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Celebrating 400 years of the King James Version

Biblical Bible third edition revised & expanded

Translating

The biblical basis for Bible translating with an introduction to semantics and applications made to Bible translation principles and problems

Charles V. Turner, Ph.D.


Biblical Bible Translating The Biblical Basis for Bible Translating With an Introduction to Semantics and Applications Made to Bible Translation Principles and Problems

The Anvil of God’s Word Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime. When looking in, I saw upon the floor, Old hammers worn with beating years of time. “How many anvils have you had,” said I, “To wear out and batter these hammers so?” “Just one,” said he; then with a twinkling eye, “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.” And so, I thought, the anvil of God’s Word, For ages, skeptics blows have beat upon; Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard, The anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.

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I affectionately dedicate this book to my coworker, my best friend, my wife, Mary Lou Pruitt Crockett Turner

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Biblical Bible Translating The Biblical Basis for Bible Translating With an Introduction to Semantics and Applications Made to Bible Translation Principles and Problems

By Charles V. Turner, Ph.D.

Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc P.O. Box 4998 Lafayette, IN 47903

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Image attributions: Figure 1, page VII: jmwk, from flickr.com 4.2, page 47: Marie-Lan Nguyen (username: Jastrow), from commons.wikimedia.org 22.2, page 183: Katie Chao and Ben Muessig (username: shooting_brooklyn) from commons.wikimedia.org 33.1, page 247: Craig O’Neal (username: minds-eye) from flickr.com A1.1, page 414: Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image from sceti.library.upenn.edu

Biblical Bible Translating Copyright Š 1988, 2012 by Charles V. Turner All rights reserved. Third Edition Revised and Expanded Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 88-90221 Dewey Decimal Catalog Number: 268.6 All biblical quotations are from the 1769 King James Version unless otherwise noted. Printed in the United States of America ISBN: 158960-302-8

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About the Author and This Book

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and by formally teaching them the doctrines of the Bible at Sinasina Bible Institute. I am currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Baptist Bible Translators Institute in Bowie, Texas. During the last twenty-five years at Baptist Bible Translators Institute, I have trained missionaries in Linguistics, Cultural Anthropology, Language Learning Principles, New Testament Greek, Bible Translation Principles, Ethnomusicology, Adult Literacy Teaching Principles, and Cross-cultural Communication Principles. I have written this book for people who are concerned about faithful Bible translating. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what constitutes a faithful Bible translation. Some of these misunderstandings are unimportant, but others have resulted in very serious problems. A faithfully translated Bible is of eternal significance, but an inadequately translated Bible can be a source of many doctrinal errors and a waste of time, effort, and money. If missionaries will read this book carefully, in its entirety, they will gain a clearer understanding of the principles and problems involved in producing a faithful translation of the Bible. Please do not judge this book until you have read it entirely. What you might find offensive at first, may later prove to be valuable. This book could keep missionaries from wasting a lot of time and effort. It could also help them with their preaching of God’s Word and the publishing of Scripture. A person who reads this book will be more sympathetic toward Bible translators. He will understand the many problems they face and be able to offer a more constructive criticism of their exhausting efforts. I have slowly developed this book, Biblical Bible Translating, during 30 years of teaching it to hundreds of students. I began writing this book during two years of teaching Bible translation

n 1950, I believed on the Lord Jesus. I was born again. My entire life changed. All of this was because of the people at the Marcus Hook Baptist Church in Linwood, Pennsylvania. I received my early missionary training at Marcus Hook Baptist Church. Pastor Jack Ludlam taught me many helpful spiritual lessons. Members of Marcus Hook Baptist Church, Adolph and Ruth Beck, Leon and Bettie Downs, and many others had a major impact on my life. Evelyn Congleton, missionary to the Philippines, and Harold Noden, missionary to Kentucky, taught Bible classes that helped me to grow spiritually. In 1953, I continued preparing for missionary service at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1957, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Education. After that, I completed linguistic courses at the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of Oklahoma in 1957 and 1958. I took two more years of training in Primary Missionary Training (Boot Camp) and Secondary Missionary Training (Linguistic School) at New Tribes Institute in 1958 and 1959. In 1964 and 1971, I earned a Master of Arts degree in Bible at Columbia International University. In 1990, I earned a Ph.D. degree at Great Plains Baptist Divinity School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1960, the Marcus Hook Baptist Church ordained me to the ministry and sent me as a missionary to Papua New Guinea. There, with my wife, Wanda, now deceased, we worked for twenty years among the Sinasina people in the Simbu Province of Papua New Guinea. Beginning in 1961 and finishing in 1980, I translated the New Testament, Genesis, and Exodus into the Sinasina language. Together with my coworkers, we planted several churches and trained some Sinasina pastors by personally instructing them

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possible solutions to problems. I hope this book will enable them to translate the Scriptures into one of the thousands of Bibleless languages of the world. There is no need for each missionary to learn about Bible translating the hard way. They can learn from others who have already had experience in Bible translation. This will save them many wasted hours of frustration and confusion. Another objective of this book is to provide a biblical basis for Bible translation principles and practices. I will do this by constantly seeking examples of ways the King James Version translators translated Scripture. The same ways they translated are models for us to follow. By following their principles and practices of Bible translation, this will determine what principles and practices we should follow in this course of study. Another objective of this book is to help students gain a more accurate knowledge of the Bible translation process. This should help them to be supportive of a Bible translator and be able to offer constructive criticism of the translator’s work. If one understands the problems involved in translating, one will be less of a hindrance to a Bible translator and more of an encouragement. Another objective of this book is to motivate students to become Bible translation consultants. The main job of a Bible translation consultant is to train other Bible translators. Bible translation consultants check the translation work of others and offer help to them when they come to passages that are difficult to translate. My constant prayer is that God would use the thoughts on these pages to motivate and enable Christians to translate God’s Word for the thousands of Bibleless ethnic nations. May God’s people hasten the day when the work of planting New Testament churches among more than 3,000 Bibleless nations is completed!

principles at New Tribes Language School in Camdenton, Missouri in 1980. Now, it has come to completion in 2012. All missionaries need training in Bible translation principles because all missionaries will be doing some form of Bible translating. Even if a missionary never formally translates a single verse of Scripture, he will have to translate his English words of the Gospel into equivalent meanings in the language of the ethnic people. His verbal preaching of the Gospel is itself a type of very rapid Bible translating. Therefore, it is not true that some missionaries will not be involved in Bible translating. All missionaries will be involved in some form of Bible translation if they preach the Gospel in a language the people understand best, their own mother tongue. People who read this book, and apply the principles of cross-cultural communication taught in it, will improve their communication skills in any language or culture. A pastor who reads this book will be a better expositor of the Bible if he applies the principles of interpretation and semantics taught in this book. Because interpreters of foreign languages are, in fact, instant translators, they too will profit by reading this book. Those who will be translating tracts and other Christian materials into other languages will also find it helpful. In 1952 when I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus to save me from my sins, I believed the King James Version Bible was the inspired Word of God. I still believe the same thing now. The only difference now is that I know why I believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, and I understand more clearly the ways God has used to preserve his inspired and inerrant Word down through the centuries until the present day.

Some objectives of this book

One objective of this book is to help students learn the many principles, problems, and

–Charles V. Turner

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Figure 1. This is a photo of Johann Gutenberg’s Latin Bible printed in 1454. Gutenberg was the first European to print a book with movable type. This book was the first book printed in Europe.

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Figure 2. This is a photocopy of a page from John Wycliffe’s translation of the Gospel of John. He translated it in 1380, before the invention of movable type. It had to be handwritten. Regrettably, the basis for this translation was not the Greek text, but the corrupt Latin Vulgate. Verse one begins in the middle of the page and says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was at god and god was the word. This was in the beginning at god. All things were made by it.”

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Figure 3. This is a photocopy of the Gospel of John translated and printed by William Tyndale in the city of Worms, Germany in 1525. At this time, Bible printing in England was not permitted. The Tyndale Bible was the first English translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts. It was also the first English Bible translation that was mass-produced using new advances in the science of printing. It had no verse numbers. The first part of it reads, “In the begynnynge was that worde, and that worde was with god: and god was thatt worde. The same was in the begynnynge wyth god. All thyngs were made by it, and with out it, was made noo thige, that made was.�

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Figure 4. This is a photocopy of the Geneva Bible printed in 1557. It was the first Bible to have numbered verses. It was the most important driving force of the English Reformation. It found a lasting place in the hearts of Englishmen. Puritans used it in their homes and churches. They brought it with them on the Mayflower to the English colony at Plymouth in 1620. The first three verses say, “In the beginning was the Worde, and the Worde was with God and that Worde was God. The fame was in the beginning wi God. All things were made by it, & without it was made nothing that was made.�

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Figure 5. This is a photocopy of the Bishop’s Bible printed in 1568. It was translated by a group of Anglican bishops, hence its name. It was the clergy’s version, but it never gained favor with the English people. They continued to prefer the Geneva Bible. Even so, Archbishop Richard Bancroft strictly charged the King James Version translators to follow the renderings of verses in the Bishop’s Bible. The only time they were permitted to depart from the renderings in the Bishop’s Bible was when the Bishop’s Bible did not follow the Hebrew and Greek texts. The first three verses say, “In the begynnyng was the worde, & the worde was with God: and that worde was God. The fame was in the begynnyng with God. All thynges were made by it: and without it, was made nothyng that was made.

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Figure 6. This is a photocopy of the first page in the Gospel of John from the 1611 edition of the King James Version. The King James Version has endured, with revisions, for 400 years, and continues to be the most reliable standard of God’s Word in the English language. The first three verses say, “In the beginning was the word, & the word was with God, and the word was God. The fame was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Notice verse 12 where there are two parallel lines in the margin and before the word power. The parallel lines were put there by the translators to indicate that there are two other possible renderings of the word power. It reads, “Or, the right or priviledge.”

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Figure 7. This is a photocopy of the Gospel of John chapter one in the Received Greek New Testament. It was first printed by Disiderius Erasmus in Basel, Switzerland in 1516. It was printed again by the Cambridge University Press in 1894. It is the Greek text that underlies the New Testament of the King James Version. The title in Greek reads, “Gospel, the one according to John” The first verse from left to right reads, “In beginning was continually being the word, and the word was continually being toward the God, and God was continually being the word.”

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Figure 8. This is a photocopy of the first page of the Masoretic Hebrew Old Testament text in Genesis chapter one. It reads from right to left. It was first printed in 1488 in the Soncino edition and printed again by the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1894. It is the Hebrew text that underlies the Old Testament of the King James Version. The title in Hebrew reads, “In beginning.” The first verse from right to left reads, “In beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.”

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Figure 9. The Bible Stands.

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Table of Contents Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?

Chapter 17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Ten Requirements for Bible Translators

Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 A History of Bible Translating

Chapter 18. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Adding to and Taking Away from Scripture

Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 The Greek Old Testament in Context

Chapter 19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 Teaching Bible Translation Principles

Chapter 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Greek Old Testament in the New Testament

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Chapter 20. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Which Bible Text?

Chapter 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

Chapter 21. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 The Need for a Standard

Chapter 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 The Importance of the Greek Old Testament

Chapter 22. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 An Introduction to Semantics

Chapter 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

Chapter 23. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177

The Influence of the Greek Old Testament

Semantics I

Chapter 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Rejecting All Apocryphal Books

Semantics II

Chapter 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 The Living Word and the Written Word

Semantics III

Chapter 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A History of English Bible Translating

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Chapter 26. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194 Semantic Component Analysis

Chapter 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures

Chapter 27. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 Interpreting the Biblical Text

Chapter 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 A Biblical Philosophy for Bible Translators

Chapter 28. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213 Problem Areas in Translation

Chapter 13. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 God’s Word to Every Nation

Chapter 29. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218 The Problem of Genitive Structures

Chapter 14. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 The Need for Faithful Bible Translators

Chapter 30. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221 The Problem of Rhetorical Questions

Chapter 15. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95

Chapter 31. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226

Chapter 24. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Chapter 25. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188

The Goal of Bible Translating

The Problem of Passive Voice

Chapter 16. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses

Chapter 32. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230 The Problem of Translating from a Translation

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Chapter 33. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 The Problem of Indirect Quotations

Chapter 50. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325 Checking the Textual Basis of a Translation

Chapter 34. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235 The Problem of Implied Information

Chapter 51. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 Faithfulness in Translation

Chapter 35. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240

Chapter 52. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336

The Problem of Figures of Speech

Translation Development

Chapter 36. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244 The Problem of Euphemisms and Other Literary Devices

Chapter 53. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381 God’s Message to You

Chapter 37. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 The Problem of Idioms

Chapter 54. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 386 The Personal Computer

Chapter 38. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253

Chapter 55. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 390 Translator’s Goal Sheets

Chapter 39. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257

Chapter 56. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 392 Final Examination

The Problem of Doublets, Focus, and Flashback The Problem of Collocation Clash and Cultural Substitutes

Chapter 40. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260 The Problem of Chiasmus and Order of Elements

Chapter 57. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400 Final Examination Answers Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 408

Chapter 41. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263

Appendix 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 414

Chapter 42. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271

Appendix 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 417 The Translators to the Reader

Chapter 43. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280

Appendix 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 434

Chapter 44. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

Appendix 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 436

The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion

The Problem of Kinship Terms and Loan Words The Problem of Text Mismatch

Chapter 45. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 298 Word Hunting: Part 1 Chapter 46. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303 Word Hunting: Part 2 Chapter 47. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307

Epistle Dedicatorie to the King James Bible

Bancroft’s Rules to be Followed by the Translators

What did the King James Version translators believe about the Bible and Bible translation principles?

Appendix 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 441 John Gill’s Statement about the Relationship of Bible Translations to the Original Hebrew and Greek Texts Appendix 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 443 The Church Doctrine of Inspiration

Word Hunting: Part 3

Index of Subjects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 457

Chapter 48. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312

Index of Charts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 476

Chapter 49. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319

Index of Manuscript Evidence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 477

Word Hunting: Part 4

Checking a Translation for Accuracy

Index of Homework. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 476 Index of Pictures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 478

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Biblical Bible Translating The Biblical Basis for Bible Translating With an Introduction to Semantics and Applications Made to Bible Translation Principles and Problems

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Acknowledgements

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y wife, Mary Lou, has patiently supported me during many long hours working from early morning to late at night. The Marcus Hook Baptist Church in Linwood, Pennsylvania supports my ministry with their prayer and financial support. This is also true of Truthville Baptist Church in Truthville, New York, Grace Chapel Church in West Columbia, South Carolina, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Wilson, North Carolina, and Denton Baptist Temple in Denton, Texas. My daughters, Emily and Hannah, gave me a lot of support. Emily proofread this book and Hannah kept back-up files of the book safe at her home. The students at Baptist Bible Translators Institute have been helpful by reading these pages

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and offering corrections for the mistakes they found in the book. Nathan Rugg did a great job proofreading the book and offering very helpful suggestions about many ways to improve it. Rose Rider did a great job designing the cover and typesetting the text. Melissa Bentley’s computer skills were a great help. The pictures and illustrations used in this book are of my own creation or they have been adapted from sources in the public domain. I am grateful to my colleagues at Baptist Bible Translators Institute who have always been kind to me even when they have not agreed with everything I have written in this book.


More sweating at the grindstone...

...less sweating in the field.

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What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?

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The King James Version translators said of their Bible translation, “It is welcomed with suspicion instead of love, and with emulation instead of thanks: and if there be any hole left for cavil [fault finding] to enter, (and cavil, if it do not find a hole, will make one) it is sure to be misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 417)

Chapter 1

What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?

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esus believed that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures were the very words of God. He believed that God had inspired the Hebrew Old Testament. Therefore, He believed that the people and events recorded in the Old Testament were historically accurate. He also believed the teaching of the Old Testament to be completely authoritative as the rule for his life. Because He believed that the God of the Old Testament was the living and true God, He believed that the Scriptures were to be obeyed as the direct will of God for every person.

Jesus’ beliefs

Jesus believed in the people and events of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matthew 19:4) This verse would also prove that Jesus believed that God created people and the world. He did not believe in the evolution of the universe and He did not believe in the evolution of human beings.

Abel

“That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son

of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 23:35)

Noah and the flood

“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:38–39)

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11)

Sodom and Gomorrah

“Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matthew 10:15)

Lot and Lot’s wife

“Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)

Moses

“He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8)

Manna (food in the wilderness)

“Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” (John 6:31)


2 Miracle of the serpent

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” (John 3:14)

David

“But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread?” (Matthew 12:3)

Solomon

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” (Matthew 12:42)

Jonah

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matthew 12:39)

Elijah

“But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.” (Luke 4:25)

Elisha

“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)

Zechariah

“From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:51) This verse shows that Jesus believed the entire chronology of Biblical events. He begins with Abel at the beginning of creation in Genesis and progresses to Zechariah until “this generation.”

Chapter 1 Isaiah

“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:7-8)

Daniel

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.” (Matthew 24:15) Jesus was familiar with the entire Old Testament and treated all parts of it equally as historical fact. It is significant that the Old Testament narratives least acceptable to modern textual critics are the very ones that Jesus chose to illustrate and confirm his teaching.

Jesus believed the miracles of the Old Testament. Jonah swallowed by the large fish (kηtoς)

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) (See pg. 296.)

People healed by the serpent of brass

“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:9)

The pot of oil that did not fail

“But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.” (Luke 4:25) This is a reference to First Kings 17:16 “And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.”

The cleansing of Naaman’s leprosy

“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? Jesus made Scripture his final authority.

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12–13) “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5: 17)

Jesus believed that no one could rightfully charge the Scriptures with error.

“If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) What does the phrase “the scripture cannot be broken” mean? It means that no one can rightfully charge the Scriptures with error. It means that the Scriptures can never be in contradiction to what is true. It means that no one can rightly object to what the Scriptures teach. The Jews have a way of speaking about this. When one doctor of the law had produced an argument in a point of debate, another may say, “It may be broken” or “It may be objected to.” This phrase means that one could prove a statement wrong by considering another argument that would disprove it. However, according to Jesus, no statement can be made that would prove the Scriptures to be in error.

Jesus believed that no one could destroy even the smallest parts of Scripture.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18) The “jot” refers to the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, called a Yodh (y). The “tittle”

3 is a curve used to distinguish one letter of the Hebrew alphabet from another letter of similar appearance. One can see the difference between the Hebrew letter Beth b and the Hebrew letter Kaph k by the curve in the letter Kaph k. The letter Kaph k has a tittle or curve, but the letter Beth b does not. Jewish tradition mentions the letter Yodh (y) as being irremovable. Jews say that even if all men in the world gathered to abolish the least letter in the law, they could not. The phrase, “till heaven and earth pass,” means that the law (Scripture) is the certain and unchangeable will of God. No one can ever alter it in the least jot or tittle, nor can he ever abolish it. Jesus used the expression “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” to show the certainty, the unalterableness, and the sure accomplishment of all the things recorded in the Scriptures.

Jesus believed that His words would not pass away.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) You may sooner expect to see the heaven and earth pass away than for the words of Jesus to pass away. Jesus promised that his words would not change. He said that his words would stand throughout the eternal ages. By the expression “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” Jesus confirms the truth of what he had just said. He assures those to whom he spoke, that although there would be a change of heaven and earth, which people considered the most stable and unchanging things, yet the words He spoke would never change. Not a syllable of his words would become decayed and perish. His words would outlast the world and the universe. Therefore, the modern skeptical textual critics have set themselves an impossible task. They can never dispose of the inspiration and inerrancy of the whole Bible, or of a book of the Bible, or of a chapter, or a verse, or a word, or a letter, or the smallest part of a


4 letter, for the whole of Scripture will come forth from the furnace of textual criticism as silver purified seven times. “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) Jesus strongly asserts that the Scriptures are incorruptible, immortal, and pure. It is perfectly clear that He believed that no particle of the sacred sense of Scripture would perish, from the beginning of the law to the end of it. Jesus said that it would be easier for the world to pass away than for the smallest part of the law to do so. He contrasts the eternal existence of the law, and the impossibility of its passing away, with the heavens and the earth, which are not eternal, and will pass away. Jewish scribes have said, “The whole world is not equal even to one word out of the law of God. There is not one letter deficient or unnecessary in it.” –T. Hieros, Peah fol 15.4

Jesus used the Old Testament as his authority in controversy.

“And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” (Mark 12:26) Jesus rests His argument for the resurrection of the dead on the present tense of the phrase, “I am the God of Abraham.” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died long ago, but God continued his relationship with them in the present time. Therefore, the dead must rise because these men were still alive and in a living relationship with God, even though they had died many years before.

Jesus believed the Old Testament was the basis for his teaching.

“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” (Luke 24:44)

Chapter 1 In this verse, Jesus mentions the usual divisions the Jews made of the books of the Old Testament: the Law, the Prophets, and the Sacred Writings. The book of Psalms stands last as representing the whole of the Sacred Writings.

Jesus believed the Scriptures to be the word of God.

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13) In this verse, Jesus is referring to Exodus 20:12 “Honour thy father and thy mother.” Jesus calls these words “the word of God.” “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35) Jesus, referring to Psalm 82:6, calls the words in this psalm “the word of God.”

Jesus believed the Holy Spirit caused men to write Scripture.

“And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Mark 12:35–36)

Jesus believed that every single word of Scripture was inspired by God and important.

Jesus based his teaching on the single Greek verb eimi, meaning “I am.”

“I am [eimi] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (John 22:32) The word eimi is in the present active (continuative) tense. Jesus uses this single word in the present tense to establish the fact that God said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” not “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Even though these three men had died long ago, they were still alive because the resurrection from the dead is a reality.


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? Jesus based his teaching about the Messiah on the single word Lord.

“Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Matthew 22:42–44) By this argument, Jesus proved that the Christ was more than a mere man; otherwise, David would never have called him Lord nor prophesied that Jehovah would call him to sit at his right hand. Jesus used the one word Lord to prove that the Christ was Lord, that is, God. Also, note that Jesus said that David had written this one word under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and, therefore, this made the argument of Jesus from this one word authoritative and unanswerable.

Jesus defended his teaching by using a single letter that made a distinction between a singular word and a plural word.

“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:34–36) The argument of Jesus is that the word gods as written in Psalm 82:6 is correctly used to respectfully address Jewish magistrates, who were commissioned by God to act as His deputy in administering justice to the people of Israel. Jesus therefore argues that if, in a book that the Jews admit to be of Divine authority, human judges were called gods; it is absurd to bring against Him, who had been sanctified and sent by the Father, a charge of blasphemy, because He said, “I am the Son of God.” The argument of Jesus is, because they would not dare charge the psalmist with blasphemy because he used the word gods to describe mere human judges, their charge that Jesus was blaspheming because He

5 said, “I am the Son of God” is contradicting the teaching of Scripture.

Jesus believed that the Scriptures written about him must happen.

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” (Matthew 26:31) “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved for Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44–47) The word dei is a Greek verb used two times by Jesus in Luke 24:44–47 to express events that must take place because the Scripture had prophesied that they would surely happen. This means that Luke 24:46–47 contains two prophecies that must take place. The first prophecy that Christ must suffer and rise from the dead the third day has happened. Just as it was necessary for the first prophecy of Christ’s death and resurrection to take place, so also verse 47 is included in that prophecy. Therefore, the prophecy that repentance and remission of sins must be preached in his name among all nations will also happen.

Jesus believed the Old Testament prophesied about him.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39) “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)


6 “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:7)

Jesus believed that His words agreed with the Old Testament.

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46–47)

Jesus said it was wrong to make tradition more important than Scripture.

“But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” (Matthew 15:5–6)

Jesus defeated his Enemy by using Scripture.

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3–4)

Jesus said that people teach wrong doctrines because they do not know the Scriptures.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.” (Matthew 22:29)

Jesus said that his words were not his but were the Father’s words.

“For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (John 12:49–50)

Chapter 1 Jesus said that he spoke the truth.

“But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:6–7)

Jesus said that a wise person would obey His words.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” (Matthew 7:24–26)

Jesus said that true disciples continue in His word.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

Jesus said that no person truly loves Him unless he keeps His words.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words.” (John 14:23)

Jesus said that in the last day he would judge people who reject His words by the very words they rejected.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48)

Jesus believed there was no mingling of divine truth and human error in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.

Jesus did not read from the original Hebrew autographs of Scripture. The original autographs had worn out long before Jesus was born. Jesus read from copies of the Hebrew autographs. Nevertheless, he must have considered these copies to be sufficiently in agreement with the


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? words written in the autographs, for we never find Jesus criticizing the text in the copies of Hebrew Scriptures. Scholars have documented copying mistakes in the Hebrew copies of the autographs. Gleason Archer on page 60 of his book A Survey of Old Testament Introduction lists the twelve most common manuscript-copying problems. 1. Haplography is a singular entry of a letter that should have been written twice. 2. Dittography is writing twice of a letter that should have been written once. 3. Metathesis is the reversal of the order of two letters in a word. 4. Fusion is combining all or part of two words into a single word. 5. Fission is the division of a single word into two words. 6. Homophony is a substituting of one word that sounds like another word, such as “plane” for “plain.” 7. Misreading is the mistaking of similar letters. 8. Homoeoteleuton is an omission of an intervening passage due to having a similar ending (such as between two sentences). 9. Homoeoarkton is the omission of an intervening passage from the beginning of two similar sentences. 10. Accidental omission is the omitting of a single word or letter. 11. Vowel misreading is the misreading of vowel letters as consonants. 12. Vowel point variations are the misreading of weak vowels as consonants or adding vowel points that change the meaning of a word. Archer says on page 59 of the same book, “In the transmission of the sacred text of Holy Scripture, we find that the same types of scribal slip as appear in secular works have crept into the copies of Bible books. It would take nothing short of a miracle to make possible an infallible copy of an infallible original. God has not seen fit to perform such miracles as the Scriptures have been handed down from copy to copy

7 between the time of original composition and the invention of the printing press. There is no particular reason why he should have.” I think Mr. Archer says this last statement because most of the copying errors are obvious and easy to correct. Be this as it may, Jesus also must have considered these minor copying mistakes of no great consequence because we never read that he expressed discontent about certain places in Scripture as being in error because they contained scribal copying problems. Jesus could have pointed out the copyists mistakes, but evidently, these mistakes were of little significance to him because they did not endanger any truth recorded in Scripture. Therefore, Jesus chose to ignore them because they were of such a trivial nature. John Wenham in his article in the book Inerrancy, on page 14, wrote, “Surely Jesus would have explained clearly a mingling of divine truth and human error in Scripture had He thought such existed.” Evidently, Jesus did not see a need for correcting minor copying mistakes. To this, the great Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, would agree. He said that the real conflict in the textual criticism of the New Testament is concerning only a thousandth part of the entire text. This information comes from page 22 of the book, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by A. T. Robertson. This would be equally true of the Old Testament text. Therefore, Jesus must have concluded that it was not worthwhile to quibble about trivial textual problems that are of little or no consequence. He must have considered them easily correctable by consulting correct copies. If Jesus took this approach to Scripture, we should do the same. Not only did Jesus take this approach to trivial mistakes made by copyists, but he also took this same approach toward minor mistakes made by translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. Not only did scribes make


8 copying mistakes, but translators also made minor translation mistakes. Even though the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek did not translate perfectly, Jesus must have considered their work as accurate enough to convey the truth of God’s words. In the original Preface of the King James Version, the translators wrote, “Jerome affirmeth… that the Seventy were translators, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet, as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance” (The Translators to the Reader, Appendix 2, page 422). The King James Version translators believed that the translators of the Greek Old Testament were translators of Scripture, not inspired writers of Scripture. They further noted that the translators of the Greek Old Testament had translated most verses well, but in some places, they had made minor translation mistakes due either to oversight or ignorance. Even so, we do not read anywhere in the Bible that Jesus took time to point out minor translation mistakes. He could have pointed them out if He had chosen to do so. Surely if these translation mistakes were of great significance, Jesus would have objected to them, but we have no record of an incident when Jesus thought it necessary to correct minor translation mistakes in the Greek Old Testament. The copying mistakes made while copying Scripture are similar to the mistakes that we all make when copying any language text. A copyist may substitute a word of similar sound for the one used in the original text. This would involve such words as whole for hole or there for their. One might slip up and write the same word twice as in “and and.” One might switch the order of letters as in seige instead of siege. You can easily understand how Bible copyists made mistakes if you will attempt to copy the entire Old Testament yourself. If you tried to copy the entire Old Testament, you would make

Chapter 1 some mistakes, but it would be relatively easy to correct them because the mistakes are obvious and would not seriously hamper your reading of the copy you made. In fact, it is recorded in Luke 4:16–19 that Jesus took the book of Isaiah, that had been translated into Greek, and read the Greek words from Isaiah, Chapter 61 verse one and a part of the words from verse two, but he said nothing about correcting the Greek Old Testament words. The charts on the following pages clearly indicate that Jesus read from the Greek Old Testament because the words recorded in Luke 4:16–19 agree with the words of the Greek Old Testament more than they agree with the words of the Hebrew Old Testament. There are minor differences between Isaiah 61:1–2 in the Greek Old Testament and Isaiah 61:1–2 in the Hebrew Old Testament, but Jesus evidently did not believe these differences to be of great significance because he did not correct the Greek Old Testament to make it agree one hundred percent with the Hebrew Old Testament. Evidently, the translation of the Greek Old Testament was as close to the Hebrew text as it needed to be. Therefore, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was acceptable to Jesus. We do not read of Jesus either correcting the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament or correcting the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. Evidently, the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament scrolls, in circulation during the lifetime of Jesus, were acceptable to him, and the copies of the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek were acceptable to Him. If copies of the Hebrew Scriptures and translations of them into Greek were acceptable to the Lord Jesus, they should be acceptable to us as well. This is not to say that Jesus would be unconcerned about differences between the Hebrew Old Testament text and the Greek Old


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? Testament text. He would be concerned, but at this particular Scripture, Luke 4:16–19, Jesus did not think it necessary to change the Greek translation of the Hebrew text because the Greek text said essentially the same thing as did the Hebrew text. This is also not to say that present day Bible translators should not be concerned about the one thousandth percent of the Biblical text that may need correction because of typographical mistakes, printing mistakes and translation mistakes. The Bible translator may need to solve some of the problems involved in translating the biblical text into another language. A faithful Bible translator is very conscious of the need to make sure he is neither adding to God’s words nor taking away from God’s words. Therefore, he should be strongly motivated to know exactly what the original Hebrew and Greek words were, and what those words mean in the Hebrew and Greek languages. When he knows these two things, he is on a solid foundation to translate the Scriptures accurately. Some people have objected to the fact of Jesus reading or quoting from the Greek Old Testament because they say it was an extremely corrupted translation. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls have shown that the Greek Old Testament is a much more accurate translation than what earlier scholars had suggested. Many of the socalled “errors” of the Greek Old Testament have proven to be a matter of correctly interpreting the Greek text. Some have said that the translators of the Greek Old Testament corrupted it because they included the apocryphal books in it. Actually, the translators of the Greek Old Testament did not include the apocryphal books in their translation. Heretical Roman Gnostics added the non-canonical apocryphal books to the Greek Old Testament hundreds of years after the translators had completed the translation of it. It was not the fault of the translators of the Greek Old Testament that primitive Romanists

9 included these non-canonical books in the Greek Old Testament hundreds of years after the translators had translated it. This is similar to the fact that it was not the fault of the King James Version translators that the apocryphal books were included in the 1611 edition of the King James Version. It was due to pressure from Anglican bishops that these books were included in the King James Version. This mistake was soon corrected.

The influence of the Greek Old Testament

Alfred Edersheim, who was trained to be a Jewish Rabbi before becoming a Christian, wrote a book entitled The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. On page 23 of this book he wrote, “First and foremost, we have here the Greek translation of the Old Testament, venerable not only as the oldest, but as that which at the time of Jesus held the place of our ‘Authorized Version,’ and as such is often quoted in the New Testament. Nor need we wonder that it should have been the people’s Bible, not merely among the Hellenists, (Greek speaking Jews) but in Galilee, and even in Judea. It was not only, as already explained, that Hebrew was no longer the ‘vulgar tongue’ (common language) in Palestine, and that written Targumim were prohibited. However, most, if not all—at least in towns—would understand the Greek version; it might be quoted in conversations with Hellenist brethren or with the Gentiles; and, what was perhaps equally, if not more important, it was the most readily procurable. From the extreme labour and care bestowed on them, Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible were enormously dear, as we infer from a curious Talmudic notice, where a common woolen wrap, which of course was very cheap, a copy of the Psalms, of Job, and torn pieces from Proverbs, are together valued at 500 shekels of gold! Although this notice dates from the third or fourth century A.D., it is not likely that the cost of Hebrew Biblical manuscripts was much lower at the time of


10 Jesus. This would put their possession well nigh out of common reach. On the other hand, we are able to form an idea of the cheapness of Greek manuscripts from what we know of the price of books in Rome at the beginning of our era. Hundreds of slaves were there engaged copying what another slave dictated. The result was not only the publication of as large editions as in our days, but their production at only about double the cost of what are now known as ‘cheap’ or ‘people’s editions.’ Probably it would be safe to compute, that as much matter as would cover sixteen pages of small print might, in such cases, be sold at the rate of about sixpence, and in that ratio. Accordingly, manuscripts in Greek or Latin, although often incorrect, must have been easily attainable, and this would have considerable influence on making the Greek version of the Old Testament the people’s Bible.” Some have claimed that the Gospel writers wrote many years after Christ and so they were translating the Hebrew words of Jesus into Greek words. This idea is supposed to account for the words quoted in Luke 4:16–19 agreeing with the Greek Old Testament and not the Hebrew Old Testament. First, we are not told anywhere in the New Testament that the Gospel writers were translators translating from Hebrew documents. Any suggestion of this is purely subjective with no objective proof. The authors of the Gospels composed or wrote their Gospels in Greek under the control of the Holy Spirit. There is no indication that they translated them from a Hebrew source. Each Gospel author was a writer, not a translator. Gleason Archer wrote, “George Lamsa has advanced the theory that much of the New Testament was originally composed in Aramaic [a form of Hebrew] which was subsequently translated into the Greek New Testament that we now have. There is, however, no evidence to support this claim and it is not taken seriously by New Testament scholarship.” –A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Gleason Archer, page 56.

Chapter 1 However, when the authors of the Gospels did translate a few Aramaic words, they told us that they were doing so. Here are some verses where they clearly tell us they are translating. They use the word interpreted which means, “translated.” “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted (translated) is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 “And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, (translated) Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” (Mark 5:41) “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, (translated) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) The Gospel authors were careful to tell us when they were translating and when they were composing. The amount of translating they did is very small. If they had been translating all of the Hebrew or Aramaic words of Jesus throughout their writing, they would have told us so. They left the unmistakable imprint of their own personality and writing styles on the Gospels they wrote. The writing styles of each Gospel author are very different from the other authors. If they were translating from a common Hebrew source, this would have influenced the individuality of each writer toward a more common sameness, but this is not the case. There is no mistaking the writing of John with the writing of Luke. The two authors are as different as were their individual personalities and their writing styles. There is no such “translational sameness” in their writings that would result from their common goal of translating the supposed Hebrew documents the same way. Secondly, the Gospel writers are not the only New Testament authors who quote from the Greek Old Testament. Throughout the New Testament, many quotations are closer to the Greek Old Testament than they are to


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? the Hebrew Old Testament. Therefore, this would not involve the Gospels because the subjects written about in other parts of the New Testament are on other topics other than the life of Christ. Thirdly, some have claimed that the likeness of quotations in the New Testament to the Greek Old Testament is the result of the translators of the Greek Old Testament using the Greek New Testament as their source for translating the Greek Old Testament. They can make this claim because they believe that the translators of the Greek Old Testament did not translate it until sometime during the later part of the first century A.D. However, this flies in the face of volumes of historical and manuscript evidence that the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek completed their translation during the second centuries B.C. This makes it impossible for the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek to use the Greek New Testament as a source for their translating because the Greek New Testament did not exist during the second century B.C. Fourthly, what would be the implications of New Testament authors translating Scripture instead of composing it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? The first implication would be that they must have translated the New Testament from Hebrew documents about which there is no evidence at all. We would have no way of checking their supposed translation with and infallible original because no such Hebrew documents exist today. Another implication would be that anyone who wanted to translate Scripture could produce a translation supposedly inspired by God! Anyone who has ever done any Bible translating knows that this would produce a very chaotic, highly individualistic, humanly flawed, personalized translation of the Bible that would have anything but the marks of inspiration by God on it. The main objection to this is that such a claim to inspired translating

11 was a fad that died long ago with the fiction that the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek were inspired translators. This claim that the translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek were inspired is very unrealistic and has not a scrape of evidence to prove that anything close to that happened with the translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. On the next pages are charts that indicate that Jesus read from the Greek Old Testament. The first chart is from Luke 4:16–19. Jesus reads this passage of Scripture in a synagogue at Nazareth, which is in the Gentile province of Galilee. The Jews often spoke of Nazareth and Galilee as the despised province of the Gentiles. This was because Greek rulers appointed by Alexander the Great, had ruled Galilee for more than 250 years before Christ was born and continued to do so during His lifetime. Therefore, it would be nearly impossible for a synagogue in Nazareth not to have copies of Greek Old Testament scrolls. Because Jesus grew up in the Gentile town of Nazareth in the Gentile province of Galilee, it would be virtually impossible for him not to be fluent in both the Hebrew language and the Greek language. Therefore, Jesus would be able to read the Greek Old Testament scroll of Isaiah that they brought to him in the synagogue at Nazareth.

