Harper’s Standardized Study Bible

Red Letter Edition First Printing

Learn About Harper’s Standardized Study Bible Translation Methodology

The translation methodology represented in Harper’s Standardized Study Bible threads the needle between the formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence approaches to translation so as to produce a translation that is both dynamically equivalent and formally equivalent. The translation methodology that one favors in regard to the Bible will most likely depend on the importance that person attaches to an accurate understanding of what the Bible actually means rather than how easy it is to read the translation. That is precisely what Harper’s Standardized Study Bible seeks to do. Just keep in mind that it is a “study” Bible, intended for those who actually want to see what the original text says rather than read someone else’s interpretation of that text.

The Study Bible Format

The unique format of this study Bible has been specifically designed with the serious Bible student in mind. The author opted for a spiral binding so that the pages lie flat while studying God's word. The 9.5" x 7.5" pages dedicate a center column for Bible notes nestled between two columns of Scripture for easy reference. The durable paper protects against bleed-through from most highlighters—another feature serious Bible students appreciate.

Learn More About the HSSB Bible

Harper’s Standardized Study Bible
New Testament, Red Letter Edition

by Larry D. Harper (419 pages) ($39.95)

An original translation of the Greek New Testament into English with Jesus Christ’s words printed in red. The red text enables readers to easily locate the Lord’s spoken words at a glance. A true study Bible that is spiral bound and lays flat for ease of note taking. Each page dedicates one column for personal notes.

A Look Inside the Red Letter Edition

The words of Jesus are printed in red ink in our Red Letter Edition—highlighting the words the writers of the New Testament heard from the Lord firsthand.

Harper’s Standardized Study Bible
New Testament, First Printing

by Larry D. Harper (419 pages) ($34.95)

An original translation of the Greek New Testament into English. A true study Bible that is spiral bound and lays flat for ease of note taking. Each page dedicates one column for personal notes.

A Look Inside the First Printing

The First Printing Edition of HSSB New Testament is the culmination of 42 years of translating Scripture by Larry Harper. The work on this translation began before personal computers were available to facilitate the process. Finally, those years of dedication have come to fruition for the first time in this limited run of HSSB, New Testament, First Printing.

The HSSB has done what they said couldn’t be done: provide a translation in which every word in the original text is translated the same way in the English text.

About the HSSB Translation

What is the HSSB Translation?

The translation of the biblical text in Harper’s Standardized Study Bible is the work of Larry Dee Harper, an individual who has worked on it for more than forty years under the conviction that every available translation of the biblical text has been produced with the misguided notion that the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words in which the Bible was written can be bent to mean whatever the translator or the translation committee decide they mean in the various contexts in which they occur.

With that conviction as his guiding principle, Harper has striven to produce a translation of the original Greek text of the New Testament in which every word in the original text has its own unique English definition, and one in which that unique English definition has not been used to translate any other word in the original text. You can determine for yourself whether or not he has succeeded.

In order to produce a much more readable English text, and one that has a whole lot more “flavor,” Harper has also translated the Greek participle consistently when it is used to express a temporal clause attendant to the main verb. He has imbued such participles with the sense of “after,” “while,” or “when” (depending on its case in the Greek language) rather than following the crowd of translators who translate participles as finite verbs (which they are not, and should not be treated as such). The result of Harper’s endeavor is a text with more interesting detail and captivating content than one finds in other translations.

One final word: Harper has also updated the meaning of archaic words so as to better reflect their original meaning. For example, the English terms righteous and righteousness were legal terms in 1526–1530, when William Tyndale published the first English translation of the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures. They had that same meaning when the King James Version was printed in 1611. At that time, the two terms were used to refer to a person who had been declared not guilty by a court of law, just as the original Greek terms were at the time of Christ. But words sometimes take on a different nuance with the passage of time. Hence the need to make such things a bit more obvious to the reader.

A Note from the Translator

Creating a “Standardized” Translation of the New Testament

In God Called; I Answered, I explained why I have, for a very long time, felt compelled to produce not only a “standardized” translation of the New Testament, but also one of the Old. That calling has turned out to be my life’s work, and this printing of the New Testament translation is but the first part of a two-part work. The first part is here; the rest, and perhaps the best, is yet to come.

Nearly half a century ago, it became obvious to me that I would never be able to explain the things I saw in the Scriptures if those who were listening did not have a translation of the Scriptures that translated Old Testament passages consistently. By that time, it had already become crystal clear to me that the Prophets who came after Moses were quoting the things he had written, but translators were not translating their quotations consistent with the corresponding passages in the Pentateuch. So the reader could not see how the two passages were related. Now, going on a half-century later, I am still working to complete the second part of this work, knowing that when it is finished, my work will be done. Then, and only then, will those who have ears to hear be able to understand the things I believe with regard to the meaning and significance of the written Word of God.

