Lexham English Bible - NT (2nd ed.)

Written by jdarlack on November 5th, 2010

With the release of the SBLGNT & apparatus for BW, it seemed appropriate to release the Lexham English Bible (LEB) for use in BibleWorks. The LEB was edited by W. Hall Harris III. In the preface to the second edition it states that the LEB is based on the SBLGNT. Provided below is the preface to the second edition (as found in the text version provided on the website)*:


With approximately one hundred different English translations of the Bible already published,1 the reader may well wonder why yet another English version has been produced. Those actually engaged in the work of translating the Bible might answer that the quest for increased accuracy, the incorporation of new scholarly discoveries in the fields of semantics, lexicography, linguistics, new archaeological discoveries, and the continuing evolution of the English language all contribute to the need for producing new translations. But in the case of the Lexham English Bible (LEB), the answer to this question is much simpler; in fact, it is merely twofold.

First, the LEB achieves an unparalleled level of transparency with the original language text because the LEB had as its starting point the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. It was produced with the specific purpose of being used alongside the original language text of the Bible. Existing translations, however excellent they may be in terms of English style and idiom, are frequently so far removed from the original language texts of scripture that straightforward comparison is difficult for the average user. Of course distance between the original language text and the English translation is not a criticism of any modern English translation. To a large extent this distance is the result of the philosophy of translation chosen for a particular English version, and it is almost always the result of an attempt to convey the meaning of the original in a clearer and more easily understandable way to the contemporary reader. However, there are many readers, particularly those who have studied some biblical Greek, who desire a translation that facilitates straightforward and easy comparisons between the translation and the original language text. The ability to make such comparisons easily in software formats like Logos Bible Software makes the need for an English translation specifically designed for such comparison even more acute.

Second, the LEB is designed from the beginning to make extensive use of the most up-to-date lexical reference works available. For the New Testament this is primarily the third edition of Walter Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). Users can be assured that the LEB as a translation is based on the best scholarly research available. The Greek text on which the LEB New Testament is based is that of The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT), a new edition produced by Michael W. Holmes in conjunction with the Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software. In its evaluation of textual variation, the SBLGNT uses modern text-critical methodology along with guidance from the most recently available articles, monographs and technical commentaries to establish the text of the Greek New Testament.

Naturally, when these two factors are taken into consideration, it should not be surprising that the character of the LEB as a translation is fairly literal. This is a necessary by-product of the desire to have the English translation correspond transparently to the original language text. Nevertheless, a serious attempt has been made within these constraints to produce a clear and readable English translation instead of a woodenly literal one.2

There are three areas in particular that need to be addressed to make a translation like the LEB more accessible to readers today, while at the same time maintaining easy comparison with the original language text. First, differences in word order have to be addressed. In this regard, the LEB follows standard English word order, not the word order of Koiné Greek.3 Anyone who needs to see the word order of the original Greek can readily consult the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, which contains a sequence line which gives this information. Second, some expressions in biblical Greek are idiomatic, so that a literal translation would be meaningless or would miscommunicate the true meaning. The LEB uses lower corner brackets to indicate such expressions, with a literal rendering given in a note. Third, words which have no equivalent in the original language text must sometimes be supplied in the English translation. Because the LEB is designed to be used alongside the original language texts of scripture, these supplied words are indicated with italics. In some cases the need for such supplied words is obvious, but in other cases where it is less clear a note has been included.

Finally, the reader should remember that any Bible translation, to be useful to the person using it, must actually be read. I would encourage every user of the LEB, whether reading it alongside the original languages text or not, to remember that once we understand the meaning of a biblical text we are responsible to apply it first in our own lives, and then to share it with those around us.

W. Hall Harris III
General Editor
Lexham English Bible

(Con)Version notes:

  • Due to issues involved with converting this version for use in BibleWorks, all brackets “{ }” that were found in the original text file have been replaced with guillemets “« »”. In other versions of the LEB, these brackets are rendered with right/left floor symbols “⌊ ⌋”. These markers indicate idiomatic translations that “are phrases that don’t convey the meaning when translated literally.”*
  • Text rendered in italics are “supplied words”. “These are words in English implied by English style or structure, or they are grammaticalized from the original language. They may not be found in the original language, but are needed for a sentence to make sense in English.”* Any notes given for these ’supplied words’ are indicated in the Analysis Window with an asterisk after the superscript note number.
  • In other formats, footnotes for the LEB are rendered with sequential lower case letters (a,b,c) the continue throughout a given chapter. The text file from which the BibleWorks version was derived did not have these sequential letters as notes. Notes in the BibleWorks version are indicated in the text with superscripted numbers 1, 2, 3, . . . To toggle the appearance of these note references in the Browse Window, place your cursor somewhere in the Browse Window and press the “N” key on your keyboard.
  • Links to Old Testament references in the notes currently only work if your search version contains both the Old and the New Testament books. So, if your search version is set to the LEB, the Old Testament references will not display as pop-ups. For the reference pop-ups to work in the notes, you should display the LEB, but set a different version for your search version. In the Command Line, you might want to type NIV <enter> d c NIV LEB <enter> to view the LEB in line with the NIV, but still have the capability to display pop-up Scripture references in the Analysis Window. Hopefully this will be addressed in an update of some sort.

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