1.1 Jesus reads the Greek Old Testament scroll of Isaiah


12

Chapter 1

Chart 1: Seven sections in Luke 4:16–19

Four of the seven sections agree closely with the Greek Old Testament. This indicates that Jesus read from the Greek Old Testament scroll of Isaiah #1 Isaiah 61:1–2 translated from the Hebrew Old Testament. KJV

#2 Isaiah 61:1–2 Translated from the Greek Old Testament by Lancelot Brenton

#3 Luke 4:16–19 translated from the Greek New Testament. KJV

Although there are some differences in the three sections of Isaiah 61:1–2, the Greek NT text agrees more often with the Greek OT than it does with the Hebrew OT.

Differences and agreements

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

The Greek NT and Greek OT agree. The word GOD does not occur in the Greek Old Testament or the Greek New Testament both of which use the word Lord.

#2 and #3 agree.

because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek

because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor

because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor

The Greek NT and Greek OT agree. The word LORD does not occur in the Greek OT or the Greek NT. The Hebrew OT uses the word meek, but the Greek OT and the Greek NT both use the word poor.

#2 and #3 agree.

he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted

to heal the broken in heart

he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted

The Greek NT and Greek OT agree. The Hebrew OT says, “bind up.” The Greek OT and the Greek NT both say, “heal.”

#2 and #3 agree.

to proclaim liberty to the captives

to proclaim liberty to the captives

to preach deliverance to the captives

The Hebrew OT and Greek OT agree. However, #2 and #3 use similar words, “liberty,” and “deliverance.”

#1 and #2 agree.

and the opening of the prison to them that are bound

and recovery of sight to the blind

and recovering of sight to the blind

The Greek NT and Greek OT agree. The Greek OT and the Greek NT use only the word blind. The Hebrew OT says, “prison” and “bound.”

#2 and #3 agree.

No equivalent No equivalent to set at liber- The Greek NT uses the word in text in text ty them that bruised, which does not agree with are bruised either the Hebrew OT that says, “bound,” or the Greek OT that uses neither of the two words.

#1 and #2 do not agree with #3.

to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.

#1 and # 2 and #3 all agree.

to declare the acceptable year of the Lord.

to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

All three agree. Each one uses the similar words proclaim, declare, and preach.


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?

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Chart 2: Two sections of Mark 7:7

The two sections agree closely with the Greek OT. This would indicate that Jesus quoted from the Greek Old Testament #1 The last part of Isaiah 29:13 translated from the Hebrew O.T. KJV

#2 The last part of #3 Matthew 7:7 Isaiah 29:13 transtranslated from the lated from the Greek Greek NT. KJV OT by Brenton

Differences and Agreements

and their fear toward me

but in vain do they worship me

Howbeit in vain do they worship me

The Greek OT and Greek NT are nearly the same.

#2 and #3 agree.

is taught by the precept of men

teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.

teaching for doctrines The Greek OT and Greek NT are the commandments nearly the same. of men.

#2 and #3 agree.

Chart 3: Luke 4:8b agrees with the Greek OT.

This would indicate that Jesus quoted from the Greek Old Testament #1 Deuteronomy 6:13b translated from the Hebrew OT. KJV

#2 Deuteronomy 6:13b translated from the Greek OT by Brenton

#3 Luke 4:8b translated from the Greek NT. KJV

Differences and agreements

and serve him,

and him only shalt thou serve.

and him only shalt thou serve.

The Greek OT and Greek NT are the same.

#2 and #3 agree

Chart 4: One section in Matthew 21:16 agrees with the Greek OT. This would indicate that Jesus quoted from the Greek Old Testament. #1 Psalm 8:2 trans- #2 Psalm 8:2 trans- #3 Matthew 21:16 lated from the He- lated from the Greek translated from the brew OT. KJV OT by Brenton Greek NT. KJV

Differences and agreements

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings

The Hebrew OT and the Greek OT and the Greek NT all agree

#1 and #2 and #3 agree

hast thou ordained strength

hast thou perfected praise

thou hast perfected praise

The Greek OT and the Greek NT are nearly the same

#2 and #3 agree


14

Chapter 1

Chart 5: Jesus quoted from the Greek OT in Matthew 4:7. #1 Deuteronomy 6:16 translated from the Hebrew OT. KJV

#2 Deuteronomy # 3 Matthew 4:7 6:16 translated translated from from the Greek OT the Greek NT. KJV, by Brenton.

Ye shall not tempt Thou shalt not the LORD your tempt the Lord God thy God

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Differences and agreements

The Greek OT and the #2 and #3 Greek NT both use the agree 2nd person singular “Thou.” The Hebrew OT uses the 2nd person plural “Ye.”

Chart 6: Jesus quoted from the Greek OT in Matthew 4:10b. #1 Deuteronomy 6:13 translated from the Hebrew OT. KJV

#2 Deuteronomy 6:13 translated from the Greek OT by Brenton

#3 Matthew 4:10 translated from the Greek NT. KJV

Differences and agreements

#1a

13 Thou shalt Thou shalt fear the LORD thy fear the Lord thy God, and God, and

Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and

Column #1 and #2 agree in Section 1a. In Column #3 Jesus chose to use the word worship in section #1a in the place of the word fear because Satan tried to tempt Jesus to worship him. It is also likely that Jesus chose the Greek OT rendering in #1b because it more forcefully answered Satan’s temptation.

#1 and #2 agree

#1b

serve him,

#2 and #3 agree in section #1b

#2 and #3 agree

him only shalt Him only thou serve shalt thou serve


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?

15

Chart 7: Jesus quoted from the Greek OT in Matthew 13:14–15. #1 Isaiah 6:9 translated from the Hebrew OT KJV

#2 Isaiah 6:9 translated from the Greek OT by Brenton

#3 Matthew 13:14–15 translated from the Greek NT. KJV

Differences and agreements

Hear ye indeed, but understand not;

Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand;

By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand;

#2 and #3 agree because they both use the future tense. The Hebrew uses a command form.

#2 and #3 agree.

and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive.

and seeing ye #2 and #3 agree because they both use the future tense. The Hebrew shall see, and shall not perceive: uses a command form.

#2 and #3 agree.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy,

For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing,

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing,

#2 and #3 agree because they both use the future tense. The Hebrew uses a command form. #2 and #3 also agree by using the words, “gross” and “dull.”

#2 and #3 agree.

and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes,

and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes,

and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes,

#2 and #3 agree because they both have the subject doing the action of the verbs closed and see. The Hebrew uses a command form.

#2 and #3 agree.

and hear with their ears,

and hear with their ears,

and hear with their ears,

#1, #2, and #3 all agree.

#1, #2, and #3 agree.

and understand with their heart,

and understand with their heart,

and should under- #1, #2, and #3 all agree. stand with their heart,

#1, #2 and #3 agree

and convert, and be healed.

and be converted, and I should heal them.

and should be converted, and I should heal them.

#2 and #3 agree.

#2 and #3 agree because they both use the passive voice, “be converted.” The Hebrew uses the active voice. Both the Greek NT and the Greek OT say, “and I should heal them.” The Hebrew OT says, “and be healed.”

By combining all these charts they show that 15 out of 22 times, the Greek NT agrees with the Greek OT, not the Hebrew OT. The reason for this is due to the fact that the New Testament writers were quoting from the Greek OT, not the Hebrew OT. They considered the Greek OT words to be equivalent to the Hebrew OT words.


16 Jesus believed that God had given His Word complete, permanent, and unchangeable.

In the account of the Devil tempting Jesus, the Lord Jesus answered each of Satan’s temptations with the words “It is written” (Matthew 4:1–11). The three words, “It is written” is a translation of the single Greek word gegraptai. Because this word is in the perfect tense, the translators translated it as “It is written” even though this translation would be a present tense in English. However, the Greek perfect tense does not mean present tense. Greek scholars Danna and Mantey say that the Greek perfect tense has the basic significance of an action that progresses to a point of completion and then continues to exist in its finished result into the present time. Danna and Mantey wrote, “The perfect tense views action as a finished product. The significance of the perfect tense is in presenting action as having reached its completion and existing in its finished results.” A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Dana and Mantey, pages 200–201. If we apply this perfect tense meaning to Jesus’ words “It is written,” it means that Jesus was saying that the writing of Scriptures was a process that has reached its completion, and now these completed Scriptures exist in a present finished condition. This would mean that the writing of the books of Scripture was the result of a process of the authors writing them, and that this process of writing had come to completion. Now these writings exist in present time, in a completed condition. This completed condition of the Scriptures would imply that they are complete and need no further books added to them. The completed condition of the Scriptures would also imply that the books of Scripture exist in a present, finished state and

Chapter 1 that consequently they will forever continue existing in this finished form. In the book of Jude, verse three uses the words “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” When Jesus used the perfect tense in the sentence “It is written,” He was saying that, in the Scriptures, God’s people have now, in the present time, God’s complete, permanent, and unchangeable witness to the truth. It means that this truth has been committed to writing for the instruction and guidance of God’s people. Such a meaning can only apply to the original autographs of Scripture that God has forever preserved in the many accurate copies of the autographs. In John 19:30, Jesus also used the perfect tense in the word tetelestai. When Jesus uses the perfect tense here, he means that the work of providing salvation for all people was the result of a process of work He had done to provide salvation for all people. He means that this work had come to completion, and that it now exists in present time in a completed state. The words “It is finished” refer to the righteousness of the law that Jesus fully satisfied. Jesus fulfilled the perfect obedience required by the law; therefore, he could endure the penalty of death for all people who had disobeyed the law. Because Jesus had finished the perfect righteousness of a life lived in obedience to the law of God, He could redeem us from its condemnation, make a full atonement and satisfaction for our sins, complete our pardon, and procure our peace with God. Jesus fulfilled all Old Testament types, promises, and prophecies. His work of salvation was so complete that no one can add anything to it, nor take anything from it. The salvation He provides exists forever as a completed work, the results of which are a present reality forever. Therefore, just as the salvation provided by Christ is complete, permanent, and


What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible? unchangeable, so the Scriptures provide a complete, permanent, and unchangeable written record of the words of God. This complete, permanent, and unchangeable written record, now stands forever complete in the presently existing faithful copies of the autographs and also in the presently existing faithful translations of the copies of the autographs. This forever-existing completeness includes both the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Scriptures.

What did Jesus believe about future revelation of God’s words?

“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” (Matthew 10:19–20) Jesus predicted that, after his death, the Holy Spirit would control some of his apostles so that what they said would not be their words but would be the words of God.

Jesus said that there would be a time when he would no longer speak to his apostles in a veiled way.

“These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.” (John 16:25)

17 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring to the apostles’ remembrance all things that He had said to them.

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25–26) The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John fulfilled this prophecy.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth.

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:12–13)

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would show them things to come.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13) John’s writing of the Book of Revelation fulfilled this prophecy.


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Chapter 2

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Another way of saying this would be, “Those who do not learn from the mistakes made in past history are condemned to repeat the same mistakes in their own lifetime.”

Chapter 2

A History of Bible Translating

T

he history of the first Bible translated is a helpful source for learning about Bible translation. By learning about the mistakes that Bible translators made in the beginning of Bible translating, one may avoid these same mistakes in the present. One of the most important events in the history of the world occurred when some Greek speaking Jews decided to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into Koine Greek. Koine Greek is a form of Greek, mostly derived from the Attic dialect that became the standard language for Greek-speaking people when Greece ruled and influenced the known world. (400 BC to AD 300) The translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Koine Greek was very important because it was the first time in the history of the world that anyone attempted to translate Scripture into another language. Because these Jews were the pioneers of Bible translating, they had no previous examples to guide their Bible translation efforts. They had to learn the hard way by trial and error. As a result, they made many translation mistakes that later Jewish Bible translators had to revise. For thousands of years, the Jews had no interest in translating their sacred Scripture into a heathen language. However, God would use a Greek-speaking ruler, Alexander the Great, to change this self-centered attitude. Alexander the Great, born in 356 B.C., succeeded his father,

Philip II of Macedon as commander of a highly trained Greek army. Alexander quickly gained control of all Greece when he was only 21 years old. In 334 B.C., Alexander stormed out of the Greek archipelago to conquer the entire Mediterranean world and beyond. He and his Generals went on to conquer other countries beyond the Mediterranean world as far as India. Alexander believed it to be his mission to bring the enlightenment of Greek language and culture to all the people he conquered. He never lost a battle, and he never encountered a people who could resist his mission to spread the Greek language and culture. He was able to do this, not only because of his military power, but also because he was a brutal but gracious conqueror who had a reputation for treating his defeated enemies fairly. His conquests included the very old and very large settlement of Jewish people in Egypt and all the Jewish people who had settled in countries all over the Mediterranean region. Along with all the nations of the known world at that time, Israel also came under the domination of Alexander’s world conquest. Because Jewish communities all over the Mediterranean world adopted the Greek language, second-generation Jewish children lost their ability to speak and write Hebrew. They became native speakers of Greek. The Jews embraced the Greek language partly because of the great respect it commanded as the world language of that time.


A History of Bible Translating They also accepted the Greek language, and some parts of Greek culture, in order to become prosperous merchants in the cities of the Mediterranean world. The largest city in the world at that time was a city in Egypt that Alexander renamed Alexandria. The Jews also embraced the Greek language so that their children’s children could read the message of God in the language that had become their mother tongue, Koine Greek. The history of Bible translation began when some Jewish scribes living in Alexandria, Egypt decided to translate the first five books of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Koine Greek language. The work of translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek began sometime around 350 to 300 B.C. These early Jewish translators, together with later Jewish translators, completed the translation of the entire Hebrew Old Testament into Greek about 100 years after the work of translating it began. This means that they completed the translation of the entire Hebrew Old Testament into Greek about 200 B.C. Usually people today refer to this Greek Old Testament translation as the Septuagint or they use an abbreviation LXX to stand for it. However, it is important to realize that historians have used the word Septuagint to describe several different Greek translations of the Hebrew Old Testament. The term Septuagint rightfully belongs only to later translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek that Jewish translators translated during the second century after Christ. One should not confuse these later translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek with the first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. The Jews made these later translations in order to oppose the very same Greek Old Testament their Jewish forebears had translated and approved. They did this mainly because first century Christians had adopted the first Greek Old Testament as their Scriptural authority and were using this Greek Old

19 Testament to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament. A Jewish historian, Aristeas, was the first one to use the word Septuagint to refer to the translation of the supposedly seventy-two translators of the Greek Old Testament. Aristeas wrote his book about the Greek Old Testament in order to glorify the Jewish nation by exalting the sacred literature of Israel, particularly the Greek Old Testament. To accomplish this, he exaggerated many of the facts about the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. Sometime during the second century A.D., Aristeas began, wrongfully, referring to the first Greek Old Testament by the words “the Septuagint.” In order to give his book the authority of antiquity, Aristeas wrote his book as if he were living years before Christ, but the vocabulary he used, and the names of places he mentioned in his book make it clear that he was actually writing sometime during the early second century A.D. Therefore, there is no legitimate reason to use the words “the Septuagint” to refer to the Ancient translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Koine Greek. This is because the term Septuagint only came into use sometime during the early second century A. D However, people often make this same mistake today by using the term Septuagint to refer to the Greek Old Testament. The translators of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek completed their work before 200 B.C. This was a long time before Aristeas began referring to the Greek Old Testament as “the Septuagint.” Jobes and Silva in their book Invitation to the Septuagint on page 32 write, “We have no evidence that any Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, or even of the Pentateuch, was called ‘the Septuagint’ prior to the second century A.D.” Before the second century A.D., the Jews spoke of the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek simply as “the Greek Old Testament.” Only during the early second century A.D. did


20

Chapter 2

Aristeas begin using the words “the Septuagint” incorrectly to refer to the Greek Old Testament. The chart below illustrates ten different meanings for the word Septuagint.

Chart 8: Ten meanings of the word Septuagint The original Hebrew autographs of the Old Testament

Copies of the Hebrew Autographs of the Old Testament

The translation of the copies of the Hebrew Pentateuch into Greek (1) and later, the translation of the entire Old Testament into Greek (2)

The translation of the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek by Aquila, (3) Symmacus, (4) and Theodotion (5)

Two new “Christian” translations of the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek by Origen, (6) and Lucian (7)

The codices Vaticanus, (8) Sinaiticus, (9) and Alexandrinus (10) all of which contain copies of the Greek New Testament and different sets of apocryphal books

Even today, people often use the words “the Septuagint” to refer to these ten different translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek.

Historical uses of the word Septuagint First use of the word Septuagint

Some unknown Jewish scribes translated the first five books of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek sometime near the year 300 B.C. It was not until the early second century A.D. that Aristeas and others began referring to the Greek translation of the first five books of the Old Testament as “the Septuagint.” This was the first

use of the words “the Septuagint.” It referred to the Pentateuch that Jewish scholars translated into Greek some time near the year 300 B.C.

Second use of the word Septuagint

Jewish scribes completed the translation of the remaining books of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek before 200 B.C. However, Aristeas and others began using the name “Septuagint” to refer also to the entire Hebrew Old Testament that had been translated into Greek by Jewish scribes. This was the second use of the words “the Septuagint.” It referred to the entire Old Testament that Jewish scholars translated into Greek some time before 200 B.C.

Third, fourth, and fifth use of the word Septuagint

Although Jewish rabbis had already accepted and used this very same Ancient Greek Old Testament, the rabbis began rejecting the Ancient Greek Old Testament by the end of the first century A.D. They rejected it because first century Christians were using it to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. One can see this in the book of Acts. “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:24 and 28). It is most likely that Apollos, born in Alexandria, Egypt would be very knowledgeable and skilled in the use of the Greek Old Testament and used it mightily to prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. To counter the Christian’s use of the Jewish translated Ancient Greek Old Testament, the rabbis sponsored new translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek that would contain their own doctrinal biases. They could use it to refute the Ancient Greek Old Testament that the Christians were using against them. At different times over the years, the rabbis commissioned three Jewish translators, Aquila, Symmacus, and Theodotion to make three new translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. The rabbis referred


A History of Bible Translating to these three new translations of the Hebrew Old Testament by Aquila, Symmacus, and Theodotion as “the Septuagint.” Each one of these translations came into existence because of the contention the rabbis had with Christians who were using the Ancient Greek Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is the third, fourth, and fifth use of the words, “the Septuagint.” It referred to the translations of Aquila, Symmacus, and Theodotion.

The sixth and seventh use of the word Septuagint

Sometime during the third century A.D., two “Christian” Bible translators decided to make new translations of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. Origen and Lucian translated two New Greek Old Testaments. People began to speak of these two new “Christian” translations by Origen and Lucian as the Septuagint. This was the sixth and seventh use of the words, “the Septuagint.”

The eighth, ninth, and tenth use of the word Septuagint

In the third century A.D., Origen and other primitive Roman Catholic Gnostics began adding some of the apocryphal books to the Greek Old Testament. This was an attempt by Gnostics to propagate their heresies by adding their apocryphal books to the Greek Old Testament. Three codices (which are bound books, not scrolls) Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, were hand copied from older Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament sometime during the third century A.D. These three codices included not only the Greek Old Testament but also contained a copy of the Greek New Testament. These three codices also contained three different sets of apocryphal books. Because of this, primitive Roman Catholics began speaking of the Greek Old Testament plus some of the apocryphal books as the Septuagint. From this time on, people used the term Septuagint to refer to the three Greek Old Testaments copied

21 in the late third century or early fourth century A.D. Geisler and Nix, in their book on Bible introduction, say, “It is not certain that the Greek Old Testament of the first century contained the Apocrypha. The earliest Greek manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament that include the apocryphal books date from the fourth century A.D.” This quote comes from page 267 in the book A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix. Nevertheless, people in the late third century or early fourth century A.D. began referring to the three codices, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, as “the Septuagint.” This was the eighth, ninth and tenth use of the words, “the Septuagint.” This means that over many years, people have referred to ten different translations of the Old Testament into Greek as the Septuagint. The Greek Old Testament Pentateuch, the entire Greek Old Testament, Aquila’s version, the version of Symmacus, Theodotion‘s version, Origen’s version, Lucian’s version, the Sinaiticus version, the Vaticanus version, the Alexandrinus version were all referred to as, the Septuagint. However, the only legitimate Old Testament in Greek is the ancient one translated before 200 B.C. One should not refer to this translation of the Old Testament into Greek as the Septuagint. Although Aristeas used the term Septuagint in the late second century A.D. this was one of many historical mistakes he made. One should not refer to the Ancient Greek Old Testament translated before 200 B.C. as the Septuagint. The only legitimate way to refer to the Ancient Greek Old Testament translated before 200 B.C. is to call it the Greek Old Testament. Every other translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek translated after the one completed before 200 B.C. is in some way illegitimate. Jewish translators, who were translating in order to oppose the Christian’s use of the Greek Old Testament, translated three new Septuagints.


22 Primitive Roman Catholic heretics copied new Septuagints in order to prop up their Gnostic heresies by including their own non-biblical apocryphal books within their copies of the Greek Old Testament. Just as we should not condemn the King James Version for containing apocryphal books in the 1611 edition, so we should not blame the Greek Old Testament for containing apocryphal books in the fourth century editions of the Greek Old Testament. There is no proof that the apocryphal books were a part of the Ancient Greek Old Testament translated before 200 B.C. Primitive Roman Catholic heretics placed their apocryphal books into the Greek Old Testament hundreds of years after the completion of the translation of the Greek Old Testament Therefore, we must not permit this heretical activity to overshadow the fact that the Jews had translated the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language 200 years before Christ was born.

One of the most important events in history

This Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Greek was one of the most important events in the history of the world! It was the first time that anyone attempted to translate Scripture into any language. Consequently, these early Jewish translators learned Bible translation principles the hard way by trial and error. This led to many translation mistakes. A few of the books in the Ancient Greek Old Testament were at first translated literally to the extreme. On the other hand, some of the Old Testament translators translated other books much too freely. Some of them translated many words of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek inadequately. Many years later, other Jewish translators corrected these inadequate and defectively translated portions of the Greek Old Testament.

Chapter 2 The translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek began near the year 300 B.C. with the translation of the first five books of the Old Testament. We do not know who the translators were, but they were Greek speaking Jews of the Diaspora (scattering) who had been living in Alexandria, Egypt for hundreds of years before Christ was born. These Jews realized there was a need for their children, who spoke Greek, to have access to the Holy Scriptures in the language that had become their mother tongue. For the first time in thousands of years, God’s revelation in the Scriptures would at last free itself from the bondage of self-centered Judaism and be available to all people to read. The people of Israel had turned their focus inward upon themselves and had decided that the Scriptures were their own private property. Now for the first time in human history, God freed His Word from the bonds of Judaism and made it available to nations all over the Mediterranean world! God had committed the Scriptures to the nation of Israel for preservation and safekeeping. They fully accomplished this important task. For this, we owe the nation of Israel an eternal debt of gratitude. Romans 3:2 says, “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” However, God never intended that Israel should guard the Scriptures to such an extreme that they would not share them with all the other nations of the world. From the beginning, God’s plan was not only to bless Israel with the Scriptures but all the other nations of the world as well. God had said to Abram, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 26:4) With the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, God was beginning to fulfil that promise to Abraham. It was God’s purpose from the beginning to bless all the nations of the world with His Word, but because of the idolatry and sexual immorality of the Jews, the once great nation of Israel declined into an immoral, subjugated nation.


A History of Bible Translating “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods” (Numbers 25:1– 2). “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14).

2.1 Israel becomes an idolatrous and immoral nation

23 Because of this sexually immoral idolatry, Israel turned inwardly upon itself and thought of all the other nations of the world as Gentile dogs. They failed to understand the plan of God to use Israel to bless all the nations of the world through God’s written Word and God’s living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. They kept the Word of God for themselves and selfishly refused to allow others to translate it into Gentile languages. God used Alexander the Great to change all of this self-centeredness.


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Chapter 3

The translators of the King James Version referred to the Greek Old Testament when they wrote, “This is the translation which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching as Saint John the Baptist did among the Jews by vocal.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 422)

Chapter 3

The Greek Old Testament in Context

T

he translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the heathen Greek language was indeed an earthshaking event. It took place because God took control of world events by sending Alexander the Great to conqueror the then known world. Phillip, the father of Alexander, had conquered all the Greek cities of Macedonia and ruled them wisely. He thoroughly trained his son Alexander, born in 356 B.C., to be a military leader. When Phillip died, Alexander took over the leadership of this large army of Macedonia when he was only 20 years old. He proved to be a very powerful but benevolent military leader. Through his overwhelming military power, the chains that had bound the Old Testament Scriptures for thousands of years were broken. By the year 331 B.C., Alexander had conquered the entire Mediterranean region, the Persian Empire and beyond. In every nation that he conquered, he instilled the Greek language and culture into his admiring subjects. This included the nation of Israel and all of the Israelites who were scattered throughout the Mediterranean area. A large and prosperous Jewish community had existed in Egypt as far back as 700 B.C. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 331 B.C., he convinced the Jewish community in Egypt to submit to the influences of the Greek language. Most of the Israelites across the Mediterranean region gradually moved away from using the Hebrew language. New generations of Jews be-

gan to speak Greek as their mother tongue. It was at this point that the translation of the Old Testament into Greek became a necessity for Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria, and for Greek speaking Jews all over the Mediterranean world. The translation of the Old Testament into Greek was like John the Baptist who prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. By the time Jesus was born, the Old Testament Scriptures in Greek had reached all parts of the then known world. This brought the knowledge of the one true God and created an expectation for the coming of God’s messenger, the Messiah. The so-called “400 silent years” that occurred between the time of the last book of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, were certainly not silent years. It was during these years that God used the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek to prepare both Jews and Gentiles for the coming of Christ! Two hundred years before Jesus was born, the Greek language had become a world language. There are hundreds of papyrus letters written in Greek that archeologists have found in Egypt and in the Land of Israel. For example, Tobiad, a military authority in Galilee wrote the letter pictured on the next page to a government official in Egypt in 257 BC.


The Greek Old Testament in Context

3.1 A papyrus letter in Greek from 257 B.C.

He wrote this formal letter in Greek to someone named Appolonias. This letter, and many others like it, proves that the Greek language had become widespread in Galilee in the third century B.C. By the time Christ was born, the Greek language had become very strongly entrenched in the Land of Israel, especially beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles, where the Lord Jesus would grow up in Nazareth. This is the only reasonable explanation as to why the Jewish authors of the New Testament wrote their books and letters in the Greek language instead of the Hebrew language. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude all wrote their books and letters of the New Testament in Greek. Even the New Testament book written to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians in Greek, not Hebrew. This demonstrates beyond any doubt that the authors of the New Testament books were fluent native speakers and writers of the Greek language. When one considers that all these men were Hebrews, born and raised in the Land of Israel, it must have taken compelling events to cause them to leave their sacred Hebrew language and write the concerns of their heart in the Greek language. Three things caused this: the worldwide dominance of the Greek language, the widespread use of the Greek Old Testament throughout the Mediterranean world, and the

25 dispersion of the Jews into the nations of the Mediterranean region. Because of the total dominance of the Greek language and culture, some Greek speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt began translating the first five books of the Old Testament into Greek. This translating began about 300 years before Christ was born. The dominance of the Greek language before the Roman rule of Israel, and even during the Roman rule of Israel, is an indisputable fact of history. Otherwise, why would a Hebrew of the Hebrews, like Paul, write all his letters in Greek? When Christian churches began springing up all over the Greco-Roman empire, these churches were of necessity dependent on the Greek Old Testament because there were no other Scriptures available at that time. The Greek Old Testament Scriptures became the guide of first century churches for belief and practice. The New Testament was still in the early stages of development, so the early churches depended on the Greek Old Testament for Christian doctrine. It would not be until 500 years after Christ that Christian churches would recognize the importance of the Hebrew Old Testament and accept it as the standard for Old Testament authority. For the first 500 years of church history, Christian churches used the Greek Old Testament almost exclusively. Even to this day, the Greek Orthodox Church still refuses, mistakenly, to recognize the Hebrew Old Testament as the standard for translating the Old Testament into other languages. They still cling doggedly to the Greek Old Testament even though Modern Greek speakers can no longer understand the ancient Greek Old Testament. The Jews settled the Old Testament Canon as early as A.D. 90. However, because of the problem of deciding which vowels they should write between the Hebrew consonants, the Masoretes scribes did not complete a standard text of the Hebrew Old Testament until A.D. 500.


26 The Masoretes were a special class of Jewish scribes. The nation of Israel set them apart to guard and make faultless copies of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Masoretes scribes were faithful and meticulous in their work of copying the Hebrew Scriptures. They knew the number of verses in every Old Testament book. They knew the number of letters in every book, and they knew the middle word and middle letter of every book. They used this knowledge to insure that dedicated scribes would use extreme care to make flawless copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Masoretes work on the vowel points of the Hebrew Old Testament continued from A.D. 200 until A.D. 500 when they finally completed the standardization of the Hebrew Old Testament vowel points. Originally, the Jews wrote the Hebrew Scriptures using only consonants. They allowed the consonants and the context to infer what vowels occurred with the consonants. They did this much the same as we might write the word fsh without using a vowel. We know that the letters fsh are most likely to be the word fish. In most cases, this method was sufficient, but in some verses, there was a dispute as to which vowels the consonants and context inferred. To remedy this problem, the Masoretes worked hundreds of years to standardize the vowels throughout the entire Hebrew Old Testament text. Because copies of the Greek Old Testament were more readily available than were Hebrew copies, the Greek Old Testament dominated the Mediterranean world before Christ, and hundreds of years after Christ. Copies of Hebrew Old Testament books were the private property of the Levitical priests and were strictly off limits for common people. Copies of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures were very expensive and extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain for personal use. The Jewish priests and scribes were very reluctant to

Chapter 3 allow just any common person to copy their sacred Scriptures. The copying of Scripture was the private preserve of the Jewish Masoretic scribes who labored thousands of tedious hours to make flawless hand written copies of the Old Testament books in Hebrew. However, this was not the case with the Greek Old Testament. It was under no such restraint. This situation had both good and bad consequences. The Jews throughout the Greek Empire employed slaves to make many copies of Greek Old Testament books. Slaves did this copying for far less money than would be the price of a Hebrew copy of an Old Testament book. This was good because it resulted in a wider distribution of Scripture. However, this was not so good because the slaves were not as disciplined to make flawless copies, as were the Masoretic scribes. Even though the Greek copies of the Old Testament books were inferior to the Hebrew copies, people all over the Mediterranean world read copies of Greek Old Testament books.

3.2 This Hebrew scroll is 28 feet long. It was found in cave #11 in 1956. It dates to 200 B.C. It contains commentary on the Torah. The Dead Sea Scrolls date from 250 B.C. to 68 A.D. Among the scrolls are some 207 biblical manuscripts that represent nearly every book in the Hebrew Bible. They predate any previously known copies of Scripture by more than 1,000 years.


The Greek Old Testament in the New Testament

27

The translators of the King James Version referred to the Greek Old Testament when they wrote, “Therefore the word of God being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all in the house.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 422)

Chapter 4

The Greek Old Testament in the New Testament

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hat about the Ethiopian in Acts 8:32–33? Was he not reading a copy of the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew language? The Ethiopian had a copy of the book of Isaiah but it was not in the Hebrew language. How do we know that it was not a copy of the Hebrew book of Isaiah? We can find the answer to this question by comparing the English translation of the Hebrew Isaiah 53:7–8 in the Old Testament with the English translation of this same passage as quoted in the Greek New Testament at Acts 8:32-33. We can then compare both of these to the translation of the Greek Old Testament in Isaiah 53:7–8. The Greek Old Testament translation we will use is The Septuagint Version: Greek and English translated by Lancelot Brenton on page 889. This page has the text of the Greek Old Testament at Isaiah 53:7–8 and an English translation of this Greek text. When one compares the English translation of the Hebrew Isaiah 53:7–8 with the English translation of the same passage as quoted in the Greek New Testament; it becomes clear that the Ethiopian was not reading a Hebrew copy of the book of Isaiah. It becomes evident because Isaiah 53:7–8 in the King James Version Old Testament does not match up with Isaiah 53:7–8 as quoted in the King James Version New Testament at Acts 8:32–33. However, Isaiah 53:7–8, as

quoted in Acts 8:32–33, clearly does match up with the words in Isaiah 53:7–8 in the Greek Old Testament.

4.1 Philip comes to the Ethiopian who is reading the Greek Old Testament scroll of Isaiah

Some have said that since Brenton, the translator of the Greek Old Testament into English was using “the Septuagint,” they assume that the Septuagint manuscripts were written centuries after the events in Acts 8. They say that this would suggest that the Septuagint might be quoting from the Greek New Testament. The first assumption that Brenton is translating from manuscripts written centuries after the events in Acts is not valid because


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Brenton translated, not from the “Septuagint,” but from the Ancient Greek Old Testament, the translation of which Jewish scribes completed before 200 B.C. This would make it impossible for quotations from the Greek New Testament to appear in the Ancient Greek Old Testament because the New Testament did not exist in 200 B.C. The writer of the book of Acts, Luke, wrote in the Greek language exactly what happened when Philip talked with the Ethiopian. Luke did not intend to approve or disapprove the use of the Greek Old Testament by the Ethiopian. Evidently, the Ethiopian had come to Jerusa-

lem and purchased a scroll of the book of Isaiah from the Greek Old Testament. Most likely, the Ethiopian had purchased the scroll with the hope that he would come to know the true and the living God. This is exactly what happened to him. God sent Philip to explain to him that the Scripture he was reading in the Greek Old Testament referred to the Lord Jesus Christ. First, one should compare Acts 8:32–33 in the King James Version to the same verses translated from the Hebrew into English at Isaiah 53:7–8. Then one should compare both of these to the same verses translated into English from the Greek Old Testament. When one does this, it be-

Chart 9: Differences and agreement of the nine sections in Acts 8:32–33

Seven of them agree closely with the Greek Old Testament. This would indicate that the Ethiopian read from the Greek Old Testament, not the Hebrew Old Testament. #1 Isaiah 53:7–8 The Hebrew OT translated into English. KJV.