The truth is, we all use words to convey meaning. But every culture uses “technical” expressions and idioms to convey nuanced meaning. One has but to consider the meaning of the expression “bank the embers” to realize every generation must have used similar expressions at every step along the way from the first generation all the way down to our own.

Translators Continue to Ignore Meaning and Significance

Unfortunately, translators continue to ignore the fact that any valid translation must begin with a consistent translation of the words and phrases in the original text. To do otherwise is to hide the fact that the author of the original text is talking about precisely the same concept when he uses the same word or set of words.

When a translator encounters difficulty understanding the meaning of a particular text, he resorts to a lexicon and arbitrarily picks one of several acceptable meanings for the word, or words, in question. The result is, translators routinely use several different English words to translate the same Greek word, while at the same time using the same English word to translate several different Greek terms. The result of that practice is a generic translation that has muddled meaning and no specific tie to the significance of the words found in the original text.

My purpose in creating this translation of the New Testament is to provide a translation that will allow the English reader to more clearly see the Greek text that stands behind the translation.

  1. Use only one English word or phrase to translate each Greek word, and translate only that Greek word with that English word or phrase.
  2. Define words by using phrases that more clearly express the denotative meaning those words had in the mind of the author rather than just the connotative meaning they had in general usage.
  3. Translate the same grammatical construction the same way in every instance.

It has been my distinct privilege since 1990 to explain the meaning and significance of many of the Hebrew idioms the Prophets used to “seal up” the things they wrote. My hope is, after I have published my translation of the Old Testament, laymen will be able to read the Scriptures with understanding after little more than a general explanation of what the Scriptures are talking about and a little more in-depth explanation of the origin of the key idioms the Prophets of Israel used to describe the work God planned to do. If you are interested in those things, they can be found online at voiceofelijah.org

An In Depth Look at the HSSB Translation

One-to-One Translation

When trying to determine the meaning of a word, most translators simply rely on the definitions they find in the Greek lexicons that are currently available today. The difficulty with that approach is, the definitions they find in those lexicons don’t always fit every context. That most likely explains why the NASB translation uses six different words to translate the same Greek word: (Strong’s Number G2347)

NASB usage: affliction(14), afflictions(6), anguish(1), distress(2), persecution(1), tribulation(16), tribulations(4), trouble(1).

I have tried to define the meaning of each and every Greek word so that its definition fits every context. Here is the lexical entry for my translation of the Greek word mentioned above:

singular: [Turmoil]

plural: [Things That Cause (someone) Turmoil]

Connotative Meaning vs. Denotative Meaning

Faith = Belief in God’s Promise

My understanding of the connotative meaning of the Greek term routinely translated “faith” in every English translation since Tyndale, who spelled the word as fayth, is fairly straightforward. Faith is nothing more than belief. But therein lies the difficulty with ascertaining the denotative meaning of the Greek term ordinarily translated “faith.” Since it is impossible to believe nothing at all about God, even if one claims not to believe there is a God, “faith” must always have a content. Therefore, a translator cannot say he has given the reader his understanding of denotative content implied by that biblical term if he translates it as “faith.” My understanding is, the biblical term translated “faith” implies belief in the promise of God.

Gospel = Good News of the Fulfillment of the Promise

The connotative meaning of the Greek word normally translated “gospel” is nothing more than “good news.” And that is the crux of the problem. The denotative meaning of the term depends on what one chooses to believe regarding the content of that “good news.” In the biblical context, I believe the content implied by the use of that term can only be what the Apostle Paul explains about the fulfillment of the promise of God in Galatians 3.

Righteous = blameless/One Who Is Blameless

The Greek term routinely translated “righteous” was a legal term at the time of Christ, as was the English term rightewes at the time of the Protestant Reformation. But things can change, especially over the 500 years since Tyndale translated the Greek New Testament into English. The term righteous retains little of its original meaning today, which is why I chose to translate it as “blameless.” I could have easily chosen to use the term innocent, but that would have implied there was no guilt to begin with, which is not the case.

Righteousness = Declaration of Not Guilty

Like the Greek term routinely translated “righteous,” the term just as routinely translated “righteousness” was a legal term in the time of Christ, just as the English term rightwisnes was when Tyndale used it in his translation of the New Testament. In both cases, the connotative meaning and denotative meaning of the term point to a verdict of not guilty that results from a legal proceeding. I choose to use the translation “declaration of not guilty” to remind the reader that their exoneration of all charges against them is the result of a declaration that God Himself made in regard to their sin.

