About the project
Find out what makes the New Dynamic Translation so unique
The concept for publishing God’s Word in this particular version came from contacts with regular people who have expressed the desire to own a translation of the Bible that communicates its message more clearly, one that would be understood by an average person, and not just by biblical scholars. We had given it a lot of thought before accepting the challenge. Throughout the project we took substantial advantage of tool publications which were released under the “Prymasowska Seria Biblijna” (Primate’s Bible Reference Series) by VOCATIO Publishing House.
Despite the fact that we had put an enormous amount of time, work and commitment into NPD, we would like to strongly emphasize that the purpose was not to make it a platform for exegetical studies, philological research or a source for semantic analyses or grammatical relations. For these purposes, VOCATIO publishes the “Prymasowska Seria Biblijna” mentioned above which provides readers with advanced tools for a thorough analysis of Bible texts. There is no need to duplicate the work already done by VOCATIO. Persons interested in in-depth Bible studies are advised to study PSB as well as “Rozprawy i Studia Biblijne” (Bible Dissertations and Studies) series also published by VOCATIO. We ourselves have benefited greatly from these sources.
Before commencing work on the new translation of “The Good News about the Rescue in Christ” (or so called “New Testament), the Editorial Team had to make the fundamental choice: who is on the receiving end of this new translation. We concluded that we should reach out to the unchurched part of the Polish society and to those who, for various reasons, distanced themselves from religious organizations or do not identify themselves with them as much as they used to. This particular choice of the target group influenced the methodology and stylistics of our translation. Therefore, we would like to strongly and clearly state that we do not intend to compete with denominational translations of the Scripture. We are fully aware that people who are active in their respective churches will continue to use liturgical translations of the Bible predominant in their denomination, as the teaching they receive is typically based on the Bible translations used in their fellowships. However, if you are not attached to any particular religious movement or you cannot commit a significant amount of time to independently analyze original texts, but you desire to better understand the Bible, we have done this work for you. We give you this new dynamic translation of the Holy Scripture in the modern language to help you understand what biblical Christianity is all about. For that reason we have implemented a series of simple and practical linguistic, historical and theological comments which are of informative rather than dogmatic nature. We aimed to avoid making this work a mouthpiece for any denominational convictions. We will be delighted if you decide to choose to draw abundantly from NPD.
The following texts served as the starting point for our translation: critical edition of NT Nestle-Aland’s “Novum Testamentum Graece” according to the 1975 and 1993 editions and published by German Bible Society, Stuttgart, as well as “The Greek New Testament” published by United Bible Society, New York 1975; complemented with selected excerpts (pericopes) from Byzantine manuscripts shown in the so called “majority text” and pericopes from the so called “received text” (textus receptus). Why this choice? The commonly published critical studies of NT constitute the so called “eclectic texts” or compilations of source texts which, in fact, in their published form do not represent one original manuscript. They are rather collaborative efforts of editorial teams comprising of specialized exegetes who occasionally put together committees to analyze selected manuscripts. They browse through various codex versions, determine the best – in their opinion – version of a specific verse and then publish the text in the form of an edited compilation called “critical study.” In reality, the differences observed between manuscripts are minute and, on principle, pertain to peripheral matters which have no bearing on the essence of kerygma of faith contained in the Bible.
The editorial committees deserve great appreciation for the monumental work and the great scientific value of their studies, however, we must also consider the fact that as a result of the decisions made by those committees in the published critical studies, there are fewer and fewer of essential pericopes (excerpts or variations of the text) which exist in many ancient manuscripts and are also respected in the scientific and historical realms. For example, the last part of the verse in John 3:13 is found in many ancient and important codices (among others in “Alexandrian Codex” from the 5 century, in numerous medieval codices, in Latin, Syrian, Coptic traditions, and the writing of Epiphanius. On the other hand, the same part of the verse is missing in “Codex Sinaiticus” from the 4 century, “Codex Vaticanus” from the 4 century, “Codex Ephraemi” from the 5 century, “Codex Bezae” from the 5 century, and others. Since “Codex Sinaiticus” is considered by many contemporary researchers to be the most valuable, it is the preferred choice for their studies. Our editorial team decided to supplement our translation with those pericopes which, though arbitrarily omitted in many critical studies, are well documented both scientifically and historically. Many of them are found in the so called textus receptus. For centuries, this text was a model for translations used by publishers of such important versions as “Biblia w przekładzie ks. Jakuba Wujka” (The Jakub Wujek Bible) or “Biblia Gdańska” (The Gdansk Bible), not to mention the classic foreign publications like the “King James Bible.”