#2 Isaiah 53:7–8 The Greek OT translated into English by Brenton

#3 Act 8:32–33 Greek NT translated into English. KJV

Differences and agreements

he is brought (present tense)

he was led (past tense)

He was led (past tense)

#2 and #3 agree, “led”

as a lamb to the slaughter

as a sheep to the slaughter,

as a sheep to the slaughter;

#2 and #3 agree, “sheep”

and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb

and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb

and like a lamb dumb before his shearer

#2 and #3 agree, “lamb”

so he openeth not his mouth.

so he opens not his mouth

so opened he not his mouth

#1, #2 and #3 agree

He was taken from prison

In his humiliation

In his humiliation

#2 and #3 agree, “humiliation”

and from judgment:

his judgment was taken away

his judgment was taken away

#2 and #3 agree, “his” “was taken away”

and who shall declare his generation?

and who shall declare his generation?

and who shall declare his generation?

#1, #2 and #3 agree

for he was cut off

for his life is taken

for his life is taken

#2 and #3 agree, “his life is taken”

out of the land of the living:

away from the earth:

from the earth.

#2 and #3 agree, “the earth”


The Greek Old Testament in the New Testament comes obvious that the New Testament quotation of Isaiah 53:7–8 comes from the Greek Old Testament and not the Hebrew Old Testament. By using the chart below, one can clearly see that the Ethiopian was using a scroll of Isaiah from the Greek Old Testament, not the Hebrew Old Testament. In addition to this, the Ethiopian language uses Greek letters in its alphabet. This would make it more likely that the Ethiopian could read Greek rather than Hebrew because Ethiopia is close to Alexandria, Egypt, which was one of the main Greek language centers of the first century A.D. Column 1: The King James Version translation of Isaiah 53:7–8 from the Hebrew Old Testament reads, “…he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living.” Column 2: The translation of the Greek Old Testament of Isaiah 53:7–8 reads, “…he was led as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” Column 3: The King James Version translation of the Greek New Testament of Isaiah 53:7–8 as it occurs in Acts 8:32–33 reads, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” After one compares the King James Version at Isaiah 53:7–8 with Isaiah 53:7–8 as translated in Acts 8:32–33, and then compares both of these to Isaiah 53:7–8 in the Greek Old Testament, it becomes obvious that the translation of Isaiah 53:7–8 in Acts is quoted from the Greek Old Testament, not the Hebrew Old Testament.

29 Some people have set forth the argument that the differences on the chart of Acts 8:32– 33 are merely slight variations in translation which would be expected since both #2 and #3 are both Greek translations. Again, such an argument refuses to take into consideration that the #2 column is a translation of the Greek Old Testament translated by Jewish scribes more than 200 years before Christ was born. That there is a consistent similarity between the Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament is beyond doubt. That the Greek Old Testament, is in many places, almost the same as the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament can only be legitimately accounted for by the fact that the New Testament authors were so thoroughly familiar with the Greek Old Testament that they would naturally quote from it. This would be especially the case because the lingua franca (world language) of the first century A.D. was Koine Greek, not Hebrew.

The dominance of the Greek language in Israel

Malachi wrote the last book of the Old Testament. His book was finished 400 years before Christ was born. There would be no other writers of inspired Scripture until many years after the angels announced the birth of Christ. In fact, during the 400 years between the Old and New Testaments there was not one inspired book of Scripture written. The 400 years between the Old and New Testaments were years of God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel. Their enemies destroyed the cities of Israel, conquered them, and took them away from their land to live as captives. These 400 silent years, between the testaments break down into six different periods.

1. The Persian period

In 538 B.C., the Persian ruler Cyrus conquered Babylon and the nation of Israel. He ruled this Persian Empire, which included Israel, until 332 B.C. when the Greek leader, Alexander the Great,


30 defeated the Persian King Darius III at the battle of Gaugamela. Alexander the Great also invaded the Holy Land in 332 B.C. and established Greek rule over the entire Holy Land region.

2. The first Greek period

Alexander the Great began his rule in 332 B.C. He and his generals conquered and ruled the known world around the Mediterranean Sea. After his death in 323 B.C., Alexander’s four generals split the known world into four areas. One of Alexander’s four generals ruled each of these four areas. One of the areas they ruled was the old Syrian-Persian Empire that included the land of Israel.

4.2 The head of Alexander the Great. This silver coin was made sometime near 329 B.C. The right side of the coin reads, “ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ” (Alexander)

3. The second Greek period

One of Alexander’s generals named Seleucus ruled the old Syrian-Persian Empire from 323 B.C. to 204 B.C. Another one of Alexander’s generals named Ptolemy ruled Egypt from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. to 204 B.C. In 204 B.C. Seleucus, the Greek ruler of the Syrian-Persian Empire attacked the Holy Land and Egypt. Seleucus defeated Ptolemy, ruler of Egypt, and took control of the entire region comprised of Egypt and the land of Israel.

4. The third Greek period

From 204 B.C. to 167 B.C., the Greek rulers of Syria (descendents of Seleucus) ruled the land of Israel.

Chapter 4 5. The Maccabean period

In 167 B.C., the Jewish Patriot, Mattathias Maccabeus, overthrew the Seleucid Greek rulers of Israel. From 167 B.C. to 63 B.C., there was a brief period of freedom for the nation of Israel. This period of freedom ended when the Roman general Pompey defeated the Maccabean revolutionaries and again took control of the nation of Israel in 63 B.C.

6. The Greek-Roman period

From 63 B.C. to A.D. 70, the nation of Israel was under Roman rule. When the Jews rebelled against Roman rule in A.D. 70, the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. After this, most of the Jews were scattered a second time throughout the Greco-Roman Empire. The Greeks called this scattering of the Jews the Diaspora. The Greek word Diaspora refers to the dispersing of the Jews from Israel to live among the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontusians, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyreneans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabians. In Acts 2:9, Luke recorded the names of these different places in the Mediterranean region where many thousands of Jews lived. Because periods #2, # 3, and #4 were all different forms of Greek rule, the Greek language was the dominate language in the Mediterranean world 400 years before Christ was born. The Greek language continued to dominate the Mediterranean region for 400 years after Christ. This means that the Greek language dominated the Nation of Israel for over 800 years! Wherever the Jews were scattered across the Mediterranean world they adjusted to the Greek language for financial reasons, cultural reasons, and practical reasons. This dominance of the Greek language continued even through the Roman period. Even in Rome, the


The Greek Old Testament in the New Testament Greek language was so well known and highly respected that Paul could write his letter to the Romans in the Greek language and those in the city of Rome read and understood the Book of Romans without the need for someone to translate it into Italia. The Greek language dominated even during the time of the mighty empire of Rome! According to The Illustrated History of the Jewish People, edited by Nicholas De Lange, page 10, there was a Jewish colony on the Island of Elephantine in the middle of the Nile River as far back as 700 B.C. Archeologist discovered this fact in a cache of papyrus documents found on the Island of Elephantine. These documents from Galilee were written in Greek, and date back to the fifth century B.C. Archeologists discovered that there were several groups of military units on the Island of Elephantine. One of these groups was a Judahite colony that had preserved the Israelite religion on Elephantine Island since arriving there in 700 B.C. This means that many Jews had lived in Egypt for 700 years before Christ was born. It also means that these Jews, along with everyone else in Egypt, were subject to the dominance of Greek military power along with its language and culture. It was in this context of a Greek world that the Jewish people, living in Egypt in 300 B.C., decided that they needed the Hebrew Scriptures translated into the Greek language. All of this is not to say that the Jews had lost respect for the Hebrew language. To those who were older, the Hebrew language was still the language of worship and the language of their most important literature, the Scriptures. There are many stories about the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. Jews wrote these stories during a very low point in Jewish history. The main purpose of

31 these stories was to encourage the sagging spirits of the Jewish people during the difficult times of captivity in foreign lands. Although these stories about the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek have some basis in fact, their authors exaggerated them, trying to sing the praises of the nation of Israel by exalting the superior teachings of the Hebrew Old Testament as translated into the Greek language. Many of these exaggerations defy common sense. For example, the Jewish historian, Philo said that seventy translators translated the first five books of the Old Testament in seventy days. Anyone who has done the long, hard work of Bible translating knows that the translation of books of the Bible does not take place that fast. Philo also said, “The translators were broken up into groups of two translators. When they all came together, they had all miraculously translated the same Scriptures exactly the same way, word for word.” Philo also hints at the inspiration of the translators and the miraculous agreement of their separate versions. He says, “They prophesied like men possessed, not one in one way and one in another, but all producing the same words and phrases as though some unseen prompter were at the ears of each.” He also said, “The translators worked independently, in separate cells, and produced identical versions, Ptolemy proposing this test of their trustworthiness.” Again, anyone who has done some Bible translating knows that translators are not inspired, and certainly do not produce translations of verses that are identical. These quotes come from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the 1952 edition, Volume IV, page 2722.


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Chapter 5

The King James Version translators wrote about the Greek Old Testament saying, “It is certain that the translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction. Yet it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them to take that which they found (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient).” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 422)

Chapter 5

The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

M

any Old Testament Greek manuscript fragments and entire scrolls of the books of the Old Testament in Greek prove beyond any doubt that the Greek Old Testament was translated at least 200 years before Christ. Listed below are many manuscript fragments and Greek scrolls that prove this fact. 1. Pryl 458, Rahlf’s # 957, Deuteronomy 23:24– 24:3 and 25:1–3 and 26:12, 17– 9 and 28:32–33, a papyrus scroll, dated 200 B.C. or earlier. This fragment is the property of the John Rylands Library, at the University of Manchester, England. 2. Qumran 4QLXX Deuteronomy 11:4, Judean Desert # 9, Rahlf’s # 819 4Q122, Cave # 4, Dead Sea area, a parchment scroll, dated 200 B.C. Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 3. Qumran 7QLXXEx Exodus 28:4–7, Rahlf’s # 805, Judean Desert # 3, 1962, Dead Sea area, a papyrus scroll from cave # 7, dated 100 B.C. Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 4. Qumran 4QLXXLev(a) (4Q119) Lev 26, Rahlf’s # 801, Judean Desert # 9, Qumran cave # 4, 1992, a parchment scroll of Leviticus 26:2–16 dated 200 B.C., Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 5. Qumran 4QLXXLev(b) (4Q120), Rahlf’s # 802, Leviticus 2:5, Judean desert # 9, Dead sea area, cave # 4, a papyrus scroll, dated 100 B.C. to 200 B.C. It is located in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Note: this is the same scroll as the previous one but a scribe

continued copying it at a different location on the scroll. 6. Qumran 4QpapLXXLev(b), 4Q120, Rahlf’s # 802, Leviticus 5:8–10, Dead Sea papyrus scroll, from cave # 4, dated 100 B.C. to 200 B.C. Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. Note: this is the same scroll as the previous one but a scribe continued copying it at a different location on the scroll. 7. Pfouad 266(a) Genesis, Rahlf’s # 942, Genesis 3:38 and Genesis 7, three papyrus scrolls, dated 100 B.C. These three scrolls are the property of the Egyptian Papyrological Society, Cairo, Egypt. 8. Pfouad 266(b) Rahlf’s # 848 Deuteronomy, the end of Chapter 20, and the beginning of Chapter 21. Three papyrus scrolls, dated 100 B.C. These scrolls are the property of Aly & Koenen, Egyptian Papyrological Society, Cairo, Egypt. Note: This is the same scroll as the previous one, but it contains verses from a different location on the scroll. 9. Pfouad 266(c), Rahlf’s # 847 Deuteronomy 31:26–39, Aly & Koenen, three papyrus scrolls, dated 100 B.C. These scrolls are the property of the Egyptian Papyrological Society, Cairo, Egypt. Note: This is the same scroll as the previous one, but a scribe continued copying it at a different location on the scroll. 10. Qumran 4QLXXNum. (4Q121), Numbers 3:42– 43, Rahlf’s # 803, Qumran, Cave # 4, a parchment scroll dated 100 B.C. Found in the Dead


The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament Sea area, 1992. It is the property of the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 11. Qumran, 4QLXXNum, Numbers 3–4, Rahlf’s # 803, Qumran Cave #4, 4Q121, fragment #4 of 4Q121, Line 1 of 4Q121, lines 1–5 ensemble, the Dead Sea area, dated 100 B.C. It is the property of the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 12. Nahal Hever Minor Prophets (8HevXIIgr) Rahlf’s # 943, Habakkuk 2:3, a parchment scroll, Dated 100 B.C. Found in the Dead Sea area, cave #8. It is the property of the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 13. Nahal Hever Minor Prophets 8HevXIIgr, Rahlf’s # 943, Zechariah 8:18–23, a parchment scroll R943, portions of a four-column parchment scroll dated 100 B.C. Archeologists found it in the Judean desert in 1990. It is the property of the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. 14. Qumran 4QLXXLev, Leviticus, chapters 2–5, papyrus scroll. Dated 100 B.C. 15. POxy3522, Job 42:11–12, a papyrus scroll from the Greek Old Testament. Dated A.D. 100. It is the property of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England. Note that a scribe who made a copy in A.D. 100 most likely made his copy from a copy that was much older than the copy he made. 16. POxy4443, Esther E, chapters 8–9, papyrus scroll from the Greek Old Testament. It is dated A.D. 100. It is the property of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England. Note that a copy made in A.D. 100 was most likely made from a copy that was much older than the copy. 17. Chester Beatty Papyrus Codex # VI, Numbers through Deuteronomy, A.D. 100-150. Note that a copy made in A.D. 100 was most likely made from a copy that was much older than the copy. 18. Genesis chapters 14–27, Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, papyrus codex, dated A.D.

33 200. Note that a copy made in A.D. 200 was most likely made from a copy that was much older than the copy. You should be aware that the dates of the manuscripts apply only to the date when a scribe copied the manuscript. This means that the manuscript a scribe used to make a copy in A.D. 200 would come from a manuscript that existed earlier than A.D. 200. Most of these facsimiles come from the University of Pennsylvania at the following website: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rak//earlylxx/earlypaplist.html#chronol. Other facsimiles come from other websites and books listed in the Bibliography. The following pages are facsimiles of the above list of fragments and manuscript scrolls. Each facsimile occurs in the same order as the manuscripts listed previously. Some have suggested that the dating of these manuscripts is not 100% reliable. That is true, but one should permit this to work both ways. It is just as likely that these manuscripts could be older than the date given to them, as it is that they could be of a younger age. Others have said that this evidence only applies to parts of the Greek Old Testament. You should notice that the Greek manuscript evidence presented here includes books from the two divisions that make up the Old Testament, the Law, and the Prophets. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy represent the Law. Esther, Job, Habakkuk, and Zechariah represent the Prophets. Together these books represent the entire Old Testament. Besides this, there is the evidence of entire Greek Old Testaments in the Codexes Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and Washingtonianus. Even though scribes did not copy these four Codexes until 300–400 A.D., this does not mean they did not exist before 300 A.D.–400 A.D. The scribes, who copied these Codexes, copied them from manuscripts that were much older than the copies they made.


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Chapter 5

5.1 Pryl 458 Deuteronomy 23:24, 25:1-3, 26:12, 26:17-19, 28:32-33, Rahlf’s # 957. These are fragments from a Greek scroll copied in 200 B.C. or earlier. These fragments are parts of a parchment scroll copied in 200 B.C. The scroll contains parts of Deuteronomy 23:24 through Deuteronomy chapter 24. The reason for the varied locations of verses is because the fragments are from a long horizontal scroll. Because scrolls were 18 to 30 feet long, or more, this would place the verses in widely varying distances from each other. This scroll fragment is located in the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester in England. Notice that the letters are all capitals. This is an indication that they pre-date the first century A.D.

5.2 Qumran, 4QLXX, Deuteronomy 11, Rahlf’s #819. This is a Greek fragment from a Dead Sea Scroll dated 200 B.C.

5.3 Qumran, 7QLXX, Exodus 28:4-7, Rahlf’s # 805. This is a Dead Sea fragment from a Greek papyrus scroll copied in 100 B.C.


The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

35

5.4 7QI Exodus 28:4-7 100 B.C. Some other fragments from the same scroll in 5.3.

5.6 Rahlf’s # 802, Qumran. 4QpapLXXLev(b), Leviticus 2:5. This is a Greek fragment of a Dead Sea scroll of Leviticus 2:5 dated from 200 B.C. to 100 B.C.

5.5 Qumran, 4QLXXLev(a), Lev 26, Rahlf’s #801. This is a Dead Sea fragment from a Greek parchment scroll copied in 100 B.C.

5.7 Rahlf’s #6, Qumran 4QpapLXXLev(b), Leviticus 5:8–10, 4Q120, 24. This is a Greek fragment from a Dead Sea manuscript of Leviticus 5:8–10 dated from 100 B.C. to 200 B.C.


36

5.8 Pfouad 266, Rahlf’s # 942, (a). This is a Greek fragment from Genesis. It is from a papyrus scroll that contains Genesis chapters 3–38. It is dated 100 B.C.

5.9 Pfouad 266, Rahlf’s # 848, (b) This is parts of Deuteronomy chapter 20 to chapter 21. This is a Greek fragment of a papyrus scroll of Deuteronomy dated 100 B.C.

Chapter 5

5.10 Pfouad 266, Rahlf’s # 847 (c) Deuteronomy 31:26–31:29. This is a Greek fragment of a papyrus scroll of Deuteronomy 31–31:29 dated 100 B.C.

5.11 Qumran 4Q121, Rahlf’s # 803, Numbers 3:42–43. This is a Greek fragment of a papyrus scroll of Numbers 3:42–43 dated 100 B.C.


The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

37

5.12 Qumran, Rahlf’s # 803 4Q121LXX, Numbers 3–4. This is from a Greek parchment scroll of Numbers chapters 3–4 dated 100 B.C.–A.D. 100.

5.14 8HevXIIgr, Rahlf’s # 943 Nahal Minor Prophets. This is a fragment of a Greek parchment scroll B, of Zechariah chapter 8. It is located in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Israel and is dated 100 B.C.

5.13 8HevXIIgr, Rahlf’s # 943, Nahal Minor Prophets. This is a Greek fragment from parchment scroll A, Habakkuk chapters 2–3. It is located in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, Israel. It is dated 100 B.C.–A.D. 100.


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Chapter 5

5.15 Qumran, 4QLXXLev. Leviticus chapters 2–5, Papyrus scroll dated 100 B.C.

5.17 POxy4443, Parts of Esther. This is a Greek papyrus scroll of Esther located in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. It is dated A.D. 100 or A.D 200.

5.16 POxy3522, Job chapter 42. This is a fragment of a Greek papyrus scroll of Job chapter 42 dated A.D. 100.


The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

5.18 Chester Beatty Papyrus Codex VI, Numbers– Deuteronomy. This codex of Numbers and Deuteronomy is dated A.D. 100 to A.D. 150.

39

5.19 Genesis chapters 14–27, Bodleian Library, Oxford, England. This is a papyrus codex, of Genesis chapters 14–chapter 27, dated about A.D. 200.


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Chapter 5

5.20 Codex Sinaiticus was copied in A.D. 300–400. It contains most of the Old Testament in Greek and almost all of the New Testament in Greek.

5.21 Codex Vaticanus, copied in A.D. 300–350, contains most of the Old Testament in Greek and most of the New Testament in Greek.

Codex Sinaiticus also contains some apocryphal books. Although Sinaiticus is far from being a perfect witness to the purity of the autographs of Scripture, and it should not have apocryphal books in it, even so it is an important witness to the integrity of Scripture transmission to the present time. It is also an important supporting witness to the Canon of the Old and New Testaments. Codex Sinaiticus is the property of the National Library of the British Museum in London, England.

Codex Vaticanus also contains some apocryphal books. Although Vaticanus is far from being a perfect witness to the integrity of Scripture transmission, and should not contain apocryphal books, it is still an important witness to the integrity of Scripture transmission and the Canon of New Testament books. It is the property of the Roman Catholic Vatican Library in Vatican City, Italy.


The Pre-Christian Greek Old Testament

41

5.22 Codex Alexandrinus, copied in A.D. 500, contains the entire Old Testament in Greek and most of the New Testament in Greek.

5.23 Codex Washingtonianus I (W). Copied in A.D. 400–450. It contains the four gospels and portions of the Pauline epistles in Greek.

Codex Alexandrinus also contains three apocryphal books. Although Codex Alexandrinus is not a perfect witness to the integrity of Scripture transmission, it is still an important witness of Scripture transmission and canonicity. It is the property of the National Library of the British Museum in London, England.

Codex Washingtonianus also contains parts of three Old Testament books in Greek. One can view it at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Codex Washingtonianus is a minor witness to the integrity of Scripture transmission and canonicity, but it is nevertheless an important witness.


42

Chapter 6

Concerning the Greek Old Testament, the translators of the King James Version wrote “Jerome affirmeth…that the Seventy were interpreters, they were not prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet, as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 422)

Chapter 6

The Importance of the Greek Old Testament

T

1.

2.

3.

4.

here are many reasons why the Greek Old Testament is important. The Greek Old Testament is the oldest translation of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures in existence. In fact, it was most likely the first attempt to translate a scroll into any language. This alone marks it as a unique document in human history. Because Greek was the universal language of the known world at the time of Christ, all nations in the Mediterranean region had access to the Greek Old Testament. The Jews could no longer reserve the Scriptures exclusively for themselves. Christians translated the Greek Old Testament into twelve or more Mediterranean languages. The Greek Old Testament was in continual use long before New Testament days. This fact is obvious because of the large number of Old Testament quotations in the New Testament that are from the Greek Old Testament. God used the Greek Old Testament in foreign missionary work both during and after New Testament times. The Greek Old Testament was the basis for the first twelve translations of the Old Testament into Mediterranean languages. These include the Old Latin, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Sahidic, Bohairic, Palestinian Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, and Slavonic. Christian missionaries used the Greek Old Testament as the basis for translating all of these translations. This is a powerful witness to the fact that the Chris-

tians of the first century greatly revered the Greek Old Testament and used it to translate the Old Testament into the above-mentioned twelve languages. However, this was a mistake because they made a translation from a translation. They should have used the Hebrew Old Testament as the basis for their translation, not the Greek Old Testament. Even so, a translation made from the Greek Old Testament was better than no translation at all. Translating from a translation was not good because it produced translations that were two steps removed from the words and meaning of the original Hebrew Old Testament. 5. Augustine and many other Christians so venerated the Greek Old Testament that they sincerely believed that the translators were inspired as they translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. This was a serious mistake, but some Christians make this same mistake in modern times. They believe the King James Version translators were inspired as they translated, even though the King James Version translators denied any such inspiration for their translation work. This is what the translators of the King James Version said about their translation work, “…neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered.” This quote comes from Appendix 2, pages 430–431. They also said, “No cause therefore why the Word translated


The Importance of the Greek Old Testament should be denied to be the Word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it” (The Translators to the Reader, Appendix 2, page 427). They also said, “For to whomever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?” (The Translators to the Reader, Appendix 2, page 428). These quotes show clearly that the translators did not claim inspiration for their translation. They believed that they were free to change what they at first had translated because they found a more accurate way to translate certain words and verses. All of these quotations come from The Translators to the Reader the Preface to the King James Version of 1611. Miles Smith wrote this preface. He and Thomas Bilson added the final changes to the King James Version before delivering it to the printer. This means they were revising the translation of the King James Version right up to the day before it went to the printer. 6. The Greek Old Testament is so highly regarded even in the present day, that it is still the sacred Bible text of the Greek Orthodox Church. They should use the Hebrew Old Testament, but until the present time, most Eastern Orthodox churches have resisted all attempts to convince them that they need to go back to the Hebrew original text because what they have is a translation of a translation and not a translation of the original Hebrew text. This dilemma is largely due to the reverence the Eastern Orthodox churches have for the Greek Old Testament, not to mention the fact that Greek is the mother tongue of most of them, even though Koine Greek is almost completely unintelligible to Modern Greek speakers. 7. For nearly two thousand years, the manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament predated our earliest Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament by approximately five hundred years. It was not until 1947 that Hebrew manuscripts that were older than the Greek Old

43 Testament manuscripts were discovered. In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea scrolls, which proved to be 1,000 years older than the Greek Old Testament. The three codices that contain the Greek New Testament, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, also contain a Greek Version of the Old Testament. Someone copied all three of these codices between A.D. 240 and A.D. 500. The copies from which they copied most likely dated to earlier times. Usually copies of Bible manuscripts are not made until the manuscripts wear out and a new supply of Scripture copies are needed. Most likely, many years went by before new copies were needed. Therefore, it is very likely that the copies used to make new copies were many years older than the newly made copies. This would be especially true of copies that were made from copies that were copied from copies that were made from copies. 8. Because the Greek Old Testament existed at least two hundred years or more before Christ was born, the Greek Old Testament is clear-cut proof that Old Testament prophecies about Christ were true prophecies and not the deceitful writing of history after the events happened in the life of Christ.

Problems that occurred when Hebrew scribes translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek

1. The Jewish translators of the Greek Old Testament translated it faithfully most of the time, but in their translation of some Hebrew verses, they had a tendency to paraphrase them instead of translating them into their nearest formal equivalent. In other sections, their translation of the Hebrew is a running commentary instead of a translation. In other places, their translation is too literal. Translators still have these same problems today. They also make the mistake of thinking they are translating, when in fact they


44 are paraphrasing or even writing a commentary. Even today, most translators still have a tendency to translate too literally. 2. The Greek Old Testament contains our 39 Old Testament books, but at some point in the second century, Gnostic heretics, who were beginning to form the primitive Roman Catholic Church, added various apocryphal books to the Greek Old Testament. They should not have done this. The nation of Israel has never approved a single apocryphal book as part of the Old Testament Canon. Faithful Christian churches have also never approved any apocryphal book as part of the Old Testament Canon. 3. The Lord Jesus and His apostles sometimes quoted from the Greek Old Testament, but at no time did they ever quote from a single apocryphal book. 4. The insertion of apocryphal books into the Greek Old Testament by primitive Roman Catholics gave the Greek Old Testament a bad reputation. Apocryphal books are clearly not inspired. They contain many false doctrines that early Roman Catholics adopted in order to prop up their false doctrines of veneration of Mary, purgatory, praying for the dead, and salvation by good works. To this very day, many well meaning Christians condemn the Greek Old Testament because it fell victim to Roman Catholic heretics who decided that the apocryphal books should be a part of the Old Testament Scriptures. 5. The word apocryphal means “hidden truth.” Most of these so-called, apocryphal books were not translations at all. Whoever wrote them composed them in Greek. They did not translate them from Hebrew manuscripts. These conceited people tried to pass off their Greek compositions as equal to the inspired Scriptures. In fact, they considered their writings as newer hidden truth that the original writers of Scripture did not have. All modern day cults do the same thing. They claim that they have newer hidden truth that is superior to what the Bible says. Therefore they base their false doctrines on this

Chapter 6 so-called “hidden truth” that no one knows about but them. This boasting of so-called “hidden truths” is the primary mark of a cult. 6. Most of the writers of apocryphal books were Gnostics (those who claimed to have a superior knowledge of religion). They claimed they had a special revelation from God that added to the final revelation that God has given in the Scriptures. There have always been such cultic activities through the centuries even unto the present day. Many Pentecostals tell us that God spoke to them, and they quote a verbal quotation of what God said directly to them. They claim to have a “full” gospel implying that they have a greater revelation of truth than other Christians who only have a half gospel. Such thinking is simply a warmed-over form of the old heretical Gnosticism. Mormons also say that they have “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” implying that their Bible will complete the full revelation of truth that the Bible lacks. This also is just more tired and worn out heretical Gnosticism. Jehovah’s Witnesses similarly used the same false doctrine by making their own translation of the Bible and calling it “The Twenty First Century Bible,” as though it had a more advanced revelation of truth than the ancient Scriptures do. Seventh Day Adventists say they believe in the Bible, but they take the extra-biblical revelations that Ellen G. White received, while in various trances, as equally important to what the Bible itself says. The Seventh Day Adventists depend on these revelations of Ellen G. White to complete their understanding of Scripture. By doing so, they are following a form of the same old heretical Gnosticism. This same kind of heresy also happened during the first century A.D. False teachers saw an opportunity to attach their false doctrines to the truth of the Bible by having their phony revelations included with the canonical books of the Bible. They did this in the hope that their


The Importance of the Greek Old Testament deceptions would take on the appearance of Scripture. In spite of this, God’s people discovered their false doctrines and strongly opposed these false revelations found in the apocryphal books. 7. Those who translated the Pentateuch into Greek translated it better than any other part of the Greek Old Testament. Later translators should have followed their example throughout the Greek Old Testament. Unfortunately, they did not. The translators of the Psalms and Major Prophets in the Greek Old Testament also did a good job of translating. However, the book of Daniel in the Greek Old Testament was so free and inaccurate that Christians later replaced it with Theodotions Greek translation. Bible translators vary in their abilities to translate accurately. There is always a need for someone who is unbiased to check a translation to verify its quality and help make changes in the translation when it fails to qualify as a faithful and accurate translation. 8. Many Jews and early Christians venerated the Greek Old Testament. Some of them even held the opinion that the translation of the Greek Old Testament was from beginning to end miraculously inspired. Because of this

45 false notion, they believed that they could use the Greek Old Testament to correct the Hebrew Old Testament. Both of these beliefs were misguided, serious mistakes. Even so, some people today make the same mistake when they take the English translation of the Hebrew text to be superior to the Hebrew text itself and use the English text to “correct” the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. This is a serious mistake that we should not tolerate. 9. In the years after Christ, there was a negative reaction of the Jews against the Greek Old Testament. The rabbis began turning against their own Greek Old Testament because Christians were using it as their own biblical proof texts to refute the rabbi’s arguments against Jesus being the Messiah. Christians used passages from the Greek Old Testament such as Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 7:14, to prove that Jesus was the virgin born Messiah. Because the rabbis could not refute the Christian interpretation of these verses, they went so far as to say that their very own translation of the Old Testament into Greek was as great a tragedy as the making of the golden calf. Unfortunately, some misinformed Christians today still think of the Greek Old Testament in a similar way.


46

Chapter 7

The King James Version translators said, “The King’s Speech which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latin, is still the King’s Speech, though it be not translated by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 427)

Chapter 7

The Influence of the Greek Old Testament

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any of the names of biblical books in our English Bible come from the Greek Old Testament, not from the Hebrew Bible. The familiar word Pentateuch (five-fold book) is of Greek derivation rather than Hebrew, as are the words Genesis (beginning), Exodus (the way out), Deuteronomy (second law), Psalms (songs), and Ecclesiastes (assembly). Even the word Diaspora, meaning the dispersal of the Jews across the world, is a word that comes from the Greek language, not Hebrew. Furthermore, the Greek Old Testament divided the Pentateuch into its present arrangement of five books instead of its Hebrew arrangement as one book, the Torah. The Greek Old Testament also divided the single Hebrew book, the Nevi’im (prophets), Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, into 4 books called 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Reigns. The word Genesis comes from the Greek Old Testament. The Greek Old Testament gave the first book of the Bible the name Genesis, which is transliterated as “Genesis.” The word Genesis means “to come into existence.” The Hebrew title of this book is ‫בראשית‬, meaning “in beginning.” Exodus comes from the Greek Old Testament title Exodos (Eksodos), which means

“exit.” It has reference to the departure of the Jews from Egypt. The Hebrew title of this book is ‫ואלה שמות‬, meaning “these are the names of,” which is the first words of Exodus Chapter 1, verse 1. Leviticus comes from the Greek Old Testament title leuitikon (Leuitikon). This word means “that which pertains to the Levites.” The Hebrew title of this book is ‫ ויקרא‬that means “and He called,” which is the first word in Leviticus Chapter 1, verse 1. Numbers comes from the Greek Old Testament title ariqmoi (Arithmoi). This word means “numbers.” The English word arithmetic comes from this Greek word arithmoi. The Hebrew title of this book is ‫ וידבר‬that means “in the wilderness.” The word Deuteronomy comes from the Greek Old Testament title deuteronomion (Deuteronomion). This word means “second law giving.” The Hebrew title of this book is ‫אלה‬ ‫ הדברים‬that means “these are the words.” The books of First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and First and Second Chronicles are six books in our English Bibles. In the Hebrew Bible, these six books are only three books: Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The Hebrew order of books combines the books of


The Influence of the Greek Old Testament First and Second Chronicles, and makes the combined book Chronicles the last book in the Hebrew Bible. Our English Bible follows the Greek Old Testament by placing First and Second Chronicles following First and Second Kings, and makes Malachi the last book of the Old Testament. The books Ezra and Nehemiah are a single book in the Hebrew Bible, but our English Bible follows the Greek Old Testament that divides them into two books. From this information, you can see that the English Old Testament does not follow the Hebrew Old Testament arrangement of the books of the Bible. It follows the arrangement of the books of the Bible as used in the Greek Old Testament. Although the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek Old Testament do not have the same number of books or the same arrangement of books, or the same names of books, both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek Old Testament have the same content. The Greek Old Testament translators regrouped some of the Hebrew Old Testament books, and renamed some of them. They arranged the Old Testament according to the subject matter of each book: five books of law, twelve books of history, five books of poetry, and seventeen books of prophecy. Our English Bible translators chose to follow the Greek Old Testament arrangement rather than the Hebrew Old Testament arrangement. All of these facts indicate that the Greek Old Testament has influenced our English Bible more than the Hebrew Old Testament has. You can see this influence in the charts on the next page.

47

7.1 A papyrus page from a Greek Old Testament Codex


48

Chapter 7

Chart 10: The order of the Greek Old Testament books (39 books) The Law: 5 books

Poetry: 5 books

1. Genesis 2. Exodus 3. Leviticus 4. Numbers 5. Deuteronomy

18. Job 19. Psalms 20. Proverbs 21. Ecclesiastes 22. Song of Solomon

History: 12 books

Prophets: 17 books Major

6. Joshua 7. Judges 8. Ruth 9. 1 Samuel 10. 2 Samuel 11. 1 Kings 12. 2 Kings 13. 1 Chronicles 14. 2 Chronicles 15. Ezra 16. Nehemiah 17. Esther

23. Isaiah 24. Jeremiah 25. Lamentations 26. Ezekiel 27. Daniel

Minor

28. Hosea 29. Joel 30. Amos 31. Obadiah 32. Jonah 33. Micah 34. Nahum 35. Habakkuk 36. Zephaniah 37. Haggai 38. Zechariah 39. Malachi

Chart 11: The order of the Hebrew Old Testament Books (24 books) The Law (Torah)

The Prophets (Nevi’im)

1. Genesis 2. Exodus 3. Leviticus 4. Numbers 5. Deuteronomy

6. Joshua 7. Judges 8. Samuel 9. Kings

14. Psalms 15. Job 16. Proverbs

Latter Prophets

17. Ruth 18. Song of Songs 19. Ecclesiastes 20. Lamentations 21. Esther

Former Prophets

10. Isaiah 11. Jeremiah 12. Ezekiel 13. The Twelve

The Writings (Kethuvim) Poetical

Five Scrolls

Historical

22. Daniel 23. Ezra-Nehemiah 24. Chronicles


Rejecting All Apocryphal Books

49

“In a word, it [Scripture] is a panary [variety] of wholesome food, against moldy traditions; a physician’s shop of preservatives against poisoned heresies, a pandect [complete group] of profitable laws against rebellious spirits; a treasury of most costly jewels against beggarly rudiments [simple facts].” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 421)

Chapter 8

Rejecting All Apocryphal Books

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isted below are some reasons why one should not accept the apocryphal books as inspired Scripture. 1. There are no quotations from the apocryphal books in the New Testament. This alone is sufficient reason to refuse to accept the apocryphal books as Scripture. 2. The Greek Old Testament that existed long before the first century A.D. did not contain the apocryphal books. The earliest Greek Old Testament manuscripts that include the apocryphal books date from the late third century A.D. Even if the apocryphal books had been in the Greek Old Testament in the first century A.D., the absence of apocryphal quotations by Jesus and the apostles implies that they viewed the apocryphal books as uninspired because they never quoted from an apocryphal book. 3. The first and second century church fathers never quoted from the apocryphal books as a basis for establishing the authority of any biblical doctrine. 4. Although some individuals in the fourth century churches had a high esteem for some of the apocryphal books, no council of the churches during the first four centuries of church history ever favored them. Many of the early church fathers, such as Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origen, and Jerome, strongly opposed including the apocryphal books with the canonical books of Scripture.

