The Open English Translation is a unique new, open-licensed English Bible translation with two parts or ‘versions’. In the left column we display the easy to read and understand Readers’ Version written in modern English. The right column displays the Literal Version, designed to help you “peek” into the original languages and get an idea what is actually written there. It’s intended that in normal use, you’ll read the Readers’ Version, and when you think, “Does it really say that?”, then you can move your eyes across and get a good idea of what words are actually there in the original language even if you haven’t learnt Hebrew or Koine Greek.
Most other Bible translations must choose to place themselves somewhere on the line that moves from being very literal (some people might perhaps naively think this is being accurate to the original), to being more helpful to the reader by being more free/dynamic (in making a translation that fills in some of the implied information that might have been obvious to the original readers). The OET handles this by choosing two points on that line instead of just one! These two versions (one very literal and one quite dynamic) are intended to be used together (and never alone).
(You can see this for yourself if you scroll down the parallel pages in our Reader.)
Another major distinction is that the OET is being made freely available for others to use and publish in Bible studies and similar materials, to print, to display on any device, and even to change/customise (with some limitations) for a specific group.
OET Readers’ Version
This side of the page (so to speak) is designed to express the meaning of each sentence (as scholars can best understand it) in good, clear, readable, modern English. Here the measurements of Noah’s barge (yes, a more modern word than ark) would be in familiar units like metres or feet so that the size can be more easily visualised by the reader.
More details at Design/Readers’ Version.
OET Literal Version
This side of the page is designed to give you insights into what is actually written in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. So the measurements of Noah’s box (yes, actually chest would also be a good literal translation, except that saying Noah’s chest could be misunderstood) would be given in the original cubit measures, and ideal for a study of numbers in the Bible. And when you get to the Box of the Agreement, the Hebrew text starts to make sense in your mind (compared to the Ark of the Covenant).
More details at Design/Literal Version.
As well as the two completely different versions of the actual translated text shown above, the Open English Translation will also have different editions. These are different ways that the texts are published, such as whether the Old Testament books are presented in the typical Christian Bible book order, or in the traditional Jewish book order, or in chronological or some other order or combination of books.
What the OET is not
This section was added because we’ve noticed some people wrongly assuming that our ‘easy-to-read’ goal for the Readers’ Version means that we’re using simplified English. So here’s a list of what the OET is NOT:
- it’s not written in simplified English or using a restricted vocabulary
- it’s not specifically targeted at children or people who’ve learnt English as their second language
- it’s not trying to use street slang
- it’s not aiming to make sentences unnecessarily short or simple
- it’s not theologically liberal or intentionally pushing any particular bias
- it’s not backwards looking or ‘anti’ other Bible translations
So in contrast to those misconceptions, a few more points about what the OET Readers’ Version IS:
- it is aimed at native English speakers
- it is aimed at educated readers
- it tries to use words, phrases, and idioms that the average person might use at home and work
- it does try to avoid church jargon where there’s a more contemporary way of expressing the same content
- its complexities will be most appreciated by well-educated, long-term Bible readers who are open to new ways of thinking
- it’s aiming to carve a new path forward in increasing Biblical understanding
- it’s aiming to carve a new path forward in improving Bible layouts and typesetting