Open English Translation (OET) Frequently Asked Questions

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See the introduction page for information about the OET translation philosophy and the various OET versions.

Why is it called the Open English Translation of the Bible (OET)?

Where can I download the OET from?

Why are there so many translations?

Why is the OET different from other translations?

Why is the OET even needed?

Why doesn't the OET use the names Old Testament and New Testament?

Why does the OET downplay chapter and verse numbers?

Why does the OET have funny characters in the files?

When is the expected release date?

What is the format of the source files?

What license will the OET have?

Which Bible editor do you use?

Literal Version questions

Readers' Version questions

Colloquial Version questions

Study Version questions

Extended Version questions

See the introduction page for information about the OET translation philosophy and the various OET versions.

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Why is it called the Open English Translation of the Bible (OET)?

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Where can I download the OET from?

The OET translation isn't completed yet so it's not yet available. However, some sample files can be found on the Downloads page.

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Why are there so many translations?

Well, Christians have a long history of devotion to the task of making the Bible available in a language that people can easily understand -- many suffered and some even died in their zeal to make the Scriptures available to others.

However, assuming that you're really asking about ENGLISH translations here, there are two main reasons:

  1. Language changes. Words change meaning. Some old words and grammatical forms drop out of common use. Some old words gain new shades of meaning and new words are introduced. So a dated translation may not speak well to the current generation and new translations are required.
  2. Translations target a particular audience. There are many decisions to be made when doing a translation, and the translators usually follow a series of policies which are decided by thinking about what audience they are hoping to reach. The best Bible for a teenager to use for personal reading and devotions may not be the same one that a Bible teacher will want to preach from. Protestants may make different translation decisions from Catholics, and similarly for other distinct groups. A publishing company might want to target a certain segment of the market. Hence, many different translations arise.

Someone once said, “Reading a translation is like looking at the back of a tapestry.” While we strongly encourage the study of the Jewish and Christian scriptures in the original languages, this isn't practical for everyone. Hence we need translations into our modern languages despite the shortfalls (and potential confusion).

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Why is the OET different from other translations?

Well, there are several reasons:

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Why is the OET even needed?

Since this is such an important question (especially for potential prayer and financial supporters), the answer is placed on this separate page.

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Why doesn't the OET use the names Old Testament and New Testament?

Although these names are indeed very familiar, they are often confusing and somewhat misleading for modern readers. In current useage, we really are only likely to use the term Testament when we're talking about someone's will. Also, the term New might wrongly imply that the Old is no longer relevant. Hence the OET actively tries to discard this terminology.

Why does the OET downplay chapter and verse numbers?

Have you heard someone say, "This verse says, ..."? Well, verses are a purely artificial (and not particularly well thought-out) way of dividing the Bible text, and verses themselves don't say anything! They are useful for guiding people to the correct area of the Bible, but unfortunately they have also greatly assisted in the unfortunate habit of people quoting short Bible segments completely out of context. Since the OET aims to try to head in a new direction, we want to discourage the use of small snippets out of context, and this is one way that we can help do it.

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Why does the OET have funny characters in the files?

The Literal Version (OET-LV) uses underline characters to join words which are represented by one word in the original language. For example, he_said would indicate that these two English words are represented by just one word in the original language and there is no separate word specifying who is the he. The OET also includes grammatical and semantic tagging. For example, if the text says gave it to him the OET will attempt to mark or tag what the it is and who the him is. This tagging is done in the text files using special characters, e.g., him=PDavid tells us that the him referred to is the person David. A full list of tags and special characters can be found here. Note also that a clean copy of the files is also provided on the Downloads page.

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When is the expected release date?

Actually, it's release dates since there's five versions. It is planned to develop the Literal Version, the Readers' Version, and the Colloquial Version simultaneously, and we hope to make some preliminary books available in 2019, with the Old Testament being released by the end of 2021. The Study Version and the Extended Version will also be developed together, but not until after the V1.0.0 release of the first two versions, so no time frame is available for them yet. But if we can recruit more volunteers, it would be nice to speed up the progress.

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What is the format of the source files?

The OET source files use our own ESFM format, which are human-readable Unicode text files with embedded semantic markers. But each version will be available in multiple exported formats for download, including text, LibreOffice/OpenOffice (ODF), and PDF files (both of individual books and of entire versions), USFM and USX files, OSIS files, and Epub electronic book files

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What license will the OET have?

It's still being decided whether to use a Creative Commons "share-alike" license or to put the translation into the public domain.

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Which Bible editor do you use?

We use our own Biblelator Bible translation editor which is still being developed, but which already has most of the tools working to enable Old Testament translation (still no interlinear Greek resources).

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Literal Version Questions

Who is the Literal Version intended for?

Why doesn't the Literal Version sound very fluent or natural?

Who is the Literal Version intended for?

The OET-LV is intended to help the English reader get a good understanding of what is actually written in the original languages without needing to have a good understanding of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Why doesn't the Literal Version sound very fluent or natural?

Yes, we call that the woody feeling. The OET-LV is designed to closely follow the wording used in the original languages, instead of using modern English expressions. This makes it appear to sound old-fashioned, but the reason for leaving it that way is to help the serious student be able to get a good look at what is actually written in the originals. Use the Readers' Version if you want something that's nicer to read.

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Readers' Version Questions

Who is the Readers' Version intended for?

Who is the Readers' Version intended for?

The OET-RV is intended for someone who wants an easily readable, modern English version of the Bible. It's particularly useful for getting an overall view of the flow of the text without being distracted by footnotes and other study tools.

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Colloquial Version Questions

Who is the Colloquial Version intended for?

Who is the Colloquial Version intended for?

The OET-CV is intended for someone who wants an easily readable, very modern English version of the Bible that's especially easy for young people to understand. It's particularly useful for getting an overall view of the flow of the text for a generation who haven't read as much as the previous generation, and whose way of speech can be quite different.

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Study Version Questions

Who is the Study Version intended for?

Who is the Study Version intended for?

The OET-SV is intended to help preacher or serious student discover the subtle meanings of the text, with helpful notes and cross-references.

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Extended Version Questions

Who is the Extended Version intended for?

Who is the Extended Version intended for?

The OET-EV is intended to help the Bible college lecturer or Bible translator with extended notes (especially about source texts) and other information.

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