example "eats shoots and leaves" (there is a famous grammar/punctuation book with this title). If you read this as written above, it may refer to the daily activities of a panda. If you read it as "eats, shoots, and leaves," it implies dining, violence, and a flight from justice. These are very different concepts, and a word-for-word translation that ignores context might render very different results, no matter how literal the translation is intended to be. In French, for example, "eats shoots and leaves" becomes "mange du pousses et du feuilles" (roughly; my French is rusty), while "eats, shoots, and leaves" becomes something like "mange, pousses, et quitte." In other words, there is no way to translate this phrase without some context. Given the near-total absence of mid-sentence punctuation in Hebrew and many of the Greek texts, this kind of situation arises a lot. It's why most translations have so many footnotes with alternative translations for a phrase.

  • Do interlinears provide a contextual meaning in their glosses or simply the most common sense?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 4, 2014 at 1:22
  • 1
    In my experience, they provide the most common sense, unless that sense is completely nonsensical.
    – elixenide
    Jun 4, 2014 at 1:33
  • @EdCottrell Neat, I just voted for you as moderator on Stack Overflow and then stumbled across you here. Small digital world?
    – m59
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:56
  • @m59 Ha, that's awesome. And thanks for the vote!
    – elixenide
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:58

As other parts have been addressed, I will not restate them. However,

El -> God Elyon -> Most High (El Yon) so not to close possibility that Elyon may be a different God than Yahweh or Elohim. El Roi -> God who see (Roi God/El Roi) again, not to close possibility that El Roi may simply be a different God. Yahweh -> Yahweh (He is/He causes).

The problem with thinking that El Roi might be a different God from Elohim-YHWH (and the same for Elyon, etc.) is simply that those names are used in conjunction with Elohim-YHWH to show they are the same. For example:

In Genesis 16:13 So Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “Here I have seen one who sees me!”

The Bible specifically states that El Roi is YHWH.

I mean, duh... Translating Yahweh into Lord simply doesn't make sense.

This is an ancient tradition. It actually started in Judaism to keep from breaking the commandment "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." YHWH is the personal name of God and should never be uttered lightly. Therefore, a tradition of writing "YHWH" but reading it as "Adonai" developed. This is called Kethiv/Qere (sometimes spelled Kethib) and means "what is written" and "what is read." There are actually many such in the Hebrew Bible. YHWH/Adonai is called a perpetual kethiv/qere, meaning that only the first instance is marked and the reader is expected to know it every other time it is encountered in the text.

Hebrew was originally written without vowels. These kethiv/qeres will have the consonants of one word in the text and the vowels of another underneath it (Hebrew vowels are almost all below the consonants they pair with). The resulting word may make no sense, but if the vowels from the marked word are placed on the consonants in the margin, it will have the word the scribe wanted.

The tradition was picked up in the Septuagint in part because there simply aren't the right letters in Greek to transliterate YHWH.

Why not let the readers decide what it really means and translate the bible as faithfully as possible? Is there such translation.

You don't mean as "faithfully as possible," you mean as "literally as possible." Those are two very different things. Every Bible translation attempts to be as faithful as possible within their translation philosophy. Translated literally it becomes a mess. The purpose of translation is to render the original text so that the reader does not have to become an expert on Hebrew/Greek grammar.

There are countless idioms which do not render word-for-word into English in an immediately understandable way. Since we want English and not English-vocabulary-with-Hebrew-syntax, we don't render them word for word. For example, the Hebrew way to tell a persons age is "son of X years." Another example comes in Gen 11:1, which literally says, "And was all the earth language one and words ones." Yeah, "ones" is plural. There are reasons for that in the grammar, BUT since the reader shouldn't have to learn Hebrew to read the Bible, the translators render it singular.

  • 1
    It may be true that El Roi = YHWH. However, that's theology and NOT in the original verses. People need to know what other verses say to conclude that El Roi = YHWH. So the original verses shouldn't be changed. The fact that we can't know from the original verses, whether El Roi = YHWH should be preserved. I mean I want translation that PRESERVES the ambiguity.
    – user4951
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:17
  • Here your translation of Genesis 16:13 is confusing again. YLT says And she calleth the name of Jehovah who is speaking unto her, 'Thou art, O God, my beholder;' for she said, 'Even here have I looked behind my beholder?' It looks like there are several Jehovahs, and Hagar is talking to the one talking to her.
    – user4951
    Feb 19, 2014 at 4:22
  • 2
    No. You're forcing Young's Literal to be more wooden than even he is trying to be. You go beyond reason to say there are multiple Jehovahs while all the Hebrew is saying is that Jehovah (the one and only) is speaking to Hagar. That very verse shows that Elohim is YHWH is El Roi. YHWH is a proper name. There aren't multiple of them who need to be distinguished.
    – Frank Luke
    Feb 19, 2014 at 15:02

I can’t speak to whether it’s translation reflects a particular theology, but the Lexham English Bible (2011) may get a little closer than the NASB to the ‘transparent’ translation the OP suggests, if less literal than Young’s. Most helpfully, idiomatic phrases, supplied words, and textual variants are clearly indicated, either in the text itself – using brackets and italics – or in its copious footnotes. By contemporary standards it’s more readable than Young’s, though still a bit ‘wooden’ (not entirely a bad thing, says the editor). It uses the name 'Yahweh' where indicated in the Hebrew text but 'God' for other Hebrew god-words (e.g. elohim, el, eloah). According to the editor, because it had as its starting point Lexham’s interlinear Bibles, “the LEB achieves an unparalleled level of transparency with the original language text,” particularly when connected to its online tools.

More generally I’d suggest studious lay readers use a good, academic study Bible to keep informed of relevant textual concerns without getting bogged down in interlinear minutia or sidetracked by any narrow theological biases of translators. As examples:

  • New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NRSV): “The notes and the study material feature in-depth academic research from non-denominational perspectives, specifically secular perspectives for ‘Bible-as-literature’ with a focus on the most recent advances in historical criticism and related disciplines, with contributors from mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and non-religious interpretative traditions” (Wikipedia).

  • Jewish Study Bible (JPS): Also from Oxford University Press, the Jewish Study Bible includes a running commentary on almost every Hebrew Testament verse. On the question of the development of monotheism in ancient Israel, I think the OP would be pleased with the academic orientation of these Jewish scholars, both in the notes and essays. Highly recommended.


Young's may be more literal than the KJV but it is not even close to a true literal word for word translation. If literal is what you are looking for see the following translation:

Literal Translation of the Bible.

  • What evidence do you have that this translation is more "literal"?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 21, 2015 at 5:58
  • A word for word literal translation puts the English meanings for the Greek words in the same order as the Greek words. In order to discern whether or not that is happening the student will need to know or learn Greek. In the above site the translator claims to follow the Westcott/Hort Greek text for the New Testament and Swete's Greek text for the Septuagint. The student will need to be able check that to verify if it is word for word or not.
    – user10160
    Jul 27, 2015 at 13:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.