-1 As already mentioned, the NPD team benefited from the accomplishments of the Polish biblical studies collected in the “Prymasowska Seria Biblijna.” The works which were especially important to our cause were: “Grecko-polski Nowy Testament – wydanie interlinearne z kluczem gramatycznym, z kodami Stronga i Popowskiego oraz pełną transliteracją greckiego tekstu” (Greek – Polish New Testament – interlinear edition with grammar key, Strong and Popowski codes and the full transliteration of the Greek text) (R. Popowski, M. Wojciechowski), “Grecko-polski słownik Stronga” (Greek – Polish Strong Dictionary), “Nowy Testament – przekład na Wielki Jubileusz Roku 2000” (New Testament – the Great Jubilee of the year 2000) (R. Popowski), “Biblia w przekładzie Księdza Jakuba Wujka z 1599 r.” (The 1599 Jakub Wujek Bible), and a large selection of dictionaries and commentaries both in Polish and foreign languages including especially “Komentarz Żydowski do Nowego Testamentu” (Jewish New Testament Commentary) (D. Stern), “The Complete Word Study Dictionary of New Testament” (S. Zodhiates), “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary” (edit. F. Gaebelein), “Cornerstone Biblical Commentary” (edit. P. Comfort), “Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament” (E. Schnabel), “New International Greek Testament Commentary Series” (edit. I. Marshall, D. Hagner), “New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis” (M. Silva).
The title “The Good News about the Rescue in Christ” was selected deliberately. It is there to relay a precise message to the readers, regular Poles, who for different reasons are not currently attending any churches or fellowships. Statistical data show that this is an ever increasing social group. The titles of other translations: “New Testament” or “New Covenant” do not reflect the real character of this Book. As shown in the analysis of Heb. 9:15-20 there is no mention of any testament, rather the texts points to “Covenant,” or specifically a “New Covenant” which God had made with the Jewish nation, and which He foretold in Jer. 31:31-34. This covenant was indeed a new phenomenon, but only for the Jews. For Christians of non-Jewish origin who have never been affected by the “Old Covenant” (Mosaic) the new covenant could not have been new, as it would have been the only one they were dealing with. This is why the NPD editorial team decided that for people who were raised in a non-Jewish tradition “The Good News about the Rescue in Christ” would be a more suitable title, as it clearly conveys the sense of the Gospel of Christ. And it is that Good News (in accordance with the words of the Apostle to the Nations) is the power of God that carries salvation to everyone who trusts in it (Rom. 1:16 NPD), and so we, non-Jews, are included. If we published this text taking into consideration Jewish readers or Polish readers of Jewish descent, then the title “New Covenant” or “Scriptures of Messianic Times” would be justified.
The use of “The Good News about the Rescue in Christ” also has a deeper sense which comes from the comparison of the NT message with the message of pagan books and philosophies. While all of the world religions provide their followers with “advice” on what to do in order to gain favor with their gods, biblical Christianity does not fill that role at all. It merely COMMUNICATES (like a herald) that, which God has accomplished in Christ to bring people to Himself. Therefore, the NT books do not concentrate on human efforts, but on God’s actions. This is why they do not communicate advice on what do to and how to do it in order to “achieve salvation” or some other eternal self-realization, but PROCLAIM that, which God Himself has done for humanity in CHRIST. This is why the term Good News most fully and most precisely reflects the character of this translation. The messages of all the world religions are good advice at the most, and most of us know very well the quality of “good advice” we receive from people who are incompetent to give it and what effects we get when we follow it.
The Holy Scripture was written down throughout centuries (in the course of 1,500 years). At least 38 writers were involved in this work. They came from various environments and worked under different circumstances as well as historical and social contexts. This is the reason why the Bible has put on these peculiar “costumes” from different eras. In order to clearly present its message within the contemporary context, it has become necessary to first get familiar with the background of those eras and the situations in which God’s Word reached men in those times. The task was to communicate the essence and the main message of the Bible without the historical accretions. In the Anglo-Saxon world this was accomplished by translations like NLT, God’s Word, The Message, Amplified Bible and others. Since similar work does not exist in the Polish literature, we decided to take on this new translation which would, in our conditions, play a similar role while being a completely Polish work based on the original texts.