Condemnation = Verdict of Guilty

The opposite of a verdict of not guilty is, not surprisingly, a verdict of guilty. To make that contrast more obvious, I chose to translate the Greek term that way instead of “condemnation”; in spite of the fact that a condemned person has received a verdict of guilty.

Justification/justified = Acquittal/be acquitted

The terms traditionally translated as “justification” and “justify” were also legal terms in the time of Christ. To make that obvious, I chose to translate them as “acquittal” and “be acquitted” to show they derive from the same legal term.

Obedience = Willingness to Attentively Listen and Comply

The Greek term normally translated as “obedience” is a compound word comprised of a preposition that means “subject to” and a noun that means “what is heard.” To incorporate both of those senses into my translation, I have translated the term as “willingness to attentively listen and comply.” This translation points to the fact that hearing and believing the truth is the denotative meaning of the term as it is used in the New Testament.

Disobedience = Unwillingness to Attentively Listen and Comply

The Greek term normally translated as “disobedience” is a compound word comprised of a preposition that means “contrary to” and a noun that means “what is heard.” Once again the term indicates that its denotative meaning is an unwillingness to listen to and believe the truth.

Grammar and Syntax

Some of the basic grammatical rules I have used in determining how to translate the Greek text are these:

The Definite Article:

The Noun

The nominative form of a noun has the sense of "as" when restating the subject of a verb.

The genitive form of a noun has the sense of [of, during, to, in(to), at, from, via, by, against, regarding, among, between, through, for, on the part of, belong to, pertains to] something.

The dative form of a noun has the sense of [at, to, for, in(to), on, with, between, through, because of, by, against, before, belong to] something.

The accusative form of a noun often has sense of [as, for, during, with] something.

The Verb

A verb with a prefixed preposition is sometimes used with the same sense as the root verb.

A preposition that is prefixed to the verb is often restated after the verb for emphasis.

An adverb implied in the verb is sometimes stated specifically after the verb.

A subjunctive verbal form has the sense of [should, could, would, may, might, can].

The third person imperative has the sense of [must], negative = [you must [not] let].

A “present tense” verb is sometimes used with a past tense verb to indicate continuing action in the past.

A “present tense” verb (sometimes followed by a future tense verb) sometimes indicates what someone is [going to do]. A future tense verb is sometimes used with the sense of [can do] or [must do].

The direct object of a verb is often implied in the verb and stated in the main clause.

The indirect object (object of [to], [for]) is sometimes implied by the verb.

The indirect object (dative case) is sometimes translated as the subject of the verb to indicate possession.

The Participle

A participle sometimes has the sense of an imperative when used before an imperative.

A present participle is sometimes used to indicate durative action in the past.

A passive participle of a stative verb and a perfect passive participle are sometimes used as adjectives/gerunds.

The subject of a participle is often implied by the verb in the main clause.

The Infinitive

The subject of an infinitive is often implied by the verb and stated in the main clause.

An infinitive sometimes carries a subjunctive meaning of what [could, would, may] happen.

An infinitive is often used with a preposition to indicate the reason, purpose, relative time of the action of the verb.

The Future for HSSB

The third edition of Harper’s Standardized Study Bible, currently in the works, is the Cross-Reference Edition. This edition is unique from the previous two as it includes footnotes and lists the references for all of the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament. The true Bible student will appreciate this valuable information which will enable them to “go to the source” and read it in context.

HSSB Desktop App (for Windows®)

For those who prefer a digital Bible, we are working toward that end: Harper’s Standardized Study Bible App is currently in development. HSSB App is specifically designed to be a complete study tool. It includes the following Windows: Main, Bible, Library, Multimedia, Publications, Search, and Devotions. Each Window is dedicated to providing the user with the tools needed for edifying Bible study time.

The Bible Window allows for viewing more than one translation at a time with a mouse click, a text-to-speech option, and various views and modes to tailor your screen display to your needs. To enhance your personal study, HSSB App allows the user to create files for personal notes on each verse (Commentaries) and for notes on subjects (Dictionaries). The Multimedia Window houses audio and video files. PDF files of Larry D. Harper’s books, articles, etc., are available for viewing in the Publications Window. The Search Window ties all of the Windows together, enabling the user to search the entire App for results from their search term. The Devotions Window includes tools for memorization, reading plans, your personal journal, and more.

The above is the briefest of outlines of the capabilities of the HSSB App. It is a powerful tool that is thoughtfully designed for the dedicated Bible student.