5. None of the major Greek manuscripts, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Alexandrinus, contains all of the same apocryphal books. In fact, only four apocryphal books, Tobit, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus, occur in all of these Greek manuscripts. The oldest manuscript, Vaticanus, totally excludes the books of First and Second Maccabees. Furthermore, no Greek manuscript has ever contained the same list of apocryphal books that the Roman Catholic Council of Trent accepted in 1545. It was in 1545 that the Pope declared most of the apocryphal books to be a part of the Old Testament Canon. The nation of Israel has never considered this decision of the Pope as valid. Faithful Christian churches have also never considered this decision of the Pope as valid. 6. The Syrian church did not accept apocryphal books until the fourth century A.D. In the second century A.D., the Syrian Bible (the Peshitta) did not contain any apocryphal books. 7. Augustine is the only significant person of antiquity who recognized the Apocrypha, but his opinion was unfounded for several reasons: a. His contemporary, Jerome, a greater biblical authority than Augustine, rejected the Apocrypha. b. Augustine recognized that the Jews rejected these books.


50 c. Because some of the apocryphal books mention extreme and unusual sufferings of certain martyrs, Augustine thought they should be a part of the Canon. (On that basis, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs should also be in the Canon.) d. Augustine rejected Esther as a canonical book because it was not written by a prophet, yet he accepted apocryphal books that actually deny being prophetic. e. Augustine, who lived from A.D. 354 until A.D. 430, accepted some of the apocryphal books based on his mistaken belief that the Greek Old Testament was an inspired translation. He reasoned that since the Greek Old Testament was an inspired translation, the apocryphal books contained in it were also inspired. 8. The Greek Orthodox Church has not always accepted the Apocrypha. Even as late as 1839, the Greek Orthodox Larger Catechism expressly omitted the Apocrypha on the basis that it did not exist in the Hebrew Old Testament Canon. 9. The Council of Trent, in A.D. 1545, was the first official proclamation of the Roman Catholic Church, which said that the apocryphal books should be in the Canon of scripture. This proclamation came hundreds of years after the writing of the apocryphal books. This decision came as an obvious argumentative action against the Protestantism of Martin Luther who rejected prayers for the dead and salvation by good works as taught in the Apocrypha. The Pope obviously had dishonest motives for declaring the apocryphal books inspired and canonical. He declared them canonical because they supported the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church about prayers for the dead and salvation by good works. However, some apocryphal books that opposed prayers for the dead were not included in the Pope’s canon of Old Testament books. He carefully declared canonical only those apocryphal books that agreed with Roman Catholic doctrine.

Chapter 8 10. Apocryphal books appeared in Protestant Bibles, including the 1611 King James Version, but the translators placed them in a separate section because they considered them inferior to the inspired canonical books. Even Roman Catholic scholars during the Reformation period made a distinction between the Apocrypha and the books in the Old Testament Canon. Cardinal Ximenes made this distinction in his Complutensian Polyglot (A.D. 1514) on the very eve of the Reformation. In 1532 Cardinal Cajetan, who opposed Luther at Augsburg in 1518, published a commentary on all the canonical books of the Old Testament, but in all his writings, he did not include anything about a single apocryphal book. Luther spoke against the Apocrypha in his Bible published in 1543 by placing the apocryphal books in the back part of the German Bible. That was not a good thing to do, but it was his way of showing that he did not consider them equal with inspired Scripture. 11. The manuscript discoveries in the Dead Sea caves included the Qumran community’s Bibles, and their library yielded hundreds of fragments from biblical books. Among these biblical books were a few of the apocryphal books. However, archeologist found no commentaries written about apocryphal books. They found in the special parchment and script room only commentaries written about canonical books. This clearly indicates that the Qumran community did not view the apocryphal books as canonical. 12. Most of the apocryphal books have doctrines in them that are unbiblical and heretical. Roman Catholics favored the apocryphal books because they found support in them for two of their main doctrines that were in dispute during the Reformation. In Maccabees 12:43–45 they found support for their doctrine of praying for the dead. In Tobit 12:9, they found support for their doctrine of salvation by works. In the apocryphal book, The Gospel of James, they found support for the veneration of Mary.


Rejecting All Apocryphal Books All of these apocryphal books are in contradiction of the canonical books of the Bible, all of which oppose praying for the dead (see Hebrews 9:27, Luke 16:25–26, and Second Samuel 12:19). The Bible also strongly opposes salvation by doing good works (see Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:5, and Galatians 3:11. The Bible says nothing about Mary’s perpetual virginity. The writers of the canonical Gospels write respectfully about Mary, but they certainly do not teach us to reverence or venerate Mary. 13. Apocryphal books contain stories that are extra-biblical and fanciful. The story of Bel and the Dragon is a case in point. In this story, the pagan priests of Bel try to deceive Daniel. They use a trap door to go in and consume the food offered to Bel to prove that Bel is a living God who eats and drinks every day. The same unauthentic ring occurs in the other apocryphal books, such as the Additions to Esther, the Prayer of Azariah, and the books of Susanna, Tobit, and Judith. 14. Much of the teaching of the Apocrypha is sub-biblical and at times even immoral. God allegedly assisted Judith in a deed of falsehood, (see Judith 9:10, 13), and both Ecclesiasticus and the Book of Wisdom teach a morality based on convenience. Along with this low morality, the sub-biblical nature of the Apocrypha is obvious in its many historical and chronological errors. Apocryphal books claim that Tobit was alive when the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 B.C. and that he was alive when Jeroboam revolted against Judah in 931 B.C. This would have required Tobit to live more than 200 years, yet his total life span was less than 100 years (see Tobit 1:3–5, and Tobit 14:11). The apocryphal Book of Judith speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as reigning in Nineveh instead of Babylon (see Judith 1:1). William H. Green concisely summarized the evidence against Tobit and Judith when he said, “The Books of Tobit and Judith abound in geographical, chronological, and historical mistakes, so as not only to defile the truth of the narratives which they

51 contain, but to make it doubtful whether they even rest upon a basis of fact.” 15. Most of the writers of apocryphal books wrote during Israel’s post-biblical, inter-testament period of 400 silent years, when no prophet of God preached or wrote inspired Scripture. According to Josephus, the prophets wrote from Moses to Artaxerxes. Josephus wrote, “It is true our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of the prophets since that time.” The Jewish Talmud adds a similar thought that reads, “After the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.” Because the authors of the apocryphal books wrote their books long after Artaxerxes’ time, and long after Malachi’s day (400 B.C.), these books should not be considered inspired and canonical. Not only does the Talmud testify to that end, but the canonical books of the Old Testament also imply it. (See Zechariah 1:5, Malachi 4:5), as do some of the statements in the apocryphal books themselves. In fact, there is no claim within any of the apocryphal books that they are the inspired Word of God. It is sometimes asserted that Ecclesiasticus 50:27–29 lays claim to divine inspiration, but a closer examination of the passage indicates that the author claims to have illumination not inspiration. All of the apocryphal books are post-biblical for Israel because they were written after the time when the prophetic Spirit had departed from Israel. 16. All of the books of the Apocrypha are nonbiblical and un-canonical because neither Israel nor the church ever accepted them in the same way they accepted the canonical books. 17. There is an almost unbroken testimony of antiquity against accepting the Apocrypha into the canon of Scripture:


52 a. Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish historian (20 B.C.–A.D. 40), quoted the Old Testament many times but he never quoted one time from an apocryphal book as an inspired authority. b. Josephus the Jewish historian, (A.D. 30–A.D. 100), explicitly excludes the Apocrypha by numbering the books of the Old Testament, like the Hebrew Old Testament, as twentyfour. He also does not quote the apocryphal books as Scripture. c. Neither Jesus nor any of the New Testament writers ever once quoted the Apocrypha although they referenced almost all of the canonical books of the Old Testament. d. The Jewish scholars of Jamnia (circa A.D. 90) did not recognize the Apocrypha, even though the specific purpose of their gathering was to define which books should be a part of the Old Testament Canon. e. For nearly four centuries after Christ, no canon or council of the Christian church recognized the Apocrypha as inspired. f. Many of the early church leaders, such as Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius spoke out against the Apocrypha. g. Jerome (A.D. 340–420), the translator of the Latin Vulgate, rejected the Apocrypha as part of the canon. Jerome said that the church reads the apocryphal books for example of life and instruction of manners, but does not apply them to establish any doctrine. He disputed with Augustine on this point. At first, Jerome refused even to translate the apocryphal books into Latin, but later he made a hurried translation of a few of them. After his death, the Pope made sure that the apocryphal books from the Old Latin version were included in Jerome’s New Latin version that he translated in the fourth century. h. Many Roman Catholic scholars who lived during the Reformation period rejected the Apocrypha.

Chapter 8 i. Luther and all of the Protestant Reformers rejected the canonicity of the Apocrypha. j. In 1545, the Roman Catholic Church, in an action designed to counter the Reformation, convened the Council of Trent at which time the Council gave the apocryphal books full canonical status. The acceptance of the Apocrypha at the Council of Trent is therefore suspect because the Pope’s intention was to use the apocryphal books against Luther in support of the Roman Catholic position, which favors prayers for the dead and salvation by good works. Only eleven of the fourteen books of the Apocrypha were accepted. One of those omitted books was Esdras, which speaks against prayers for the dead (see Esdras 7:105). Obviously, the reason for the Council’s rejection of this book was that it did not support the false teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which says that the prayers of priests for the dead can get people out of purgatory into Heaven. 18. Finally, most of the apocryphal books are not translations of Hebrew texts into Greek. They are compositions written in Greek by people who tried to imply the inspiration of their books by including them within the pages of the Greek Old Testament. These people expected that this would add authority to their Gnostic doctrines. They failed at this because Christians knew instinctively that these would-be Scriptures did not come from the pure wells of Holy Spirit inspiration.

Five tests that disprove the canonicity of the apocryphal books

1. Did a prophet of God write it? There is neither claim nor proof that a prophet of God wrote any of the apocryphal books. 2. Did God confirm it with a supernatural act? Because prophets did not write the apocryphal books, God did not supernaturally accredit any of them (see Maccabees 9:27).


Rejecting All Apocryphal Books 3. Did the book have the power of God upon it? There is nothing transforming about the apocryphal books. Their truth is not exhilarating, except as they are a repetition of truth found already in the canonical books of the Bible. 4. Did it tell the truth about God and man? As was mentioned above, there are contradictions, errors, and even heresies in the Apocrypha. The apocryphal books do not stand the test of canonical truth. 5. Did the people of God, Israel and faithful Christian churches, accept the apocryphal books? There has never been a continu-

53 ous, universal acceptance of the apocryphal books by the nation of Israel or faithful Christian churches. These overwhelming arguments in favor of rejecting the Apocrypha as part of the canon of Scripture provide convincing evidence that the Holy Spirit did not inspire the apocryphal books and therefore they do not belong in the Canon of authentic Scripture. Note: Most of this information about the Apocrypha comes from the book A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix.


54

Chapter 9

“Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell that we may eat the kernel that putteth aside the curtain that we may look into the holy place.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 421)

Chapter 9

The Living Word and the Written Word

T

he miraculous inspiration of the Bible is in some ways similar to the miraculous birth of Jesus. God has revealed in Scripture that Jesus was born of a virgin, and God has revealed that the Bible is inspired without error in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Both of these facts are for us to believe even if we cannot totally define exactly how these two things happened. The Lord Jesus was born because of cooperation between a human being and the Holy Spirit. Mary was the human instrument used by God to bring the physical body of Jesus into the world. However, Mary was not the mother of God. Jesus, being God, had already been in existence for all of eternity. Mary was not the mother of Jesus’ deity. She was the mother of His human body. The Holy Spirit miraculously superintended the entire process of the conception, birth, and preservation of the life of Jesus. God used a human being to bring the living Word of God into the world. He also used Joseph to protect Jesus from King Herod who would have killed baby Jesus if he could have done so. Although the Holy Spirit used a human being to bring about the entrance of Jesus into a human body, He did this in such a way that human sin and error was not involved. Jesus was in no way contaminated by the sinful nature of Mary or the sinfulness of any other human being. Matthew was careful to emphasize this when he wrote in Matthew 1:20, “That which is con-

ceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Emphasis mine.) In this New Testament Greek sentence, Matthew placed the word holy at the end of the sentence in order to emphasize it.” Matthew wanted us to know that the birth of Jesus had occurred because of the work of the Holy Spirit and that Jesus’ birth was therefore holy in every way. In the same holy manner that Jesus was born, holy men of God spake as they were moved (carried along) by the Holy Ghost (Second Peter 1:21). Just as the Holy Spirit superintended the miraculous birth of the living Word of God into the world, so He also superintended the miraculous entrance of the written Word of God into the world. In the same way that the Holy Spirit preserved the living Word of God from defilement by human sin, so He has kept the written Word of God free from the defilement of human error. In the same way that God protected the living Word of God at His birth, so he protected the written Word of God from those who would have corrupted and destroyed it. Just as the Holy Spirit of God caused the conception and birth of the living Word, protected the Living Word by His miraculous power, and caused godly people to protect the Living Word, so God used holy men whom He miraculously controlled by His Holy Spirit to write and protect the Hebrew and Greek autographs of Scripture. This is evident when one considers that the copies of the


The Living Word and the Written Word inspired autographs are 99.9% identical to the perfectly inspired original autographs. Jesus became the living Word through whom God revealed the truth about Himself to all people. The Bible, likewise, became the written Word through which God has revealed his truth to all people. The coming of the living Word into the world and the inspiration of the written Word are both miracles wrought by the power of God. Because the inspiration of the Bible is a miracle performed by God, it is not, therefore, a matter that can be totally defined in terms of human intellect. We must accept this truth by reasonable faith. It is impossible to explain completely how the Holy Spirit conceived the Lord Jesus. It is equally impossible to explain completely how God transmitted his words to the minds of men, who inerrantly wrote those words in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The Holy Spirit performed a miracle in the body of Mary to bring about the birth of the living Word. The Holy Spirit also performed a miracle in the minds of men who wrote inerrantly the inspired Word of God in the Hebrew and Greek Bible texts. However, some insist that we must totally comprehend the miracle of biblical inspiration by human intellect. Therefore, some people think they can judge whether some words should be included in the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts and whether some words should not be included. This is a wrong assumption. It is this false premise that is largely the reason for the many perversions of Scripture by modern textual critics. Skeptical biblical critics assume that the human mind is capable of deciding which words of Scripture are valid and which ones are not. This assumption is not reasonable faith. Textual criticism is, for the most part, humanly prejudiced guesswork. Textual criticism is much like the company that advertised itself with the words “We do precision guesswork.”

55 This is exactly the mistake one makes when he becomes a skeptical critic of the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts. Textual critics of the Bible take for granted the false presupposition that human beings are smart enough to comprehend the miraculous method that God used to inspire, and inerrantly preserve the words of the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts. Because textual critics believe that miracles are in opposition to human reason, their first step must be to delete miracles from their presuppositions about the biblical texts. Secondly, one who takes this view must bring God’s wisdom and miraculous power down to a level of human comprehension. He must humanize God and purge the biblical texts of all that is miraculous. He must bring all that Jesus said and did down to a level that is comprehensible by the human intellect. This results in the humanizing of God and makes miracles impossible. It also makes God an intellectual concept instead of a living person who is revealed in Scripture. Such thinking is the same old worn out Gnosticism of the first century dressed up as respectable intellectualism in the twenty-first century. It makes the judgments made by human beings superior to judgments based on God’s miraculous revelation as given in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. One must reject human intellectualism and accept God’s revelation by reasonable faith. The humanist-intellectual does not accept that God’s power and wisdom are superior to his own ability to reason. He begins with the presupposition that his own ability to reason is either equal or superior to God’s wisdom. He will accept only that which he can prove by using the supposedly empirical methodology of science. However, he does not stop to realize that there is no person who practices completely fair and unbiased scientific empiricism. Empiricism is impossible because no human being is unbiased and no human being was alive during all the events of history. Furthermore, no human will live long enough to discover all the facts that are know-


56 able, or that will be knowable in the future. It is impossible for one to be empirical when dealing with biblical texts simply because no human will ever live long enough to study every Hebrew and Greek manuscript of the biblical text that exists. Hebrew and Greek biblical manuscripts number into the tens of thousands and are located in places around the world under conditions controlled by many governments and religious sects. The time it would take to acquire all biblical manuscripts and compare them to each other would be equal to that of several life times. No one person will ever live long enough to examine all of the Hebrew and Greek biblical manuscript evidence. Therefore, no one has ever made a completely unbiased, empirical study of all the biblical manuscripts. Even if one were to live long enough, one would still bring his own biased presuppositions to his research. No one is totally objective and free from biased presuppositions. Since this is true, we should not be Agnostics who say we cannot know anything, nor should we be Gnostics who say we can know everything. We should be Bible believers, not Bible know-italls. We do not need to know it all, even if that were possible. We have enough revelation from God in the Person and words of Jesus to have a reasonable faith that accepts the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures for what Jesus said they were, the inspired, inerrant Words of God. Jesus accepted the fact of inspired, inerrant Scriptures and lived a life of perfect obedience to them. Nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus being a textual critic of the Scriptures. Jesus, in His wisdom, knew that one should believe God’s inspired and inerrant Word and obey it. If the Son of God, the wisest and holiest God-man took this view of Scripture, why should we take the view of the modern textual critic that only leads to confusion, doubt, and despair? We should not. Instead, we should say, “I do not know the answers to all the difficulties found in some of the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts. We should

Chapter 9 also say, “I am confident that if someone ever discovers the unbiased facts of pure empirical study of the biblical texts, those facts will agree exactly with what Jesus said about the inspired and inerrant Scriptures 2,000 years ago.” This is the only reasonable position for a Bible believing Christian to take.

Implications of the Bible’s inspiration

The fact that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant words of God implies many important truths. Among these implied truths are the following conclusions. 1. Because the Holy Spirit inspired the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, this makes the Bible a Holy Book. We have the Bible because of the power and wisdom of God and the work of the Holy Spirit who controlled holy men of God and caused them to write the original words of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. Therefore, the Bible translator should handle Bible translating with a reverence that is consistent with the holiness that is essentially a part of translating the Holy Scriptures. Since holy men of God wrote the original inspired, inerrant Scriptures, only holy men of God can adequately translate them. 2. Because the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, the person who would translate that Bible should live under the control of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says that Christians should allow the Holy Spirit to fill them. For a Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that he allows the Holy Spirit to control him. As the Bible translator translates God’s Word, he should be under the control of the Holy Spirit. A person, who is unregenerate, and, therefore, does not have the Holy Spirit controlling him, should not be a Bible translator. The power and work of the Holy Spirit must be operative as a controlling factor in the translator’s life. If it is not, the translation he produces will not have the marks of the Holy Spirit upon it. The translation will not be liv-


The Living Word and the Written Word ing water drawn from the well of salvation. It will be polluted water drawn from the well of human intellectualism. 3. Although the Holy Spirit should control a Bible translator, this control does not mean that the Holy Spirit will control him to the point that his translating is inspired in the same way that the Holy Spirit controlled and inspired the original writers of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. A Bible translation can only preserve the inspired words of Scripture when the words used in the translation convey the same formal equivalent meaning that the Holy Spirit caused the original writers to write in the Scripture. If at any point a translation is less than, more than, or different from the formal equivalent meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words, it does not at that point preserve the inspiration of Scripture. 4. The inspiration and preservation of the Bible, as promised by Jesus, guarantees that the originally inspired and inerrant words of the Bible exist today in the Masoretic Hebrew text and the Textus Receptus Greek text. In spite of the fact that modern skeptical textual critics say the Bible is corrupt, it is self-evident that God did not withhold His inspired, inerrant Word until 1881 when the first critical text produced by skeptical textual critics appeared. From the time of the writing of the Book of Genesis until now, God has used the nation of Israel and faithful Christian churches to protect His inspired and inerrant Word. This inspired and inerrant Word of God exists today in the thousands of faithfully copied Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Because these faithfully copied Hebrew and Greek manuscripts have few significant differences to the originally written texts, they are, for any person of reasonable faith, the same as the originally written Hebrew and Greek autographs of the Old Testament and New Testament books.

57 After Erasmus collected and collated several hundred New Testament Greek manuscripts, these manuscripts accurately preserved the originally inspired and inerrant books of the New Testament. This collating of New Testament Greek manuscripts became the Textus Receptus Greek Text of the New Testament. The Masoretic Hebrew scribes collected and collated thousands of Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts. These manuscripts accurately preserved the originally inspired and inerrant books of the Old Testament. This collating of the Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts has become known as the Textus Receptus (text accepted) Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Because the Masoretic Textus Receptus Hebrew text and the Textus Receptus Greek text are for any person of reasonable faith equal to the originally inspired and inerrant manuscripts, we should accept them as the final authority and basis for all translations of the Bible into the languages of the world. Because modern critical texts, produced by textual critics, are unreasonably biased, one should reject them as the basis for translating the Scriptures into other languages. 5. One can guarantee the absolute inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible only in the original Hebrew and Greek autographs of Scripture. The inspiration of inerrant Scripture does not apply to copies of the Hebrew and Greek original autographs, nor does it apply to translations of the original Hebrew and Greek autographs. Therefore, if only the original autographs are inspired without error, how can it be known for sure that faithful copies and translations of the original autographs exist today? Even though the original autographs do not exist today, faithful copies of the original autographs do exist today here on planet earth. These copies are accurate to the extent of 99.9%. Archibald Thomas Robertson, perhaps the greatest New Testament Greek scholar of the twentieth century, says, “The real conflict in the textual criticism of the New Testament is concerning this ‘thousandth part of the en-


58

Chapter 9 tire text.’” This quote comes from page 22 of the book An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by A. T. Robertson, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, 1925. Robertson’s statement means that the Greek New Testament is 99.9% free from any concern as to the accuracy of the New Testament text. The remaining 0.1% of the text involves only questions that have little or no bearing on the accuracy of the text. A person of reasonable faith can therefore conclude that the original autographs of the New Testament text is here on earth today in the Textus Receptus Greek text. What is true of the original autographs of the New Testament Greek text is also true of the original autographs of the Hebrew Old Testament text. Faithful scribes preserved the Hebrew Old Testament here on earth today in the Masoretic Hebrew text.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, formerly, Director, and Principal Librarian of the British Museum, said, “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.” Kenyon also said, “The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.” The first quote comes from The Bible and Archaeology, Sir Frederic Kenyon, Harper & Row, pg. 288, 1940. The second quote comes from Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, by Sir Frederic Kenyon, pg. 23, 1951.

For these reasons, faithful churches, from the first century until the present day, have always believed that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God in its original manuscripts. Should we consider translations of the original Hebrew and Greek autographs to be inspired and therefore inerrant? Most missionaries who have translated books of the Bible into other languages would be reluctant to claim that the Holy Spirit inspired them as they translated and that their translations are inspired and inerrant. They know all too well that even though they did the best translating they could do, there will always be a need for them to revise and improve minor details in their Scripture translations. If a Bible translator wants to improve his Bible translation to the point that it meets the standard set by the original Hebrew and Greek autographs, he must revise his Bible translation until it conforms to at least 99.7% of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The question about Bible translations is this, “If only the original autographs of the Bible are inerrant and translations of them may be errant, how can we be certain that the translated books of Scripture are inspired and free from error?” A faithful translation of the Scripture, such as the King James Version, is for all practical purposes equal to the original autographs because the translators of the Hebrew and Greek texts accurately translated 99.7% of the words preserved in the original autographs of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. A. T. Robertson said that the original New Testament Greek text is 99.9% accurately preserved and that it is only in minor details that any uncertainty about the text of the original manuscripts exists. For this reason, we may reasonably conclude that the King


The Living Word and the Written Word James Version, and any other faithfully translated Scripture, preserves the inerrant inspiration of Scripture in at least 99.7% of the translated text. However, one must reserve the absolute 100 percent inspiration of inerrant Scripture only for the Hebrew and Greek original autographs. Therefore, one can reasonably expect that a faithful translation of the original New Testament Greek text will preserve at least 99.7% of the original Greek text. What is true of the New Testament translation of the Greek text is also true of the translation of the Hebrew text. If someone says the original autographs do not exist today, this would not be true. The truth is that 99.9% of the original autographs do exist today in the thousands of faithfully copied Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.

59 Therefore, for all practical and reasonable purposes, the original autographs do exist today and will forever remain the unmovable anchor that holds Bible translators accountable to its text. Every faithful Bible translation that conforms to the unchanging standard of the Hebrew and Greek Received texts, except in minor details, preserves 99.7% of the words contained in the original autographs of Scripture. Even though translators are not infallible, they can produce a faithful translation by careful translating and revising that is 99.7% the same as the orginal Hebrew and Greek texts. We should rightfully consider such translations to be the full and complete, verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God! The chart on the next page is intended to illustrate the one-thousandth of Scripture about which there are some minor questions.


60

Chapter 9

Chart 12: The Purity of Scripture

The shaded parts of this chart represent the 99.9% of the Bible about which there are no questions at all. The un-shaded part at the bottom of this chart represents that part of the Bible about which there are some minor questions that involve only a thousandth part of the biblical text. 0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

0.8

0.9

50

50.1

50.2

50.3

50.4

50.5

50.6

50.7

50.8

50.9

1

1.1

1.2

1.3

1.4

1.5

1.6

1.7

1.8

1.9

51

51.1

51.2

51.3

51.4

51.5

51.6

51.7

51.8

51.9

2

2.1

2.2

2.3

2.4

2.5

2.6

2.7

2.8

2.9

52

52.1

52.2

52.3

52.4

52.5

52.6

52.7

52.8

52.9

3

3.1

3.2

3.3

3.4

3.5

3.6

3.7

3.8

3.9

53

53.1

53.2

53.3

53.4

53.5

53.6

53.7

53.8

53.9

4

4.1

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

4.9

54

54.1

54.2

54.3

54.4

54.5

54.6

54.7

54.8

54.9

5

5.1

5.2

5.3

5.4

5.5

5.6

5.7

5.8

5.9

55

55.1

55.2

55.3

55.4

55.5

55.6

55.7

55.8

55.9

6

6.1

6.2

6.3

6.4

6.5

6.6

6.7

6.8

6.9

56

56.1

56.2

56.3

56.4

56.5

56.6

56.7

56.8

56.9

7

7.1

7.2

7.3

7.4

7.5

7.6

7.7

7.8

7.9

57

57.1

57.2

57.3

57.4

57.5

57.6

57.7

57.8

57.9

8

8.1

8.2

8.3

8.4

8.5

8.6

8.7

8.8

8.9

58

58.1

58.2

58.3

58.4

58.5

58.6

58.7

58.8

58.9

9

9.1

9.2

9.3

9.4

9.5

9.6

9.7

9.8

9.9

59

59.1

59.2

59.3

59.4

59.5

59.6

59.7

59.8

59.9

10

10.1

10.2

10.3

10.4

10.5

10.6

10.7

10.8

10.9

60

60.1

60.2

60.3

60.4

60.5

60.6

60.7

60.8

60.9

11

11.1

11.2

11.3

11.4

11.5

11.6

11.7

11.8

11.9

61

61.1

61.2

61.3

61.4

61.5

61.6

61.7

61.8

61.9

12

12.1

12.2

12.3

12.4

12.5

12.6

12.7

12.8

12.9

62

62.1

62.2

62.3

62.4

62.5

62.6

62.7

62.8

62.9

13

13.1

13.2

13.3

13.4

13.5

13.6

13.7

13.8

13.9

63

63.1

63.2

63.3

63.4

63.5

63.6

63.7

63.8

63.9

14

14.1

14.2

14.3

14.4

14.5

14.6

14.7

14.8

14.9

64

64.1

64.2

64.3

64.4

64.5

64.6

64.7

64.8

64.9

15

15.1

15.2

15.3

15.4

15.5

15.6

15.7

15.8

15.9

65

65.1

65.2

65.3

65.4

65.5

65.6

65.7

65.8

65.9

16

16.1

16.2

16.3

16.4

16.5

16.6

16.7

16.8

16.9

66

66.1

66.2

66.3

66.4

66.5

66.6

66.7

66.8

66.9

17

17.1

17.2

17.3

17.4

17.5

17.6

17.7

17.8

17.9

67

67.1

67.2

67.3

67.4

67.5

67.6

67.7

67.8

67.9

18

18.1

18.2

18.3

18.4

18.5

18.6

18.7

18.8

18.9

68

68.1

68.2

68.3

68.4

68.5

68.6

68.7

68.8

68.9

19

19.1

19.2

19.3

19.4

19.5

19.6

19.7

19.8

19.9

69

69.1

69.2

69.3

69.4

69.5

69.6

69.7

69.8

69.9

20

20.1

20.2

20.3

20.4

20.5

20.6

20.7

20.8

20.9

70

70.1

70.2

70.3

70.4

70.5

70.6

70.7

70.8

70.9

21

21.1

21.2

21.3

21.4

21.5

21.6

21.7

21.8

21.9

71

71.1

71.2

71.3

71.4

71.5

71.6

71.7

71.8

71.9

22

22.1

22.2

22.3

22.4

22.5

22.6

22.7

22.8

22.9

72

72.1

72.2

72.3

72.4

72.5

72.6

72.7

72.8

72.9

23

23.1

23.2

23.3

23.4

23.5

23.6

23.7

23.8

23.9

73

73.1

73.2

73.3

73.4

73.5

73.6

73.7

73.8

73.9

24

24.1

24.2

24.3

24.4

24.5

24.6

24.7

24.8

24.9

74

74.1

74.2

74.3

74.4

74.5

74.6

74.7

74.8

74.9

25

25.1

25.2

25.3

25.4

25.5

25.6

25.7

25.8

25.9

75

75.1

75.2

75.3

75.4

75.5

75.6

75.7

75.8

75.9

26

26.1

26.2

26.3

26.4

26.5

26.6

26.7

26.8

26.9

76

76.1

76.2

76.3

76.4

76.5

76.6

76.7

76.8

76.9

27

27.1

27.2

27.3

27.4

27.5

27.6

27.7

27.8

27.9

77

77.1

77.2

77.3

77.4

77.5

77.6

77.7

77.8

77.9

28

28.1

28.2

28.3

28.4

28.5

28.6

28.7

28.8

28.9

78

78.1

78.2

78.3

78.4

78.5

78.6

78.7

78.8

78.9

29

29.1

29.2

29.3

29.4

29.5

29.6

29.7

29.8

29.9

79

79.1

79.2

79.3

79.4

79.5

79.6

79.7

79.8

79.9

30

30.1

30.2

30.3

30.4

30.5

30.6

30.7

30.8

30.9

80

80.1

80.2

80.3

80.4

80.5

80.6

80.7

80.8

80.9

31

31.1

31.2

31.3

31.4

31.5

31.6

31.7

31.8

31.9

81

81.1

81.2

81.3

81.4

81.5

81.6

81.7

81.8

81.9

32

32.1

32.2

32.3

32.4

32.5

32.6

32.7

32.8

32.9

82

82.1

82.2

82.3

82.4

82.5

82.6

82.7

82.8

82.9

33

33.1

33.2

33.3

33.4

33.5

33.6

33.7

33.8

33.9

83

83.1

83.2

83.3

83.4

83.5

83.6

83.7

83.8

83.9

34

34.1

34.2

34.3

34.4

34.5

34.6

34.7

34.8

34.9

84

84.1

84.2

84.3

84.4

84.5

84.6

84.7

84.8

84.9

35

35.1

35.2

35.3

35.4

35.5

35.6

35.7

35.8

35.9

85

85.1

85.2

85.3

85.4

85.5

85.6

85.7

85.8

85.9

36

36.1

36.2

36.3

36.4

36.5

36.6

36.7

36.8

36.9

86

86.1

86.2

86.3

86.4

86.5

86.6

86.7

86.8

86.9

37

37.1

37.2

37.3

37.4

37.5

37.6

37.7

37.8

37.9

87

87.1

87.2

87.3

87.4

87.5

87.6

87.7

87.8

87.9

38

38.1

38.2

38.3

38.4

38.5

38.6

38.7

38.8

38.9

88

88.1

88.2

88.3

88.4

88.5

88.6

88.7

88.8

88.9

39

39.1

39.2

39.3

39.4

39.5

39.6

39.7

39.8

39.9

89

89.1

89.2

89.3

89.4

89.5

89.6

89.7

89.8

89.9

40

40.1

40.2

40.3

40.4

40.5

40.6

40.7

40.8

40.9

90

90.1

90.2

90.3

90.4

90.5

90.6

90.7

90.8

90.9

41

41.1

41.2

41.3

41.4

41.5

41.6

41.7

41.8

41.9

91

91.1

91.2

91.3

91.4

91.5

91.6

91.7

91.8

91.9

42

42.1

42.2

42.3

42.4

42.5

42.6

42.7

42.8

42.9

92

92.1

92.2

92.3

92.4

92.5

92.6

92.7

92.8

92.9

43

43.1

43.2

43.3

43.4

43.5

43.6

43.7

43.8

43.9

93

93.1

93.2

93.3

93.4

93.5

93.6

93.7

93.8

93.9

44

44.1

44.2

44.3

44.4

44.5

44.6

44.7

44.8

44.9

94

94.1

94.2

94.3

94.4

94.5

94.6

94.7

94.8

94.9

45

45.1

45.2

45.3

45.4

45.5

45.6

45.7

45.8

45.9

95

95.1

95.2

95.3

95.4

95.5

95.6

95.7

95.8

95.9

46

46.1

46.2

46.3

46.4

46.5

46.6

46.7

46.8

46.9

96

96.1

96.2

96.3

96.4

96.5

96.6

96.7

96.8

96.9

47

47.1

47.2

47.3

47.4

47.5

47.6

47.7

47.8

47.9

97

97.1

97.2

97.3

97.4

97.5

97.6

97.7

97.8

97.9

48

48.1

48.2

48.3

48.4

48.5

48.6

48.7

48.8

48.9

98

98.1

98.2

98.3

98.4

98.5

98.6

98.7

98.8

98.9

49

49.1

49.2

49.3

49.4

49.5

49.6

49.7

49.8

49.9

99

99.1

99.2

99.3

99.4

99.5

99.6

99.7

99.8

99.9

9.1 This one-tenth part of 1% represents that part of the Hebrew and Greek texts that have questions of minor importance. Therefore, any person of reasonable faith can conclude that for all practical purposes we have faithful copies of the original autographs of the Bible.