At different times the works above applied a method which was already known and used in the ancient Aramaic Targums. We also decided to apply this method, though we did not copy the exegetical and semantic solutions used in the Anglo-Saxon translations. Therefore, NPD is in no way a copy or a translation of any of those versions. It is an effort that had been undertaken originally in Poland and by Polish editors who, using the achievements of the Polish Biblical studies, based their work on the specifics of the Polish culture and language. Furthermore, the aim was to achieve a translation which would not be confessional or religious in its nature. Thus, it does not give preference to any denominational convictions or interpretations. Its only goal is to offer help to regular readers in reaching maximum objectivity while getting to know the CONTENT OF THE MESSAGE of God’s Word. Therefore, it was getting to the main THOUGHT, and not stopping at the letter that posed the main challenge for the NPD Editorial Team. To accomplish this, NPD Editorial Team from the very beginning made a deliberate decision to employ the principles of modern biblical hermeneutics and to take advantage of the historical heritage of thought represented by the Greek grammarians. Their chief representative, Apollonius Dyscolus (who lived in the 2 century after Christ) formulated a fundamental view on the rules of syntax claiming that it’s not the form, but the meaning of words which determines the logical value of a statement. In line with this view, the sense of a given statement comes from an arranged combination of meanings carried by the individual word relations and not their forms. Dyscolus’ innovative views put him ahead of his era contributing to the development of modern language research methods.
The Word, which God for centuries directed to His people was at first a spoken Word (Hebrew: Rhema – cf. Heb. 1:1-2) and was passed as word of mouth. It wasn’t written down until sometime later. It was understood by men who heard it in their time and culture. This is why we should flee the temptation of literal interpretation of holy texts using the “letter for letter” or “word for word” methods. Such an approach puts us in danger of losing the most essential context and the fundamental message of the Bible which is the testimony of Jesus Christ (see John 5:39). Studying God’s Word only makes sense when we have that perspective in mind. Readers who overlook this key context will drift away from the main message of the Bible, as Jesus Christ is in the very center of God’s revelation. The NPD Editorial Team did their best not to lose sight of it. Without doubt, we – the NPD Editorial Team – were the first beneficiaries of this work. Christ entered our lives and thoughts with great power and showed us how much we are dependent on Him, how much we need Him, and how much our human nature deviates from his amazing goodness, holiness and love. The work which God, revealed in Christ, has performed completely dominated both the thoughts and the deeds of the NPD Editorial Team.
Because of the set objectives and the selected method, the main burden of the editorial and translation tasks, especially in making the translation dynamic, rested on the NPD Editorial Team. The work was done in a systematic way. The final text has gone through extensive consultations and has been verified by a broad community of editors, proofreaders and consultants whose number was so large that we could not name them all. It is not the intention of the NPD Editorial Team to single out any of its members in any special way. Any comments should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief of this publication who collected all of the material, prepared it and approved the publication. We are certainly open to any constructive criticism. Every letter or e-mail message we receive will be carefully studied, and if the arguments presented in them prove convincing, we will do our best to feature appropriate corrections in the next editions.
According to the guidelines for dynamic translation method, the NPD text has been edited in such a way that some parts are translated literally and others interpretatively. Often, it is not possible to convey the thought from the original text using the “word for word” method. Similarly, there are excerpts which need further explanations as to their historic and cultural context in order to be understood correctly. An example of this might be the question of understanding the metonymic function, which a proper name served in the Semitic culture. When referring to God, it was through formulating His names that his personal attributes were displayed. Also, when Moses asked Him His name, He Himself responded: I AM WHO I AM (cf. Heb. YHWH). This figure of speech, so characteristic of the Hebrew language, has often been the cause of too literal translation of biblical texts even to the point of distorting their meaning, which is taken to the extreme in the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Therefore, it should always be remembered that a proper name in the ancient Semitic culture always carried and expressed the personal qualities, character or nature of the person referred to by that particular name.
This is why the meaning of, for example, “Your holy name” should be “Your holy nature” or even shorter: “Your Holiness,” and “immersion in the name of Jesus” simply means “immersion into the (character) of Jesus” or “being soaked in Jesus’ character.”
One important aspect of the NPD translation into Polish is also a conscious choice to use targumic style. Targums are Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible which are characterized by applying simple and understandable language used by common people of that time. The word “targum” means “interpretation.” These translations weave into the text certain explanations whose intention is to help readers understand the meaning and sense contained in the Hebrew original. It should be noted that the overwhelming majority of Jews living the time of Jesus did not know the biblical Hebrew language.
In everyday life they used Aramaic, while Hebrew remained a liturgical language known only to the religious elite. Latin played a similar role in the Catholic Church for hundreds of years. Targums were created to meet the needs of readers who did not know the contemporary liturgical language. Septuagint (translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek) had a similar function within the church in the early centuries. A recent Polish publication “Targum Neofiti” where, for example, in Gen. 22:1 the Hebrew language is described as the “language of the sanctuary” or the “temple language.”
