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Bible Gateway and The Gospel Coalition have teamed up to host a discussion of English Bible translation. We have convened a team of world-class scholars representing different versions of the English Bible who will address specific passages from the Old and New Testaments and answer questions about the translation process.

We hope that by pulling back the curtain on translation, this discussion will help readers understand their Bibles more clearly and learn to love God's Word more deeply. And we pray that careful attention to Scripture will excite readers to behold God's glory as he has revealed himself to us in our own language.

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How Do We Render Such an Important Word as ‘Chesed’ with No Simple Parallel in English? Tremper Longman III

Posted in Old Testament by Tremper Longman III on November 8th, 2010

Question: How do we render such an important word as ‘chesed’ with no simple parallel in English?

Many words in Hebrew find no simple parallel in English and indeed we can’t even find a phrase that will bring out all the nuances of this word in English. We make good approximations of the word, but there is no definitive translation. We can have adequate but not perfect translations of the word. Also it does not mean the same thing in every context. And besides that there are debates about such questions as to the relationship between this word and the covenant. I personally am persuaded that the word often (but not always) indicates the kind of love that is demonstrated by one covenant partner to another. Sometimes “covenant love” fits the context. Sometimes “love.” “Steadfast love” or “lovingkindness” are fine but stilted. In some contexts, “loyalty” works well.

Tremper Longman is the Robert H. Gundry professor of biblical studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He has been active in the area of Bible translation by serving on the central committee that produced and now monitors the New Living Translation.

This entry was posted by Tremper Longman III and is filed under Old Testament.