A History of English Bible Translating

61

“For to whomever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 428)

Chapter 10

A History of English Bible Translating

T

he tool needed for completing a faithful English Bible translation of the New Testament was not available until Desiderius Erasmus published his compilation of the Greek New Testament in 1516. The first English Bible translator, John Wycliffe, used the Latin Vulgate as the basis for his translation. This was a mistake, but it was all that Wycliffe had at the time. The Protestant Reformation occurred between 1517 and 1563. The Reformation was an attempt to return to the early purity of Christianity as taught in the New Testament. The most compelling force for the Reformation came first from the publication of the Greek New Testament by Erasmus, and then from the publication of the New Testament in German by Martin Luther (1545), and finally from the English Geneva Bible (1557) which became the most popular Bible among English speaking people. However, of these three compelling motivations, the most compelling force for the Reformation came from the compilation and printing of the Greek New Testament by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. The publication of the Greek New Testament was an earth-shaking event that produced in churchmen an irresistible desire to find out what the New Testament really taught about

Christianity. When Christians began reading the Greek New Testament for themselves, they realized how far their churches had strayed from the truth. This resulted in a compelling desire to put off the paraphernalia of religiosity and return to the sound doctrines taught in the New Testament. Because of the printing of the Greek New Testament, people who could not read Greek began wanting a translation of it in their own language. Before all this, the long struggle of translating the Scriptures into English began with John Wycliffe. He translated the first Anglo Saxon English New Testament in A.D. 1380, but unfortunately, the Greek New Testament was not available to him at that time. Because Latin was the most prominent language in Wycliffe’s day, he made his translation from the Latin Vulgate. The problem with this is that he made a translation of a translation and consequently repeated in his translation the many translation mistakes that were in the Latin Vulgate. In Wycliffe’s day, there were no printing presses. Wycliffe and his associates wrote the first English New Testaments by hand. They completed the translation of the entire New Testament in Anglo Saxon English in 1384. One of Wycliffe’s associates revised Wycliffe’s trans-


62

Chapter 10

lation in 1388. This revision greatly improved what had been an excessively literal translation of the Latin Vulgate. After Wycliffe’s work, William Tyndale translated and printed three thousand copies of his English New Testament in 1525 in the city of Worms, Germany. He could not publish it in his own country because the Crown considered the publishing of English Scriptures a crime punishable by death. Tyndale’s translation of the Greek New Testament was the first printed English New Testament. It was also the first translation of an English New Testament based entirely on the Greek text of Erasmus. For this good work, he was put on trial as a heretic. For his heresy of printing English Scriptures, executioners stran10.1 William Tyndale in prison. In 1535 a “friend” of William Tyndale betrayed him into the hands of the king’s officers. They arrested him and put him in prison near Brussels, Belgium. In 1536, the authorities found Tyndale guilty of the heresy of translating the Bible into English. They tied Tyndale to a stake, strangled him, and burned him alive.

gled and burned him alive. One can see the strength of Tyndale’s translation because he used language that English people understood well. His translation was also full of beauty and dignity. The King James Version translators adopted many of Tyndale’s translation phrases and sentences with very little change of expression. Later on, Miles Coverdale translated the entire Bible into English in 1535. Unfortunately, he used the Latin Vulgate and some German trans-

lations as the basis for his translation. He also made the mistake of including some of the apocryphal books in his translation. He departed from Tyndale’s translation by bringing back to the English Bible the Church of England’s ecclesiastical terms that Tyndale had banished from his translation. Coverdale’s translation was the first printed edition of the entire English Bible. Because of Coverdale’s many translation mistakes, his Bible did not find a lasting place in the hearts of Englishmen. After Coverdale, the Bible known as, Matthew’s Bible, was published in 1537. Although it was called Matthew’s Bible, it was actually the work of John Rogers. He revised Tyndale’s version of Genesis through Second Chronicles and Coverdale’s translation of the remainder of the Old Testament, including some apocryphal books. This Bible also did not prove to be acceptable to Englishmen. The Great Bible, published in 1540, was a revision of Matthew’s Bible. People called it the Great Bible because of its very large size. The Great Bible was the first Bible approved by a

10.2 The Great Bible


A History of English Bible Translating King of England. King Henry VIII issued a royal decree saying that the clergy should place a Bible in every church so that people could read it. However, this proved to be an annoyance to preachers. Because people were so eager to read the Bible they would often read it aloud during the preacher’s sermon! The Great Bible stirred so much interest that the clergy had to chain it to a lectern to prevent people from stealing it. Note the chain on the lower right side of the picture. The Geneva Bible, published in 1560, was the work of zealous Protestant reformers such as, William Whittingham, John Calvin, John Knox, and Theodore Beza, all of whom, at one time or other, resided in Geneva, Switzerland. The English queen, known as Bloody Mary, forced these men to escape from England in 1554. Bloody Mary was a fervent Roman Catholic whose passion was to execute all people who would not submit to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. She burned at least 274 Protestant pastors at the stake in 1555. To counter Bloody Mary’s rule of terror, Protestant leaders in Geneva began translating the Bible into English without the restraints of English kings or queens. The Geneva Bible was the Bible that gave great momentum to the Protestant Reformation. It had many marginal notes that explained the meaning of verses. Several of the notes strongly criticized the Pope as antichrist and some of the notes denied that kings had a divine right to absolute rule without any respect to the will of the people. The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to introduce the division of numbered chapters and numbered verses. The Puritans, who came to America in 1620, brought the Geneva Bible with them, not the King James Version. This was be-

63 cause the Geneva Bible was the preferred Bible for reading in English households. The Geneva Bible went through 120 editions before 1611, 140 editions before 1644, and with other editions after that, there were 180 editions of the Geneva Bible. This fact proves how popular the Geneva Bible was among English people. However, the English Crown and Anglican clergy hated the Geneva Bible. Because of crown and clergy opposition to the Geneva Bible, the Bishops Bible was published in 1568 to counter the popularity of the Geneva Bible. It was the work of a group of Anglican bishops, hence its name. The Bishops Bible was not widely accepted by the common people because it had a tendency to use the hierarchical terminology of the Anglican Church. It also did not succeed because the Geneva Bible continued to be preferred as the Bible for reading in English homes. The Rheims-Douai Version is the Roman Catholic Bible for English readers. Roman Catholic officials wanted a translation that would compete with the English Bibles made by the Reformers. Roman Catholic priests translated the Rheims-Douai New Testament from the Latin Vulgate and published it in 1582. The Rheims-Douai Old Testament did not appear until 1609. Those who translated this Roman Catholic Bible translated it very literally from the Latin Vulgate. It is often awkward to read and frequently unintelligible. This Romanist Bible had no general success, and its circulation has never been widespread. The main weakness of the Rheims-Douai Version was that it was a translation of the Latin Vulgate. This made it two steps removed from the original Greek and Hebrew texts. As a result, it repeated many of the translation mistakes of the Latin Vulgate.


64 The King James Version, published in 1611, was the work of knowledgeable Bible scholars who could read Greek and Hebrew. Therefore, they made the Received Hebrew and Greek texts the basis for their translation. This alone made the King James Version a very valuable English translation. Because King James was very concerned about political and religious factions causing a civil war among English people, he wanted a Bible version that would unite the nation, and be acceptable to all the factions in the government and the English clergy. This political and religious struggle between king and parliament for authority in government dominated the reign of King James. It finally erupted into civil war in 1642. The war lasted seven years and decided the issue once for all in favor of a parliamentary government. King James, wanting to avoid this problem, commissioned the translation of a Bible that he hoped would unite Puritans with Bishops and kings with members of parliament. It did not happen. The King James Version is a careful revision of earlier English Bibles. As they said in The Translators to the Reader, Appendix 2, page 429: “Truly good Christian Reader we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one.... but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one.” The King James translators retained many of the Church of England ecclesiastical terms, which Tyndale had so strongly opposed. The translators preserved these ecclesiastical words mainly because King James and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, had strictly charged the translators to use the ecclesiastical terminology of the Bishops Bible. They could

Chapter 10 only depart from the Bishops Bible when it did not agree with the Greek and Hebrew texts. In seventeenth century England, the Church and State were mutually interdependent. The king looked to the bishops to support his rule, and the bishops looked to the king to preserve their monopoly as the State Church. King James was not only the head of State; he was also the head of the Church of England. He believed in an iron-fisted divine right of Kings to rule absolutely without reference to the will of the people. This issue was finally decided after three civil wars that left many thousands dead and caused great suffering among the English people. Eventually this iron-fisted rule of English kings resulted in the American Revolutionary war that freed the American colonies from the tyranny of English kings. Even with these many unjustified restraints placed on the translators by the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King James Version’s superior merits, and its freedom from sectarian spirit, eventually made it triumph over all previous versions and took its place as the favored Bible of English speaking nations. This has continued for four hundred years until the present day. A page from an original 1611 King James Bible ‌ is on page 65. Note the parallel lines║ in the margins. These parallel lines║ indicate that the translators are acknowledging the possibility of translating words in the Greek text in more than one way. For example, in verse 19 the text reads, “manifest to them” and the margin has parallel lines that suggests the reading could also be, “manifest in them.” In verse 20 it reads, “so that they are without excuse.” The margin has, “Or, that they may be without excuse.”


A History of English Bible Translating

10.3 The Title Page of the King James Version, published in 1611

65

10.4 A page from the King James Version as it appeared in 1611. Notice the parallel lines in the margin.


66

Chapter 10 10.5 In 1542 an “Admonition” was hung over one of the pulpits at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. It warned people, under penalty of imprisonment, not to disrupt church services by reading the chained Bible aloud.

10.6 Much to the dismay of the minister who was preaching, often a crowd of people would gather around the oral reading of Scripture. A copy of the “Admonitions” was hung above the chained Bible in St. Paul’s Anglican Church in an effort to control what had become a favorite activity among the people, reading the Scripture out loud.


A History of English Bible Translating

67

10.7 William Tyndale was strangled and burned alive in 1536. He was executed for translationg and printing the first English New Testament. His final words were, “Lord, open the King of Englands’ eyes.”

10.8 John Rogers was burned alive in 1555. His crime was translating the entire Bible into English. He was executed by the Queen of England who was known as “Bloody Mary.”


68

Chapter 11

“The Inspiration of Scripture is that extraordinary, supernatural influence exerted by the Holy Spirit on the writers of our Sacred Books, by which their words were rendered also the words of God, and, therefore, perfectly infallible.” – Benjamin Warfield

Chapter 11

The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures

R

elated to the matter in the last chapter is the question about whether or not God has preserved his inspired and inerrant Scriptures for us today. If it were true that God only inspired inerrant Scriptures, but did not preserve them inerrantly here on earth today, we would have no way of knowing exactly what God’s words were when originally written. However, it is absolutely clear that the inspired, inerrant, autographs of Scripture exist today in the tens of thousands of faithfully copied manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament, and in the more than six thousand faithfully copied manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. All of these existent copies prove that faithful Jews and Christians preserved the Old Testament autographs and the New Testament autographs in faithfully copied manuscripts that are 99.9% the same as the original autographs. Some people reject this fact. They say that since the actual autographs of Scripture no longer exist, we must take the King James Version as the inspired, inerrant Word of God and therefore all translators should base their translations on the King James Version. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones sets this view forth in his book. He says, “It is a statement of unbelief when we say that we only believe that the original autographs were inspired. What we really are saying is that we do not believe that we have

the infallible Word of God on this planet, or at least in our hands, at this moment.” This quotation comes from page 6 in the book by Dr. Jones entitled, Which Version is the Bible? However, Dr. Jones is mistaken. There are very good reasons why it is necessary to make the faithfully copied Hebrew and Greek manuscripts the final authority for translating the words of the Bible into other languages? Among these very good reasons are the following: 1. If the nation of Israel and Christian churches did not preserve the pure Word of God in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, we have no other way of determining what the actual words were in the originally inspired autographs. If the inspired words of God were not preserved, this would leave the Bible like a ship without a rudder. There would be no standard to guide us as to what were the inspired words of God. 2. The logical consequence of the inspiration of Scripture by God is the preservation of inspired Scripture by God. If God inspired the Scriptures but did not preserve them, they would be of no use whatever. A standard must exist by which one can confirm the words in Scripture. One must decide the confirmation or rejection of the words of Scripture by the standard set finally and forever in the preserved words of God in the Received Hebrew and Greek texts.


The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures The words “received texts” mean “Bible texts that were received or accepted as valid by the nation of Israel and faithful Christian congregations for thousands of years.” 3. The fact that God has preserved 99.9% of the original autographs of Scripture in the Received Hebrew and Greek texts has always been the doctrinal belief of faithful Bible believing congregations. John Wycliffe made a translation of the Latin Vulgate into English prior to Tyndale, but this was a mistake. He made a translation of a bad translation. In contrast to this, the King James Version translators agreed that any English translation of the Bible should come from the original Hebrew and Greek Received texts. The King James translators wrote on the title page of their Bible that it had been “Newly translated out of the Original Tongues.” By the words “Original Tongues,” they meant the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. They were exactly right then and we are exactly right now to do the very same thing. Any teaching that departs from this standard is not in accord with the doctrinal belief of historic, faithful churches. The doctrinal beliefs of faithful churches about Scripture have always agreed with the following doctrinal statements.

Confessions of inspiration and inerrancy

The Westminster Confession (A.D. 1646)

“The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest

69 in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar [common] language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

The London Baptist Confession (A.D. 1677)

“The Old Testament in Hebrew, (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations) being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.”

The Philadelphia Baptist Confession (A.D. 1742)

Section 8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar [common] language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.

The Dean Burgon Society (1982)

The Dean Burgon Society’s Statement on the Providential Preservation of the Holy Scrip-


70 tures. Approved by the Executive Committee of the Dean Burgon Society, Incorporated July 29, 1982 in Philadelphia. “We believe in the plenary, verbal, Divine inspiration of the sixty-six canonical books of the Old and the New Testaments (from Genesis to Revelation) in the original languages, and in their consequent infallibility and inerrancy in all matters of which they speak (2 Timothy 3:1617; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The books known as the Apocrypha, however, are not the inspired Word of God in any sense whatsoever. As the Bible uses it, the term inspiration refers to the writings, not the writers (2 Timothy 3:1617); the writers are spoken of as being “holy men of God” who were “moved,” “carried” or “borne” along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally, plenarily, and verbally inspired, free from any error, infallible, and inerrant, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired. We believe that the Texts which are the closest to the original autographs of the Bible are the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text for the Old Testament, and the traditional Greek Text for the New Testament underlying the King James Version (as found in “The Greek Text Underlying The English Authorized Version of 1611”). We, believe that the King James Version (or Authorized Version) of the English Bible is a true, faithful, and accurate translation of these two providentially preserved Texts, which in our time has no equal among all of the other English Translations. The translators did such a fine job in their translation task that we can without apology hold up the Authorized Version of 1611 and say “This is the WORD OF GOD!” while at the same time realizing that, in some verses, we must go back to the underlying original language Texts for complete clarity, and also compare Scripture with Scripture.

Chapter 11 We believe that all the verses in the King James Version belong in the Old and the New Testaments because they represent words we believe were in the original texts, although there might be other renderings from the original languages which could also be acceptable to us today. For an exhaustive study of any of the words or verses in the Bible, we urge the student to return directly to the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text and the Traditional Received Greek Text rather than to any other translation for help.”

The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy (1978)

“We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.”

Trinitarian Bible Society (2005)

“The Hebrew Text: The Society uses the Hebrew Masoretic Text as the textual basis for the Old Testament in its translations. The Jews over the centuries took great care to preserve the Hebrew text in its purest form; their work produced what is commonly called the Masoretic Text. This text has been the standard Hebrew text for over one thousand years. When translating the Hebrew into other languages, occasionally ancient translations such as the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and the Aramaic Targums are consulted because of the difficulty of the Hebrew. However, because God gave the text originally in Hebrew, these ancient translations must be treated as secondary to the Hebrew. The Masoretic Hebrew Text is the most reliable form of the text of the Old Testament,


The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures and is the basis of all of the Society’s Old Testament publications.” “The Greek Text: The Society uses the form of the Greek text of the New Testament known as the Textus Receptus or Received Text. This text underlies the New Testament of the Authorized Version and the other Reformation translations. It is a faithful representation of the text that the church has used in different parts of the world. It is the result of the textual studies of conservative scholars during the years both before and after the Reformation, and represents for the most part over 6,000 available Greek manuscripts. The Society believes this text is superior to the texts used by the United Bible Societies and other Bible publishers, which texts have as their basis a relatively few seriously defective manuscripts from the 4th century and which have been compiled using 20th century rationalistic principles of scholarship.”

The Bible Scholars Geisler and Nix

After surveying every doctrinal statement in church history, Geisler and Nix wrote, “Thus, the orthodox doctrine that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God in its original manuscripts has maintained itself from the first century to the present.” –A General Introduction to the Bible, Geisler & Nix, pg. 156, Moody Press, Chicago, 1986. 4. When one translates the Hebrew and Greek texts from one language to another, he soon realizes that 100% of the meaning in the Hebrew and Greek texts does not always carry over into the receptor language. Therefore, a Bible translator must constantly check with the copies of the Hebrew and Greek original texts to insure that he has translated a particular word, phrase, or sentence into the vernacular language by the nearest formal equivalent meaning of the words, phrases, and sentences in the Received Hebrew and Greek texts.

71 This fact makes it necessary to rely upon the Hebrew and Greek texts as the final authority for deciding which vernacular words one will use as formal equivalents of the Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible. If a Bible translator translates from another translation and a later translator translates from that translation, the result will be a translation that is two steps removed from the words and meaning of the original autographs of Scripture. For examples of the fact that 100% of the meaning of the original Greek texts cannot always be carried over into other languages, see the example in Chapter 19 on page 145. In Matthew 1:18 some meanings in the Greek text are lost in the English translation. The very important emphasis on the word holy in the Greek text is lost in the English words “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” The purpose of this statement was to convince Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was a holy event. This emphasis on the word holy is not apparent in the English translation, but it is apparent in the Greek text. Another example of meaning lost in translation would be the Greek word agape, meaning “love.” No single English word is equivalent to the New Testament Greek word love. The best a Bible translator can do is to use multiple words to translate the word agape as “self-sacrificing love.” 5. A translation made from another translation will not be as accurate as a translation made from copies of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. A translator must constantly check his translation to make sure it agrees with the copies of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. However, some people say that we do not have the original Hebrew and Greek autographs, so we cannot refer back to them. These people should consider the fact that although we do not have the original Scriptures, as hand written by the authors of the Bible, we have something better. If we had only one manuscript of the original au-


72 tographs of each book of the Bible and someone corrupted these manuscripts, we would have no way to find our way back to the original text. We have something better than the autographs. We have tens of thousands of accurately copied manuscripts and fragments that are 99.9% the same as the originally inspired and inerrant words of Scripture. The very small percentage of the copies of the original Scriptures, about which there are a few questions, involves only a thousandth part of the Hebrew and Greek texts. The few remaining questions are of no particular consequence because the variations involved do not significantly change the meaning of the text. What A. T. Robertson wrote is worth repeating again here. He wrote, “The real conflict in the textual criticism of the New Testament is concerning this ‘thousandth part of the entire text.’” This fact that Bible believing scholars are certain of 99.9% of the original Hebrew and Greek texts, should convince any reasonable person that we certainly do have the exact text of the Bible as it was originally written by the Old and New Testament writers. Even though the water we drink is not 99.9% pure, we consider it pure water. Even though gold is only 99.5% pure, we consider it pure gold. Why then should we have a problem with Scripture that has been refined to 99.9% purity in the copies and 99.7% purity in the translation of the King James Version! In 1940, Loraine Boettner, in his article “The Inspiration of Scripture” wrote the following words: “The inspiration for which we contend is, of course, that of the original Hebrew and Greek words as written by the prophets and apostles. We do not claim infallibility for the various versions and translations. Translations will naturally vary with each individual translator, and are to be considered accurate only as far as they reproduce the original autographs. Further still, we must acknowledge that we have none

Chapter 11 of the original autographs, but that our oldest manuscripts are copies of copies. Yet the best of the present day Hebrew and Greek scholars assert that in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand we have either positive knowledge or reasonable assurance as to what the original words were. Hence he who reads our English Bible as set forth in the American Standard or King James Version has before him what is, for all practical purposes, the very word of God as it was originally given to the prophets and apostles.” One of the great books on the inspiration of Scripture is the book The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, written by Benjamin Warfield. Throughout this book, Warfield’s contention is that the Bible is, in its autographa, the infallible Word of God. Cornelius Van Til, who wrote the Introduction to Warfield’s book says, “Christians need not be worried about the fact that the autographa are lost. On the other hand they must be deeply concerned to maintain that an infallible revelation has actually entered into history.” In a footnote he also says, “It is well known that Emil Brunner [neo-orthodox heretic] regards the orthodox view of the infallibility of the autographa of Scripture as not only useless but as idolatrous. In addition to that, he [Emil Brunner] thinks that textual criticism has made it untenable. Emil Brunner further says, ‘How completely meaningless it is, to speak with Warfield of a sort of ‘Bible-X’ of which nothing can be really known and of which we must, none the less, assert that it is virtually the same as the Bible we now possess.’” This quote comes from the book Revelation and Reason, written by the Neo-Orthodox modernist theologian Emil Brunner. Dr. Van Til, continues, “But is the orthodox view so useless? We have shown that unless it [the orthodox view] is true, men are lost in the boundless and bottomless ocean of chance. Is it idolatrous? Without it men must make and do make themselves the source and goal of all


The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures intellectual and moral effort; the true God if he revealed himself at all could not but reveal himself infallibly. Are the known facts of textual criticism out of accord with the idea of an original perfect text? On the contrary. The whole process of this criticism gets its meaning from the presupposition of such a text. The existence of a perfect original text of Scripture is the presupposition of the possibility of the process of human learning. Without it there would be no criterion for man’s knowledge.” “True Bible believing scholars therefore pursue the search for this text with enthusiasm. Each step they take in dealing with existing manuscripts removes some ‘difficulty.’ And should a few errors of detail remain unsolved in time to come, this does not discourage them. They have every right to believe that they are on the right road and that the end of their way is near at hand. For those who do not hold to the orthodox view are at the mercy of a purely pragmatic and humanistic view of reality and truth.” Because of such facts, we can assert that to all intents and purposes we do have the autographs of Scripture. When we say we believe in the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the autographs, we are not talking of something imaginary and far off in history. We are speaking of those texts written by men under the control of the Holy Spirit whose original words have been carefully preserved for us by faithful scribes who reverently copied the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts 6. The nation of Israel and the Christian church has preserved tens of thousands of pages of faithful and accurate copies of the original autographs. They have preserved these original autographs 99.9% accurately. Israelites copied the original Hebrew autographs very carefully, and Christian churches copied the Greek New Testament autographs very carefully. The Hebrew Received text, as accepted by Israel for thousands of years, and the

73 Greek Received text, as accepted by the churches for thousands of years, are for any reasonable person 99.9% equivalent to the original autographs and therefore sufficient to give us God’s exact words. 7. Because the faithful copies of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are 99.9% the inspired, inerrant, and preserved words of God, they are the only legitimate and final authority for the belief and practice of faithful churches. Therefore, they should also be the final authority for translating the Scriptures into other languages. When one makes his foundation for Bible translating something other than the faithful copies of the original Hebrew and Greek autographs, if he is honest, he will eventually realize that his basis for translating is a faulty one. This could eventually lead him into confusion and doubt about the basis for Bible translation and could hinder other people’s faith in the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures. A. W. Tozer said, “Error never stands straight and it never stands very long.” Eventually, honest people will realize the mistake of basing Scripture translation on something other than the faithful copies of the originally inspired and inerrant Hebrew and Greek autographs. People who insist that the King James Version is the final authority for vernacular translations are making a statement that the Bible does not make. Eventually, such an extra-biblical statement will prove to be in error and ultimately it will lead people into confusion and disappointment. 8. There are passages of Scripture that teach the preservation of God’s word, but these passages do not say anything about preservation being limited to an English translation of Scripture. It is logical to reason something like this: “The Bible says that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. The King James Version is Scripture. Therefore it is inspired by God.” This may be logical, but it does not take into ac-


74 count that the word scripture comes from the Greek word grafh that means “that which is written.” The word grafh means “to engrave, scrape, or scratch on papyrus or skins in order to form written letters.” This word grafh limits divine inspiration to the words written or composed by the original authors of Scripture while they were under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Bible never says that men were inspired but, rather, it says that the words (grafh) they wrote were given by inspiration. One should not interpret the word scripture (grafh) to mean “copied” or “translated” Scripture. We cannot say, “All copies of Scripture are inspired by God.” Neither can we say, “All translations of Scripture are inspired by God.” We must limit ourselves to one statement and one statement only, and that statement is, “All scripture (grafh) [that which was written or composed by the original writers] is inspired by God.” When Jesus said, “It is written,” he used the Greek word grafh in the perfect tense. The perfect tense means that the words written by the originally inspired writers were in the process of coming to completion, and having come to completion, they continue to exist in the present time. That is the meaning of the Greek perfect tense words, “It is written.” Does this fact mean that we must have the actual, hand written, original autographs of Scripture if we are to have the inspired Scriptures? The answer is no. We have something more important than the actual, hand written, original autographs. We have tens of thousands of accurate and faithfully copied manuscripts of both the Old Testament and the New Testament that, upon comparison, have proven, without any doubt, to be 99.9 percent the same as the words that were used in the composed and written original autographs of Scripture. Does this fact mean that we must read the actual, hand written, autographs of Scripture if we are to read the Scriptures? The answer is no. We have accurate and faithfully translated scriptures in many languages that are 99.7%

Chapter 11 the same as the original autographs. A careful translator who follows the Received text may not make a flawless translation of it, but he will be able to translate it with something approaching 99.7% accuracy. Therefore, as English speaking people, we can go to our King James Bible and read there the accurate and faithfully translated inspired words of God because it is translated with an accuracy that approaches 99.7% accuracy. Even though it is technically true that only the autographs are absolutely, 100% inspired, it is also true that faithful copies of the autographs and faithful translations of the copies of the autographs are, for any reasonable person, the verbal, plenary, inerrant, inspired, and authoritative Word of God. Therefore, we can consider the King James Version to be a translation that is 99.7% faithful to the words in the original autographs. This should be enough for any reasonable person to have total confidence that when he reads the King James Version, he is reading God’s inspired and inerrant words. According to A. T. Robertson and Frederic Kenyon, it is only in minor details that any uncertainty about the autographs exists, and no major doctrine rests on any one minor detail. A faithful translation should not fail to capture at least 99.6 or 99.7% of the words in the copies of the original Hebrew or Greek language texts. In this sense, a faithful translation will have doctrinal authority, even though one must always reserve the absolute 100 percent inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture for the originally inspired autographs that exist in the tens of thousands of faithful copies of them. The fact that we cannot now see the inerrant autographs does not destroy the importance of the claim that they existed as such. Van Til illustrated this truth when he said, “When one is crossing a river that has swollen to the point of placing the surface of the bridge under a few inches of water, he might not be able to see the bridge but he is very glad nonetheless that it is there. He would not think for a moment that this


The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures unseen bridge is without any significance and try to cross the river arbitrarily at just any other point. In looking at my present Bible, I cannot see the autographs exactly, but I am most glad that inerrant originals undergird my walk and constitute a bridge that can bring me back to God. I would not arbitrarily try to be reunited with Him by just any other course. The value of my present Bible derives, in the long run from its dependence on the errorless original, as is illustrated by Laird Harris who said, ‘Reflection will show that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is worthwhile even though the originals have perished. An illustra­tion may be helpful. Suppose we wish to measure the length of a certain pencil. With a tape measure, we measure it at six and one-half inches. A more carefully made office ruler indicates six and nine-sixteenths inches. Checking it with an engineer’s scale, we find it to be slightly more than 6.58 inches. Careful measurement with a steel scale under laboratory conditions reveals it to be 6.577 inches. Not satisfied still, we send the pencil to Washington D.C., where master gauges indicate a length of 6.5774 inches. The master guages themselves are checked against the standard United States yard marked on a platinum bar preserved in Washington. Now, suppose that we should read in the newspapers that a clever criminal had run off with the platinum bar and melted it down for the precious metal. In fact, this once happened to Britain’s standard yard! What difference would this make to us? Very little. None of us has ever seen the platinum bar. Many of us perhaps never realized it existed. Yet we blithely (casually) use tape measures, rulers, scales, and similar measuring devices. These approximate meas­ures derive their value from their being dependent on more accurate gauges. But even the approximate has tremendous value—if it has had a true standard behind it.’” This quote comes from the book, Inerrancy, Geisler, Norman, Editor, pages 180-181. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones asked this question; “Is the Word of God on planet earth today?” The

75 answer to that question is a very definite and confident, yes! The Word of God is alive and well on planet earth today in the 99.9% accurately copied Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and in the 99.7% accurately translated King James Version and in the many Bibles that have been translated accurately into the various languages of the world. The chart on the following page illustrates the history of inspiration, inerrant preservation, transmission, and printing of Scriptures from the time they were inerrantly inspired until the present day.

11.1 A Bedouin shepherd boy discovered a Hebrew scroll of the book of Isaiah in a Dead Sea cave in 1947. The scroll was copied around 100 B.C. A study of Isaiah chapter 53 in this scroll showed that it contains 166 words. When scholars compared this chapter in the scroll with the present day Received Hebrew text at the same chapter, there was only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of copying and recopying this Isaiah scroll until the present day, and this one word does not significantly change the meaning of this passage of Scripture.


76

Chapter 11

Chart 13: Inspiration, transmission, translation, and printing of the Scriptures The chart reads from left to right The events that produced the Scripture

First Event, the inspiration of the Bible by God

Second Event, the transmission of the Bible by scribes

Third Event, the translation of the Bible by translators

Fourth Event, the printing of the Bible by printers

The inerrancy of Scripture

The inerrant Scriptures were produced by the Holy Spirit

The inerrant Scriptures were transmitted to copies by faithful scribes

The inerrant Scriptures were preserved by faithful translators of the copies

The inerrant Scriptures were published by faithful printers who printed faithful copies of the translations

The agents who accomplished each event

The Holy Spirit

The scribes

The translators

The printers

The agents used by God to accomplish each event

Human authors composed Scripture under the control of the Spirit of God

Human scribes copied Scripture by the providence of God

Human translators translated Scripture by the providence of God

Human printers printed Scripture by the providence of God

The percentage of perfection involved in each event

God inspired 100% of every word in the autographs

Scribes copied 99.9% of every word in the autographs

Translators translated 99.7% of every word in the copies

Printers printed 99.6% of the translated words correctly

The accuracy involved in each event

The accuracy involved in the inspiration of Scripture is 100%

The accuracy involved in the copying of Scripture is 99.9%

The accuracy involved in the translating of Scripture is 99.7%

The accuracy involved in the printing of Scripture is 99.6%

The amount of equality involved in each event

The inspired Scriptures are 100% equal to the words of God

The copied Scriptures are 99.9% equal to the words of God

The translated Scriptures are 99.7% equal to the words of God

The printed Scriptures are 99.6% equal to the words of God


The Inspired and Inerrant Scriptures The chart on the previous page represents the four stages that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures went through to become the inspired and inerrant Bible in the English language and other languages of the world. The first stage is the 100% direct inspiration of inerrant Scripture by God. This is a very sure anchor because it guarantees support for the biblical manuscript copies, the translations of these copies, and the printed editions of the translations of these copies. The second stage is the 99.9% preservation of the inspired and inerrant words of God by faithful Jewish and Christian scribes. Because the copies of the inerrant autographs are 99.9% inerrant, this is sufficient basis for the translating and printing of the Bible in any language. The third stage is the 99.7% preservation of the inspired and inerrant words of God in faithful Bible translations. The fourth stage is the 99.6% preservation of the inspired and inerrant words of God by faithful proofreaders and Bible printers. The first stage is the work of God through men, and it is perfect. The next three stages are the work of human beings, and they are not perfect. However, they are perfect enough to give us complete confidence that we have the very words of God in the King James Version and in the many other faithful translations in other languages of the world. The four-tenths of one percent that involve minor copying mistakes, translation mistakes, and printing mistakes does not mean that there are errors in the Bible. However, this does not mean that there are no translation or printing mistakes in our Bible translations. A faithful Bible translator works hard to make sure that he has accounted for every word in

77 the Hebrew and Greek texts in his translation. The more accurately he accomplishes this, the more his translation preserves the 100% of the inspired and inerrant text of the Bible. If for any reason he does not correctly represent the words of the Hebrew and Greek texts in his translation, at that point he fails to preserve the inspiration and inerrancy of the 100% pure autographs. However, translators can solve this problem by careful proofreading and revising their translations. Careful proofreading and revision can result in a text that is at least 99.7% equal to the Hebrew and Greek texts. After accurately translating the Hebrew and Greek Bible texts, there is the typing, proofreading, and printing of the translation. During this process, there is always the possibility that some minor typographical mistakes or other unintentional mistakes may occur. The translator must find these mistakes and correct them in future printings.

11.2 A print shop of the 1611 period


78

Chapter 12

People hailed John F. Kennedy’s famous Berlin Wall speech as a masterpiece, but some Germans had to grin when President Kennedy reached the climax of the speech by saying, “Ich bin ein Berliner!” He was trying to say, “I am a Berliner!” He should have left off the indefinite article to say that he was a Berliner, but by including the indefinite article, he in fact announced to everyone, “I am a jelly doughnut!”

Chapter 12

A Biblical Philosophy for Bible Translators

T

he purpose of this chapter is to offer a biblical philosophy for Bible translators. In the work of Bible translation, it is important to have training in linguistics and ethnology, but it is even more important to be a Spirit-regenerated and Spirit-controlled person. There should be no trusting in one’s own wisdom and learning. The Bible is uniquely the Book of the Spirit of God. He who would translate it must do so under the control of the Spirit of God. This truth is the philosophy that influences everything in this book. One should study Bible translation principles by measuring them against this foundational truth. It is critical to keep this biblical view in mind as one applies Bible translation principles to Bible translation problems.

Four biblical principles to follow for faithful Bible translating

1. God uses godly people as his primary method of operation.

Romans 10:14 reads, “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” The man of God is crucial in every situation where God is doing a work by his Spirit. Every part of God’s work stands or falls on those who are the leaders in that work. God uses people as His method, but He uses them in relationship to the local church

that sends them. Paul said, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:15). Although this book is concerned with teaching a methodology for developing faithful and effective Bible translation, you should understand that ultimately God’s method is to use Spirit controlled people as His most important method. The methodology developed in this book will not be the decisive factor in evangelism, Bible translating, and church planting. A man of God, under the control of the Spirit, will always be the decisive factor in any missionary situation. I use the word man here in the generic sense that means “people.” Ironically, the best “man” for doing God’s work on the mission field has often been a woman! E. M. Bounds put it this way: “God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men.” –E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer, page 9

2. God does His work by supernatural power.

One should do God’s work by God’s supernatural power. Only the Spirit gives life. The flesh profits nothing (See John 6:63). Andrew Murray said, “As soon as any man trusts to natural abilities, learning, or skill in language, he gives


A Biblical Philosophy for Bible Translators himself up to certain delusion. He has sold his birthright in the Gospel state of Divine illumination to make a noise with the sounding brass and tinkling cymbals of the natural man.” –Andrew Murray, The Power of the Spirit, page 65 The opposite of God’s work done by supernatural power is God’s work done by human ability. Almost every Christian would say he does not believe in secular humanism, yet, he often denies what he says with words by what he actually does with actions. For example, a Christian who does not pray and depend on answered prayer is a Christian who practices humanism. He does not depend on God by asking Him for his needs in prayer. He does not pray because he feels no need to pray and depend on God’s power. He believes, in practice, that he can do it himself. Malcolm Bowes lists the four beliefs of naturalism as: 1. Man’s ability to reason is the ultimate judge of truth. 2. Because there is no such thing as the supernatural, anything that one cannot explain by reason is not true. 3. One can explain everything in man’s experience by understanding all the natural laws that govern his existence. 4. Therefore, knowledge of natural laws is the ultimate need of man, causing man’s highest good, as he becomes able through education to predict and control natural laws. –Malcolm Bowes, Christianity and Naturalism, an unpublished M.A. thesis at Columbia International University, Columbia, S.C., page 4 This humanistic philosophy is the same Gnosticism against which Paul fought so fervently. Paul said, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

79 3. All truth must be subject to Christ.

All truth must be subject to Christ, who is the truth (See John 14:6). A person who is a Christian may inquire into any legitimate discipline of study as long as he does so with faith in the Word of the Lord Jesus. Jesus said that his words would not pass away. We should believe what He said. Contrary to what higher or lower biblical criticism studies may set forth, Jesus said that we would have His word without any loss of it. We should believe the word of Jesus regardless of what the textual critics say. Because we know that God has a higher knowledge than our own, we know that when one finally has all the facts, the word of the Lord will prove to be exactly as Jesus said it would be. Therefore, the Christian should yield his mind to Him who is truth and who has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Himself. Christians should not consider any area of life without submitting it to Jesus Christ. Failure to do so leads to a practical denial of Christ’s wisdom and knowledge and to an acceptance of a humanistic philosophy. The Christian should subject all things claiming to be truth to the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, and to the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. One must bring all information into captivity to the obedience of Christ (Second Corinthians 10:5). When a Christian studies any phase of science, he accepts any truth in that science that is subject to consistency with the teaching of Christ. What is not, he rejects. He does not accept any offered truth blindly. He accepts or rejects any offered truth in full view of God who knows all the facts.

4. We must work together with God.

If people are to hear the gospel of Christ, understand it, and believe it, God must do His part, and we must do ours. The Bible says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is


80 come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8). One must understand the role of the Spirit of God, who reveals the gospel to a person and converts him. One must also understand his responsibility to communicate the gospel message to people clearly. God’s Spirit reveals the gospel message to people, but it is our responsibility to explain the gospel message to them as clearly as possible.