Approximately a thousand years before Christ, Aramaic became the universal communication tool for ordinary people living as far as India and all the way to the north-western parts of the African coast. At the time of Jesus this was the living language of the Palestinians. Therefore, it was a common practice to recite short excerpts of Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) in each synagogue in Hebrew first, and then have an appointed interpreter translate it into Aramaic for the congregation. Those reciters and teachers were called meturgemans and the range and form of their service was regulated by scrupulous synagogue rules. This was the way to bring the Word of God to the common men in the way they could understand it.
The NPD Editorial Team concluded that the objectives that these targumic translations served were extremely important and decided to adopt a similar style in their work. However, the most important decision concerning NPD was to implement the principles of biblical hermeneutics more in its rational form than symbolic or philosophical forms. Thus, we have dedicated a lot of attention to:
- defining the literary genre of a given book (or its part) and studying the historical and cultural contexts;
- taking into account the direct logical context starting from the nearest surrounding of the translated pericope through the topic of a given chapter all the way to the purpose for the whole book in which the analyzed excerpt is present;
- taking into account the fact that the main goal God had in writing the Bible was to give testimony of Jesus Christ (cf. John 5:39);
- thorough analysis as to the function of a given text (is it merely an illustration which explains something or is it an essential principle or truth? Is it a figure of speech, proverb, metaphor, etc.?);
- thorough analysis of the meaning of individual words, their etymology and usage;
- considering the functions of modifiers (or words like: therefore, because, due to, and, or, etc.).
This approach played an essential role in the way the dynamic equivalents were selected, both in the case of full phrases and even large paragraphs which is particularly evident in 1 Cor. 11:1-16.
However, in each of these situations the NPD editorial team held fest to the context of the original message and tried to use only those phrases which can be found in other places in the Bible with relations to similar issues or topics. The Bible is in fact a book in which the context is critical. None of its passages should be interpreted in isolation from the whole of the message (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20).
If any portion of it seems unclear, then certainly the meaning should be sought in the nearer or further context or in the essence of the original words understood in the context of their modifiers which can introduce various functional meaning into the translation. For example, the Greek word soteria may mean the following: “salvation,” “liberation,” “deliverance,” “rescue” and “healing.” The selection of the meaning in the translation is up to the translator and should be done based on the context and the general message of the passage. Pulling Bible verses out of context and translating them liberally to fit the current needs of a given translator or his/her denomination is a plague that has affected large areas of theology. It illustrates the principle that a text pulled out of context becomes merely an excuse for manipulating and sneaking in various subtexts.
From time to time, readers will find in the NPD footnotes comparisons to other translations of the Bible. These insertions are not the result of a critical spirit directed at the work of others, they come from personal struggles of the editorial team members who are accustomed to and grounded in certain concepts introduced into the Polish language by traditional translations. Unfortunately, many literal translating solutions eventually turned out to be, to put it mildly, imprecise or even confusing the Bible message. We understand that for those times translators did extraordinary work to present the Bible in the most contemporary form despite not having any advanced analytical tools. Their work has an undeniable historical value and will never be forgotten. Furthermore, God has used and continues to use those translations to change people’s hearts and make them more like Christ. If we occasionally took the liberty to be critical, it did not concern the very essence or the merits of those works, but a certain manner of literality or attributing such content to the translated text which was not in accordance with the message of the Bible. We are all familiar with passages that completely do not fit the context.
They are wedged into the text like a foreign body with no logical continuation of an earlier argument, and they do not match the latter part of the text. A classic example is found in “Biblia Warszawska” (The Warsaw Polish Bible) with its translation of Eccles. 10:1 “A dead fly can spoil the pharmacist’s oil. A little folly is more precious than wisdom and glory.” In order to compare the literal and dynamic translations, here is the NPD version of the same verse: “As a dead fly spoils a flask of scented oil, so a little folly destroys wisdom and glory.”
The above observations on the limited ability of human language is connected with another very important translation issue which is a contextual understanding of Biblical texts. The problem today is that people form doctrines or even complete theologies on single Bible verses, and what’s worse, taking them out of context. However, Biblical truths can be properly understood only in the full context of the main topic of a book and the circumstances in which it was written, and so in the context of its historical background and thematic associations across the Bible.
Studying the Bible in a contextual way is the only safe approach to its understanding, as it prevents us from going to one of the extremes of wrong interpretation. The first extreme is daydreaming of a presumed learnedness or spirituality, the other one is A.W. Tozer calls a “Biblical textualism.” The first one causes us to make interpretations based on various nonsensical concepts of analyses offered by given representatives of an alleged teaching (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20) or on emotions and sensations – visions, dreams, feelings, extrasensory insights and alleged (or false) prophecies and revelations. This inevitably causes us to lose the solid ground of God’s message and leads to disappointment with His word and God Himself. Textualism (called by some literalism) pushes us to unquestioningly and insensibly stick to the letter of the Word which often leads to paralyzing dogmatism and religious formalism.
