Young's Literal Translation
Young's Literal Translation is a translation of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, published in 1862. The translation was made by Robert Young
Robert Young (Biblical scholar)
Robert Young, LL.D., F.E.S.L. was a Scottish publisher who was self-taught and proficient in various oriental languages. He published works, the best known being a Bible translation commonly referred to as Young's Literal Translation.-Life:...

, compiler of Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible
Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible
Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible is a concordance to the Bible compiled by Robert Young first published in 1879.-Contents:* Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation...

and Concise Critical Comments on the New Testament. Young produced a "Revised Version" of the translation in 1887. After he died on October 14, 1888, the publisher in 1898 released a new Revised Edition.

Translation philosophy

The Literal Translation is unusual in that, as the name implies, it is a strictly literal translation of the original Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 texts. The Preface to the Second Edition states,
If a translation gives a present tense
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

when the original gives a past
Past tense
The past tense is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment , or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future...

, or a past when it has a present; a perfect for a future
Future tense
In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future , or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future .-Expressions of future tense:The concept of the future,...

, or a future for a perfect; an a for a the, or a the for an a; an imperative
Imperative mood
The imperative mood expresses commands or requests as a grammatical mood. These commands or requests urge the audience to act a certain way. It also may signal a prohibition, permission, or any other kind of exhortation.- Morphology :...

for a subjunctive
Subjunctive mood
In grammar, the subjunctive mood is a verb mood typically used in subordinate clauses to express various states of irreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred....

, or a subjunctive for an imperative; a verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

for a noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

, or a noun for a verb, it is clear that verbal inspiration is as much overlooked as if it had no existence. THE WORD OF GOD IS MADE VOID BY THE TRADITIONS OF MEN. [Emphases in original.]

Therefore, Young used the present tense in many places in which other translations use the past tense, particularly in narratives. For example, the YLT version of Genesis begins as follows:

1   In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth —
2   the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,
3   and God saith, 'Let light be;' and light is.
4   And God seeth the light that good, and God separateth between the light and the darkness,
5   and God calleth to the light 'Day,' and to the darkness He hath called 'Night;' and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day one.
6   And God saith, 'Let an expanse be in the midst of the waters, and let it be separating between waters and waters.'
7   And God maketh the expanse, and it separateth between the waters which under the expanse, and the waters which above the expanse: and it is so.
8   And God calleth to the expanse 'Heavens;' and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day second.
9   And God saith, 'Let the waters under the heavens be collected unto one place, and let the dry land be seen:' and it is so.
10   And God calleth to the dry land `Earth,' and to the collection of the waters He hath called 'Seas;' and God seeth that good.
11   And God saith, 'Let the earth yield tender grass, herb sowing seed, fruit-tree (whose seed in itself) making fruit after its kind, on the earth:' and it is so.
12   And the earth bringeth forth tender grass, herb sowing seed after its kind, and tree making fruit (whose seed in itself) after its kind; and God seeth that good;
13   and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day third.

Young's Literal Translation in the 1898 Edition also consistently renders the Hebrew Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

 (divine name) throughout the Old Covenant/Testament as "Jehovah", instead of the traditional practice of representing the Tetragrammaton in English as "LORD" in small capitals
Small caps
In typography, small capitals are uppercase characters set at the same height and weight as surrounding lowercase letters or text figures...

, but editions prior to 1898 do say "LORD" in small capitals.


Young's translation is closer to the Hebrew than the better-known versions of this passage in English. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), for example, treats Genesis 1:1–3 in this way:
1   In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2   The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
3   And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

Bereshith bara elohim, the RSV's "In the beginning God created...", is in the construct state (bereshith), not the absolute (barishona) , meaning it refers to an action in progress, not to a completed act. Similarly, there is no license in the Hebrew for the RSV's division of these verses into three sentences (ancient Hebrew lacked punctuation, and sentence divisions have to be inferred), as the order of the words wa ha-aretz hayetha (subject-verb) points to the rendering "the earth being" (Young's "the earth hath existed"), while the RSV's "and the earth was" requires words in the order wa tehi ha-aretz (verb-subject). Young's usage of English present tense rather than past tense has been supported by scholars ranging from the medieval Jewish rabbi Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

