Email interview with Charles Vanderpool the editor of the Apostolic Bible Polyglot (ABP):
BBF: Hello Charles, could you give us a little background on yourself such as your testimony and educational background?
CV: I was born in St. Louis, Missouri two days before Pearl Harbor, December 5, 1941. I was introduced to Jesus at Mt Calvary Lutheran Church Sunday school when I was five years old. I progressed through the Lutheran grade school system in St. Louis for eight grades, and I then attended Lutheran High School Central in St. Louis. I barely graduated from high school with the class of ’59 as my grades were low. Three years after graduation, with the Vietnam War taking form, I enrolled at Southeast Missouri State College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri basically to escape the war. My grades were good enough to convince me to transfer to the Valparaiso University, in Valparaiso Indiana. During this period I thought I would like to be a Lutheran minister, so I signed up for Greek I, and after finding out that I needed to learn the rules of Greek accent marks, I decided to switch to German. At that time I didn’t know the difference between a noun and verb, and the result was that I flunked German. A second try in my junior year had the same result, and I dropped out of school because of bad grades. I moved to Southern California during the 60’s and made a decision to ask God to be out of my life and let me do what I wanted, when I wanted and with whomever I wanted to do it with. The result was a disaster, and for thirteen years I went through numerous broken relationships which took their toll. With my little son handing me a Gideon Bible which sitting in Vanderpool’s Smoke Shop in Newport Beach I began reading the Bible for the first time after a thirteen year hiatus. To make a long story brief, I ended up at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa in California, where the Word of God was taught expository. I noticed that people were holding Bibles in their hand in deep study, but that there were many different editions saying different things. I knew the New Testament was originally written in Greek, so I began studying Biblical Greek. I love doing word studies, but I found that my studies with the Greek words were limited to the New Testament. With a little studying I found out that the Hebrew Scriptures had been translated into Greek a couple of hundred years before Christ, and were called the Septuagint. I had been studying the Greek New Testament words with Berry’s New Testament Interlinear, but unfortunately there was no Septuagint interlinear. So in 1985 I started typing the Greek Old Testament with my daisy wheel typewriter with a Greek daisy wheel. I then was introduced to the computer and I purchased a Sanyo double floppy disk computer with no hard drive. I made my own bitmap Greek fonts and began typing the Septuagint in ASCII, which was associated with PostScript, and later Adobe Acrobat. For 25 years I typed and developed the text of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, The Lexical Concordance of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, the English-Greek Index of the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, and The Analytical Lexicon of the Apostolic Bible Polyglot.
BBF: What is your experience with the Greek texts and what brought about your interest in the Greek language?
CV: Being interested in God’s Word, I knew that the New Testament was originally written in Greek, thus the interest in the Greek language. Interestingly the authors of the New Testament, when they quoted the Old Testament, chose the Greek Old Testament, called the Septuagint (shortened to LXX), and not the Hebrew text. When I began my Greek studies in 1980 I didn’t know the difference between a noun and a verb, but over the years I read from many Greek grammars and taught myself Greek. I am what one would call an “autodidactic” or self-taught; but I prefer “pneumadidactic” or spirit-taught. There was a plethora of Greek New Testament books when I began my studies, but almost nothing on the Septuagint, with only Sir Lancelot Brenton’s side by side Septuagint being available to me. Being a side-by-side translation and not an interlinear Brenton was practically useless to me as I didn’t know Greek. Having used Berry’s N.T. interlinear, I thought that having a LXX interlinear like it would be great, so I began searching for LXX texts to develop a Greek Old Testament interlinear translation. The internet was at its infancy when I contacted the National Library of the Netherlands, and I was able to acquire a microfilm of the 1718 Aldine Bible. I then acquired the 1709 Lambert Bos LXX, which has a plethora of variant Greek readings from various sources all listed in the footnotes. With these two Greek sources I began the development of the ABP as it is now known. I had read about another Greek text of the Old Testament, the 1516 Complutensian Polyglot, but I couldn’t find it. Then I saw that the U. of Washington in Seattle had a facsimile copy, and I drove to Seattle and photocopied the Greek text. I now had all the sources I needed to finish the first edition. But as far as texts of the Greek scriptures, one wonderful thing happened to me in 2009 when I went to the Island of Patmos, and visited the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, and was able to see and handle the oldest copy of the Gospels in existence…Codex N or the Purple Codex. Not too many Bible translators have had such an opportunity, and I was able to bring back a facsimile copy of the Codex N to the United States, and it is in my library. Studying the Greek text is an interesting experience as there are many unique helps that one can use. There are many Greek works of the literary variety…Strabo, Aristotle, and others who wrote around the time of Christ. So if one is studying a certain Greek Old or New Testament word, he or she can go to these profane writers to see how the word is used in context outside of the Bible. Then there is the text of the early church writers like Eusebius and others who wrote in Greek and expounded on the Bible. This really isn’t available on such a scale with the Hebrew text.
