Psalms: About

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The current situation

Bible translation has often meant, in reality, New Testament translation. People are increasingly seeing the need for the whole counsel of God to be translated, for the spiritual health of new believers and their communities. But this means resources for Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) are needed!

Additionally, whereas trained linguists used to do much of the translation work (requiring many years of learning the new target language), more and more native speakers are doing translation work. But they do not have the education level of trained linguists, so the resources prepared for the linguists are not so helpful.

Even more, poetry is difficult to translate. But Psalms are integral to the emotional and spiritual health of a community and are often requested very early in the translation process.

The resulting need

The result is: resources are desperately needed for Hebrew poetry (for the Psalms) that are targeted at translators with little education. The resources need to be just as high quality, if not higher quality, because the translators will not have experience making judgments about the text.

Our goal

The Psalms Project's goal is to produce simple, visual outlines of each Psalm with key structural, rhetorical and emotional features from the Hebrew laid out simply. In poetry, the form and poetic devices are often just as much a part of the message as the words, so they need to be made accessible. This is our plan!

We will produce a series of visualisations for each Psalm that present, in successive stages, what we understand to be the 'inner logic' of the Psalm. Visualisations are more rapidly understood than prose, so in this way we hope to accelerate and improve the process of the translators' internalising the inner logic of the Psalm, so that they are then better prepared to carry on with their own task: translation.

Not conclusions, but a path to conclusions

We aim not to present our conclusions, but rather the path we took to reach each conclusion. Thus, we invite the translators (or other interpreters) to walk on the same path and reach a (perhaps often the same!) conclusion of their own.

There will be a series of visualisations to be accessible to a wide variety of people: some will only want the final, summary visualisation. Others will want to know the prior steps. Our plan is to have them connected such that there is full accountability and traceability of how we came to our conclusions, so in the end no one trusts us, but rather the text. (We will particularly invite feedback when there is disagreement with how we have laid the text out.)

Our people

We are even now building a team with all manner of skills from the fields of administration, graphic design, exegesis, management, translation, artistic representations and fundraising.

Our history

Katie Hoogerheide (now Frost) first envisioned this project several years ago, and it is now bearing fruit. In October we had a series of consultations that served as a peer review for our goal of developing visual resources. November was planning how to implement it, and now we are awaiting results from a survey from contributors to know which roles they're ready to fill. We hope to have materials for our first five Psalms by summer 2021.

We're very happy to keep you informed of general development, but do also let us know if you'd like to be involved yourself, in any of the fields listed above!

It is the glory of God to conceal, but the glory of mankind to reveal. May the glory of this project be to reveal the inner logic of the Psalms, so that all of us involved may come to know the Lord better, and so that translators may better translate the Word of God.

Further info

Image credits