Concordant Bible translation

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In a concordant translation of the Bible (more precisely begriffskonkordanten Bible translation) is always the same word for each term in the original language wherever possible target language used. Similarly, different words in the original language are also reproduced with different terms in the target language.


The aim of concordant Bible translations is to map the word usage of the basic language as precisely as possible. Even a reader who does not master the biblical original languages ​​should be able to understand the use of a certain word. Concordant translators try to rely solely on the wording of the adopted original text and not be influenced by other translation methods and church dogmas . Your intention is to reproduce the text as faithfully as possible.

They assume that the Bible is not to be treated linguistically like a profane book, but for them there is a text obtained by God himself, which is characterized by a particularly precise and uniform use of words in all books of the Holy Scriptures.

Proponents of the concordant translation method point out that historical-critical approaches easily lose sight of the inner context of the entire Bible as it exists today. They fear that the Word of God could appear non-binding and arbitrary by relativizing and questioning the uniform use of the word. That is why they see the concordant translation method as a help and complement for people who are looking for sustainable truth and certainty in the pluralism of opinion in the area of ​​Bible exegesis .

Concordant translations are intended to serve the preaching in Christian communities by preparing and presenting certain basic text details in such a way that even complex biblical teachings can be understood by an audience. They are aimed at those Bible readers who deal with the Bible text independently of dogmas and who want to read a translation that is independent of the denominational Bible societies. So far, they have hardly been used by the major Christian churches and their communities.

Procedure and basic principles

The basis of a concordant translation is a concordance of the original text. For each word in the source language, all occurrences in the text to be translated are listed and a translation is developed for each word, which the translator can use in all places. For them, the uniform meaning of a concept of the original language results from all contexts of occurrence. They see the result as an unusual, but understandable, objectified translation with a greatly reduced amount of free interpretation.

The translation is carried out according to the following principles:

  • If possible, a word in the target language should only ever be used for one basic text word.
  • The same words in the basic text should, if possible, always be translated with the same words in the target language.
  • However, it is often unavoidable that a word of the basic text has to be translated with two different words from the target language, because there is no word in the target language that completely represents the word content of the basic text. Then a secondary meaning ("secondary standard") is introduced next to the main meaning. This must be documented in the concordance so that the translation remains comprehensible.
  • The DaBhaR (pronounced: Dawa'r, Hebrew for word, thing) also translates verb - noun relationships with the same word stems . For example there is the verb "worten" to the noun "word". For the same reason, we do not speak of the king, but of the regent David . The verb “to king” was thus avoided.
  • The foreword of the Concordant New Testament says: The vocabulary of the German language is not rich and flexible enough to provide us with all the necessary formulations for the many related expressions of the wonderful Greek language. In this translation, one and the same German word was used for several Greek words and no additional words were introduced. So this has remained clearer and more readable.

Classification in the history of theology

Although the concept of a consistent concordant Bible translation is relatively new, this translation method can be incorporated into the history of Bible translations as a variant of the various "structurally true" translation methods that oppose the "effective" translation methods. In their own way, these follow a basic principle of Martin Luther's interpretation of Scripture : biblia sacra ipsius interpres ("Holy Scripture interprets itself").

The advocates of the concordant translation method, like today's Christian biblicism and conservative evangelicalism, count on the verbal inspiration and freedom from error of the biblical original text. You are aware that there are many text variants in the surviving Bible manuscripts, but do not see them as a decisive problem for the understanding of the text, as these differences could largely be dealt with through textual criticism .

Single examples

Eon instead of eternity

The biblical concept of time aion ( aeon ) is translated partly as “ eternity ” and partly as “age” in conventional translations. Concordant translators see this as a subjective selection that should support theological ideas: for example, that the punishment for non-believers must be "eternal", not limited to an age. In contrast, they translate aion in such a way that its German equivalent can be used in all places where it appears: i.e. as an age or aeon. Here, too, they make the roots of the words clear by aligning adjectives with the nouns, thus translating it with “aeonian” instead of - as with Luther - partly with “world” and partly with “eternal”.

This method excludes the meaning of aion as "eternity" in the sense of infinite duration (see also Aeon (theology) ). On the other hand, it is argued that aion in the plural usually mean eternity, and in particular an expression like aion of aionen (e.g. Rev 20,10  EU ) was formed in order to exclude any doubt that it is about an eternal period .