BBF: What exactly is the Apostolic Bible Polyglot?
CV: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot is both a printed book, a CD-ROM, and an electronic PDF Greek-English Old and New Testament Bible. In the Apostolic Age, within a hundred years of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the text imparted to the Apostles by Holy Spirit, and God breathed, was written down on papyrus and parchment with pen and ink. Strangely the Apostles, when quoting the Old Testament, didn’t quote the Hebrew but the Greek text. I believe that this puts the Greek Old Testament on a higher level than any other translation. In fact, in the Jewish Mishna, being developed at the time of Christ, Rabbi Gamaliel mentions that the scriptures were only allowed to be translated in Greek. Every word in the ABP, except for proper names, have been assigned a distinct number, building on the numbering system of James Strong. But I believe the ABP is more than just the text of the Old and New Testaments, but is a group of works numerically coded to one another… to a lexical-concordance, English-Greek index, and an analytical lexicon, along with a Freemind grammar. There is nothing comparable to the ABP in totality of both testaments and auxiliary works all linked together…and the work goes on.
BBF: What prompted and influenced you to develop the ABP and what was your primary goal for the ABP?
CV: I wanted to study the Greek Old and New Testament words early on in my renewed life, but there was no Greek Old Testament readily available in an interlinear format. So for personal reasons I began developing the ABP. Secondly, I saw many people with various translations of the Bible, with all translations saying different things. I wanted to alleviate this confusion of having many Bibles saying the same thing, so this prompted me even more to have an one Greek New & Old Testament interlinear Bible, which was not in existence. My primary goal is to have the base Greek text of the Apostolic Bible Polyglot available for translation to all languages, all which would be referring to the same Greek text. I had the opportunity to test this out in Brazil when I visited Joaquim, a retired Brazilian Army Colonel, who had begun translating the ABP Greek text into Portuguese. When he finished the small book of 2 John, I took photocopy pages of the book to the Bible study and began an expository teaching of the Book, speaking in English, while my exposition was being translated into Portuguese by the Colonel, with the people reading the Greek-Portuguese ABP, and myself the Greek-English ABP. When I quoted a verse, what the Brazilian holy ones saw was the same Greek words as mine, but with the Portuguese words underneath. The result was rewarding to say the least. Imagine everyone having one Bible that says the same thing, even if the translations are different with the various languages. So far some of the ABP has been translated into Portuguese, and a man from Costa Rica translated a few books into Spanish but gave up on the project. I feel that the ABP with its numerically coded helps is an ideal basis for this purpose, and God willing it will be accomplished.
BBF: Could you give us a description and an example of how someone would use the Study System in the ABP?
CV: In answering the previous question, some of this has already been addressed. A slide show presentation on our web site home page www.apostolicbible.com offers a simple word study scenario. What this slide show displays is a simple English word study. It shows a study of the word “debased”. One would look up “debased” in the English-Greek Index and would be presented with the AB-Strong number and the Greek equivalent word or words. With this AB-Strong number one can go to the Lexical Concordance and see every location of this Greek word in the ABP. In this way you are studying the God breathed word rather than a vernacular translation word. Once you find the book, chapter and verse location in the testaments, you will find the AB-Strong number above the Greek word with the literal English translation underneath. If you want to further study the Greek word, you can go to the Analytical Lexicon, and with the AB-Strong number you would look up the number and you would find a section on that word. Next you would look for the identical spelling of the Greek word that you are interested in within the structure. After finding it you will see the parsing information on that Greek word…i.e. noun (nom., gen., dat., acc.), pronoun, verb (present, past, future, etc.), preposition, etc. A Grammar of the Analytical Lexicon of The Apostolic Bible Polyglot is also available which explains the various parts of speech that the analytical lexicon lists, via the FreeMind mind mapping program which is downloadable on various operating systems.
BBF: Besides editor what other roles did you perform in developing the ABP?