Three ways to relate to God

In the work of preaching the gospel message, a Christian may relate himself to God in three different ways.

1. The miraculous relationship

If a Christian has only a miraculous relationship to God, his only responsibility is that of an empty channel. One does nothing but yield to God, who does all the work himself. God can and does work miracles to reveal his message of salvation this way. Yet we must conclude by the scarcity of such working that this is not the usual way God has chosen for us to bear witness to people today. We must diligently study the language of the people we want to talk to before we can tell them about Jesus in their own language. However, during a transitional time God bypassed this as he did at Pentecost when every man heard them speak in his own language (See Acts 2:6). Obviously, people are not hearing the Gospel this way today, regardless of what Pentecostals claim.

2. The religious-magic relationship

People sometimes presume that God will use a miracle to do His work, when in fact He will do no such thing. If one ignores certain natural laws of communication, such as learning the people’s language, and presumptuously asks God to work a miracle, he is dealing with God and people based on religious magic. This is the arena where Roman Catholicism often operates. The words “hocus pocus” originated

Chapter 12 as a corrupted form of the words used in the consecration of the host in the old Latin mass: hoc est corpus (this is my body.) The priest spoke these magical words in order to change the wafer and wine into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. This is dealing with God by using a magical ritual. A Pentecostal missionary who could not speak the language of the local people said to me one day, “I am trusting God for a miracle to take place in the hearing of the people, because I do not speak their language.” He said that since God had not given him the ability to speak the language, God would open the ears of the people to understand his garbled speaking. This is a magical relationship to God, and it is as counterfeit as a three-dollar bill.

3. The supernatural/natural relationship

God usually reveals the gospel of Christ to people through a supernatural/natural relationship. This has been true since God first created the world, humankind, and all the natural laws that govern people’s existence. Genesis 1:28 reads, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This verse is clearly a command from God for people to understand and control natural laws that govern their existence. God has put us into a world governed by natural laws. If one does not believe this, he may try defying the law of gravity as he jumps from the fifth floor of a building. This would prove that God’s law of gravity still governs our actions. God has chosen to do His work within the boundaries of the natural laws that he has established. However, God can choose to bypass these laws by doing a supernatural work. This is what a miracle is.


A Biblical Philosophy for Bible Translators These natural laws apply not only in the physical realm. There are also laws that govern our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. Again, God usually works within the boundaries set by these laws. Man is to master these laws, and thereby bring his physical and spiritual environments under his control for the glory of God. Even when one is translating the Bible and communicating the gospel message through the written Word of God, he must control the natural laws of linguistic structure and work within the bounds set by a particular language. In Romans 10:7, Paul says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul does not mean that faith springs up in a person’s heart by merely allowing sound waves of spoken words to vibrate his eardrums. He also does not mean that faith springs up in a person’s heart by merely reading words on a page of the Bible. Paul means that a person must first clearly understand the spoken or written message of the gospel before he can believe in Christ and the Spirit regenerates him. We should not believe that God converts a person whether he understands anything or not. The Bible clearly teaches a reasoned, decision-oriented conversion that involves the total person. A person must use his mind to understand the gospel and exercise his will to believe it if he is to be saved by faith. (Romans 10:9–10 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” As Christians, we are responsible to preach and teach in such a way that the sound waves generated by our vocal apparatuses cause vibrations in the listeners’ eardrums that stimulate the correct meaning of words in his brain. This means that we must apply all of our mental,

81 physical, and spiritual capacities to bring the natural laws of linguistic communication under our control. God has set in place very definite laws of communication based upon linguistic structure. One has only to read a descriptive analysis of any language to realize that the dominant theme of all languages is that God has made them structured by reliable phonological and morphological rules. To violate one of these linguistic structures is to cause confusion because meaning depends on the manipulation of language structures. Therefore, one must master the structure of language, including its sound system, word structure, sentence structure, and semantic system. It is necessary for all human beings to master the natural laws of language and communication if they are to understand and communicate messages correctly. Those who would translate God’s Word must also follow the natural laws of language and communication if people are to understand their translations correctly. In recent years, there has been an information explosion. Research scientists are churning out material on the natural laws of the universe in such great proportions that libraries can no longer keep up with the flood of new books. Should the Spirit-controlled man of God apply himself to using this information? Since God works in a way that is at once supernatural and natural, he should apply himself to using this information. William Carey would agree with this. Concerning how the church should evangelize the world, he said, “By prayer and effort. The prayer must be fervent, it must be definite, and it must be united, but we must not be content with praying without exerting ourselves in the use of means for the obtaining of those things we pray for.” –F. Deaville Walker, William Carey, Moody Press, page 75. In other words, praying without


82 putting forth effort to use the means available to reach our goals is foolishness.

Building as a wise master builder

In First Corinthians 3:10 Paul spoke of being a wise master builder. These words imply that we are to plant and establish churches by careful preparation, planning, and disciplined work. If businesses operated on the same basis as some missionaries do, they would soon be bankrupt. No business can successfully operate exclusively on tradition and a haphazard work ethic. Often in the guise of working under the control of the Spirit of God, Christian workers do substandard work that is the result of a lack of discipline. It is in truth not the Spirit’s work at all. It is only an excuse for careless, undisciplined work. Countless missionary hours and lives are wasted, and churches have spent millions of dollars foolishly because not enough careful planning and diligent research went into missionary projects. The missionary should avail himself of information on the natural laws of communication because these natural laws have a bearing on the effectiveness of his Bible translation work. The missionary must study every area of knowledge in dependence on the Holy Spirit who shows him that which is true in such knowledge. One must continually yield his mind to Christ. After one has brought all information to the touchstone of truth, the Word of God, he may apply himself to any valid field of learning. If one follows this rule, he can have confidence that the Lord will give him understanding in all things (See Second Timothy 2:7). However, the careless exposing of one’s mind to teachings that are anti-Christ is a forbidden field of learning for the Christian.

Chapter 12

Ignorance versus intellectualism

Having seen that a state of ignorance is not bliss, what about a state of academic intellectualism? While some are not applying themselves to the information available to them, others are so obsessed with secular education that they cannot see the trees for the forest. Academic intellectualism is just as bad as a poor work ethic. Intellectualism is a pursuit of knowledge, but not considering this knowledge from God’s point of view. It is a glorying in knowledge. It is a trusting in knowledge. It denies God’s glory by lifting up man’s wisdom. It denies a need for trust in God’s ultimate knowledge. It is a kind of self-sufficiency, a leaning on one’s own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 reads, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Intellectuals are fond of their independent scholarship because it displays their clever sophistication and makes them popular with the academic community. However, the wisest man ever to live told us to trust in the Lord, not in our own understanding. Solomon told us to acknowledge God in all things and not be selfsufficient. He told us in Proverbs 3:5–6 to fear God and turn from evil. If we do that, he said, we would have genuine understanding. In spite of these words, many missionaries are trusting in themselves and in their knowledge. To these people, Isaiah 31:1 might well read like this: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt (university) for help; and stay on horses, (psychology) and trust in chariots, (cultural anthropology) because they are many; (effective) and in horsemen, (linguistics) because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!” Intellectuals would often say they are not trusting in these things, but what they do in practice often denies what they say with words.


A Biblical Philosophy for Bible Translators For thousands of years, the Egyptian people depended on the gods of their religion to control the floodwaters of the Nile River. Now they no longer need their gods. The Aswan dam controls the river. Could it be that some Christians think they have another “Aswan Dam” in the principles of communication, cultural anthropology, psychology, and linguistics so that they no longer need the Lord? They would say, “Of course not.” Yet they behave as if their education were the most important factor in holding back the floodwaters of ineffectiveness in the work of God.

The conclusion

The Bible teaches that we should work diligently. It says that we should incline our hearts to wisdom, apply our minds to understanding, cry after discernment, and lift up our voice for understanding. It says that we should seek for wisdom so that we might come to understand

83 what it means to fear God (See Proverbs 2:2). Yes, it is clear that God intends for Christians to apply themselves. However, the Scriptures warn Christians not to wait for Egypt, but wait on the Lord; not to take counsel from Egypt, but from the Spirit of God; not to go down to Egypt, but to ask for counsel from God (Isaiah 30:1–2). This biblical basis for Bible translating will lead one to neither laziness nor intellectualism. If one is in reality walking in the light of God’s Word, he will realize his need for a moment-bymoment dependence on the Holy Spirit to enable him to preach and translate God’s Word. This will lead him to humility, not pride. A right understanding of truth will cause one to live a life of faith in God’s ability to answer prayer. This will result in a diligent application of oneself to master the natural laws of linguistic structures, and this will make it possible for people to understand the gospel of Christ that the missionary is trying to communicate to them.


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Chapter 13

When Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market, to their horror they discovered that their slogan “Finger lickin’ good” translated into Chinese as “Eat your fingers off.”

Chapter 13

God’s Word to Every Nation

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housands of nations on earth do not have the Scriptures translated into their languages. Part of the reason for this is because we have not understood the word nation correctly. The word nation must be defined in the sense used in the Bible. When we understand how God made a nation from one man, Abraham, we can properly define the meaning of the word nation as defined by God.

had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Although the family of Abraham had grown to twelve large families that became twelve tribes, twelve tribes did not constitute a nation. The twelve tribes became a large group of people in Egypt and left that country as an unruly mixed multitude. They were by no means a nation at that time.

Four conditions define a nation

In order for a group of people to be a nation, they must meet four conditions before they can claim to be a nation in the biblical sense of the word.

1. Lineage 13.1 There are 6,800 Bible-less nations in the world.

The Biblical definition of a nation

In Genesis 12:2, God said to Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation.” When God made this promise, Abraham was 75 years old and had no hope of having children. He certainly was not a great nation at that time. However, God promised to make Abraham and his wife into a great nation. Although they were past childbearing age, God miraculously gave them a son, Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob

A nation must be a group of people who have a common lineage. Such was the case with the nation of Israel. God said to Abraham, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” (Genesis 12:7) Here the word seed has the meaning of “descendents,” or “a group of people related by descent from a common ancestor.” The descendents of Abraham were Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve sons of Jacob who became the twelve tribes of Israel.

2. Language

The people of a nation must speak a common language that is distinct from other language groups. The language must identify them as a people who speak a language that is intelligible


God’s Word to Every Nation to the common ancestry but, for the most part, is unintelligible to those outside the common descent group. After Abraham had lived in Hebron for many years, the people there called him “Abraham the Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13). Abraham was not a Hebrew only because he lived in Hebron. He was a Hebrew because he spoke the Hebrew language.

3. Laws

The people of a nation must have common laws that govern the behavior of the people in the common descent group. In some nations, the laws are not in a written form, but everyone knows the laws by oral tradition and understands that they must obey them. In Exodus 24:12, God said to Moses, “Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law.” Israel had a God-given system of laws. However, even with a common lineage, a common language, and common laws, the Israelites were still not a nation.

4. Land

The people of a distinct nationality must dwell within defined boundaries that limit the land area under their control. In Genesis 12:7, God said to Abram, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Genesis 15:18 reads, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” Because the people of Israel did not yet possess the land promised them by God, they were still not a nation. The people of Israel did not become a nation until they had a common lineage, a common language, a common set of laws, and a common set of land boundaries. We may understand God’s definition of a nation by tracing the way God used Abram to begin the process of nation building and how Joshua completed this process by conquering the land promised to Abraham. When Joshua entered the land and

85 conquered it, this completed the last criteria for becoming a nation. Israel was at that time a distinct people who were descended from a common ancestor. They spoke a distinct language, and had the greatest system of laws the world has ever known. Finally, they entered and conquered the land that God had promised to Abraham and the borders of the land belonging to Israel were established. Only when Israel fulfilled all four conditions for a nation did the children of Abraham become the nation of Israel.

Implications of the biblical definition of a nation

1. Any group of people who recognize themselves as having a common lineage, who speak a distinct language, who have common laws (written or oral), and who live on a defined area of land, they are a nation in the biblical sense of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a nation as “an extensive aggregate of persons, so closely associated with each other by common decent, lineage, and language, with a common history, as to form a distinct race or people, usually organized as a separate political state [laws] and occupying a definite territory [land].” The idea in this statement about “a distinct race” is not correct. There is only one “race” on earth, the human race. See Acts 17:26 that says, “And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Many nations do not recognize a particular ethnic people as a nation because of political power struggles. Because ethnic peoples are often a smaller number of people, the dominant military power in the area removes them from their land by force. Their enemies, for one political reason or another, often deny them their homeland. However, such people groups are still nations in the sight of God. 2. There is a difference between a nation and a geopolitical state. Many nations live within


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Chapter 13 boundaries prescribed for them by a powerful geopolitical state. Within the boundaries of the United States of America, Native American nations meet the biblical criteria of a nation. For example, the Navajo Nation has a common lineage, a common language, common laws, and a common land. The Comanche people, the Hopi people, and many other ethnic peoples are also nations in this biblical sense of the word.

3. From the beginning of time, God purposed that he would bless all nations through the nation of Israel. In Genesis 22:18, God said to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” God intended that Abraham would be a blessing to all the nations of the world. Abraham would become this blessing in the Person of his descendent, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s purpose and plan is to bless all nations who believe the gospel of Christ. The great missionary Paul said in Romans 1:5 that God had given him grace and made him an apostle “for obedience to the faith among all nations.” This means that God made Paul an apostle to cause all nations to obey the faith, that is, believe in Christ. At the end of time, we have a preview of God’s purpose finally accomplished. In Revelation 5:9, we read, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” This verse clearly shows that God’s highest priority is for the church to preach the gospel to all the nations of the world. Although many ethnic peoples live within the boundaries of geopolitical states, they are still nations. Many of these ethnic peoples are small in number, and have no great armies to

protect them. Other people may hate them and expel them from their land, but these people still make up a nation. As such, the God of Abraham longs to bless them through Abraham’s descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ. 4. This biblical definition of a nation should dispel the myth that only large geopolitical states with large cities are important to God. All people in all the nations of the world are important to God. Every nation in the world has the tendency to think that they are the most important nation in the world. They think that all the other nations of the world are in some way inferior to them. Anthropologists call this attitude ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is a common problem shared by all nations. Therefore, one should no longer use such terms as people groups, language groups, ethnic groups, occupational groups, and other undefined terms. God is concerned about all people in all the nations. Mark 16:15 reads, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The words “every creature” do not mean “every critter.” Nor do the words “every creature” mean “every person.” The words “every creature” mean “every geographical location on God’s created earth.” The words “every creature” have reference to every humanly inhabited geographical location on God’s created earth. Therefore, the words “every creature” mean “every nation living on every kind of geographical location on the earth.” “Every creature” refers to every place on earth where people live, whether they live in mountains, in swamps, on riverbanks, in valleys, on frozen tundra, in high altitude peaks, in deserts, in jungles, or plains. Wherever people live in this world created by God, they are all important nations to Him. 5. There are more nations in the world than the approximately 200 defined by membership in the United Nations. By biblical definition,


God’s Word to Every Nation there are more than 11,000 nations in the world. More than six thousand of these nations are still Bibleless because no one considers them important enough to learn their language and translate the Scriptures for them. Even though millions of people populate some of these nations, missionaries have neglected them because they live in disease-plagued lands or in a remote area that is dangerous for outsiders to enter. Missionaries should go to these hard places and overcome these difficult geographical and political barriers. What then is the extent of the need for Bible translation? It is nothing less than translating the Word of God for every nation of people who live in every geographical location on earth.

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13.2 There is only one race: the human race. There are many ethnic cultures and languages, but only one human race. Acts 17:26 says, “And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.�


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Chapter 14

When Gerber first began selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the USA. Each jar had a picture of a cute little baby on the label. Only later did they learn that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label that describe what is inside the jar.

Chapter 14

The Need for Faithful Bible Translators

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ome would-be Bible translators are so afraid of their own ignorance and the Bible injunction of Revelation 22:18–19 (about adding to God’s Word or taking away from it) that they have refused to translate any part of the Bible. To think like this is unhelpful to the work of Bible translating. If a sincere Bible translator works hard and yet makes mistakes, God will not take away his part out of the book of life. God intends the solemn verses of Revelation 22:18–19 for those heretics who willfully twist the Scriptures to force them to support their false teachings. On the other hand, people who are ignorant of sound Bible translation principles have also caused much confusion by their sincere, but misguided, attempts at Bible translating. Some years ago, I was visiting with a missionary who was doing some Bible translating. He would look at a verse in his Bible and immediately proceed to translate the verse by typing it on his typewriter. He was not using a native speaker to guide him, and he was not using any biblical reference material to help him. He was so confident of his knowledge of the language and the biblical text, he thought he could just sit and type verse after verse without consulting a native speaker or doing any exegetical work on the meaning of the verses he was translat-

ing. Some years later, I found out that when this missionary’s translation of the Gospel of Mark was printed, the people who read it could not understand what the words meant. The Bible society, that printed this Gospel of Mark, refused to print any further translations of this missionary’s work because they realized that they had wasted a lot of money on this useless, confusing translation. Does this kind of situation happen often? Sorry to say, it happens more frequently than most people realize. A sincere missionary in Laos translated the twenty-third Psalm for the Khmu people, but his translation proves that a missionary, though sincere, can translate poorly. His translation, as it appeared in the Wichita Eagle newspaper in 1960, is written below.

Psalm 23 (translated into the Khmu language and retranslated back into English)

“The Great Boss is the one who takes care of my sheep; I do not want to own anything. The Great Boss wants me to lie down in the field. He wants me to go to the lake. He makes my good spirit come back. Although I walk through the valley named Shadow of Death, I do not care. You are with me. You use a stick and a club to


The Need for Faithful Bible Translators make me comfortable. You manufacture a piece of furniture right in front of my eyes while my enemies watch. You pour car grease on my head. My cup has too much water in it and therefore overflows. Goodness and Kindness will walk single file behind me all my life; and I will live in the hut of the Great Boss until I die and am forgotten by the tribe.” This text should convince any reasonable person that Bible translating is not for the “hot shot” missionary who is in a big hurry. This missionary should have taken the time to study Bible translation principles and learn the language and culture of the people well enough to do a more faithful and accurate translation of Psalm 23. Missionaries profess reverence for the Word of God and yet many would-be Bible translators are doing hasty work that is merely word matching from one language to another. Such a translation makes no sense when people try to read it. Too many missionaries mistakenly believe that Bible translation is simply a matter of translating a word in one language by finding the same kind of a word with a similar meaning in another language and stringing these words together in an English like sentence structure. This results in translations that are confusing to those who try to read them. One sincere person wrote to a Bible society and asked if they would send a dictionary of the words of a particular language to him. This person wanted to find the English translation of the native words in the dictionary and use these native words to translate the Bible into that language. Unfortunately, this is the concept in many people’s minds about what Bible translating is. They do not realize that merely stringing words together is not faithful Bible translating. A person who attempts to translate the meaning of a message in his language into the nearest formal equivalent meaning of another

89 language is involved in the most complicated mental exercise known to man! It requires training equal to that of a brain surgeon. Would you want someone with limited medical training to operate on your brain? You would not, but we send out missionaries with limited missionary training to translate God’s Holy Word. Faced with such reality, it is shocking that some people telephone Baptist Bible Translators Institute and say they need some linguistic and Bible translation training, but they want to know if we can send them a video or if they can attend a three-hour seminar to learn linguistics and Bible translation principles. Very often, these people are missionaries about to leave for a mission field where a very difficult language and culture will present them with great complexities and overwhelming difficulties. Not knowing this, they go to the field with little or no training in the very thing they are going to the mission field to do, communicate the Gospel in a language the people understand best, their mother tongue.

Humorous translation blunders

Here are some examples of translation blunders made by people who did not understand English culture nor spoke the English language very well. A sign in the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery said, “You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursdays.” A sign in a South African tailor shop said, “Order your summer’s suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.” A detour sign in Japan said, “Stop. Drive Sideways.” A sign on the door of a Moscow hotel room said, “If this is your first visit to Russia, you are welcome to it.”


90 We smile at these translations of English, but these are the very same kind of blunders we English speaking missionaries make when we try to speak another language without putting forth the effort to take linguistic and Bible translation training. Sadly, many Bible translation attempts by missionaries are as “humorous” as the translations quoted above. The difference is that these people were dealing with commercial situations. A missionary’s work involves the eternal destiny of people.

The biblical definition of a missionary

The phrase “Bible translator” is usually associated with the word missionary. However, what exactly is the biblical definition of a missionary, and what is the identity and place of a missionary in the church? What are the qualifications for a missionary? We need biblical answers to these questions. I was surprised that when I typed the word missionary into the search box of my Bible program, it could not find that word anywhere in the Bible! Why is it that such an important word as missionary does not occur in the Bible? The English word missionary is derived from the Latin word missio. Missio means “an instance of sending someone.” Because the translators of the King James Version New Testament translated from Greek, instead of Latin, the word missionary does not occur in the English Bible. Our Bible uses the Greek word apostolos in the place of the Latin word missio. The translators of the King James Version translated the Greek word apostolos as “apostle” in the New Testament, but it has the same meaning as the Latin word missio. The Greek word apostolos also means “an instance of sending someone.” However, if we were to use the Greek word apostle in our culture to refer to missionaries, it would cause a lot of trouble. As English speakers,

Chapter 14 we have a connotative meaning attached to the word apostle. It sounds to us like some highly exalted spiritual person who is on the same level as the apostle Peter. This has caused people to avoid using the perfectly good New Testament Greek word apostle in favor of the Latin word missionary. The word apostle in the New Testament has two parts to its meaning. The first part means “a person who is sent,” and, in addition, it means “a person to whom God has given a message to deliver.” Putting these two parts of meaning together, the word apostle has the meaning “a person who is sent by God to deliver God’s message.” Does the word missionary occur in the Bible? It certainly does, but not in the Latin form missionary. It occurs in the Greek form “apostle.” An additional reason that makes the Greek word apostle a problem when used for the word missionary is that Bible teachers have failed to distinguish between the twelve apostles who were sent personally by Christ, and church-sent apostles who were sent by churches. Matthew 10:2 reads, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these.” The people listed in this verse were the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus and sent by Him to take his message to the world. Verse 5 of Matthew chapter 10 reads, “These twelve Jesus sent forth.” Verse seven reads, “And as ye go, preach.” Here we see the two combined meanings of the word apostle. The twelve disciples followed Jesus who taught them God’s message. Now they were ready to be apostles whom Jesus could send to teach other people God’s message. They were the original twelve apostles chosen and sent by Jesus. There are no successors to these twelve apostles, regardless of what Roman Catholicism teaches. We know there are no successors to the twelve apostles because Revelation 21:14 reads, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”


The Need for Faithful Bible Translators This verse, written about a time in the future, still speaks of only twelve apostles of the Lamb. Therefore, there are no successors to the original twelve apostles. In contrast to the twelve apostles, sent directly by the Lord to preach his message, the church at Antioch sent the first two churchsent apostles. Barnabas and Saul were prophets (preachers) and teachers in the church at Antioch. The Holy Spirit told the congregation to set Barnabas and Saul apart for the work to which He had called them. Acts 13:3 says that the church at Antioch sent them away. Verse four reads, “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed.” Verse 5 reads, “They preached the word of God.” The church at Antioch sent the first two church-sent apostles, Barnabas and Saul, to go and preach the gospel to people in other places. Luke writes in Acts 14:14, “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul….” Here Luke refers to Barnabas and Paul as “apostles” because the Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch to send them away to preach the gospel to people in other places. Acts 1:21–22 defines the word apostle by limiting its meaning to “those men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that he was taken up from us.” To qualify as an apostle sent directly by Christ, one had to be a disciple of Jesus who had companied with Him from the beginning of His ministry when John baptized Him until the end of his ministry when Jesus returned to Heaven. Barnabas and Paul did not meet this qualification. They were not following the sequence of the twelve apostles to become the thirteenth and fourteenth apostles. There is no such thing as successors of the original twelve apostles sent by Christ. Barnabas and Paul were apostles sent by the church at Antioch. The church at Antioch sent them to take

91 God’s message to the Gentile nations. Luke, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, refers to Barnabas and Paul as “apostles.” In Acts 14:14, Luke clearly defines who these apostles were. He says they were Barnabas and Paul. In Galatians 2:8–9 Paul writes, “For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles. And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” These verses clearly indicate two different kinds of apostles. The original twelve apostles were sent primarily to the circumcision (Jews). Barnabas and Paul were sent primarily to the uncircumcision (Gentiles).

Defining a church-sent apostle

A church-sent apostle is a missionary commissioned by his church to leave his home church and cross language and culture boundaries to bring God’s message to a particular nation in the world. Jesus sent the twelve apostles primarily to witness to Israel and only secondarily to witness to the Gentile nations. In harmony with this, the local church sent the apostles Barnabas and Paul primarily to cross language and culture boundaries to bring God’s message to the Gentile nations. Barnabas and Paul are not the only ones referred to as apostles in the New Testament. Paul also refers to Silvanus and Timotheus as apostles. In First Thessalonians 1:1 it reads, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” In First Thessalonians 2:6 Paul refers to these same two men by writing, “Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have


92 been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” In this verse, Paul clearly includes Silvanus and Timothy in the group of church-sent apostles. In Philippians 2:25 Paul also referred to Epaphroditus as an apostle. He wrote, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger.” In this verse, the word messenger is a translation of the Greek word apostolon that means “apostle.” In Second Corinthians 8:23 Paul writes, “Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. In this verse, the words “the messengers of the churches” are a translation of the Greek words “αποστολοι εκκλησιων” that mean “apostles of churches.” The above verses give us the definition of a church-sent apostle. He is one whom a church sends away to preach the gospel to a people of another nation. Please note that even though missionaries go to a particular nation, God calls them and sends them to all nations, not just one particular nation or language group. This is the missionary’s identity. He is a church-sent apostle. His church sends him to proclaim the gospel message to all the nations of the world. Naturally, he begins his work in one particular nation, but if he finishes the work among that nation, he should go and work with another nation. God calls missionaries to all the nations, not just to one nation, although, for practical reasons, the missionary can only go to one nation at a time. It is clear from the above description of an apostle that the church at Antioch sent Barnabas and Paul away from that church to go where the gospel had not gone and preach God’s message in order to plant churches among all the nations of the world.

Chapter 14 The church recognized and agreed with the Holy Spirit’s choice to send Barnabas and Saul, so they laid hands on them in recognition of this, and sent them away to the Gentile nations. Therefore, they went and preached the word of God at Salamis. See Acts 13:3–5, which reads, “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God.” Paul said that church-sent apostles had an office. He wrote in Romans 11:13, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Paul placed great importance on his ministry as a churchsent apostle to the Gentile nations. The ministry of the church-sent apostles proved beyond all doubt that the Gospel was not limited to the Jews. Paul proved that it was for all nations in every geographical location on earth. God used Paul to break the bonds that self-centered Judaism had placed on the Gospel. God used him to set the Gospel free from the Judaism bondage of salvation by good works. Paul knew that God would save all people, including the heathen, by grace through faith in Jesus. For these two pillars of truth, the universal Gospel, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ, we owe a great debt to Paul the despised church-sent apostle. We too should recognize and honor the office (ministry) of the church-sent apostle in this present day. All too often, people think that a missionary is someone who could not qualify as a pastor, so the church sent him away as a missionary. Nothing could be further from the truth.


The Need for Faithful Bible Translators

The identity of church-sent apostles

What then is the identity and place of the missionary in the local church? His identity is that of one who is sent by Christ and to whom a church has entrusted the gospel message and sent him under its authority to take that message to all the nations on earth. What then are the qualifications for a missionary? They are the same as those listed for the office of pastor in First Timothy 3:1–7 that reads, 1 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” Do the above verses exclude single men from being missionaries? No. These verses do not exclude single men who do not have wives any more than they would exclude married men who do not have children. Therefore, if a man were not married, this would not exclude him as unqualified to be a missionary. Ideally, it would be better to have men who are married and who have children, but these two matters are not qualifications set down in these verses. Do the above verses exclude single women from being missionaries? Yes, but it does not exclude them from serving with men mission-

93 aries who are responsible to direct them in their work. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:3 “Help those women which laboured with me in the gospel.” Was Paul wrong to have women who labored with him in the Gospel? Obviously, he was not. He also wrote in Romans 16:1 “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea.” In the Greek New Testament, the word servant is διακονον. The word deacon is derived from this word. Phebe is called a διακονον but she was not a deacon in the church. She was a servant of the church working under the authority of the male leadership of the church. Many women, who are serving like Phebe, are single women who find it possible to work under the authority of missionary leaders who are men. Some of the best co-workers that I ever had on the mission field were faithful single women who worked tirelessly to help the Sinasina people learn to read their own language. After all, what good would it do to translate the Scriptures if no one could read them? These coworkers made a great contribution toward the successful planting of churches among the Sinasina people. They never usurped authority over either missionary men or native pastors. They did an excellent work as part of a team effort

14.1 Two ladies teaching people to read. Rosalie Ranquist and the late Julaine Stuerwald taught the Sinasina people to read so they could read the Bible.


94 serving under the authority of men missionaries and native pastors. What then is a missionary? Is he a pastor, a deacon, or a church-sent apostle? If Paul is a valid example, and he is, then we see Paul serving in the pastorate in the church at Antioch. The Holy Spirit told the church to send Paul to preach to the Gentiles. Therefore, Paul was a church-sent apostle because the basic meaning of the word apostle is “one who is sent (by a church) with a message (the gospel) to preach in another place (the whole world).” Therefore, churches should honor the missionary’s place in the church whether the missionary is a man or a woman. The honor that the church gives its faithful pastors should be the same honor accorded to its faithful missionaries. Lest we church-sent apostles think too highly of ourselves, we should remember what Paul said about his apostleship and that of his fellow apostles.

Chapter 14 In First Corinthians 4:9–13 Paul says, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death, for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” If you are willing to be last, appointed to death, a spectacle, a fool, weak, despised, reviled, defamed, poor, with no certain dwelling place, and considered as so much trash, then welcome aboard, fellow apostle!


The Goal of Bible Translating

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A sign near the elevator in a Bucharest Hotel said, “The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.�

Chapter 15

The Goal of Bible Translating

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missionary should not only be a Bible translator. He should also be a church planter. His ultimate goal should be to establish New Testament churches. The translation of Scripture should contribute toward the establishing of churches. Bible translation should not become an end in itself. The missionary should not only translate the Scriptures, but also preach and teach those Scriptures so that people will believe in Christ. After winning people to faith in Christ, the missionary should organize believers into New Testament churches that will reproduce themselves by planting other New

15.1 Planting a church is like planting a tender plant.

Testament churches. As the missionary translates the Scriptures, he should use them in his preaching and teaching of believers. The churches planted by such teaching become churches planted upon the written Word of God. Their Bibles will be in the language the people understand best, their own mother tongue. This translated Word will guide them in what they believe and how they should live their individual lives as Christians. This translated Word will also guide them in their corporate life as the body of Christ in a particular location.

Supporting factors

The more thoroughly a Bible translator involves himself in the establishing of New Testament churches, the better his translation will match the needs of those churches. The best New Testament translation comes out of a New Testament church-planting situation. As the translator teaches the Scriptures that he has translated, the result will be a Christian experience in the lives of those who receive this teaching. From the words used by these believers to express their Christian experience, the translator will find the vocabulary he needs for translating the New Testament. This gives the translation process the best possible context in which to develop. This context is that of a living church made up of believers who begin expressing their salvation experience in accurate biblical terms.


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The missionary mandate

Another factor that supports the truth that a Bible translator should also be a church planter is this: the missionary command in Scripture is to preach God’s Word and establish churches made up of those who believe the gospel. Missionaries should not only be translators of the Word but preachers and teachers of that Word. The Scriptures do not tell us to translate the Scriptures, and then, having done so, give it to the people and leave them to their own devices to understand and apply it. In Acts 8:28–35, the Ethiopian was reading the Scriptures, but, when asked by Philip if he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” The Bible is not a book of religious magical power that will communicate its meaning to people even when they do not understand what the Bible says. People must understand the Bible correctly if they are to benefit from its message. For people to understand it correctly, someone must explain it to them correctly. Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Some people have interpreted this verse to mean that all we have to do is give Bibles to people, and the Bible itself will lead them to salvation in Christ. This verse does not mean that the Bible, as an inanimate book made of paper and ink, is alive and does the things a human being can do. The Bible, as a book made of paper and ink, does no piercing of the soul and discerning of thoughts. Hebrews 4:12 means that the Bible is alive and powerful and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart when people preach or teach it and people understand it correctly. Only then does it become alive, piercing to the soul, and discerning of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Chapter 15 Paul wrote about an important principle that we should follow as missionaries: “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) Paul also said, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (First Corinthians 1:21). According to these verses, we must not only translate God’s word, we must also preach the word of God. If missionaries only translate and distribute Scripture, they have done a good thing, but they have only done a part of their job. They must also preach and teach what the Bible means by the words written in it. By teaching the meaning of Scripture, the Bible pierces the soul, discerns the thoughts of people, and leads them to trust in Christ for their salvation from sins.

An answer to the statement that one should be a Bible translator exclusively

Some people say that a missionary cannot possibly be both a translator and a church planter. They say that a translator does not have time to both preach and translate. They say he must specialize in translation only. However, in the early stage of language and culture learning and the initial stage of preaching the gospel, the translator will learn many words that he can use later in Bible translating. The Bible translator must be a major participant in the church planting experience. If he is not, he will be unaware of New Testament words that result from Christians who begin expressing their experience by using correct New Testament vocabulary. The translator must use this correct New Testament vocabulary in the translation of the New Testament. I chose the words “correct New Testament vocabulary” carefully. It is possible for a translator to be working in a situation where the people are nominally Christian, but, in fact, they are just unsaved people who have the outward appearances of Christianity. A translator who learns vocabulary from these people will be


The Goal of Bible Translating learning words that do not express the correct New Testament experience. A translation of the New Testament made under these conditions will lead people in the direction of salvation by good works. This ultimately leads them not to heaven, but to the lake of fire. It is important for a missionary to keep Bible translation in proper perspective. Bible translation is not the ultimate goal of the missionary. The establishing of faithful churches that reproduce themselves by planting other faithful churches should be the ultimate goal of a missionary. This is why the Scriptures declare, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). In Acts 20:28, we read about “the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” These verses show how important the church is to Christ. The church should be the focal point of all that God is doing in the world, including the work of Bible translation. The Bible translator must be involved in the planting of faithful churches if his translation is to be a faithful translation. The more the translator keeps Bible translation in the context of establishing faithful churches, the better that translation will be for those churches. It will develop out of the people’s own genuine Christian experience in the context of a faithful church. It will use vocabulary words they understand best because these vocabulary words came out of their own genuine Christian experience.

