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How should we view the use of the original Biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) in questions and answers? Should transliteration be encouraged for the sake of those who are less familiar with the languages or lack proper font support to view them? Should the original languages be encouraged whenever possible and responses edited to replace transliterations? Or should it be up to whatever the poster is most comfortable doing?

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The author should feel free to include whatever information best suites their question.

There may be subtleties of meaning in the original texts that can be lost when translated to English. Where precision is paramount, using Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek text may be most appropriate.

But going to the other extreme will only exclude people from understanding and learning. There's no reason to go overboard with biblical languages when the English words work just as well.

There shouldn't be any particular "policy" that that original biblical text must (or must not) be in their original language. Use whatever makes the question as clear and descriptive as possible.

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This site is supposed to be a site of experts in Biblical Hermeneutics (or perhaps exegesis), and as such, one would expect that community to be able to handle a few Hebrew or Greek characters. To push it further, can I trust an answer from someone claiming to know what a Greek word means, but can't understand the Greek characters?

I often see people regurgitating answers about the meaning of a word just because they heard someone else say that. This site does not need that. I want someone to answer my question who knows what he is talking about.

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    Well, yes and no. If the "regurgitated" answer really does answer the question, then I see no harm in it. That seems to be something that occurs SE-network wide. – Richard Oct 4 '11 at 21:52
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    +1 in that we should be able to handle a few Hebrew and Greek characters (heck, even Google can handle it) – Richard Oct 4 '11 at 21:54
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A good, free, online resource for coping with Hebrew and Greek is the Transliterate.com service provided by Logos Bible Software.

If I copy/paste "πῶς οὐχὶ καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα ἡμῖν χαρίσεται;", for example, and click the "transform" button, it spits out:

  • Latin transliteration = pō̂s ouchì kaì sỳn autō̂i tà pánta hēmîn charísetai?
  • Society of Biblical Literature = pōs ouchi kai syn autō ta panta hēmin charisetai?

Or for Hebrew, יְהוָה רֹעִי, לֹא אֶחְסָר will produce:

  • Latin transliteration = yhwh ro'i lo echsar
  • Society of Biblical Literature = yhwh rōʿî lōʾ ʾeḥsār
  • BETA Code = Y:HWFH RO(IY, LO) )EX:SFR

This could be helpful for BH.SE in two ways:

  1. For those providing answers, it's a quick way to get the transliteration of the original text for the aid of reader who need it.
  2. For readers who lack the languages, and run across untranslitered terms in an answer of interest, they can do the copy/paste > transform operation themselves.

I wonder if it has an "API"?

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    Something tells me that there is no free API because it's run by Logos. – Dan Jan 20 '14 at 6:32
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    PS swasheck and I's research interests lie in making the powerful original language search capabilities of software like Logos, Bible Works, Accordance, etc. available for free – Dan Jan 20 '14 at 6:33
  • @Daи - would love to see that. I've used some of the Crosswire/Sword Project apps, but I've been using Bible Works since early/mid 90s, and would now find it difficult to do without, although I do keep trying apps from Crosswire, etc., in the hope that they might get close. At least BWks has a reasonable (for me) pricing policy - don't get me started on Accordance, and as for Logos...... – Dɑvïd Jan 20 '14 at 8:19
  • I feel ya on the price point. I now have more invested in Logos than in one of my previous vehicles. I ended up going with it because of its longevity (Libronix --> now), because buying digital works is an investment I want to be able to continue having access to for the rest of my life. And because few other tools have as many resources that are non-Protestant (commentaries and devotional resources). – Dan Jan 20 '14 at 15:02
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The answer should fit the question.

If the question is appropriate here but the OP appears to be more of a novice, then the answer should include transliteration along with the original languages. Otherwise, the OP will not gain as much benefit as they might have hoped for.

On the other hand, if the question includes the original languages you can assume the OP is more of an expert. In that case, transliteration is not as necessary.

The bottom line is that I think it is always OK to include the original languages in the answer. If it looks like that might be over the head of the OP, then include transliterations as a courtesy.

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I think it should be fine to put the Hebrew or Greek in there, though you should usually have the transliteration also. The real question might be is if SE has an easy way to insert that text without monkeying with the HTML or inserting an image.

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    No need for HTML or images, the text can be entered directly (copy and paste some Greek from another site to see). – jrdioko Oct 5 '11 at 18:17

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