Additionally, textualism also helps form doctrines which, with time, become to their followers more important than God’s Word itself.
In this perspective, contextual studying of the Bible should be perceived as a balanced and multi-faceted approach to learning and understanding the message of God’s Word and based on a solid ground of the same Word. When applying this study method we can avoid drawing conclusions in which God’s Word and God’s Spirit are not consistent with each other and don’t complement each other. We must understand that the Word of God is always in agreement with the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God always speaks in the way which agrees with the Word of God, because it is His own Word.
And so, from the perspective of its internal organization and the message, the Bible is a Book which is contextual all the way through and in order to preserve healthy teaching this is who it needs to be read, interpreted and understood. This is a priority for our team and we did our best to go by these rules when working on NPD.
- Birth of Jesus Christ
In the western calendar year 0 is generally considered the year Jesus Christ was born. Unfortunately, this date was calculated wrongly. Armenian monk Dionysius Exiguus who in the 6 century received from the Pope John I the task to determine the date of Jesus’ birth miscalculated it by a few years. More precise analyses show that Jesus was in fact born before the so called “anno Domini.” Different studies points to different dates, but usually within the range of 6 to 4 years before our era began.
Also, December 25 itself which we celebrate as Jesus’ birthday makes only symbolic sense, as it is not a fact. Luke, in his version of The Good News about the Rescue in Christ describes the day Jesus Christ was born in connection to the birth of John the Baptist. As we know, John the Baptist was the son of Jewish priest Zacharias. Zacharias found out he would become a father when he was serving in the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 1:5-8). At the same time, Luke informs that Jesus was born half a year after John (Luke 1:26). Assuming that everything went according to the schedule – i.e. from the moment the angel announced the birth of John to Zacharias, nine or ten months passed before the little boy was born, and then six more months until Jesus was born – then from the time of Zacharias’ service at the temple the birth of Jesus fifteen to sixteen months must have passed.
In order to calculate the factual date of Jesus’ birth it would be necessary to determine when exactly Zaharias served in the temple. We have to take into account that he belonged to the eighth division of twenty four divisions in the appointed order of service (the Abijah division, 1 Chron. 24:10). These divisions took turns serving in the Jerusalem temple for one week at a time (from Sabbath to Sabbath), twice a year counting from the first month of the year Tishrei (September – October). The calculations have to take into account that during three Jewish pilgrimage holidays (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot) all divisions were serving together. This leads us to the conclusion that the first service of Abijah division (in the time described by Luke) fell on the fourth month in the Jewish calendar which was Tammuz (June – July), the second one was on the eighth week after Sukkot, i.e. towards the end of the Jewish month Kislev (November – December). Luke does not say in which turn of the annual service Zacharias received the revelation in light of which there are two possible dates for Jesus’ birth. The difference of fifteen, sixteen months (the time of Elizabeth’s pregnancy plus the age difference between Jesus and John) points to either Tishrei (September – October), the seventh month in the Jewish calendar when the Autumn equinox occurs (also time of Sukkot holiday), or to Adar (February – March), the twelfth Jewish month. However, at that time there are no sheep in the pastures, as it is winter in Bethlehem. Thus, if Tishrei is the correct month, then December 25 which we celebrate now could only be the time of His conception of the Holy Spirit, but not His birth.
But, for true faith these calculations have no meaning, as the most important thing is our personal relationship with the risen Christ, abiding in Him, and obedient living according to his Word and in sanctification.
We should also bear in mind that the calculations suggested above might be flawed to a certain extent.
After all, we do not know how soon after Zacharias’ return from the temple service Elizabeth became pregnant.
Had it happened 30-60 later, the date of Jesus’ birth could have also fallen in the month of Nisan at the time of Passover. An important clue which would point to that particular timing is an event which took place during Joseph and Mary’s return from Passover celebration in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 2:41-52). This was just when Jesus turned twelve. Throughout the day, neither Mary nor her husband noticed that Jesus was not in the group of pilgrims they were traveling with. To understand this situation it is necessary to become familiar with the Jewish customs of the time. The pilgrims would always travel in two separate groups – men and women. Boys who were under the age of twelve were supposed to walk with their mothers, and those older than twelve walked with the men. It seems that on the way to Jerusalem Jesus was under His mother’s care. During Passover, already in Jerusalem, Jesus turned twelve and his status changed from child to young man. Apparently, on the way back from Jerusalem, Mary did not pay attention to where her son was, since it was not her responsibility anymore to have Him close. Joseph did not keep an eye on him either, as according to the Jewish standards Jesus was now an independent man.