Interpreting Scripture

Not only must a Bible translator translate in the context of a faithful church, he must also be an accurate exegete of the Bible if he is to translate it accurately. By exegete of the Bible, I do not mean that one is to put his own personal interpretations of Scripture into his translation. I mean the very opposite of that. The translator must avoid imposing his own personal interpretation on Scripture and instead discover what the original author of the book meant by the words he wrote under the inspiration of the

97 Holy Spirit. If a translator interprets a verse of Scripture wrongly, he will certainly translate it wrongly. The translator must carefully discover the meaning of the words as used by the author who wrote them. One cannot translate a passage of Scripture without understanding what the author meant by the words he wrote. If a Bible translator does not know what a verse means, it is impossible for him to explain to his native translation helper what the verse means. If the translation helper does not know what the words of a particular verse mean, it will be impossible for him to express the meaning of that verse in his language. What should one do when he has studied a verse for a long time and is still not sure what it means? In this case, one must decide on one interpretation or the other. If one refuses to decide, it is impossible for him to translate a verse until he honestly decides on one interpretation above another. There are a few verses in the Bible where one can understand a verse in two different ways, but these verses probably make up only 0.1% of the Bible. For example, Second Corinthians 5:14 reads, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Does this verse mean that we are constrained because Christ loves us, or does it mean that we are constrained because we love Christ? One could understand this verse either way. We could interpret a verse like this in one of two possible ways or possibly both ways. The translator should translate this verse in such a way as to allow the reader to understand at least one of the two possible interpretations. In any case, the translation of even an uncertain verse requires interpreting the verse and understanding the two possible meanings of it. Romans 6:3 reads, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Why did the King James Version translators transliterate the Greek word βαπτιζω as “baptize?” Why did they not translate the meaning of the word as


98 “immerse in water”? They may have transliterated it instead of translating it in order to permit a double reference to the two meanings for the word baptize. The Greek word βαπτιζω has the meaning, “to cause one to become united with the element into which one is immersed.” In water baptism, the person immersed into water unites with the water as it surrounds him. However, water baptism is a symbol of the spiritual union a believer has with Christ so that he can share in the benefits of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The King James translators may have transliterated the word βαπτιζω because they understood this word with a double reference. By transliterating the word, they allowed it to refer to both the Christian’s spiritual union that unites him to Christ when he believes, and water baptism that unites him with a congregation of believers. This is an example of how faithful translators will translate, or, in this case, transliterate. In a context like this one, a translator should translate in such a way as to allow the double reference of baptism in water and spiritual union with Christ. However, a Bible translator should not translate this verse in a way that would cause a person to think that water baptism is the agent that unites people to Christ. Water baptism does not unite people to Christ. Only a person’s faith in Christ unites him to Christ.

Hermeneutics: Rules for interpreting the Scriptures

The word hermeneutics comes from the Greek verb ερμηνευ that means, “to interpret or explain the meaning of Scripture.” An example of hermeneutics occurs in Nehemiah 8:8 “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” There are principles that govern the interpretation and understanding of Scripture. Unfortunately, there are also wrong ideas that lead to misinterpretations of Scripture. We must

Chapter 15 learn the correct principles of interpretation so that we can interpret the Bible correctly.

Principle 1: You are responsible to understand Scripture correctly and do what it says.

It is important to know what Jesus said, because he will judge us according to how we understood his words. Ignorance of the words of Jesus will not be a valid excuse on the Day of Judgment. We are obligated to know what Jesus has said. We are obligated to understand correctly, what Jesus has said. We are obligated to obey what Jesus has said. We will not be able to say we did not understand what he meant by the words he spoke. The responsibility for interpreting his words correctly lies with us. Luke 8:15 says, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” John 12: 48 says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” We must be very careful to find out what Jesus said, and do what he said, because God will judge us as to whether or not we did what Jesus told us to do.

Principle 2: The Bible is the only authority for right and wrong behavior.

The Bible is the only reliable and final authority for knowing what is right and what is wrong. Your conscience is not a reliable and final authority. The Pope is not a reliable and final authority. Science is not a reliable and final authority. Higher education is not a reliable and final authority. Theologians are not a reliable and final authority. Psychotherapists are not a reliable and final authority. Medical doctors are not a reliable and final authority. People in church congregations are not a reliable and final authority. Even those who are leaders in our church are not a totally reliable and final


The Goal of Bible Translating authority. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” We should obey those who are God’s appointed leaders over us, but not in an absolute, unconditional manner. Dreams and visions are not a reliable and final authority. Human experience is not a reliable and final authority. Emotions and extremely happy speaking in tongues are not a reliable and final authority. Angels are not a reliable and final authority. The Quaker’s inner light is not a reliable and final authority. The only reliable and final authority Christians have is the Bible correctly interpreted and applied by the Holy Spirit. Second Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” God did not intend the Bible to be an instruction book for everything that happens in human experience. However, when the Bible does say something about a particular subject, it is telling the truth. God gave us his word primarily to teach us the truth about God and ourselves. He mainly wants us to know that he can forgive us of our sins if we believe in Christ, but when the Bible does speak on any other subject, we can rely on it as true in what it says.

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Three rules to follow for interpreting the Bible correctly:

1. Study the context of Bible verses.

A person must interpret the statements in the Bible in terms of the contexts in which they occur. A text interpreted out of its context is a pretext for making the Bible say whatever one wants it to say. Laird Harris wrote about context in the book Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. He said, “Word study does not lead to a total understanding of the Old Testament text—or any text. Words must always be taken in context. They have an area of meaning, thus (the Hebrew word) amar may sometimes mean ‘speak,’ sometimes ‘command.’ Thus, it overlaps with dabar on the one land and sawa on the other. Also, the etymologies of words are not always determinative of meanings. In English, we use words every day that are of pagan origin but no longer bear any such connotation. We derive the names of our months from Roman deities and our weekdays from Norse mythologies, but we believe in neither. The Hebrews also did not invent their language. It was used in Canaan before the Conquest. Therefore, some Hebrew words may be of Canaanite origin, which is not to suggest that the Hebrews used them with the original Canaanite connotation. Biblical usage is therefore the best criterion of the meaning of a word, and to that end our authors have depended heavily on their concordances.” –Harris, R. Laird, Archer, Gleason L. Jr. and Waltke, Bruce K. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, page iii.

Example A

Ephesians 5:4 says, “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient….” Wrong interpretation: Christians should not use jesting or foolish talking. Right interpretation: Christians should not use jesting or foolish talking about sexual mat-


100 ters. This meaning agrees with the context in the previous verse that says, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.”

Example B

Galatians 5:4 says, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Wrong interpretation: A Christian may lose his salvation by falling from grace. Right interpretation: A person can seek salvation in two different ways. One way to seek salvation is by keeping the law. The other way to seek salvation is by putting one’s faith in Christ. God’s way of saving us is not because we earn salvation, but solely because of the grace of God. A person may decide to forsake the grace way of salvation and begin the way of earning salvation by keeping of the law, but God cannot and will not save people that way.

Example C

Matthew 11:12 says, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Wrong interpretations: 1. People will violently persecute those who enter into the kingdom of God. 2. People will proclaim the kingdom of God with great force. 3. There is a forceful struggle that people must go through to enter the kingdom of God. 4. The kingdom of God will burst forth violently on earth. 5. The kingdom of God violently forces itself forward in spite of opposition. Right interpretation: This verse refers to the violent efforts of those who tried to force a premature reign of Christ. They wanted to overthrow the Roman government by force and compel Jesus to become a King immediately without His going through the death of the cross. This was not God’s way and if it had succeeded, God’s

Chapter 15 way of salvation would have been interrupted and there would be no salvation available to all people.

Example D

Hebrews 12:17 says, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Wrong interpretation: Esau wanted to repent, but he could not repent. Right interpretation: Isaac blessed Jacob and refused to repent (change his mind) and give that blessing to Esau. See Genesis 27:30-37. Isaac was the one who would not repent, not Esau. See Genesis 27:30–37.

Example E

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Wrong interpretation: A person can do anything, including being the greatest soccer player of all time, because Christ strengthens him. Right interpretation: The previous verse limits the “all things” to the ability to adapt to good times of plenty or to bad times of scarceness.

Example F

Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Wrong interpretation: Christians should not marry unbelievers. Even though this is a suitable application, it is the wrong interpretation. Right interpretation: Do not work together with the unfaithful Judaizers who preach a false gospel of salvation by works.

Example G

In the book of Job, his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar advised Job to heed their wise statements of truth. Wrong interpretation: Job’s friends made wise and valid statements about life that are true. Right interpretation: Job’s friends made their pompous pronouncements of what they


The Goal of Bible Translating thought were truth, but God answers their arguments and calls their “wise words,” “words without knowledge.”

Example H

First Corinthians 15:29 says, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” Wrong interpretation: We should baptize people in behalf of those who have died without baptism. If we do this, God will forgive their sins and they will go to heaven. Right interpretation: Why should people become Christians and accept Christian baptism when they know that their baptism will be a death sentence for them? If there were no resurrection unto eternal life, it would be foolish to believe in Christ, and accept Christian baptism when one knows that by doing so; it will lead to his death by execution. This meaning is reinforced by the context in verses 30, 31 and 32.

Example I

Hebrews 12:24 says, “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Wrong interpretation: The sprinkling of the blood of Christ speaks better things than Abel’s blood that was shed by Cain. Right interpretation: The sprinkling of the blood of Christ speaks better things than the blood of Abel’s sacrifice that he offered to God.

2. Interpret figures of speech carefully.

David L. Cooper said, “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic (obvious) fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”

101 Example A

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Wrong interpretation: A person should not understand the Genesis account of man’s creation as literally true because man really evolved from a pool of primitive slime millions of years ago Right interpretation: Matthew 19:4 says, “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” The world and people did not evolve from a slime pool. According to Jesus, God created both the world and people.

Example B

Galatians 2:9 says, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Wrong interpretation: The word pillars means Roman columns that hold up a building. Right interpretation: James, Cephas, and John were important supporters of the truth of the Gospel.

Example C

Mark 1:5 says, “And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” Wrong interpretation: All the land of Judaea went (land does not go anywhere, people do.) and all the people in Jerusalem went (every person in Jerusalem went?) unto John and he baptized them all (baptized every person who came from Jerusalem) as they confessed their sins. Right interpretation: A large number of people from the district of Judaea and from the city of Jerusalem went unto John, and he baptized those who confessed their sins.


102 Example D

Mark 1:4 says, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Wrong interpretation: God forgives people who do penance for their sins. Right interpretation: God forgives people who repent of their sins. Penance is not the same as repentance. Wrong interpretation: Baptism causes people to repent. Right interpretation: People must repent first, and then be baptized.

3. Use caution when using human systems of Bible interpretation such as allegorizing Scripture.

People who allegorize Scripture believe the primary meaning of Scripture is in a secondary or hidden sense that is beyond the meaning of the actual words themselves. Allegorizing is a false searching for hidden, secret meanings that supposedly underlie the text but is only understandable to those who have a higher spiritual knowledge. The falseness of allegorical interpretation lies in the fact that the allegorical interpretation is unrelated to the actual meaning of the words used in the text. The only safe way for interpreting Scripture allegorically is when the person writing the allegory in the Bible explains why he is using an allegory to teach a particular truth and then states the truth he intends by his use of the allegory.

Arguments for using an allegorical interpretation:

1. Paul used an allegory in Galatians 4:21–31). 2. Paul taught about types in First Corinthians 10:6, 10. 3. Scripture writers made abundant use of figures of speech. This is the only certain way to use allegories. We know what the meaning of the allegory is because the Scripture writer explains what he means by the allegory.

Chapter 15 Men have developed three ways to allegorize Scripture.

For example, the word Jerusalem could mean the following things: 1. The literal city of Jerusalem 2. Allegorically, the city is the church. 3. Allegorically, the city is the soul. 4. Allegorically, the city is heaven.

Criticisms of the allegorical system of interpretation

1. When a person allegorizes, he removes the basic authority of the words of Scripture and replaces them with the meaning of the interpreter. Allegories are often taken too far so that almost everything has a “spiritual” meaning. Allegories tend to get out of control because there are boundless ways to say something has a spiritual application to this, that, or the other thing. 2. There is no sure way of testing the conclusions of the allegorical interpreter. One cannot adequately confirm or deny the authenticity of speculations and imaginations by the actual words used in a particular text. 3. The allegorical interpretation of Scripture mostly ignores the historical sense of Scripture. 4. The allegorical interpretation confuses the difference between allegory and type. The writer of Hebrews mentions some types in Scripture (the structure of the tabernacle) while allegories tend to be fanciful in their creation and interpretation. 5. The allegorical interpretation does not recognize the essential distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Roman Catholic system

Roman Catholic interpretations of Scripture are usually allegorical. The Roman Catholic system of interpretation recognizes two authorities: Scripture and Roman Church traditions, but the living voice of the Church (Pope) is the final authority. Catholics believe that traditional interpretation and the use of the Latin


The Goal of Bible Translating Vulgate Bible are the only valid guides for interpreting Scripture.

The Mystical system

This system is allegorical in emphasis. It stresses the understanding of the Bible under the enlightening influence of the Spirit. The words of Scripture are external husks containing the devotional kernel of truth. The interpreter’s feelings about the meaning of Scripture predominate over the authentic meaning of the words as used in the grammatical structure of Scripture.

Literal interpretation

The literal meaning is the normal or natural meaning of a passage. It is what the author intended to mean by the ordinary words he used. This is the grammatical-historical interpretation of Scripture. This system is the best way to interpret the Scripture.

Arguments for literal interpretation:

1. The literal meaning is the normal one in all languages. 2. All figures of speech, parables, or allegories depend for their very existence on previous literal meanings. 3. The Bible makes perfect sense when interpreted literally. There must be clear indications in the context to warrant any interpretation that extends beyond the literal meaning of the words in the text. 4. The literal meaning is the only safe and sane check on the views of interpreters. 5. Literal meaning is the most consistent meaning that agrees with the doctrine of verbal inspiration that contends that God revealed his will in words that people can understand.

The Liberal system

The views of Schleiermacher, Harnack, and Fosdic all argue that the Bible is merely a human production. It is neither inerrant nor infallible. It only contains the Word of God in some places. They say that the Bible is the product of historical evolution, and its concepts arise sole-

103 ly out of its historical and cultural background. There is no concept of a supernatural revelation. They say that one must interpret the Bible as any other human book.

The Neo-Orthodox system

This system of interpretation also goes by the name “Existentialism.” The leaders of this system of interpretation are Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Neo-orthodoxy regards the Bible on the human level much the same way as the liberal. Neo-orthodoxy contends that the Bible is neither inerrant nor infallible in every word. Rather the words of Scripture are merely a witness to the message of God, thus neo-orthodoxy claims that the Bible becomes the Word of God as the Spirit speaks to the individual. The important thing is the message of God to each individual person who finds that message behind the words of Scripture. The Neo-orthodox system accepts a twofold level of truth: Historical truth (truth 1), and suprahistorical truth (truth 2) These are two entirely different levels, and when brought together they appear contradictory and paradoxical. Rudolph Bultmann combines existentialism with demythologizing. He believes that the task of the interpreter of Scripture is to go beyond the myths of Scripture to learn the true existential meaning. Other Neo-orthodox propagators of existentialism are Karl Barth, Heinrich Emil Brunner and Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr.

The Neo-Liberal system

This system of interpretation is similar to the older liberal theology of F. Filson and G. E. Wright. The Neo-Liberal accepts revelation but regards it as centering in the mighty acts of God, not in the words of Scripture. Neo-Liberals often accuse the words of Scripture with error.


104 The Neo-Evangelical system

Daniel Fuller, Dewey Beegle, and Richard Quebedeaux are advocates of this view. There are two kinds of neo-evangelicals. One is the Established Evangelical and the other is the Young Evangelical. The Young Evangelical group supports the view that there are errors in Scripture. They distinguish between revelational and non-revelational portions of Scripture. They also distinguish between redemptive and nonredemptive portions of Scripture. They consider the non-revelational or non-redemptive sections of Scripture as errant. This is in direct conflict with Second Timothy 3:16, which says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

The Neo-Pentecostal system

The leaders of Oral Roberts University, and many other people in Neo-Pentecostalism, believe that God gives revelations of new truth for the present day. They consider the revelations they receive to be on an equal par with canonical Scripture. These new revelations come to them through many kinds of charismatic experiences, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, feelings that overwhelm them, or just a thought that pops into their heads.

Six factors that produce misinterpretations of the Bible:

1. Religious traditions can distort Scripture. Matthew 15:3 says, “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” 2. Human logical reasoning can distort Scripture. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” 3. Emotional experiences can distort Scripture. First Corinthians 14:27–28 says, “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church;

Chapter 15 and let him speak to himself, and to God.” The Neo Pentecostals often say, “I experienced it so it must be true.” Experiences are not safe guides to the truth. 4. Prejudice can distort Scripture. Acts 17:26 says, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” There is only one race of people, the human race, but prejudices can cause people to believe they are a superior race. 5. Ignorance of Scripture can distort Scripture. Matthew 22:29 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” 6. Misapplication can distort Scripture. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” People often take this verse to mean that Christians should only marry Christians. This is an acceptable application of the verse, but it is not the meaning of the verse. Paul is pleading with the Corinthian Christians who were unequally yoking together with the false gospel preaching Judaizers. Misapplication comes from a failure to establish the context of a verse before making an application of that verse. Often the application of a verse is misunderstood to be the interpretation, when in fact, the application of the verse, though legitimate, is not the correct interpretation.

The King James Version is the English standard for Scripture translation.

For four hundred years, the King James Version Bible has proven to be the best translation of the inspired Word of God in the English language. Sometimes I will suggest ways to restate the meaning of verses in the King James Version. I do not intend that these restatements should be the way that translators should translate these verses. The purpose of restating the meaning of the verse in one’s own words is to help clarify the meaning of the verse in one’s own mind.


The Goal of Bible Translating For instance, I suggest that the meaning of the words in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd” could be stated as “I myself am the shepherd, the good one.” Whenever I do this, I am not suggesting that you translate the verse in this way. I am only trying to understand the verse correctly, according to the words in the text. After understanding the meaning of a verse correctly, the Textus Receptus Greek text, the King James Version, and the grammatical structure of the particular language into which one is translating should determine the way one finally translates the verse. An example of this occurs in First Thessalonians 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith.” I suggest that you state this verse as meaning, “Remembering without ceasing how you believed, and as a result, you worked for God.” I do not intend that this statement of the meaning of the verse should dictate how a translator must translate the verse. I only intend the restatement of the verse as a help towards understanding the meaning of the verse correctly. By taking the time to write out the meaning of a verse, one can think more clearly about possible ways to state that meaning in the receptor language. When one clearly understands the meaning of a verse, he is in a better position to translate that verse accurately. Therefore, each time I make a restatement of a verse, please do not think that I am suggesting that the King James Version is wrong and that I am correcting it. I am not suggesting that my restatement of a verse should be the basis of your translation. The only legitimate basis for New Testament translation is the Textus Receptus Greek text.

A definition of Bible translation

In Hebrews 11:5, we read, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.” God took Enoch from this earth and transported him directly to heaven. God removed

105 him from the place of mortality to the place of immortality. God took him out of one place and transferred, or translated him to another place. In Colossians 1:13 we read, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” God has moved us out of the realm of the power of darkness and has moved us into another place, the kingdom of his dear Son. This is similar to what translation is. Translation is the moving of word meanings from one language and placing them in another language. God took Enoch out of the realm of the mortal and placed him into the realm of the immortal. He was still the same person but God had changed him (translated him) from a mortal man to an immortal man. Similarly, Bible translation is transferring the meaning of the words in the Bible into the nearest formal equivalent meaning of the words in the receptor language in a written form. When I use the words “nearest formal equivalent meaning of words,” I am referring to the Bible translation principle of finding words in the receptor language that are the nearest to the meaning of Bible words. After one finds receptor language words that are the nearest formal equivalent to Bible words, the translator uses these receptor words to make a formal translation as opposed to an informal or dynamic equivalent translation. We want to avoid dynamic equivalent translation and translate formally and literally as much as the language will allow one to do that. The translator should be primarily concerned about transferring the meaning of words in one language into the same meaning of words in another language. Paul reminds us that we should be concerned about meaning. In First Corinthians 14:8–9 Paul wrote, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be under-


106 stood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.� A missionary should be skilled in the craft of word usage so that he can speak and write in words that people can easily understand. A Bible translator should be concerned about the meaning of the words in the source language text. The source language text is the Hebrew and Greek texts and the King James Version English text. A Bible translator should also be concerned about the meaning of the words in the source texts as understood by the reader of his translation. If the two meanings of the source text and the meaning of the reader do

Chapter 15 not match, this will result in the reader experiencing unintended wrong meanings. The above definition of Bible translation implies that we are primarily concerned with determining the meaning of the words of the source language text as the author intended people to understand them. We are equally concerned about the meaning of words as experienced in the mind of the receiver when he reads the words in our translation. When the missionary translates the intended meaning of the Bible’s words into the nearest formal equivalent meaning in the words of the target language, he has done faithful Bible translation.

Homework Without referring to the notes in this chapter, write your own definition of Bible translation. Afterwards, check your definition with the one in the notes.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses

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When a little boy in Sunday school heard about Lot’s wife who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, he said, “My mom was driving to town and when she looked back she turned into a telephone pole!”

Chapter 16

How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses

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ome Bible verses require special attention because they are difficult to understand. Here are some things to consider when dealing with difficult verses.

like an exception to the primary meaning. The primary teaching of Scripture exerts pressure on difficult verses to understand them in the light of many verses that are not difficult to understand. If there are several verses that clearly establish a doctrine, these verses should govern a single verse that may seem like an exception to that doctrine. The pressure is on the exceptional verse to conform to the primary teaching of Scripture.

Principle 3

Principles for difficult verses Principle 1

The most basic of all principles of interpreting the Scripture is that we first pray and ask God to help us understand a particularly difficult passage. Next, we should consult related verses in other parts of Scripture for any help we can get from them. After that, it may be helpful to ask your co-workers what they think the difficult verses mean.

Principle 2

One should use the primary teaching of Scripture to interpret a verse that may seem

Be fully persuaded that an adequate explanation of a difficult verse exists, even though you are not certain about the meaning of it now. If you persevere in your study, you will most likely find the answer to understanding a difficult verse. This is especially true if you have a good and honest heart that desires only to know the truth, whether it agrees with your preferred interpretation or not.

Principle 4

Carefully, study the context of a difficult verse until you realize what the verse was intended to mean within its own context. Usually the verses that come before and after the difficult verse will help you to understand it correctly.

Principle 5

No interpretation of a difficult verse is valid unless one bases his interpretation on a careful study of the words used by the original author. A


108 careful study of the original Hebrew or Greek is necessary to determine the meaning of difficult Bible verses.

Principle 6

Consult the best commentaries available, especially those written by people who believe that God has inspired the Scriptures and who believe in the integrity and authority of Scripture. Here are some of the better Bible commentators: Albert Barnes, A. T. Robertson, Matthew Henry, C. J. Ellicott, Alfred Plummer, John Lightfoot, Adam Clarke, R. C. H. Lenski, John Peter Lange, Jamieson-Fausset & Brown, Conybeare and Howson, Alfred Edersheim, Matthew Poole, John Gill, and Charles Hodge. On the next few pages, we will try to understand some difficult verses. We will need to take some difficult measures to find an answer, but you should realize that sometimes it is necessary to do some hard work. It may take a careful study of every word and every morpheme in the text before a satisfactory conclusion can be drawn. This may seem like the long way around to find an answer to the problem, but it could end up saving you a lot of wasted time and effort because you jumped to a conclusion that cannot be established by the context, the meaning of the words, or the primary teaching of Scripture.

Difficult passages First Peter 3:19–21

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Chapter 16 Verse 19

“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” en: preposition, “of the instrument,” “means,” “cause,” “by means of.” w: dative singular pronoun, “whom” και: conjunction, “and,” “also” τοις: article, “the” dative plural “to those” en: preposition, “in” φυλακη: noun, dative singular “prison” “a guarded place” πνευvμασιν: dative plural neuter noun, object of verb, “disembodied spirits,” “to those disembodied spirits πορευθεις: aorist passive participle (deponent), masculine nominative singular, “he went” εκηρυξεν: aorist active indicative third person singular verb “he preached.” Eκηρυξεν, is derived from the verb κηρυσσω, “to proclaim,” openly,” “to preach” verb (preached), subject (he), object (people in Noah’s time)

Verse 19 translation

Jesus, by means of [the preaching of] Noah also went to those people and preached to them. These people (are now) disembodied spirits in prison (Hell).

Verse 20

“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” απειθησασιν: aorist active participle masculine dative plural. Derived from the verb απειθεω, “to refuse belief and obedience,” “those who disobeyed” ποτε: A particle of time, “formerly” “in time past” Note: This word causes verse 19 to mean, “in the past” (a flashback to a time in the past)


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses οτε: adverb, “when,” “at that time when” απαξ: adverb, “constantly” εxεδεχετο: imperfect passive (deponent) third person singular, it derives from εκδεχομαι “to wait” “He (God) was waiting” η: nominative singular article, “the” του: genitive singular article, “of the” θεου: genitive singular “of God” μακροθυμια: nominative singular adjective, “patiently” en: preposition “in” “during” ημεραις: dative plural, “days” Nωε: “Noah” The word Nωε shows that verse 19 is a flashback to what occurred in the time of Noah. κατασκευαζομενης: present passive participle genitive singular, “while he was constructing” κιβωτου: genitive singular, “a boat,” “an ark”

Verse 20 translation

These people where those who in the time past refused to believe and obey God who was continuously and patiently waiting (for them to repent). It was during the days when Noah was constructing a boat.

Verse 20b

εις: preposition, “during” “unto that time” ην: imperfect active indicative third person singular “they were being” ολιγαι: adjective, “few in number” τουτ’: demonstrative pronoun “those” εστιν: present active indicative third person singular, “they being’ οκτω: numerical adjective, “eight” ψυχαι: nominative plural, “souls,” “people” διεσωθησαν: aorist passive indicative third person plural, “they were brought safely” δι’: preposition, “through” “by means of” υδατος: genitive singular, “water.”

109 Verse 20b translation

During this time only a few, eight people, were brought safely through by water

Verse 21

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” w: Derived from ος dative singular pronoun, “whom” και: conjunction, “and,” “also” ημας: first person accusative plural pronoun, “to us” αντιτυπον: nominative singular adjective “illustration,” “symbol” νυν: adverb, “now” σωζει: present active indicative third person singular, “It is saving” βαπτισμα: nominative singular noun “baptism” oυ: “not” σαρκος: genitive singular noun, derived from σαρζ, meaning “flesh,” “the human body” αποθεσις: nominative singular noun, “put off” ρυπου: genitive singular noun, “of filth” αλλα: conjunction, “but on the contrary” συνειδησεως: genitive singular noun, “conscience” αγαθης: genitive singular adjective, “morally good” επερωτημα: nominative singular noun, “profession” εις: preposition, “unto” θεον: accusative singular noun, “God” δι’: preposition, “by means of” aναστασεως: genitive singular noun, “resurrection” Ιησου: genitive singular, “of Jesus” Χριστου: genitive singular, “of Christ”


110 Verse 21 translation

Which also illustrates to us now how baptism is related to salvation? Baptism is not the cleansing of the filth of the flesh, but on the contrary, it is a profession of a morally good conscience unto God. (Our salvation) is by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Translation of verses 19–21

Verse 19: Jesus, by means of [the preaching of] Noah also went to those people and preached to them. These people (are now) disembodied spirits in prison (Hell). Verse 20: These people were those who in the time past refused to believe and obey God who was continuously and patiently waiting (for them to repent). It was during the days when

Chapter 16 Noah was constructing a boat. During this time only a few, eight people, were brought safely through by water. Verse 21: Which also illustrates to us now how baptism is related to salvation? Baptism is not the cleansing of the filth of the flesh, but on the contrary, it is a profession of a morally good conscience unto God. Our Salvation is by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A word-by-word study of First Peter 3:19–21

After vertically lining up the meaning of each word in a verse, it will also help to put the words in the horizontal order in which they occur.

19 εν ω και tοις εν φυλακη πνευμασιν xπορευθεις εκηρυξεν In [by] whom also to those in prison spirits he went he preached By whom also to those spirits in prison he went [and] he preached to 20 απειθησασιν ποτε

disobedient ones in the past (object of the verbs: “he went,” “he preached) (time of the verbs) those disobedient ones in the past. οτε απαξ εξεδεχετο η του θεου μακροθυμια when constantly he waited who the God patiently when [God] constantly waited patiently εν ημεραις Νωε κατασκευαζομενης κιβωτου in days Noah was constructing a boat during the time when Noah was constructing a boat. εις ην ολιγαι τουτ’ εστιν οκτω ψυχαι when there were a few that is eight souls [people] When there were a few, eight people, διεσωθησαν δι’ υδατος brought safely through by water who were brought safely by means of water.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses

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21 ω και ημας αντιτυπον νυν σωζει βαπτισμα Which [water] also to us [is] an illustration now it is saving baptism Which water also [is] an illustration to us now of how baptism relates to salvation. ου σαρκος αποθεσις ρυπου αλλα συνειδησεως αγαθης επερωτημα εις θεον not flesh cleansing filth but a conscience good profession unto God It is not filthy flesh cleaning, but rather it is profession by a good conscience unto God. δι’ αναστασεως Ιησου Χριστου by resurrection of Jesus Christ By means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Note the contrast between “saved by water,” which can only cleanse the filth of the flesh (body), and “saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” A person who makes an honest profession of faith in Christ is saved by the finished work of Christ.

A translation of First Peter 3:19-21

Verse 19: By means of the preaching of Noah, Jesus went and preached to those who lived during the time of Noah. These people are now disembodied spirits in Hell. Verse 20: They were those in Noah’s time, who disobeyed God. God patiently endured their unrepentant ways while Noah was constructing a boat. At this time only eight people (repented) and were saved from death by water. Verse 21: This previous event of being saved by water illustrates to us now how baptism is related to salvation. It does not mean merely being immersed in water to wash away the filth of the flesh. On the contrary, it means the profession made in the presence of God by persons with a good and honest conscience. The cleansing of sins is by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some things these verses do not teach

These verses do not teach that people will get a second chance to repent in Hell. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment…” Hebrews

9:27 teaches that death is followed by judgment. First Peter 3:19, 20, and 21 do not teach that God sends people to Purgatory to suffer for sins and then releases them after they have suffered for a time. This is because the verses about spirits in Hell are limited to those who were disobedient during Noah’s time. The important point is that Peter is using a flashback to the time of Noah. The verses say nothing about people in general but only mention those people who lived during the time of Noah. The flashback shows that the preaching of Jesus was not to disembodied spirits who are in Hell now. The flashback shows that the preaching of Jesus was by the Spirit through Noah during the time when Noah was telling people to repent while he was constructing a boat. These verses say nothing about Jesus preaching the gospel to the dead in Hell. These verses also say nothing about Purgatory. Therefore, there is no mention of a second chance to be saved, nor is there anything said about people being purged of their sins by suffering in Purgatory, and then being released to go to Heaven.

Some things these verses do teach

A first impression of these verses seems to say that Jesus went and preached the gospel to people in Hell (prison). It appears as though the Lord is giving them a second opportunity to be saved after death. These verses also appear


112 to say that water baptism saves people. Both of these first impressions are not true to the primary teaching of Scripture. First, the important fact that is not immediately apparent in these verses is that Peter is using a flashback to the time when Noah was building a boat. The time of these verses is during the time when Noah lived. Secondly, Peter says that water baptism is not the “putting away the filth of the flesh,” but that water baptism is a matter of “an answer of a good conscience in the presence of God.” The meaning is that immersion in water is only a matter of washing filth from the body. Such immersion can wash dirt from a person’s body, but it cannot wash the guilt of sin from a person’s conscience. Third, the power to save us from the guilt of our sins is not attributed to water baptism but to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection, of course, includes Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. God raised Jesus from the dead to show that He approved of the sacrifice that Jesus had made to atone for our sins. See Romans 4:25: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Therefore, salvation is available to all those who make a profession (of faith) with an honest conscience in the presence of God. They are saved who repent of sins and place their trust in the finished salvationwork of Christ. The meaning is that one should baptize only those persons who have repented and believed in Jesus in their inward conscience, and as a result, God has forgiven them of all their sins. When a person professes to God in his inward conscience that he has repented and believed in Jesus, God forgives his sins and such a person’s baptism does then properly illustrate that person’s entire experience of repentance from sin, faith in Christ, and the cleansing of his sins by God. A person’s water baptism should only take place after the Holy Spirit has done the work of

Chapter 16 convicting a person’s conscience of his sins and the person has repented of them and believed in Christ. A person can never experience such a work of the Holy Spirit by the mere application of water to his outward body. When a person is baptized, it is because that person has professed that the inward work of the Holy Spirit has taken place in his heart. Therefore, water baptism is administered to him as an illustration of what has already taken place in his conscience, namely, his repentance from sin, his faith in the work of Christ, and God’s forgiveness of his sins. The work of Christ that atones for our sins (as proven by his resurrection) is the basis for forgiveness of sins—not water baptism. If repentance and faith have not happened before one’s baptism, the water of baptism can do nothing to bring about true repentance from sin and true faith in Christ. Water baptism has no converting or regenerating power on the person baptized.

Baptism is an outward illustration of the decision that one makes in his inward conscience.

Therefore, water baptism is only an illustration of a person with a good conscience who has admitted his sins, repented of them, believed in Christ, and God has cleansed him of his sins. Therefore, a pastor baptizes such a person as a means to show to other people that the events of repentance from sins, faith in Christ, and forgiveness by God have taken place in the heart of the person baptized. After these events of honest profession of repentance and faith in Christ, water baptism is administered to such a person to illustrate these inward realities. Water baptism as a symbol or illustration simply furnishes visible evidence of one’s repentance of sins, faith in Christ, and God’s forgiveness of his sins. There must be a deep internal work on the inward conscience of the person who repents and believes in Christ, and when that is missing, no external rite of water baptism can result in forgiveness of sins.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses The importance of water baptism

Yet, it does not follow from this that baptism is of no importance. The argument of the apostle Peter here is that water baptism significantly relates to our salvation. Baptism does not wash away our sins, but it is an important first step of obedience to God after one has been cleansed of his sins. As the water of the flood saved Noah, similarly, baptism has an important link with Christ saving us by his resurrection. As water bore up the ark, saving Noah from drowning, so God has chosen baptism by water to illustrate his saving of us from the consequence of our sins. When a pastor baptizes a person who has honestly in the presence of God professed a repentant heart and faith in Christ, water baptism connects this person to salvation in a similar way that the saving water of the flood

113 linked Noah and his family to salvation from drowning. No man can prove from the Bible that baptism is not an important link with salvation. Water baptism does not cleanse people from sins, but it is a means of illustrating great and important truths in an impressive manner to the conscience of the believer himself, and to those who observe his baptism in water. Water baptism should be a means through which God reveals himself to the believer, and through which God imparts his blessing to the believer, as he does in all other acts of obedience to his commands.

First Corinthians 15:29

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead? if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?

A word-by-word study of First Corinthians 15:29

29 επει τι ποιησουσιν conjunction interrogative pronoun aorist active subj. third person plural since in that case nominative singular, “what?” would they do (subjunctive=doubt) If in that case it were not true, what would they do If [the resurrection] were not true, what would they do (it is doubtful what they would do) οι βαπτιζομενοι υπερ των νεκρων masc. nom. plural present passive participle preposition masc. nominitve plurals those being baptized with regard to those dead ones [martyred] those who are being baptized with regard to those who are dead by martyrdom. ει ως νεκροι ουκ εγειρονται conjunction adverb masc. nom. plural negative pres. pass. indic. third plural if in fact dead ones not being resurrected If dead [martyrs] are in fact not being resurrected, τι και βαπτιζονται υπερ των νεκρων interrogative conjunction pres. pass. indic third pl. preposition masc. nom. plurals why also they are being baptized with regard to those dead ones why are they also being baptized if they believed those martyrs died with no hope of resurrection?


114 A translation of First Corinthians 15:29

If the resurrection of the dead [martyrs] were not true, why would anyone want to be baptized if it meant they also would die a martyr’s death and not be resurrected?

Alternative translation

If it were true that the dead [martyrs] are not resurrected, why would anyone want to follow their example and be baptized if the martyrs died with no hope of resurrection? Many of the first century followers of Christ sealed their faith in Him with their blood. Every Christian who professed faith in Christ publicly professed that faith by receiving baptism. They did so knowing that their public profession of faith by baptism was exposing them to death at the hands of those who hated them. Early Christians, knowing that the enemies of Christ had martyred other Christians because of their faith, received baptism even though they knew

Chapter 16 it could result in a martyr’s death for them also. Their motivation came from their belief that God would raise them from the dead. Therefore, they were willing to be baptized even if it meant they would be executed for doing so. There is an ellipsis in this verse. An ellipsis is information that people understand even though the author does not actually express this information in the text. The ellipsis is that the enemies of the Gospel had martyred Christians because of their faith in Christ. When this ellipsis is filled in, the verse makes perfectly good sense and agrees with the context of verse 30 which says, “And why stand we in jeopardy (in danger of losing our lives) every day (if there is no resurrection).” Adam Clarke says in his commentary: “The sum of the apostle’s meaning appears to be this: If there be no resurrection of the dead, those who, in becoming Christians, expose themselves

16.1 Christian martyrs were used as human torches to light amphitheaters and as food for hungry lions to devour as the bloodthirsty audience watched the spectacle of lions mauling Christians to death.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses to a violent death, can have no compensation, nor any motive sufficient to induce them to expose themselves to such miseries.” Albert Barnes agrees with this. He says, “Baptism seems be something wherein they exposed themselves to the danger of death. Because martyrdom and baptism were so closely connected, publicly baptized Christians often suffered a violent death by the hands of persecutors. Therefore the apostle’s meaning

115 appears to be this: If there be no resurrection of the dead who were martyred, why would Christians expose themselves to martyrdom by being baptized if they believed that those martyred before them would not rise from the dead?”

