Michael Burer, assistant project director for the NET Bible, blogged recently about their translation of Joshua 8:18. Mike has added this translation note to explain why their translation has “curved sword” instead of “sword” or “javelin”:
tn Traditionally “spear,” but see HALOT 472 s.v. כִּידוֹן, which argues based upon evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls that this term refers to a curved sword of some type; note the definition “scimitar” given there.
Michael concludes with three important principles which all Bible translators should follow, so that we can have better Bibles:
- Just because something has always been translated a certain way does not mean that it is correct.
- We should always value the light ancient documents shed on our understanding of the Scriptures, even for an issue as mundane as the meaning of a single, obscure word.
- We should always use the most up to date, accurate tools available. (In this instance, HALOT has the more accurate information as opposed to the other well-known Hebrew lexicon BDB.)
I like that! Greater accuracy should always trump every other factor in Bible translation.