The Holy Injil in Modern English

Introduction

The Holy Injil

In Modern English

The Good News According to Luke

Preface

The Most Famous Book in the History of the World

The Bible is the most famous book in the history of the world. The most translated, the most printed, the most distributed, the most loved, the most read. It is also the most hated and the most vilified. Either way, to be ignorant of it is to be ignorant of history, of religion, of literature, and ultimately of humanity itself.

English translations of the Bible outnumber those in any other language. Historically, they have been designed for people whose religious conceptions were influenced by Latin, the dominant language of Western Europe in the Middle Ages. This translation is for those whose religious conceptions have been influenced by Arabic, the dominant language of Western Asia and North Africa for well over a millennium.

The English word Bible ultimately derives from the name of an ancient city, Byblos, once located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Papyrus reeds were there made into “paper” and exported. In Greece, books written on this paper became known as biblion, a form of which eventually gave rise to the English word Bible.

The translation provided here is part of the Bible, also known as “the Holy Scriptures,” or “the Scriptures.” Specifically, this selection is from what is often called the New Testament. The selection was written by Luke, a first-century physician and historical investigator. Luke interviewed those who knew Jesus Christ, or Isa al-Masih as he is known in the Arabic world.

English speakers borrow the term Christ from Greek via Latin. The equivalent term in Arabic, Masih, is related to the Old Testament Hebrew word mashiah and means “anointed one”, a title used for kings and priests. Luke wrote in Greek, the lingua franca of his day, and his text was called euangelion, meaning “good news.” In English it became evangel, via Latin evangelium. The Old English translation of the term was gōdspell (“good” + “news”), which later became gospel. In Arabic, the Greek term became Injil, where it also serves as the name of the New Testament. For those influenced by Arabic, Luke's work is therefore the Injil (or part of the fuller New Testament Injil) about Isa al-Masih, now the most famous person in human history.

The translation provided here was first done in traditional English. Arabicized forms of certain names and terms, like those above, were then selected for English speakers whose religious vocabulary tends to be Arabic. Central to that is the name or reference for the deity. English “God” is a Germanic word found in languages throughout northwestern Europe. Arabic-influenced speakers of English may use that term, but most are more inclined to say Allah, a Semitic term related to Hebrew words for God. Middle-Eastern followers of Isa, some of whom trace their origins back to the first and second century A.D., generally call the God of the Bible Allah.

The purpose of this publication is to show respect to Arabic-influenced English speakers. They live around the world, they number in the hundreds of millions, and they deserve a translation of the Holy Scriptures designed for and dedicated to them.

About the Translation Methodology

As literal as possible, as free as necessary.

So goes the motto. It's clever and hard to dismiss, but it's difficult to apply.

Without care, translators who try to be “as literal as possible” often end up creating a nasty tasting stew of obscurity and ambiguity. Publishers may promote such a text, and those who know the source language may praise it. But the so-called “accuracy” of literal translations means nothing when the audience is confused. A committed reader may swallow such a stew. To the intensely committed it might even become a steady diet. But we do better to ask if it's both healthy and palatable. In terms describing literature, is the translation clear, compelling, and relevant?

The motto's “as free as necessary” second half is also hard to apply. Languages continually change, dialects divide, and flavors of speech approach the number of speakers. More insidious, freedom can open the way to a mere itch for something fresh or flashy. Straight speech deserves respect for its clarity and power. So even on the creative side, translators must ask themselves if potential additions—implied information, figures of speech, explanatory content and the like—are truly central to the marriage of message and reader. If not, such devices risk becoming like labels on a designer product. Translators must be particularly careful with religious texts. A holy book is a divine inspiration, not a translator's masterpiece.

“As literal as possible, as free as necessary.” Balance is a difficult and maybe impossible goal. But translators try, convinced of the power of old truths in new tongues and modern forms. With all that to consider, and in prayerful and humble reliance upon the Almighty, here is the basic methodology of this new version:

  1. Translate directly from the original language texts (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), with reference to versions in other languages, especially English.
  2. Translate the meaning of the whole, not simply its parts. A look at any dictionary proves that words in isolation have many definitions. Only meaning—words, phrases, sentences in a specific context—can be translated from one language to another.
  3. Divide multi-clause sentences into shorter units.
  4. Clarify relations between phrases, clauses, and sentences.
  5. Clarify ambiguous syntactical constructions, such as genitive (“of”) phrases and locative (“in”) phrases.
  6. Points 1-5 may be summarized this way: Given that there is no translation without interpretation, fully carry out and represent the hard work of interpretation.
  7. Employ active verbs wherever possible, noting the subjects (agents) and objects (patients).
  8. Select clear, modern English vocabulary. Many older terms, though sometimes much loved, are easily misunderstood or no longer in general use.
  9. Keep figures of speech intact when they were “alive” to the original audience and still communicate clearly in English. Otherwise, modify the figure so it communicates today.
  10. Include explanatory footnotes, with the caveat that they represent only a fraction of the many issues faced in translation.
  11. Display a broad variety of English literary styles consistent with the variety of the original text.
  12. Points 7-11 may be summarized this way: Create a text that is beautiful, reflecting the vast vocabulary and literary tradition of English, and powerful, releasing the truth for people today.

The goals of this version are as simple as A, B, C:

  • A An accurate translation, reflecting the original text as inspired by the divine author.
  • B A beautiful translation, reflecting the language of today's audience.
  • C A clear translation, reflecting the majesty, might, and mystery of Allah, the most compassionate and most merciful.

Topical Articles

Following the text of the Good News According to Luke, this edition contains a series of topical articles explaining more about the message of the Scriptures as a whole, the Injil, and its central figure, Isa al-Masih. This section can be viewed as answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

These articles quote the Scriptures extensively. Quotations from Luke are taken from the translation of Luke in this book, the Mantalaan Translation, copyright © 2015. Unless otherwise noted, the same is true of all other selections from the Holy Scriptures.

In the smaller number of places where other versions of the Holy Scriptures are cited, they are clearly noted by their abbreviation. They are reproduced directly from published books and electronic sources available to the public. Those translations are:

  • NET, the New English Translation [2006]
  • NIV, the New International Version [1984]
  • NLT, the New Living Translation [2011]

Maps

A set of maps trace the life of Jesus and the land where he lived.

Blessing

The team that was involved in preparing this publication asks Allah ta'ala to bless each and every reader who comes to his word with an open heart and a humble spirit. May the truth he reveals within these pages result in hearts which both experience and produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in this life and also in the life beyond the grave. To him be all glory for ever and ever. Amen.