Hades, Gehenna instead of Hell

Luther translated the Greek word Hades five times with " hell " (eg in Mt 16:18), twice with "dead" or " world of the dead ", once with "(his) kingdom". He translated the word Gehenna eight times with “hell” (e.g. in Mt 5:22, 29:30; 18.9; Mk 9.43.45) and four times with “infernal”.

Concordant translations rule out such diversity. They translate different words differently and the same words in all places the same: for example, Hades with “unchecked”, Gehenna as a foreign-language word with “Gehenna” in the original Greek. They don't use the word “hell” at all. Here too, in addition to being faithful to the original text, there is also a theological intention: The expression “hell” is rejected because it evokes unbiblical associations and supports the dogmas of the great church.

Friendship instead of love

In John 21:15 is Jesus Christ the Simon Peter the familiar question:

  • “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him: Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. "( NIV )
  • “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him: Yes, sir, you know that I love you. "( Elberfelder , Schlachter , New Geneva translation )
  • “SIMOoN, son of JOohA'NNES, do you love me more than this one? He says to him: Yes, Lord; you, yes you realize that I am making friends with you. "(The written word - DaBhaR)

While the standard translation reproduces the Greek verbs agapao and phileo with the same German word “liebe”, Elberfelder, Schlachter and New Geneva Bible Translation make a distinction between “love” for agapao and “love to have” for phileo . The DaBhaR makes the difference clear by using "love" for agapao and "befriend" for phileo . In doing so, she draws attention to the relationship to the word philos , which she translates as “friend”.

Salters instead of fishermen

In Mt 4,19 Christ says to the disciples (DaBhaR):

"... I will make you the salters of the people."

Conventionally, “fisher of men” is usually translated here. This corresponds to the fish as a symbol for Christians and their missionary mandate. The DaBhaR instead uses the word “Besalzer” to show that the Greek word for “fisherman” (hALÄÄ´US or hALIÄ´US) is related to the word for “ salt ” (hA´LA or hA´LAS).

This goes back to the time when fishermen preserved the fish they caught with salt. This “preservation” was obviously her more important task, which is why she coined the job title. This has consequences for the understanding of the missionary mandate: Christians should apparently rather “keep” other people for God than “catch” them.

According to the DaBhaR, Mt 28:19 says:

"Make learners as goers into all the nations, as those baptists in the names of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, as those teachers ..."

The participle construction of the Greek original tries to reproduce this in German. Accordingly, two things belong to the missionary command: to make disciples "learners" of the commandments of Jesus and to "baptize" or immerse them in the (literally eis to , i.e. in the ) names of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In connection with the “Besaltz” one can draw the conclusion that the instruction of the newcomers should be more important than the mere “baptizing” of disciples, the quality should be more important than the quantity. This is confirmed by Mt 5:13, according to which the disciples are "the salt of this earth". As a parallel, it is seen that the “nations” - all peoples except Israel - are often symbolized by the “sea”, which is greatly changed by a little “salt” - a selected group of disciples from Israel.

Here, too, supporters of the concordant translation method draw theological conclusions from the literal meaning or etymological origin of an expression in the original language. They assume that such unfamiliar translations have an alienation effect that can promote a better understanding of the Bible text.

Authority instead of power

In Mt 28:18 (mission command) the risen Jesus speaks to his disciples (D):

"I was given all any authority ..."

The use of the term “authority” is explained in the appendix: The literal translation of ÄX uUSI´A (“from being ”) means “from the authority of the reason for existence”. It is not just an authority based on personal ability, life experience and probation, but above all the authority assigned by God. In Rom. 13: 1, Paul of Tarsus uses the same word for state authority to justify the behavior of Christians towards it. This makes it clear that every government draws its authority only from God.

Word and thing

The Hebrew word root DBR (vocalized DaBhaR, Hebrew דבר) can be translated as “word” or “thing”. Psalm 17: 4 says (DaBhaR):

"With regard to what man has achieved - as a result of the word of your lips - I, yes I, guard."

The translation with “thing” would be incorrect here.

In Gen 19,8b (second part) Abraham's nephew Lot says imploringly to his neighbors (DaBhaR):

"Only for these manly ones, don't do such a thing."

The translation with “word” would hardly have been possible here.

The example shows that one and the same basic word often cannot be translated with one and the same target word. The concordant method then declares one target word as the “main standard” and another as the “secondary standard” and gives the reference “see: word” for “thing” - the secondary standard. Under this main standard she names all occurrences of the word. In some cases, it translates a term differently depending on the context , and therefore cannot do without interpretation. However, the consistent use of the word remains the overriding concern of the translators. They expect a controllable interpretation and a reduction of what they see as "conventional arbitrariness".



