When God tells the world what to do, it says it in English.
That’s the approach the Bible is taking with its newest book, The Lad, which comes out next week and promises to be a “textbook” on the biblical story of a man named Jonathan.
It’s the latest effort by the Bible’s English-speaking scholars to help the global church translate scripture into more than 100 languages.
In its first edition, The New Lad is packed with historical, philosophical and literary information on Jesus, the first century Roman emperor.
It also includes the famous and oft-debated story of how Jonathan, who is called the prophet of the Samaritans, became the first Christian ruler in the Bible.
“It’s the first English translation that’s ever been done, I think,” said Paul J. Ehrlich, professor emeritus of the Hebrew Bible at Princeton University.
“The book is not just a historical document.
It is a literary document.”
The Lad’s translators and publishers are not offering a free digital edition, but they have provided free audio versions.
The book includes the story of the Pilgrims’ journey from America to Europe, as well as passages from the Book of Isaiah, the most popular and authoritative book of the Bible today.
But the Bible, unlike the popular book of Daniel, contains no mention of Jesus.
The Lad has a much broader appeal than that.
It comes at a time when the worldwide church is struggling with the translation of the Quran into English, and it is a chance to bring the Bible into the 21st century.
The Bible’s first translation was done by Joseph Smith in the 1830s.
Many of its verses and passages have been lost.
Ehrig and his colleagues at Princeton are trying to reverse that trend.
The translators hope to bring The Lad into the mainstream, and they’re offering it free.
The project has drawn the support of more than 50,000 members of the American Baptist Church, including former presidential candidate Bob Dole, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“I’ve never seen a Bible translated into any other language that is as widely known and widely read as The Lad,” said J.B. Hagerty, president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“What they’re doing here is something that’s not possible in the mainstream.”
The effort began in the mid-1990s, when a group of scholars started translating the Bible in the English-language, Bible-only version of the Old Testament.
In 2006, the scholars began working on the New Lad.
“We started looking for ways to bring this work into the English language,” said Ehrler, who was then the associate dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of New Hampshire.
The work was originally intended to be in English only, but it has now been translated into dozens of languages.
“Our hope is that this will be a work of biblical scholarship, a translation that will bring into the light of day what has been so largely ignored by the mainstream media,” said Matthew J. Stapley, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptists.
“And it will be used by Christians to show that the Bible has been inspired and is the most accurate of all the divine documents.”
The Bible translation effort is just one part of a larger effort by some Bible scholars to work on a new translation of The New Testament.
That effort is led by the National Biblical Commission of the United States, a non-profit group that represents Bible scholars and the Bible as a whole.
In addition to the New Testament, the Bible commission has been working on a translation of John’s Gospel and of the Psalms, a collection of verses in which Jesus describes his life.
The commission’s next major effort is a translation for the Greek New Testament of the New American Bible, which is intended to bring together the most recent versions of the Pentateuch, Genesis, Deuteronomy and the rest of the four books of the original Bible.
That work will be published in 2015.
But there’s no doubt that The Lad is one of the most ambitious Bible translations yet undertaken.
In the past, Bible scholars have had to resort to translating the Greek versions of The Book of Revelation into English in the hopes of reaching an English-speaker audience.
“That’s one of our favorite books,” said Andrew J. Harnish, president and chief executive of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which produces the popular Christian Broadcasting Television series The Bible, and also is one the publishers of the Lad.
But The Lad may change all that.
“This is a big leap forward, not only in translation, but in history, in the history of the English Bible,” said John C. Ginn, a professor of biblical languages at Wheaton College in Illinois.
“Because this is not the first translation of any of these books that has been done by any one scholar, it is the first one that has translated them