I can read English, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin, in that order of fluidity. Truth be known, my German is mainly structural, my Latin mainly vestigial—though the latter is strengthened by my Greek. This mix of training means I can piece together a good deal of Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Italian. At the very least, I can recognize major cognates whether Germanic or Latinate in origin. And you probably can too if you try to start paying attention to such things.
The skill of “reading” Indo-European languages I don’t know is valuable, because Bible translations in all these languages comprise something of a referendum on certain interpretation questions. I regularly check translations outside English. For example, someone asked me recently whether πείθεσθε in Hebrews 13:17 is best rendered “obey” or “be persuaded”—or “trust,” “have confidence in,” or “follow”? “Obey your leaders” or “Be persuaded by your leaders”?
Almost all Bible translations use some form of “obey” or (what has come to us in English as) “hear.” The fact that Spanish has a word obedecer and German has a word with similar meaning, gehorcht, is almost a dead giveaway that “obey” is Latinate and “hear” Germanic. But in this kind of context, they mean the same thing: obey.
Ten of the Spanish versions I have give me obedeced. Just one (La Biblia Castellana) gives me confiad (trust). The same goes for Portuguese: I get four saying obedecei and one saying tenham confiança (have confidence, trust). But all seven of my French versions choose obéissez. All eleven German versions elect gehorcht (obey). All six of my Dutch versions choose their equivalent to gehorcht. The Vulgate chose oboedite.
Most smart people who have looked at this word over the centuries would have been aware of other options with πείθεσθε and yet still chose “obey” overwhelmingly.
I view that as pretty powerful. But not infallible! There are a few translations that stray from obey. The Syriac Peshitta, which I cannot read, must have something like “persuade” because several translations of it into English read, “Be persuaded.” Interestingly, the TNIV renders πείθω with “Have confidence in.” This may reflect an anti-authoritarian bias (possible, but unlikely considering that they render the next phrase, “submit to their authority”…), but I’m more inclined to see it as a bold suggestion that just about everyone else might be missing a nuance.
BibleWorks is perfect for this kind of work; Logos isn’t. And since I do this regularly, I built a set of favorites that allow me to check different languages easily.
Just 1) close BibleWorks, 2) place the following text into your BW800.ini file (or BW700.ini if you have BibleWorks 7) at the appropriate place (you’ll see it), and 3) reopen BibleWorks.
Favorites=ESV ESV RSV NAU KJV LXT WTT NIV TNIV NKJ BNT NLT CSB NET|ESV AFR LEI LUV NBG SVV W78 W95 ESV KJV WCS ASV NIV NIB NAS RSV NKJ NRS NAU LXE WEB RWB DBY BBE YLT DRA NAB NLT NJB CJB CSB ERV ESV ETH GNV GWN HON JAM JPS JTE KJA KJG LEW LXA MGI MIT MRD NET NIRV NOR OPE PNT ROD TNIV TNK TNT R95 BNP CAB LBA NBH NVI PER R60 RVA RVG SRV BFC CRL DRB FBJ LSG NEG TOB EIN ELB ELO HRD L45 LUO LUT MNT SCH SCL ZUR BNT GNT NAU BNT SCR BYZ STE WHO TIS BGT GOC MET MGK VST IEP LND NRV VUL NOV VUC VUL VUO ACF ARA ARC BRP SBP|KJA KJA KJV RSV NRS VUL LXE BGT DRA NAB KJA|AFR AFR LEI LUV NBG SVV W78 W95|ESV ESV KJV WCS ASV NIV NIB NAS RSV NKJ NRS NAU LXE WEB RWB DBY BBE YLT DRA NAB NLT NJB CJB CSB ERV ESV ETH GNV GWN HON JAM JPS JTE KJA KJG LEW LXA MGI MIT MRD NET NIRV NOR OPE PNT ROD TNIV TNK TNT|LSG BFC CRL DRB FBJ LSG NEG TOB|SCH EIN ELB ELO HRD L45 LUO LUT MNT SCH SCL ZUR|BNT BNT GNT NAU BNT SCR BYZ STE WHO TIS BGT GOC MET MGK VST|IEP IEP LND NRV|VUL NOV VUC VUL VUO|ACF ACF ARA ARC BRP SBP|R95 BNP CAB LBA NBH NVI PER R60 R95 RVA RVG SRV||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
You will end up with a menu that looks like this:
Click the language you want, and you’ll see all the versions written in that language (I stuck a few things together, like Creole with French, Afrikaaner with Dutch). If you have failed to install some of these versions, you may have to do an “update” with your BibleWorks CD/DVD and add them.
Secret tip: You can change “German” to “Ger,” “Italian” to “Ita,” etc. and then type “d ger” in the command line to get all your German versions.