- Anno Domini (AD)
Defining the particular years of our era – Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord) – as years which take place after the birth of Christ is based on the idea that Jesus was born in the theoretical year zero according to the Christian (Gregorian) calendar. In other words, the year 754 a.u.c. (ab Urbe condita – from the founding of Rome) was recognized as the first year of our era. This dating order was introduced in the year 525 by Dionysius Exiguus who conducted the reform of historical time measurement ordered by Pope John I. Dionysius Exiguus affected our civilization in another way: he arbitrarily established the day of December 25, 753 a.u.c. as the day of Jesus’ birth. However, as it turned out later, Dionysius had made serious mistakes in his calculations. He did not take into consideration several factors, including those presented above.
Given the above, the NPD editorial team found AD (in the year of our Lord; after Christ’s birth) to lack precision. Another argument supporting this position is the fact that AD dating is used less and less in modern scientific studies.
- Calculating day’s hours
Jews did not subscribe to the European system of counting continuous hours within a 24-hour day. The night hours and the day hours were counted separately. The Jewish day began at dusk (approximately around 6 p.m.). The night was 12 hours long. After that, at 6 a.m. the day began and it lasted until 6 p.m. In light of that:
– “and it was the third hour” (Mark 15:25; Acts 2:15) corresponds to our 9:00 a.m.
– “the sixth hour” (Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44; Acts 10:9) corresponds to our 12:00 p.m.
– “the ninth hour” (Mark 15:33-34) corresponds to our 3:00 p.m.
In the NPD translation the Jewish method for counting time was replaced with the method known in our country in order to make the message clearer.
- The final hours preceding crucifixion and resurrection
Written sources prove that Christian communities living in the 2 century strongly believed that the last Passover Supper, which Jesus had with his disciples (while still in His temporal human body) took place on the fifteenth day of the month Nissan (based on our method of counting days it was on Thursday evening). His crucifixion occurred on Friday and on the same Friday He was laid in the grave (day one of His work of salvation). He was in the grave when the proper Passover took place, i.e. the festive Sabbath (day two), and then, on Sunday (or day three) he rose from dead.
Written sources show that in the Christian communities of the second century there was a strong belief that the Last Supper Passover that Jesus ate with his disciples (while still in the temporal human nature), held on the fifteenth day of the month Nissan (and thus began, according to the used by us the method of counting time, on Thursday evening). His crucifixion took place on Friday and the same was submitted Friday to the grave (the first day of his work of salvation). In the grave he spent time right Passover, i.e. Sabbath (the second day) and Sunday (the third day) rose from the dead.
However, some theologians tend to put too much weight on the analogy of the LORD’S saving sacrifice and the “sign of Jonah” which He mentions, and believe that the body of Jesus must have stayed in the grave for three full days. This led to the claims that the last supper must have taken place at the beginning of Jewish Wednesday, or the 13 day of Nissan (our Tuesday night). According to their calculations, Jesus was crucified on the next day (Wednesday), and His body stayed in the grave on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to be risen on Sunday.
Having done an in-depth analysis we have concluded that these calculations do not match the eyewitnesses’ accounts found in the NT. They can be regarded as speculations caused by too literal interpretation of the phrase “sign of Jonah.” This sign should be understood as a metaphor of significant amount of time spent in the closed darkness of the grave (which is compared to the significant amount of time Jonah spent inside a sea monster’s belly) and not literally as three days.
Indeed, the biblical text says that “He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4), which means that in order to fulfill the prophecy, it would have been sufficient if His body had remained in the grave even a fraction of the time on the first and third day. To summarize – Jesus’ body probably stayed in the grave a little longer than 24 hours, but not longer than 48 hours, which is enough to meet the formal conditions of the Jewish understanding of three days).
However, for the true living faith the exact time Jesus’ body stayed in the grave is not significant. What is most important is the fact that He was risen. He demonstrated the infinite power of Divine Life. Let us remember that the fundamental significance for every believer is contained in the continuous living relationship with the risen Christ, maturing in Him, being sanctified in Him and doing His Father’s will by obeying His Word (cf. Matt. 7:21; John 3:21; John 12:48; John 13:3; Heb. 12:14).
