The Ultimate "Literal Version"

Biblical Studies Jun 09, 2010

I remember sitting in a session at Summit when the speaker put up an overhead of the coolest things I had ever seen: a Bible that had “the Greek” with a literal rendering under each word. Like this:

Being 16 years old at the time (and, admittedly, a bit of a geek), I was gobsmacked. What a treasure! After the session I asked the speaker what this strange book was. He told me. And I promptly forgot.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s called an interlinear. Today, as a Greek student, it holds little use for me and I would join many Greek teachers in not recommending it to those trying to learn Greek. But for the layperson, I would submit that they are much safer than the “Key-Word” study Bibles like this NASB (or this KJV, or this NIV –which actually uses GK numbers– or the tagged KJV text that comes standard with e-Sword) simply because I don’t think you find the “literal meaning” in a context-free gloss.

Anyway, while I was taking a break from homework, it occurred to me that there’s probably an old KJV/TR interlinear that’s Public Domain and on Google books. And guess what? There is!

Click here to check it out.

Here’s Eph. 5:11, 12 (a text we discussed earlier.)

If you’re looking for something a bit more up-to-date (and looking to spend some money), here’s a NASB/NIV Interliniar. It has the NASB(1977) on the left, the interlinear in the middle and the NIV on the right.

So for all of you out there who have asked me about a “literal version”, I think this is as literal as you get.

(Memo to translation snobs: I know that this may seem like an incredibly stupid recommendation, but there are some who aren’t happy with an English translation unless the English doesn’t make any sense. I should know; I’m guilty of that. But I’d rather have people reading an interlinear than spending their whole study time looking up glosses. That being said, I’m happy to be persuaded to a different view. Just post your comments below.)

By the way, a much better option would be a parallel Bible. Here’s a hardcover that has the KJV, NLT, NIV and NASB side-by-side (it also comes in a bonded leather edition).

Happy studying!

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