Clarifying Terms about the Law

Translation Principle 11: Clarifying Terms for Law

Dr. Jeffrey Seif TLV Scholars Leave a Comment

Welcome back to our series on the TLV Translation principles. As we approach the latter half of these principles, we see the care and attention that our theologians have taken to clear up confusion in as many areas as possible. This week’s principle focuses on clarifying terminology surrounding the “Law.” 

We use the word “Torah” to refer instructions in the Five Books of Moses – Genesis through Deuteronomy. Since the New Covenant writings preceded the final canonization of scripture, we will avoid using the word “TANAKH” within the biblical text. The term TANAKH is an acronym for Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim – the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.

While the same word in the Septuagint for ‘Law’ is used repeatedly, the New Covenant writers are often referring to different realms of laws in both Jewish and Roman culture. Additionally, sometimes when debating Jewish laws, biblical writers are debating current Jewish interpretative traditions–or, practice-based interpretations and applications of biblical texts that are adaptations to then-current moments in Jewish cultural experience and history. These are commonly, and mistakenly, referred to as the “oral laws.” 

When these debates about different types of laws and applications in Yeshua’s day are translated as “law,” New Testament readers easily get confused. In the interest of clarifying, we are especially careful to use terminology that differentiates between actual biblical laws, natural laws, Roman laws, various rabbinical traditions and Jewish customs.

Be sure to look at  Luke 2:27, 42, Acts 26:3,  Romans 2:13-14, and Hebrews 7:12!

About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Seif

Dr. Jeffrey Seif

Dr. Jeffrey Seif serves as the Project Manager and Chief Theologian of the Tree of Life Version Translation. A college teacher since 1989, he teaches adjunct at Christ for the Nations Institute and currently holds the title "University Distinguished Professor of Bible and Jewish Studies" at The King's University.​ Professor Seif has authored many books and has appeared on many television programs, teaching from and about the Middle East. Dr. Seif is a graduate of the North Texas Regional Police Academy (BCAPS), holds a Th.B. from Trinity and an M.T.S. and D.Min. from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX.

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