As previously mentioned, the NPD translation is directed to those readers who are not part of a church life, but desire to have personal knowledge of God and His will despite all the busyness of everyday life. It is for those readers that we tried to give our translation clear and communicative qualities by avoiding calques, complicated theological terms, archaisms and catchalls (which everyone supposedly knows, but few people understand). Let the words “only begotten” (Gr. monogenes) serve as an example. In New Testament they refer both to Jesus (e.g. John 1:14) and to Isaac (Heb. 11:7). It means neither “an only son” (Isaac had siblings) nor firstborn (Isaac was Abraham’s second child). Therefore, in order to apply the correct meaning to the word monogenes the NPD Editorial Team used the words “only rightful.” It is backed up by the context and true for both Jesus, who is God’s only rightful Son (while all believers are God’s adopted children – Rom. 8:15) and for Isaac who was the only rightful child of promise given to Abraham by God. All other Polish translations hold fast to the archaic calque translating the Greek word monogenes as “only begotten” (mono – “alone,” genes – “born”). We find a deeper justification for this translation, but more about that in the footnotes of the relevant passages.
Another example of modernized translation is the Greek term ekklesia meaning the assembly of the people who responded to God’s calling. In traditional translations this word is rendered as church, however NPD it is usually translated as “people who believe” or “community (fellowship) of people who believe.” The NPD Editorial Team hesitated on this issue for a long time, however, considering that nowadays the word “church” is way too often identified with a building or an institutionalized organization (which does not reflect the essence of the biblical message), we had finally decided to adopt the more etymologically justified meaning of ekklesia, which describes a community of people who consciously put their hope in Christ. It should be noted that ekklesia has an even deeper meaning. The early Christians considered themselves as the Bride of Christ which works together with the feminine gender of ekklesia. The Polish nouns “kościół” or “zbór” (both mean church in Polish) do not reflect this relationship very well because both of them are masculine. This is why in the NPD translation we like to use the words “społeczność” (community) or “wspólnota” (fellowship) because of their grammatical gender (the same as in ekklesia). The early Christians understood very well that their job as the Bride was not only to remain faithful to Christ the Groom, but most of all prepare for meeting Him, mature in holiness (without which no one will see the Lord – Heb. 12:14), because holiness is an undisputable quality of God’s character (1 Pet. 1:16).
Speaking of holiness and faithfulness, we should remember what Jesus said: “Understand that I am sending you as lambs among wolves. That is why in all that you do, act prudently choosing your way as carefully as snakes do, while remaining clean and faithful, like doves (Matt. 7:21 NPD) as well as: Not everyone who says to me: “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Heavenly Father (Matt. 7:21 NPD). And so sanctification (understood as the way of life and thinking as well as making personal decision with the aim to avoid sin and glorify God) is not in any event the way to earn one’s salvation, but a result of the salvation process. In fact, sanctification, next to modeling oneself upon God’s attitude of love (Gr. agape) is one of the most important elements of God’s revealed will.
A certain novelty in the NPD translation is represented in how we recorded the word KYRIOS as LORD (majuscules). The NPD Editorial Team made this choice due to the fact that the New Testament was created within the influence of the Septuagint or the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, which was translated by a group of Jewish rabbis. To reflect the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH, they applied the Greek word KYRIOS. We had used this translation method for the new dynamic translation of the Books of Psalms. Over time, we combined this fact with the thought that since the Greek translation of the Old Testament the name KYRIOS referred to YHWH, and in the New Testament the same word is used for Jesus Christ, then the theological conclusions are obvious. The early Christians came to the same conclusions, and the spiritual war which lasted for the first hundred years following Jesus’ ascension was evident in the massive doctrinal attacks questioning His deity. This was one of the reasons for the radical division between the Orthodox Jews and those who believed in Jesus. Having this in mind, the NPD Editorial Team decided to apply majuscules: LORD when the word KYRIOS referred to Jesus. There are places in the New Testament where kyrios is used as a polite term. In those cases NPD shows it as “lord.” On other occasions, when various people met Jesus but did not recognize (or did not yet recognize) His deity and only showed customary respect (cf. Jn 4:19), we wrote it as “Lord.” Sometimes it is written in this way when the Jews who react to the received revelations are not sure whether they are dealing with God Himself or only His messenger (e.g. Acts 22:8).
Then, depending on the context, we used “Lord” or “lord.” The key conclusion from the above remarks is that the NPD Editorial Team’s conviction is that Jesus Christ is the only God. This is the very truth that Jesus did not hesitate to tell John in the Book of Revelation: I AM the Beginning and the End of everything HE WHO IS, HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND WHO IS COMING, God Almighty (Acts 1:8 NPD). No wonder that Apostle John wrote: HE IS the Word of God – His Expression – sense, content and eternal essence of the message from the Highest. Everything came from Him and in Him had its beginning. And since the eternal Word of God is in its essence God Himself that means that HE IS the eternal God. Because of Him and through Him everything happened, and whatever was accomplished did not happen without Him. For in Him is laid the whole fullness of the eternal and infinite Life of God. And it was none but He – the Light of this Life – who came to men to illuminate the darkness with His radiance, and the darkness could not contain or overcome Him. (John 1:1-5 NPD).