Linguists argue that languages never quite correspond in terms of their word meanings . Therefore, the concordant translation method could lead to misinterpretations of everyday texts.

Linguistics also assumes that words in general can have different meanings depending on the context. The advocates of the concordant translation method, on the other hand, postulate an extraordinarily precise use of terms in the biblical texts.

If the concordant translation method for a basic term lists several secondary standards, these variants should have a common core meaning, according to the proponents. Variants, so the proponents, can therefore not be mutually exclusive (such as "time" and "eternity", both as a translation for the Greek "aion"). Critics point to the shifts in meaning in the development of language and to the different uses of a word in extra-biblical literature.

Likewise, it cannot necessarily be concluded from the root relationship of two words that they are perceived as similar or related in everyday language use. For example, the German words “tall” and “Groschen” are still relatively similar in terms of sound and related in origin, without this being felt in today's usage.

Linguistics also assumes that the meaning of words can change over the centuries and that a definition based on the literal composition of words or etymological origin can conceal as well as explain the actual meaning.

Historical-critical exegesis

Most theologians, and without exception all scientific and theological technical dictionaries, assume that the same vocabulary does not have the same meanings in all biblical texts. They consider the approach of viewing the Bible as a uniform text with a fixed technical vocabulary to be theologically unfounded biblicism , since the contexts, language structure, origin, authorship and age of these texts differ from book to book and also within the books.

A translation that meets the standards of theological science must take these criteria into account, which will often result in different translations in the target language of the same word. Linguistic deviations from the original text are usually noted in footnotes.

Likewise, new word creations and the attempt to represent the speech melody and word emphasis of the Koine in German can make understanding of the text more difficult as well as promote it.

Text hermeneutic considerations

The hermeneutics of texts going on for Wilhelm Dilthey and Hans-Georg Gadamer widely believed that common translations like all linguistic utterances are the cultural and ideological influences in the case of Bible translations by the theological world view of the translator.

With the concordant method, this is largely excluded, since a uniform sense of the word has to be found that can be used in all contexts. However, if several alternatives are possible, the subjective choice cannot be completely ruled out here either.

If one also assumes different meanings of the same expression in the basic text, these subtleties are lost through a uniform translation, which usually results in a return to the basic meaning of the term, unless these are also noted in footnotes.

Understanding the original text

As with all Bible translations, the question of the authenticity of the source text arises, especially with the Hebrew Bible. Because the Hebrew has some roots that do not differ without the vocalization of the Masoretes . The uncritical preference for a single translation for a word root can lead to other possible vocalizations and corresponding interpretations being faded out.

Examples of concordant Bible translations in German

  • Concordant New Testament (KNT)
  • “The Written” (also a DaBhaR translation), 1975 to 1990, initiated by Fritz Henning Baader

largely concordant:


  • Rudolf Kassühlke: One Bible - many translations. An overview with help for assessment. R. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1998.
  • Wilhelm Michaelis : Translations, Concordances and Concordant Translation of the New Testament. Majer, Basel 1947.

Web links



Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B. the introduction in: Concordant New Testament with keyword concordance. Konkordanter Verlag Pforzheim, Birkenfeld 6th edition 1995, pp. Vii – xxv (PDF; 446 kB).
  2. Samuel Brügger: The German Bible Translations of the 20th Century in a Linguistic Comparison. Lang, Bern a. a. 1983, p. 150 ff and ö.
  3. For the issues see DaBhaR . Bibelpedia (formerly, accessed on December 21, 2016.
  4. Rudolf Kassühlke: German Bible translations since 1900 . In: Siegfried Meurer (Ed.): The bestseller without readers. Considerations for the Sensible Distribution of the Bible . Evangelisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1976, pp. 168–171, here 168: classification as "literal and concordant".
  5. Rudolf Kassühlke: German Bible translations since 1900 , in: Siegfried Meurer (ed.): The bestseller without readers. Considerations for the Sensible Distribution of the Bible . Evangelisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1976, pp. 168–171, here 168.
  6. Rudolf Kassühlke: German Bible translations since 1900 , in: Siegfried Meurer (ed.): The bestseller without readers. Considerations for the Sensible Distribution of the Bible . Evangelisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1976, pp. 168–171, here 168. Hellmut Haug: German Bible translations: The current offer - information and evaluation . German Biblical Society, Stuttgart 1999, 19: "limited conceptual concordant".