DANIEL AND SANJUNG ENG | DECEMBER 10, 2018
A major flaw of the English language is the usage of the same pronoun “you” for both singular and plural. A host of other languages have distinct words for the second person singular and the second person plural. This includes Greek and Hebrew, the languages in which the Scriptures were originally written.
This means we can easily misread the Bible when we assign an individualistic (singular) meaning to a concept that is meant to be corporate or community-based (plural).
One of the (many) things I appreciated about living in Texas was that Texans fixed this problem for English. In the southern parts of America, we have a perfectly good plural version of you: “Y’all!”
So we’d like to introduce you to a great tool for your Bible reading: The Texas Bible.
It’s not quite a new version of the Bible, but it is a plugin for websites like BibleGateway or YouVersion. Developed by John Dyer, an instructor at Dallas (where else?) Theological Seminary, it “fixes” the many places where the Greek and Hebrew use a second person plural but is unclear in English. For those instances, it replaces “you” with “y’all.”
Let’s try out the Texas Bible with some well-known Bible verses.
I appeal to y’all therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present y’all’s bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is y’all’s spiritual worship.
This passage is often referred to as “living sacrifices,” as if each person serves as his or her own individual sacrifice. But the Texas Bible makes it clear that Paul tells the church in Rome that y’all together are a living sacrifice. Consider how to apply this to y’all’s local churches today.
“Y’all are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let y’all’s light shine before others, so that they may see y’all’s good works and give glory to y’all’s Father who is in heaven.
Jesus taught his disciples that they were (together) the light of the world, not individual little lights. What do y’all think this means about the good deeds of Christians today?
Do y’all not know that y’all are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in y’all? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and y’all are that temple.
This one is my wife’s pet peeve. The passage is quoted all the time, when churchgoers teach others to take care of their physical bodies: exercise, don’t smoke, don’t get tattoos, etc. But Paul was writing to a plural audience, telling the bitterly divided church in Corinth that they together were the temple of God. How would y’all apply this to y’all’s local church today?
Y’all don’t need to learn Greek and Hebrew to read the Bible more accurately. The Texas Bible is a great tool to help y’all’s Bible reading. What new insights can y’all get from it today?
Daniel and Sanjung Eng live in Cambridge, United Kingdom with their three daughters. Daniel is a preacher, teacher, and PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of “James: An Honor-Shame Paraphrase.” Sanjung manages the family and household, and teaches music lessons. She actively serves in music ministry and women’s Bible study at Christ Church, Cambridge.