 (who advised, "[I]f you are going to interpret [this passage] in its plain sense, interpret it thus: At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, when the earth was (or the earth being) unformed and void . . . God said, ‘Let there be light.’") to Richard Elliott Friedman
Richard Elliott Friedman
Richard Elliott Friedman is a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia. He joined the faculty of the UGA Religion Department in 2006. Prior to his appointment there, he was the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization: Hebrew Bible; Near...

 in his translation of the Five Books in "The Bible with Sources Revealed
The Bible with Sources Revealed
The Bible with Sources Revealed is a book by American biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman dealing with the process by which the five books of the Torah came to be written...

" (2002).

The translation has been criticized by some as falling short in some respects. It renders Luke 24:1 as “And on the first of the sabbaths” while it translates Acts 20:7 as “And on the first of the week” even though the two phrases are identical in the Greek texts. To quote the preface "Every effort has been made to secure a comparative degree of uniformity in rendering the original words and phrases. Thus, for example, the Hebrew verb nathan, which is rendered by the King James' translators in sixty-seven different ways... has been restricted and reduced to ten, and so with many others. It is the Translator's ever-growing conviction, that even this smaller number may be reduced still further." David Dewey, in A User's Guide to Bible Translations, mentions that "his method of translating Hebrew tenses makes his Old Testament in places virtually unreadable."

Eternity or age

Another important feature of YLT is its treatment of the Hebrew word olam and the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word αιων
The word aeon, also spelled eon or æon , originally means "life", and/or "being", though it then tended to mean "age", "forever" or "for eternity". It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word , from the archaic . In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan...

. These two words have basically the same meaning, and YLT translates them and their derivatives as “age” or “age-during”. Other English versions most often translate them to indicate eternality (eternal, everlasting, forever, etc). However, there are notable exceptions to this in all major translations, such as Matthew 28:20: “…I am with you always, to the end of the age” (NRSV), the word “age” being a translation of aion. Rendering aion to indicate eternality in this verse would result in the contradictory phrase “end of eternity”, so the question arises whether it should ever be so. Proponents of universal reconciliation
Universal reconciliation
In Christian theology, universal reconciliation is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God.Universal salvation may be related to the perception of a problem of Hell, standing opposed to ideas...

 point out that this has significant implications for soteriology
The branch of Christian theology that deals with salvation and redemption is called Soteriology. It is derived from the Greek sōtērion + English -logy....

 and the problem of hell
Problem of Hell
The "Problem of Hell" is a possible ethical problem related to religions in which portrayals of Hell are ostensibly cruel, and are thus inconsistent with the concepts of a just, moral and omnibenevolent God...

. However, "age" and "age-enduring" imply indeterminacy which may be either timeless and atemporal or pertaining to an indefinite period of time, the first (but not the second) meaning having been acquired by the words "eternity" and "eternal", but "eternity" and "eternal" also have other meanings including "endless period of time" and "endless in time" respectively. Compare the following sets of verses of scriptures (quoted from YLT with words corresponding to "age" or "age-enduring" marked in bold):
And to Him who is able to establish you, according to my good news, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the secret, in the times of the ages having been kept silent,
and now having been made manifest, also, through prophetic writings, according to a command of the age-during God, having been made known to all the nations for obedience of faith--
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to him [be] glory to the ages. Amen.
who did save us, and did call with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, that was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the times of the ages,
for God did so love the world, that His Son—the only begotten—He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.
upon hope of life age-during, which God, who doth not lie, did promise before times of ages,
who did give himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of God even our Father,
to whom [is] the glory to the ages of the ages. Amen.
`And mayest Thou not lead us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil, because Thine is the reign, and the power, and the glory—to the ages. Amen.
And whoever may speak a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven to him, but whoever may speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming.
And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.'
and he shall reign over the house of Jacob to the ages; and of his reign there shall be no end.'
who may not receive back manifold more in this time, and in the coming age, life age-during.'

External links

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