An excellent question that has been posed in several different ways regarding the OSSV project is, “Why?” Obviously we want to produce another translation of Scripture – but to what ends? Are there not already enough translations of Scripture? Do we truly need one more?
Free and Open
While there are a number of contemporary translations of Scripture available, none of them are open and complete translations. Many contemporary translations are free – in that they are available via various internet sites – but they cannot be freely reproduced or modified – restricting the ability of other individuals and organizations to create new content on top of or around these versions.
There are also a number of public domain versions which can be considered both free and open – but they suffer universally from at least some archaic words and phrasing. There is also the issue of inferior manuscripts which have been used in some older translations.
An open source, collaborative translation of the Scriptures provides the unique opportunity for ongoing refinement to the translation. Improvements can be made on a steady basis – and projecting into the future – changes can be made in wording as words become archaic and need to be replaced.
It is also hoped that the OSSV will be forked into multiple different versions meeting different needs within the Christian community. The OSSV as it is currently being developed is a fairly literal translation of the text, similar to the NASB or ESV. There is a need, however, for translations which are more dynamic – such as the NIV or NLT. Once a good base has been established with the OSSV it would serve as an excellent starting point for creating a more dynamic translation (DOSSV perhaps?).
While many translations utilize scholars from a number of theological backgrounds, the OSSV will take this to another level entirely. It will allow for the contributions of hundreds or even thousands of scholars and committed researchers to contribute to the refinement of the translation.
In addition, it is hoped that contributions by individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds will allow for the creation of more poetic translations which maintain their literal quality.
For example, we might be able to achieve a translation of the Psalms which is able to remain literal while also reflecting the underlying complexity of the Hebrew poetic structure.
The OSSV will facilitate dialogue between differing perspectives on the meaning and best translation of passages. This discussion will hopefully become a reliable resource of the varying opinions on the interpretation of a passage as well as fostering better communication between differing parties.
An Initial Opportunity
The OSSV, if successful, could pave the way for significant free and open source endeavors to translate numerous other important works – including many which remain untranslated within various museums and libraries.
With the OSSV project we will be able to delineate best practices for building and maintaining an open source translation. We’ll be able to address questions like:
- What platform best enables collaborative translation work?
- How can we encourage lay participation while maintaining rigorous scholarly standards?
- How do we resolve differences in opinion after extended discussion?
- How can we train lay individuals to facilitate the translation process, easing the burden on scholars/academics?
- With the exception of the World English Bible (WEB).↩
- In addition to the aforementioned WEB, there are several other editions which are in various stages of development.↩
- There is nothing wrong with retaining rights to the product one builds, the OSSV simply desires to offer another, free and open alternative.↩
- Further, we may be able to build tools specifically to facilitate such translation work.↩