CV: In progression I started out as a typesetter typing out the texts of all the works. Next I became a font designer with bitmap and later postscript fonts with various typesetting software programs, as there were no Greek fonts on the DOS PC. With all the texts being finished I then became a proofreader of both English and Greek. Next I became a layout artist using the TeX page layout program to develop the layout of all the works. With the APB in electronic format (PDF) I next became an HTML web designer/developer to enable the serving the ABP on the newly developed internet. Then I took on the task of being a book publisher/editor-in-chief of a few books and articles, while developing the books with the largest book printer in the US. I became an expository teacher going through the ABP chapter by chapter with videos on YouTube and Vimeo. I then became administrator of our online bookstore along with accounting, marketing and public relations development. Finally I became a sort of Bible answer man to daily phone calls and emails like this, which I appreciate and enjoy.
BBF: How long did it take and what aspect of developing the ABP did you find the most difficult?
CV: I have been working on the ABP since 1985 and I am still developing it. The most difficult aspect was the layout procedure with TeX. TeX is a typesetting system developed by Donald Knuth of Stanford Univ., and it is the premier page layout program for technical book design. The learning curve for TeX macros is steeper than climbing Mt Everest, so I found a PhD in Physics to do the macro design for the layout of the ABP. Twenty five years ago I learned about TeX, but after reading the TeX manual I knew that I didn’t have the intelligence to do what was necessary to develop the macros. I was working nights at a literary hotel in Newport, Oregon, where a group of Microsoft think-tankers were doing a brainstorming session. One man from the group had been told what I was working on, and he began asking me questions. I told him about TeX and my lack of ability to write macros, and that I couldn’t afford the $100.00 an hour development fee from the macro designer. He said he would bring it up to the group and hopefully find a solution. A day later they came up with a solution…go to the nearest college math department, (as all dissertations to the American Mathematical Society had to be written in TeX), and get a student to do the macro, and give him credit when the Bible was published. That sounded good, so I headed to Oregon State University and talked to the head of the math department. I told him my quandary, and what was suggested by the Microsoft people. He said that most of the students were interested in math and not typesetting, so they wouldn’t be much help. He asked how I was going to publish the Bible. I told him I didn’t know. He said, “I know!” He told me to go home on look up Adobe Acrobat on my 2400 baud modem 386 PC and the newly invented thing called the World Wide Web or internet. Fortunately TeX output in PDF, so I just forked over the funds to the macro designer and a thousand dollars later I acquired all that was needed to print the ABP along with the lexical concordance, index, and analytical lexicon.
BBF: Could you give us some details about the source texts that the ABP is based upon and why you chose them?
CV: As I mentioned earlier, the Brenton LXX side-by-side was my early Greek Old Testament source and the Berry interlinear the Greek New Testament source. I then acquired the 1517 Aldine edition microfilm from the National Library of the Netherlands and was able to compare all three, as the Aldine was both a Greek Old & New Testament. Next I acquired a facsimile copy of the 1516 Complutensian Polyglot six volume set. I now had the first three printed Greek Bibles, and was able to I compare them for variant readings. Sometimes I would go to the Hebrew of Jay Green’s text. The ABP is an eclectic text of the Bible, as are all printed editions, unless it be a facsimile of a Codex. When two agreed against a third source, I generally took the majority reading. When all three differed I went to the Hebrew interlinear of Jay Green. The 1516 Complutensian Polyglot is my favorite, as the chapter layout is virtually the same as our Received Text. So with the ABP an easy comparison can be made with a modern Bible…not so with Brenton and others. The New Testament text of the ABP comes basically from the Complutensian Polyglot with some input from Farstad and Hodges New Testament According to the Majority Text.
BBF: How would you describe the English translation of the Greek in the ABP? Would you say your translation style is more word for word or more meaning for meaning?
CV: I believe the English translation of the ABP has the following attributes which makes it singular.
- a) It was translated by one person, rather than a group of individuals. With a group translation I believe a lack of continuity would be the result…I am pretty sure of this.
- b) Every word is as literal as can be ascertained by referring to numerous Greek dictionaries, both sacred and profane. I didn’t invent words, maybe one or two, but entered the dictionary word under the Greek word before translating. This may seem strange, but it worked out well. After all the dictionary words were entered under the Greek, then the parsing began. After the parsing was completed the hyphen and bracket structures were added to give clarity to the different word order of the Greek. This process precluded any theological bent.
- c) The ABP is a true modern translation and not a rewrite of other works such as the NKJV.
- d) All the words of the ABP can be looked up easily in the lexical concordance, English-Greek index, and analytical lexicon with the AB-Strong number. There are many other New Testament books numerically coded to Strong’s numbering system, but not too much with the LXX. So if you don’t like my choice of English words then you can do a study yourself and choose your own word, as no two translators would translate the same. But beware of falsely translating a word. An example of this would be if you saw the Greek word ippoV meaning “horse,” and translated it “animal,” which is technically (meaning) correct, as a horse is an animal, but one would be literally incorrect as a horse is the correct literal translation. Incorrect translation or bending the meaning to fit a theology happens in a lot in vernacular Bibles, as you can’t see the original, and one can get away with a lot of incorrect translating.