Another term where NPD made important distinctions is the Greek word ouranos – “heaven.” In the Semitic culture this word was used to describe both the visible sky and the invisible spiritual realm. To distinguish them, the NPD editorial team decided to translate the latter as “Heavens” (capitalized). Overall, capital letters in the NPD translation have a much broader function than that assigned to them by the Polish grammar. In the NPD translation they have an additional role to play, namely distinguishing between parallel concepts of the visible and invisible realms (earthly and heavenly realities). For instance, the word “life” refers to the current, carnal reality of physical existence (Gr. bios), while “Life” (Gr. Zoe) refers to the eternal and infinite realm of God’s existence which will be inhabited by those whose names are written in Christ’s Book of Life. Similarly, the word “death” refers to the termination of physical existence in our body, while “Death” refers to the complete separation from God accompanied by eternal suffering for those who will be eternally condemned. Life and Death (capitalized) are therefore two contradictory eternal states.
An absolute novelty that NPD introduces into the world of Biblical translation studies is updating the Greek terms like porneia (and its derivatives: pornos, porne). Depending on the context, they have been given dynamic equivalents: “pornography and sexual licentiousness,” “sexual promiscuity and pornography” and its derivatives. Until now, the tradition of the Polish biblical translation studies has been to translate the word porneia as “depravity,” “harlotry,” “lust” and “fornication.”
The younger and secular generation has a problem understanding these terms. It also happens that the usage of these terms goes beyond the sexual sphere and is dulled or watered down being applied in non-sexual contexts. Following the NPD dynamic objectives, the editorial team decided to link the original words porneia, pornos and porne more closely to the present reality. Pornography is like deadly cancer that rolls through society and does not spare our churches. Statistical studies confirm that 80% of male church attendees actively use pornography in one way or another. 50% of church youth workers are also involved in pornography. Women are not free from it, either. 30% of women who declared themselves as believers are addicted to certain forms of pornography (even if it’s only literature of pornographic nature). The porn industry revenues in 2006 were higher than the combined revenues of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink (!!!). It should be remembered that 90% of pornographic materials are made available completely free of charge and the above statistics apply only to the remaining 10% niche of the porn industry. Since it is clear for all linguists that the word “pornography” comes from the Greek porneia, the NPD editorial team does not see any good reason for which the biblical texts should avoid such an obvious semantic relationship. The surveys conducted by the editorial team among potential readers showed that the understanding of such translation is a lot better, and the Word of God is communicated in a much clearer way.
Of course, we do realize that such a dynamic equivalent does not fully render the semantic scope of the word porneia and its derivatives. The Word of God uses is for a whole range of uncategorized sexual behaviors – all kinds of depravity, perversions and other disgusting things which we do not even want to think about or mention here. Suffice it to say that in Septuagint the word porneia reflects the Hebrew root znh, which in holy Jewish writings was used not only to describe the above mentioned sexual impropriety, but also referred to mixed marriages of believers and unbelievers (or in those time Jews and non-Jews), and by some prophets was also used to describe all the other religions which were perceived as a kind of spiritual fornication and betrayal of the only God.
While the meaning of the two Greek words soma and sark in NT is clearly different, in most traditional Polish translations they are rendered identically as “body.” The English translations dealt with this problem by using respectively body and flesh, but even that needs further clarification. In the NPD translation we have tried to tackle this translation difficulty by using respectively body and old, sinful nature.
NPD contains a lot more of such semantic solutions. We tried to add notes to each such case in the footnotes or the NPD Commentary at the end of the publication. We certainly understand that not all of our proposed translations or notes will appeal to everyone, and not all of them will gain acceptance, especially within the traditional religious circles. However, we would like to stress again that these circles are not the main target group for the NPD translation. If the interpretive solutions we have adopted help some readers to better understand the message of God’s Word and inspire them to learn the will of the Heavenly Father which they will apply to their personal lives, that will mean our prayers we presented before the Throne of God on each working day, were heard.
Did all of our efforts make sense and will the glorify God who deserves all the glory? This will be decided not only by NPD readers, but most of all by the Most High, the Almighty God, the Eternal Father of All Light, the Only Ruler and the Giver of Life, the Holy and Righteous One, the LORD of Hosts, King of kings and the LORD of lords, revealed in Jesus Christ by Whom, for Whom and through Whom everything that we are able to observe, experience and understand exists. It is He that we glorify with our work. We give Him praise and thanksgiving.
NPD Editorial Team