Tag Archives: Literal Translation

Sunday Terminology: Literalism

Literalism: It is understood, most often, in terms of literal translation or interpretation of the biblical words or meanings. In other words, it is “a commitment to strict exactness of words or meanings”[1] while translating any text. It seeks to interpret the word meaning from one language to another as accurately as possible. However doing so, the intention of the original text might sometimes become obscure and hard to understand for readers. In contrast to literalism, a paraphrase translation commits itself to translate any given original text into an understandable ideas or meanings from translator’s point of view. In this case, paraphrasing can take away the richness of the text-meaning from the original.


[1] Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical dictionary of theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984), 643. Print.


Scripture Reading: John 3:9-15

ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 3 (SBL Greek New Testament)

9 ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι; 10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις; 11 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε. 12 εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰ ἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε; 13 καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ [e]ἀνθρώπου. 14 καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15 ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων [f]ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

The Gospel of John 3

Literal Translation

9 Nicodemus answered and said to him; “How are able these things to be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of the Israel and these things you know not? 11 Truly truly I say to you that what we know we do know, and what we have seen, we testify, and you (all) do not receive our testimony. 12 If the earthly things I said to you (all) and you (all) do not believe, how then if I would say to you (all) the heavenly things you (all) believe? 13 And no one has ascended into the heaven except the One (He) having descended out of the heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent high in the wilderness, so is it necessary the Son of Man to be lifted up high, 15 so that everyone believing in him may have eternal life.”


[e]. ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 3:13 ἀνθρώπου WH NIV ] + ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ Treg RP

[f] ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 3:15 ἐν αὐτῷ WH Treg NIV ] εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ RP