BBF: How well do you feel most English translations of the Bible convey the original Greek?
CV: I don’t look, read or study vernacular only bibles. When I did look, I didn’t like what I saw. For instance, many people look for the numbers 666 for the beast. In fact movies have been made with people looking for 666 to be tattooed on the scalp of who could be the beast. The pastor of the church I attended, soon after being born from above, was always mentioning how people would send him things with 666 on them. But as I was translating, 666 was not possible. The reference is the last chapter of Revelation 13 where three Greek letters appear, all different, with the first letter of the alphabet being the equivalent to six hundred, the following letter sixty, and the last number six. All three letters are different, somewhat similar to Roman numerals with letters of the alphabet equaling a number. The Greek is much more precise than the Roman numerals which only have the letters, i,v,x,l,c,d,m, as the Greek has many letters with a numeric equivalent. How could this be missed for hundreds of years? Answer…vernacular Bibles. The 1516 Complutensian Polyglot has a Greek/Latin interlinear. There really wasn’t an excuse for vernacular only Bibles and I believe this was a disservice. Not that the vernacular wasn’t necessary, but that the God breathed words were disposed of.
BBF: With the amount of English translations and study Bibles already on the market do you see any voids in the Bible market that needs to be filled?
CV: Yes, but the void is now being filled with the existence of the ABP. But the market is crashing! Christian bookstores are closing left and right, and book publishing in hardcopy is coming to an end as far as thin paper Bibles. There are only two or three presses in the U.S. which can print on this thin paper, or, are set up for that unique purpose. Thin paper is mainly manufactured for cigarette paper, unfortunately…a sign of the times. I hear that jails love Bibles for that purpose.
BBF: What advice could you give to someone who desires a better understanding of God’s word?
CV: Read the Word hourly, daily, week by week, year by year and perhaps you will have an inkling of what God wants you to know. God is speaking to you through His written Word, not vice versa with you speaking to Him, except in prayer and thanksgiving. Just as a farmer teaching his son of five years how to drive a combine, he doesn’t give his son all the information at 5 years old; he may just let the child touch the steering wheel while the son sits on him lap…the information comes slowly, clearly and designed for his son’s learning. So also God does to us his children.
BBF: Do you have any plans for the ABP in the future, such as different editions?
CV: Hopefully God will do great things with His Word…correct it when it is wrong, clarify it when it is unclear, translate it into all the languages of the world. I’m always ready for the next edition if God allows. I would like to incorporate the analytical lexicon to the printed edition in the third edition. I would also like to see a stand-alone ABP app that hyperlinks to the index, lexical concordance, analytical lexicon, and a future dictionary all within the one app. The ABP is now on various apps, such eSword, Biblos, Tyndale STEP, and more. But with these programs the ABP is incorporated with other Bibles, and generally not linked to the lexical concordance, index and analytical lexicon. I would also like to see a numerically coded dictionary of the ABP. This would be a momentous task, probably too much for my lifetime, but would enhance the experience of Bible studies. Also any people ask for the Deuterocanonical (Apocrypha) to be included, but again probably too much for my lifetime.
BBF: In regards to the English translation of the ABP have you ever considered releasing a more reader friendly (text only) edition?
CV: Many people tell me how surprisingly easy it is to read the ABP with a little practice. I can read it as fluently as any Bible, and so can others. I don’t know what is meant by “friendly (text only).” If you mean English only, then my answer is, No. I can’t read English only Bibles anymore as I am spoiled by having the Greek available…I wouldn’t give that up for anything! But I’m not exactly sure what you meant…perhaps you mean a “larger” text font? If that is the case, then I am planning on an 8.5 x 11 POD (print-on-demand) ABP in six volumes, with a larger print size and margins.
BBF: Would you like to add anything else to the interview or is there anything that you would like to convey to the readers?
CV: I would encourage everyone to read and study and listen to God every day, whether it is with the ABP or a vernacular Bible. Thank you for the opportunity to relate my experiences with the ABP. God bless!
BBF: I thank you Charles for your time and all of your efforts in producing the Apostolic Bible Polyglot.
For more information on the Apostolic Bible Polyglot click on the following link: http://apostolicbible.com/
To order the ABP: http://www.apostolicbible.com/bookstore.htm