This is part of my translation project. This is a very rough draft, basically a lightly edited version of the RV.
At about age fifteen, I became a bit concerned about the effects of copyright law, for a variety of reasons. I noticed that in various ways a great deal of resources were roped off from the internet, which kept a great deal of useful information away from the average person. I thought, then, that what we needed was people producing high quality resources available in the public domain. Off and on, over the next decade or so, I created and placed a large quantity of resources into the public domain, mostly under my own name, almost all related to the field of biblical studies in one way or another. This pseudonymous blog is a tiny fraction of the work I’ve done.
As time has passed, a few things have changed. One of these changes is that enough pre-1923 material is available now that the average person could teach themselves to read the Bible in its original languages solely by using online resources, and the average person has, substantially, access to the Septuagint, the Masoretic Text, the Vulgate, and so on. Another change is that the quality of available web resources for researching the Bible has climbed. These web resources are often copyrighted, but because they’re fully available online, I have trouble seeing how much of a liability copyright really represents in these cases.
Let me just draw a rough outline for you. If you want to learn biblical Hebrew, for example, you first need to learn the alphabet and vowels. You can do this by googling. You need the Hebrew Bible itself, but that’s also easily available. You need dictionaries — Brown-Driver-Briggs and Gesenius’ Lexicon are easily available. Google and you will find. SDBH (you can Google it) is being assembled piece by piece. You need a Hebrew grammar. Gesenius is online. A number of other Hebrew grammars are also online. Tools like Blue Letter Bible and Bible Online Learner. These will all allow you do work through at least a plausible reading of every word of the Hebrew Bible. You can Google all these. I’ll stop saying “Google” now.
But what if you want to do more than read words aloud? Biblia Hebraica Kittel is available in PDF form, with most of the significant variants within the various manuscript traditions, except for the Dead Sea Scrolls. You’ll need some Latin and Greek to understand some of it, but Greek and Latin can be learned online if you’re just willing to put in the time. Commentaries exist that can help you work phrase by phrase through the various difficulties and Hebrew ambiguities. The International Critical Commentaries (the older ones) are all online. So is the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges and some other material available via BibleHub. There’s other stuff if you’ll just dig.
This brings me to the more recent academic stuff. If you’re looking for a journal article, it is almost always available through Sci-Hub, which I won’t link to or recommend because it is illegal. But, as far as I can tell, no one has ever been prosecuted for using Sci-Hub, or punished in any other way, so it looks to me like the risk is approximately zero to users. A similar, although admittedly less complete, resource is Library Genesis for books, which contains a shockingly large amount of biblical studies material. Library Genesis, like Sci-Hub, is illegal, so I can’t recommend using it, but it also seems to have lead to no actions against individuals using it. It is, as far as I can tell, illegal in the technical sense only. Obviously, I am not a lawyer, and these are just my personal impression. You should do your own due diligence before making your own legal decisions.
Sci-Hub is already a complete repository of academic journal articles for almost all practical purposes, and LibGen is not complete but moving in that general direction.
I am not sure if there is anything of substance that a website like this can add that isn’t already available to any motivated person willing to use the internet for all it’s worth. For more casual users who aren’t willing to go Google their way to detailed information, Wikipedia works fine for broad overviews. It’s not super-accurate, but it’s generally good enough for the casual reader. The uncasual reader can find the better stuff without much trouble.
I started down this road because I saw a large gap between the best in biblical studies and the best that was available to the general public. That gap is far, far smaller now than it was then, and to the extent that the gap has been closed, it primarily has not been closed by individuals writing on the internet. I has primarily been closed by two pirate websites, both of which now seem to be a permanent and growing presence online. My understanding is that the current legal framework offers no realistic way to prosecute any significant number of Sci-Hub and LibGen users, nor any realistic way to get Sci-Hub and LibGen offline. For those people who are too pious to use pirated information, there are always libraries.
In addition to Sci-Hub and LibGen, the rise of various forms of online and open-access stuff has lead institutions to close much of the remaining gap.
Through university classes, through books, through conversations, and through the internet I have learned what I think is enough about the Bible for my purposes. The tools are now available for anyone with internet access to do the same.
I’m not sure what more, if anything, this website has to add.
This is part of my translation project. This is very much a rough draft for later elaboration.
Write more later on the alternation between singular and plural among the speakers, and on the alternation between “Sodom and Gomorrah” and the simpler “Sodom.”
1. oaks. This word has been rendered a couple different ways.
2. My Lord. Hebrew Adonai.
10. when the season comes around. This expression has been taken a few different ways.
18. will bless themselves by him. Note the alternate reading.
This is part of my translation project. It is little more than a draft based on making some updates and other simple changes to the wording of the RV.
1 And Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and there were three men standing across from him. And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, My Lord, please, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not leave your servant. 4 Please, let a little water be fetched, and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 and I will fetch a bit of bread, and you can refresh your heart, and afterward you may go, since you have come to your servant.
And they said, Fine. Do as you say.
6 And Abraham hurried to Sarah in the tent, and said, Quick — prepare three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes. 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a good tender calf, and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it in front of them, and he stood by them under the tree, and they ate.
9 And they said to him, Where is Sarah your wife?
And he said, There she is in the tent.
10 And he said, I will certainly return to you when the season comes around, and then Sarah your wife will have a son.
And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well along in age; Sarah no longer had her female cycle. 12 And Sarah laughed inwardly, saying, After I am old will I have pleasure, when my lord is old as well?
13 And Yahweh said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Will I really have a child when I am old? 14 Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes around, and Sarah will have a son.
15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I did not laugh, because she was afraid.
And he said, No, but you did laugh.
16 And the men rose up from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them off. 17 And Yahweh said, Can I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will bless themselves by him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of Yahweh, to act with decency and justice, so that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham what he has promised him.
20 And Yahweh said, Because the allegation against Sodom and Gomorrah is serious, and concerns very grave sin, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done everything according to the allegation which has come to me. And if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned away and went to Sodom, but Abraham still stood in front of Yahweh.
23 And Abraham approached and said, Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? 24 Perhaps there will be fifty righteous in the city. Would you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous will be like the wicked! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the earth do right?
26 And Yahweh said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake.
27 And Abraham answered and said, Look, please, I have taken it upon myself to speak to My Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Perhaps there will be five less than fifty righteous. Will you destroy the city because of five less?
And he said, I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there.
29 And he spoke to him again, and said, Perhaps there will be forty found there.
And he said, I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.
30 And he said, Oh, let not My Lord be angry, and I will speak. Perhaps there will be thirty found there.
And he said, I will not do it if I find thirty there.
31 And he said, Look, please, I have taken it upon myself to speak to My Lord — perhaps there will be twenty found there.
And he said, I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty.
32 And he said, Oh, do not let My Lord be angry, and I will speak just one more time. Perhaps ten will be found there.
And he said, I will not destroy it, for the sake of the ten.
33 And Yahweh went his way as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham went back to his place.
For the sitemap, see here.
I stumbled recently across the Nasadiya Sukta, the 129th hymn of the 10th book of the Rigveda, and noticed that it has some striking similarities to Genesis 1. (I’m sure somebody else has beat me to it, so I almost certainly can’t take any personal credit here.) Here’s some bits from it, from T. H. Griffith’s 1896 translation:
“Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. . . . Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? . . . no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider. That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness this All was indiscriminated chaos. All that existed then was void and form less . . .” Continue reading “Genesis 1 and the Nasadiya Sukta”