First Peter 4:6

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

A word-by-word study of First Peter 4:6 6 εις τουτο γαρ και Unto this for also For this purpose also νεκροις ευηγγελισθη dative plural adjective aorist passive indicative, third person singular to dead ones it was preached [the gospel] the gospel was preached to those who were [alive then] who are dead [martyrs now], ινα κριθωσιν conjunction aorist passive subjunctive third person plural In order that they could be judged in order that they could be judged [as evil doers] μεν κατα ανθρωπους σαρκι A particle that emphasizes the second clause preposition accusative plural dative sing. according to men, human beings flesh indeed according to human judgment ζωσιν δε κατα θεον πνευματι present active subjunctive third person plural but preposition accusative singular spiritually They would be living on the other hand to God but on the other hand, [the gospel was preached to those who were alive then who are dead martyrs now] in order that they could be living to God spiritually.


116 The problems in this verse are a flashback, an ellipsis, and some implied information. Peter does not say that the gospel is being preached, but that it was preached. This is the historical use of the aorist tense in the word ευηγγελισθη that means “was preached.” This makes this part of the verse a flashback to the past when those who are now dead (by martyrdom) were alive. It was while they were alive that the gospel was preached to them (and they believed it). Now they are dead by martyrdom because of their faith in Christ but God has given them spiritual life (as contrasted with merely human, fleshly life). Albert Barnes wrote: It seems to me that the most natural and obvious interpretation of this verse is to refer it to those who were then dead, to whom the gospel had been preached when living, and who had become true Christians. This will suit the connection, and accord with the design of the apostle Peter. He was addressing those who were suffering persecution. It was natural, in such a connection, to refer to those who had died in the faith, and to show, for their encouragement, that though they had been put to death by human judgment, God would give them spiritual life. Peter therefore says, that the purpose in preaching the gospel to them was, that though men would judge them, and their body put to death, yet in respect to their higher and nobler nature, the spirit, they would continue living unto God. It was not uncommon nor unnatural for the apostles, in writing to those who were suffering persecution, to write such an argument to encourage their faithfulness and perseverance in times of suffering for their faith. Compare Revelation 14:13 ‘And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.’

Chapter 16 The gospel was preached to them while they were alive so that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. That is, so far as men are concerned, or in respect to the treatment which they received from men in the flesh, they were judged and condemned, but in respect to God, and the treatment which they received from Him, they will live in spirit. Men judged them severely, and put them to death for their faith; God gave them life, and saved them. By the one, they were condemned in the flesh—so far as pain, and sorrow, and death could be inflicted on the body; by the other, they were made to live in the spirit—to live with God. The word judged here, refers to a sentence passed on them because of their faith, consigning them to death for it. There is a particle in the original Greek, which means, ‘indeed’ which has not been retained in the translation, but which is quite important to the sense: ‘that they might indeed be judged in the flesh, but live unto God.’ The purpose of preaching the gospel to them was not that they might be condemned and put to death by man, but this was indeed one of the results on the way to a higher object, namely to live eternally in a relationship with God. By him, they would not be condemned. By him, they would be made to live and have eternal life. They would live in the spirit. In their souls, as contrasted with their body. The argument, then, in this verse is, that in the trials, which we endure because of our faith, we should remember the example of those who have suffered for it, and should remember why the gospel was preached to them. It was in a subordinate sense, indeed, that they might glorify God by a martyr’s death; but in a higher sense, that in this world and the next they might truly live. The flesh might suffer in consequence of their embracing the gospel that was preached to them, but the soul would live forever. Encouraged by their example, we should be willing to suffer in the flesh, because we will live forever with God.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses John Gill wrote, “Such are intended, to whom the Gospel had been preached, and to whom it had been effectual unto salvation; who had received it in the love of it, had sincerely professed it, and had suffered for it even unto death itself. This is mentioned with a general view to encourage the saints to patient suffering for Christ; to fortify them against the ill opinion and judgment the people in the world have formed of them; and to assure them, that Christ will judge his people, both living and dead, and avenge their cause, since the Gospel has been preached to one as well as to another, and attended with the same power: the effect and consequence of which is that such persons that

117 receive and profess the Gospel, and suffer for it, are judged according to the judgment of men that are in the flesh, in an unregenerate state, that is, carnal men. Though this was their case, though they were thus judged, censured, and condemned, yet they lived according to God in the Spirit. While they were here on earth, the Gospel preached to them had such an effect upon them, as to cause them to live spiritually. Now, though dead in their bodies, they live in their spirits an eternal life of comfort, peace, and happiness with God.”

First Timothy 2:15

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

A word-by-word study of First Timothy 2:15: 15 σωθησεται δε future passive indicative third person singular “but” she shall be saved but But she shall be saved [from trouble] δια της τεκνογονιας “by” [agency] genitive singular genitive singular by the childbearing by child bearing

Albert Barnes says, “She shall be saved from the arts of impostors (deception), and from the luxury and vice of the age, if, instead of wandering about, she remains at home, cultivates modesty, is subject to her husband, and engages in the nurturing of her children.” The context of First Timothy 2:15 is in the previous verses. Verse 9 says that Christian women should be modest in the way they dress. Verse 11 says that Christian women should learn quietly and submissively in church meetings. Verse 12 says that Christian women should not take positions of authority and teach in the meetings of the church. Verse 14 indicates that Christian women need to follow

these standards because Satan deceived the first woman. This would therefore mean that the woman, though originally deceived by Satan, could now save herself from further deception by submitting to the leaders of the church and by being preoccupied with the bearing and nurturing of children. Such activity has its own built in benefits that can deliver a woman from involvement in activities where she would be open to deceptions that would result in further troubles and painful experiences. Therefore, the word saved in this verse does not refer to salvation from the guilt of sins. It refers to Christian women saved from the many


118 temptations of daily living that could lead them astray and result in many painful experiences. Just as submission to authority and hard work are, in a sense, that which saves a man from involvement in sinful practices, (An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop) so the hard work of bearing and caring for children is that which saves a woman from involvement in sinful practices. The thought of the verses is that Christian mothers can save themselves from the pain of many troubles by submitting to all the conditions of a Christian woman’s life, and

Chapter 16 instead of attempting to take an active part as teachers in the meetings of a church, she works in the home parenting, with her husband, the children she has borne.

Mark 7:18-19

18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

A word-by-word study of Mark 7:18-19

18 και λεγει αυτοις ουτως

conjunction present active indicative third person singular pronoun, dative plural adverb and He is saying to them in this way And He [Jesus] is saying to them in this way, in this context και υμεις ασυνετοι εστε conjunction nominative plural adjective present active indicative second person plural also you unintelligent you are being You [plural] also are being ignorant. ου νοειτε οτι παν το εξωθεν εισπορευομενον “not” present active indicative “that” “every” “thing” “external” present passive participle nominative singular not you are understanding [second person plural] it is going into You are not understanding that every external thing [food] that is going into εις τον ανθρωπον preposition accusative singular accusative singular into the man into the man [person] ου δυναται αυτον κοινωσαι negative present passive indicative him aorist active infinitive third person singular not able him to defile it is not able to defile him.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses

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19 οτι ουκ εισπορευεται conjunction negative present passive (deponent) because not it is going This is because [the food] is not going αυτου εις την καρδιαν genitive singular preposition accusative singular causal indicative third person singular of him into the heart into his heart, αλλ εις την κοιλιαν but into the stomach but rather into the colon και εις τον αφεδρωνα εκπορευεται and into the toilet present passive indicative third person singular and it goes out into the toilet. καθαριζων present active participle masculine nominative singular He is cleansing [By saying these things] He is declaring clean παντα τα βρωματα accusative plural adjective accusative plural accusative plural all the foods all foods.

A first impression of these verses seems to say that the process of eating food and eliminating it into the toilet cleanses the food. This is not true. The dung that goes out of the body into the toilet does not cleanse foods. Such a process does not make food clean. Besides that, the cleansing spoken of in the context of these verses is Jewish ceremonial cleansing. The problem Jesus is dealing with involves the Pharisees who were very careful to follow the traditions of the Jewish elders who

insisted on ritual cleansing of the hands, water pots, and many other things. It involves the Jewish concept of Kosher, that is, preparing and eating foods that are accepted as clean under Jewish traditional laws. This was the problem Peter was confronted with in Acts 10:13–15. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.


120 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Paul also faced this problem when he wrote in First Timothy 4:3–4, “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats (foods), which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” Therefore, the problem is not the cleansing of food. It is the ceremonial, ritualistic cleansing of food by following the traditions set down as law by the Jewish elders. It does not involve the Levitical laws, which were rightfully a matter of obeying God. Jesus was speaking against the additional human laws set down by the rabbis and the elders of Israel. Jesus said the problem created by these laws was because the more important matters, such as taking care of one’s parents, was denied because the Jewish elders had mandated that it was more important to follow ritualistic washings and only of minor importance to take care of one’s parents. Therefore, those people who followed many external rituals but failed to keep the more important laws, like loving God with all their heart, loving their neighbor as themselves, and taking care of their parents, were disobeying God’s commandments. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “The scope of defilement in its various degrees (direct, or primary, as from the person or thing defiled; indirect, or secondary, tertiary, or even further, by contact with the defiled) had been greatly widened by rabbis into a complex and immensely burdensome system whose shadow falls over the whole New Testament life. But with Christ’s decisive and revolutionary dictum (Mark 7:19): ‘This he said, making all meats clean,’ etc., and with the command in Peter’s vision: ‘What God hath cleansed, make not thou common’ (Acts

Chapter 16 10:15), and with Paul’s bold and consistent teaching: ‘All things indeed are clean’ (Ro 14:20, etc.), the idea of ceremonial or ritual defilement, having accomplished its educative purpose, passed away. Defilement in New Testament teaching, therefore, is uniformly ethical or spiritual.” Charles Ellicott in his commentary says this about Mark 7:19: “A far better construction, both as to grammar and meaning, is found by making the word ‘purging’ agree with the subject of the verb ‘He saith,’ in verse 18. If this is done then it reads, ‘He (Jesus) saith this…in order to declare all foods to be clean.’ So taken, the words anticipate, in almost the same terms, the truth of Acts 10:5: ‘What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common and unclean.’ This construction is tenable grammatically, has the support of authorities both ancient and modern, and obviously gives a much better sense to verse nineteen.” Jesus says that the reason all foods are clean is because “whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him. Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly…” The real problem is stated in verse 21, which says, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders…all these evil things come from within (the heart), and defile the man.” Therefore, the issue is not whether one follows a ritual washing to be ceremonially clean. The issue is whether one refuses to follow the evil thinking that comes from one’s own inner being or chooses to follow the moral commandments of God. The main verb in verse 18 is λεγει, meaning, “He is saying.” In verse 19 the word καθαριζων, meaning, “He is cleansing” is subordinate to the main verb, λεγει. “He is saying.” Therefore, verse 19 is simply a conclusion as to why Jesus was saying what he had said in verse 18. Verse 19 should therefore read, “By saying these words unto them, He is declaring all foods to be clean.”


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses Dana and Mantey in their book, A Manual of the Greek New Testament say that there is a grammatical principle called, the Modal participle. A Modal participle signals the manner in which the action of the main verb is accomplished. (For more information on this, see Page 228 of Dana and Mantey). This would mean that the verb in verse 18, λεγει, meaning “He is saying,” is the main verb. The word καθαριζων, meaning, “He is cleansing” in verse 19, indicates the manner by which the things Jesus is saying is accomplished. In other words, “He is saying these things in order to declare that all foods are clean.” This would mean that the last four words of verse 19 are giving the reason why Jesus said the previous statements. That is, “He is saying all these things in this manner in order to declare all foods clean.” A. T. Robertson thinks that verse 19 should be understood by repeating the words, “He says” in verse 18 again in verse 19. The masculine

121 participle of verse 19 agrees with Jesus, the speaker of verse 18. The masculine nominative participle καθαριζων, “He is cleansing,” in verse 19 explains the word λεγει, “He is saying,” of verse 18. Therefore, this makes the participle καθαριζων, “He is cleansing,” a participle of manner. “By speaking in this manner, He is cleansing all foods.” The participle of manner would also mean, “By saying these things in this way, He is declaring all foods to be clean.” This is based on the Greek grammatical rule that the participle of verse 19, καθαριζων meaning “He is cleansing” is governed by the main verb of verse 18 λεγει that means, “He is saying.”

Second Corinthians 6:11-13

11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. 12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. 13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

A word-by-word study of Second Corinthians 6:11-13

11 το στομα ημων ανεωγεν προς υμας perfect active indicative third person singular preposition accusative plural The mouth of us it is open toward you Our speaking to you has been unrestrained. κορινθιοι vocative plural O Corinthians! η καρδια ημων πεπλατυνται perfect passive indicative third person singular the heart of us to enlarge [metaphor = to be expanded by many friendly words] We have expressed our heart felt affecton for you by many friendly words. 12 ου στενοχωρεισθε εν ημιν negative present passive indicative second person plural preposition dative plural not in to you We are not restrained in our words of affection for you,


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στενοχωρεισθε δε present passive indicative second person plural you are being restrained but but you are restrained εν τοις σπλαγχνοις υμων preposition dative plural dative plural genitive plural in the intestines your [in your intestines metaphor = “tender affections”] in your words of affection for us. 13 την δε αυτην αντιμισθιαν accusative singular accusative singular accusative singular reflexive pronoun αντι + μισθος the now your own selves return + payment Now it is time for a return payment from you [a response from you], ως τεκνοις λεγω πλατυνθητε και υμεις adverb dative plural present active indicative aorist passive imperative nominative plural first person singular second person plural as children I am saying metaphor = also you you be expanded by expressing affection I am saying this to you as my children, you also expand your words of affection [to us].

A translation of Second Corinthians 6:11–13

Verse 11: O Corinthians! Our speaking to you has been unrestrained. We have expressed our feelings for you by many affectionate words. Verse 12: We are not restrained in our affectionate words to you, but you are restrained in your affectionate words to us. Verse 13: Now it is time for a return payment from you, I am speaking to you as my children, Respond to us with many affectionate words! At first, these verses in English give the impression that Paul is speaking about health problems: “our heart is enlarged” and “straitened in your own bowels.” This is, of course not the meaning of these verses. The context of these verses comes from the fact that Paul had received word that the

Corinthian church members had been led astray by some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who had decided that Paul was wrong to preach salvation by faith in Christ alone. These Judaizers believed that it was necessary to tell new believers that they must not only believe in Christ but should also keep the laws of Moses to be saved. They also had questioned Paul’s claim to be an apostle of Christ and had openly said bad things about Paul’s character. Evidently many of the Corinthians had believed the Judaizers and had serious doubts about Paul being a genuine apostle of Christ. This put Paul in a position where he was reluctant to defend himself lest he be misunderstood as simply opposing the Judaizers for personal reasons. Paul’s dilemma was this: If the Corinthians believed the false


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses accusations against him, they would further conclude that the gospel, which Paul preached, was also invalid. Paul did not mind so much the personal attack against himself, but it had become a matter of questioning the validity of the gospel, which Paul preached and by which they had become believers in Christ. Paul was very upset over these developments while he was away from them. Paul had arrived at a place in his letter to the Corinthians where his emotions became overwhelming. Now he personally pleads with them. His emotional cry is “O Corinthians!” He tells them that he speaks out of the fullness of the emotions in his heart. He almost apologizes for being so open and frank with them, but he adds that it is because his heart is so full of loving concern for them that he finds it difficult to restrain his emotions. He reminds them that his love and respect for them is as intense as before, but that their love and respect for him had been restrained because of their listening to the false accusations of the Judaizers. The Corinthian believers were Paul’s spiritual children. Children should repay the care and love of parents. It is only right that Paul should expect them to love him in return for all the love and care he had given them. Albert Barnes says about verse 11: ‘O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you’ means that Paul had spoken freely and fully about his loving concern for them. This letter is an affectionate address to them, and has reference to what he had just said. It means that when the heart was full on the subject, words would flow freely, and that he had given vent to the fervent language which he had just used because his heart was full. He loved them. He felt that love deeply and he spoke to them with the utmost freedom of what he had thought, purposed, and done. ‘Our heart is enlarged.’ We have deep feelings, which naturally vent themselves in fervent and glowing language. The main idea here is, that he had a strong affection for them; a heart which embraced and loved them all,

123 and which expressed itself in the language of deep emotion. Paul had loved them so much that he was willing to be reproached, and to be persecuted, and to be poor, and to have his name cast out as evil. Paul was trying to communicate that he could not be silent. He could conceal nothing. He said, ‘I am full of ardent attachment, and that naturally vents itself in the strong language which I have used. Barnes continues with verse 12: ‘Ye are not straitened in us.’ That is, you do not possess a narrow or contracted place in our affections. We love you fully, ardently, and are ready to do all that can be done for your welfare. There is no want of room in our affections towards you. It is not narrow, confined, pent up. It is full and free. ‘But ye are straitened in your own bowels.’ That is, in the affections of your hearts. The word used here is σπλαγχνοις which means ‘intestines.’ It commonly means, in the Bible, ‘tender affections’. The Greek word properly denotes the upper viscera; the heart, the lungs, the liver. Hence it is applied to the heart, as the seat of the emotions and passions; and especially the gentler emotions, the tender affections of compassion, pity, and love. Our word bowels is applied usually to the lower viscera, and by no means expresses the idea of the word which is used in Greek. The idea here is, that they were straitened or were confined in their affections for him. It is the language of reproof, meaning that he had not received from them the demonstrations of attachment which he had a right to expect, and which was a fair and proportionate return for the love he had bestowed on them. Probably he refers to the fact that they had formed parties; had listened to false teachers; and had not received his instructions as implicitly and as kindly as they ought to have done.


124 Verse 13: ‘Now for a recompence in the same.’ Paul says, ‘By way of recompense, open your hearts in the same manner towards me as I have done toward you. It is all the payment which I ask of you; I do not ask silver or gold, or any earthly possessions. I ask only a return of love, and a devotedness to the cause which I love and the gospel which I endeavor to promote. I speak as a parent addressing children. I sustain toward you the relation of a spiritual father, and I have a right to expect a return of your affection to me. You be also enlarged in your love for me. Do not be straitened in your

Chapter 16 affection for me. Love me as I love you. Give to me the same proofs of attachment which I have given you.’ The idea in this verse is, that the only compensation that Paul expected for all the love which he had shown them, and for all his toils and self-denials in their behalf, was, that they would love him, and yield obedience to the gospel he preached.

Matthew 8:21–22

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

A word-by-word study of Matthew 8:21-22 21 ετερος δε των μαθητων αυτου ειπεν αυτω another [of a different kind] but the disciples of Him said to him But another of his disciples of a different kind said to him, κυριε επιτρεψον μοι πρωτον απελθειν και θαψαι τον πατερα μου aorist active aorist active aorist active imperative second infinitive infinitive person singular Lord! allow me first to go away and to bury the father my Lord! Allow me first to go away and bury my father. 22 ο δε ιησους ειπεν αυτω the but Jesus said to him But Jesus said to him, ακολουθει μοι και αφες τους νεκρους θαψαι τους εαυτων νεκρους present active aorist active imperative imperative second person second person singular singular Follow! me and leave behind those dead ones to bury those of themselves dead Be following me! Leave behind those who are dead to bury their own dead ones.


How to Interpret Difficult Bible Verses Translation of Matthew 8:21–22

Verse 21: But another of his disciples of a different kind said to him, “Lord! Allow me to go away first to bury my father [when he dies].” Verse 22: But Jesus said to him, “Follow me! Leave behind those who are dead to bury their own dead ones.” At first, the words of Jesus appear to be severe. It sounds like He is telling the man he should not attend the funeral of his dead father. Obviously, Jesus did not mean that this disciple should not honor his father at his death. One possible way to understand this verse is that there is some implied information that is not stated. The most likely meaning is that his father was not dead yet. He was alive and well. This would mean that this “disciple” wanted to postpone his following of Jesus indefinitely. He is asking Jesus to allow him to wait until his father dies, and then he will come and follow Him. Understanding this implied information helps one understand the verse correctly.

125 In Ellicott’s Bible Commentary he writes, “This disciple asked to remain with his father till his death. In the East burial followed so immediately on death that the funeral would hardly have involved more than the delay of a few hours. This disciples request was, in fact, a plea for indefinite postponement. This fits in best with the apparent severity of our Lord’s answer.”

Mark 9:47–50

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

A word-by-word study of Mark 9:47-50 47 και εαν ο οφθαλμος σου and if the eye of you And if your eye σκανδαλιζη σε εκβαλε αυτον present active subjunctive aorist active imperative second person singular accusative singular third person singular it would cause to sin you expel/throw out it If it would cause you to sin, you must expel it [the eye]! Meaning: The disciple of Jesus must deal decisively with temptations to sin. καλον σοι εστιν μονοφθαλμον εισελθειν εις την βασιλειαν του θεου good to you it is one-eyed enter into the kingdom of God It is better to enter the kingdom of God one-eyed


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η δυο οφθαλμους εχοντα βληθηναι εις την γεενναν του πυρος present active participle aorist passive nominative plural infinitive than two eyes having to be thrown into the trash of the fire than having two eyes, be cast into the Hell [Gehena = trash dump] of fire 48 οπου ο σκωληξ αυτων ου τελευτα present active indicative third person singular in which place the maggot of them not it is ending in which place the maggot of them is not ending. και το πυρ ου σβεννυται present passive indicative third person singular and the fire not extinguished and the fire is not being extinguished. 49 πας γαρ πυρι αλισθησεται nominative singular future passive imperative indicative third person singular all for with fire they must be salted For every person must be salted with fire, kαι πασα θυσια αλι αλισθησεται future passive indicative third person singular just as every sacrifice with salt must be salted just as every sacrifice must be salted with salt. 50 καλον το αλας

nominative singular adjective good the salt The salt [is] good, εαν δε το αλας αναλον γενηται accusative singular aorist active subjunctive third person singular if but the salt unsavory would become but if the salt would become unsavory [by pollution],


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εν τινι αυτο αρτυσετε preposition dative singular accusative singular future active indicative interrogative pronoun reflexive pronoun second person singular by means of what? itself shall become savory By what means of its own shall it become savory [unpolluted]? (This is a rhetorical question that means: there is no way to restore the savor of polluted salt.) εχετε εν αυτοις αλας present active imperative preposition third person plural accusative singular be having in yourselves salt [savory] Be having salt [savory] in yourselves και ειρηνευετε εν αλληλοις present active imperative preposition reciprocal pronoun dative plural and be cultivating peace in one another and be cultivating peace in/between one another!

Translation of Mark 9:47–50

Verse 47: But if your eye would be causing you to sin, expel it! It would be better for you to have one eye entering into the kingdom of God than have two eyes and be thrown into the Hell of fire. Verse 48: In which place the maggot of them is not ending, and the fire is not being extinguished. Verse 49: Just as every sacrifice must be salted with salt, so every person must be salted with fire. Verse 50: The salt is good, but if the salt would become unsavory by pollution, there is no way to restore the savor of it. Be having salt (savor) in yourselves by cultivating peace/ harmony between one another.

The maggot of them does not die.

Note: Lenski says, “The σκωληξ (maggot) is the maggot that consumes the flesh of a corpse. The fact that their maggot does not die means that the maggot is eternal just as the fire is not quenched and is also eternal. Within and without torment shall be the lot of the damned. Their bodies shall be like rotting, putrid corpses that have a maggot within and the fire without.

Leviticus 2:13 says, “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that the custom of middle eastern people is to confirm a covenant of friendship by eating food that contains salt. The Aramaic word for “salt” and the Aramaic word for “covenant” are the same. Once a middle eastern person has received in his tent, even his worst enemy, and has eaten salt (food) with him, he is bound to protect his guest as long as he remains in his care. Salt can be rendered unfit for consumption by polluting it with dirt, or filth. Salt that has been polluted in this way cannot become unpolluted and savory again. It is good for nothing. Salt was not only used to make food more palatable. It was also used as an antiseptic. Newborn babies were bathed and salted. Consider Ezekiel 16:4: “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple


128 thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.” In Matthew 5:13, Jesus referred to his disciples when he said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Verse 47

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples who were arguing over who was the most important person in the group. This is a very serious spiritual sickness that regrettably infects far too many of the disciples of Jesus. To counter this strong temptation, Jesus says to them in effect that they should be disciplined in their behavior and decisive in dealing with this temptation. They should expel from their mind and heart any tempting thought about being the greatest. If they do not deal with this temptation decisively, they would sin against God and be morally polluted. This would lead to the dissipation of their power to persuade others to believe in Christ, just as polluted salt loses its savor and is powerless to preserve, heal, and provide savor to life. Such behavior leads only to the miseries of Hell. On the other hand, if a disciple is disciplined and decisive to reject such morally polluting behavior, it leads to the blessings of the kingdom of God.

Verse 48

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” To fail to reject immoral behavior leads only to the miseries of Hell. Hell is a miserable trash dump where maggots eat the flesh of bodies that continue to live forever and the flames that burn the ever living bodies can never be put out. Jesus is saying that sin against God has severe, eternal consequences.

Chapter 16 Verse 49

“For every one shall be salted with fire.” The future tense in this verse is the imperative use of the future tense. For example Matthew 1:21 reads, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.” In Matthew 1:21, there are two future tenses. The first is “she shall bring forth a son” The second is “thou shalt call his name Jesus. This last future tense is the imperative use of the future tense, and it means, “You must call his name Jesus!” The imperative use of the future tense is also consistent with Leviticus 2:13 which reads, “Every oblation of thy meat offering must be seasoned with salt.” The imperative use of the future tense also applies to verse 49: “For every one shall be salted with fire, just as every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.” It means that everyone must be salted with fire, just as every sacrifice must be salted with salt.” The meaning of this verse is that instances of being “salted with fire” are necessary for good spiritual health. We are polluted by sin. The fire of discipline sent by God is intended to cleans us of our evil ways. Malachi 3:2–3 says, “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” God’s purpose in allowing fiery trails to come our way is to purify our behavior just as the refiner of gold and silver uses fire to purify gold and silver from its impurities. For the believer in Christ, this fire will be the fire of purification, but for an unbeliever, it will be the fire of eternal punishment.

Verse 50

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have


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salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” In this verse, Jesus warns his disciples not to lose their saltiness (savor). A. T. Robertson says that the word αναλον translated as “lost his saltness” means to become morally foolish and sluggish. Just as salt can lose its savor by pollution, and become tasteless and unappealing, so the disciples of Jesus can become morally foolish, sluggish and unappealing. Vincent says that when the word, αναλον “lost his saltnes” is applied to the mind, it means “stupid,” and when it is applied to the taste , it means “insipid, flat, and tasteless.” Jesus connects this warning about savorless salt with the disciples who were disputing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (See verse 34) In this context, the meaning would be “If his disciples became selfish about who would be the greatest, they would lose their ‘saltiness.’ If the savoring principle, as exemplified in the disciples, would become savorless through selfishness, then to whom could people go to get spiritual help? The question is rhetorical and means, “If there would be no spiritual help from selfish, savorless disciples, then there would be no one to whom people could go to get spiritual help.” “Be having salt in (between) yourselves” has the meaning, “Keep on having the power of savory living, preserving living, faithful

covenant keeping living and sacrificial living between yourselves. If you do, it will result in peace and harmony among yourselves. In fact, James tells us in James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” We may test the moral condition of our congregation by finding out how much peace and harmony there is among us. If there is a lack of peace and harmony, it is because there is confusion and every evil work going on among us.

Exodus 8:5

5 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee. Exodus 8:5 in Hebrew:

‫ויאמר משה לפרעה התפאר עלי למתי אעתיר לך‬

(Hebrew reads from right to left. The Hebrew Exodus 8:5 is Exodus 8:9 in the King James Version)

‫ויאמר‬: verb, “He said” + ‫וי‬, conjunction, “and”: “And he said”

‫משה‬: “Moses ” (subject of the sentence) ‫לפרעה‬: “Pharaoh” + preposition: “to Pharaoh” ‫התפאר‬: imperative second person singular verb, “You bring honor to yourself!”

‫עלי‬: preposition “over” + first person singular pronoun suffix: “over me”

‫למתי‬: interrogative adverb, “a time when?”

Chart 14: Exodus 8:9

‫לך‬ “for you?” [for the removal of the frogs]

‫אעתיר‬

‫למתי‬

“to “when?” request “When do God” you want [You me” decide the time.]

‫עלי‬ “above me.” [more than me]

‫התפאר‬

‫לפרעה‬

“You bring “to honor to Pharaoh” yourself” [object]

‫משה‬ Moses” [subject]

‫ויאמר‬ “And he said,”

And Moses said to Pharaoh, “You should bring honor to yourself more than to me. When do you want me to request God [to remove the frogs] for you? You decide the time.”


130 Translation of Exodus 8:5 from Hebrew

And Moses said to Pharaoh, “You should bring honor to yourself more than to me. When do you want me to request God (To remove the frogs) for you? You decide the time.” Adam Clarke says in his commentary, “When Moses says, ‘Glory over me’ he is saying, ‘Take the honor and glory to yourself over me, by commanding me to set a time for me to pray for the removal of the frogs.’ Moses concedes to Pharaoh the ‘glory’ or advantage of naming the time when the frogs should be removed, so that the Divine control of the miracle might be the more conspicuous. Nothing could be a fuller proof that this plague was supernatural than the circumstance of Pharaoh’s being permitted

Chapter 16 to assign himself the time of its being removed. Also the removal of the frogs at the intercession of Moses as requested by Pharaoh would make it look like Pharaoh had made a wise decision. Thus Pharaoh would bring honor to himself by making a wise decision that would bring the results the Egyptian people wanted, namely, the removal of the frogs.” This is the very use made of it by Moses himself in Exodus 8:10, when he says, “Be it according to thy word.” However, Moses also wanted Pharaoh to understand that there is none like unto the Lord, and that, consequently, he should no longer trust in his magicians, or in his false gods and should let the Israelites go free.


Ten Requirements for Bible Translators

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A woman to whom English was her second language described how she lay in bed worrying about intruders: “I was sure there was something wrong; I could hear all the dogs in the neighborhood barfing.”

Chapter 17

Ten Requirements for Bible Translators The ten requirements:

First requirement: Regeneration

A Bible translator should be a person whom the Spirit of God has regenerated. If he is not regenerate, he will not understand the Bible that he is trying to translate. Therefore, he cannot do a good job of translating Scripture. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit...neither can he know them.”

Second requirement: Linguistics

A Bible Translator should have thorough training in linguistics. Linguistics has four basic parts: phonetics, phonemics, morphology, and syntax. Phonetics prepares one to hear any sound made by the human voice in any language in the world. It enables one to say that sound just like a native speaker and symbolize that sound with a symbol from the chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet. These phonetic symbols of sounds become the basis for doing a phonemic analysis of the sound system of any language in the world. By doing a phonemic analysis of the sounds found during the study of the phonetics of a language, the missionary can discover which of these phonetic sounds need to be symbolized in the native language and which ones do not. This is especially helpful for missionaries who are reducing an unwritten language to a written form

for the first time. This enables them to make an alphabet based on reliable phonemic principles, rather than just guesswork. Phonemic analysis is critical for Bible translation. If one does not know how to arrive at a reliable phonemic alphabet for a language, he must construct an alphabet based on guesswork. When missionaries teach a non-phonemic alphabet that is based on guesswork, the ethnic people have difficulty reading it because it does not fit their language sound system. A course in morphology enables the missionary to discover and describe the word structure of any language in the world. By understanding the word structure of a language, one can take advantage of the words and grammatical features of the language in order to translate the meaning of Scripture. A course in syntax enables the missionary to discover and describe the sentence structure of any language in the world. This helps the translator to discover and take advantage of all the grammatical features of the language in order to translate the meaning of Scripture. These four studies in phonetics, phonemics, morphology, and syntax cover how language sound systems work and how language grammatical systems work. A missionary who has no linguistic training is likely to cause a lot of confusion by creating an alphabet based on guesswork. He will also not be able to exploit the full


132 power of the grammar of the language because he has not discovered all the grammatical features of the language by linguistic analysis.

Third requirement: Language

The translator should thoroughly understand the receiver’s language and culture. This means that he must become fully acquainted with the people for whom he will be translating. He will need to know the grammatical features of their language. This will enable him to use the grammatical features of the language as a vehicle for translating the meaning of the Bible into an equivalent meaning in the people’s language. This will include learning both the referential meaning and the connotative meaning of the people’s words. The referential meaning of their words will be those words that refer to specific things, events, abstractions, and relationships. For example, the Sinasina people in Papua New Guinea use the word maiyam that means “blood” to refer to the red liquid in the veins. However, this is only the referential meaning of the word. We need to know the emotional meaning of the word as well. The emotional meaning of the word maiyam is very strong in the minds of the Sinasina people. When a Sinasina person accidentally or deliberately cuts someone, he must pay for the shed blood. The injured person will let the blood dry and be careful not to wash it off until the person who caused the shed blood pays the proper payment for it. When someone kills another person, either by accident or in war, a relative of the person killed will often scoop up some of that person’s blood from the ground and eat it. This is, to a Sinasina person, the way to express extreme grief. One of the most explosive curse words in the Sinasina language involves the use of the word maiyam. When one curses someone using this word, it causes an immediate enraged response. If one is to translate into another language, he needs to understand the referential and the

Chapter 17 emotional meaning of words in that language. One can usually understand the referential meaning of words by observing the material objects to which the words refer. One can also understand the referential meaning of words by observing the various responses people make to those words in certain contexts. The emotional meaning behind object words or action words is more difficult to understand. One must learn the emotional content of words by hearing those words used in various daily life contexts and by observing the various responses people make to those words in a particular context. The only way the translator can know the cultural context of words is for him to make a thorough study of the culture of the people for whom he is translating. He must know not only the meaning of biblical words, but also what the biblical words mean when they are expressed using the words in the native language. It is critical that a translator thoroughly understands both the biblical meaning of words in the Greek and Hebrew texts, and the native language meaning of words as used in many different local contexts.

Fourth requirement: Semantics

Learning a people’s language will also involve learning the general and specific meanings of their words. For example, the English language has general words that cover many kinds of household articles. One such general word is the word furniture. This word covers a wide area of meaning such as, chairs, tables, beds, and sofas. The word chair specifically means a particular kind of furniture. We do not say to people, “Sit here on this furniture.” Instead, we use a specific word and say, “Sit here on this chair.” One may make the word chair even more specific by saying, “Sit here in this electric chair.” In a similar way, we will need to know the ethnic language well enough to know when a word has a specific meaning and when a word has a general meaning.


Ten Requirements for Bible Translators People who speak other languages classify their vocabulary differently than we do in English. For example, we think of a beetle as a bug. The Sinasina people classify a beetle in the same category as a pig or dog. To them, a beetle is not an insect. It is an animal. The Sinasina people consider the two general terms animal and insect to be a single category they call kabe that means “meat.” However, the Sinasina people also have specific words for the different kinds of animals, such as a pig (pig-kabe) or a dog (dog-kabe). They also have specific words for spider-kabe, beetle-kabe, and grasshopper-kabe. The Sinasina people consider all of these words to be kabe. The translator must become aware of the distinction between general words and specific words in the language he is learning. He must also learn how the people classify their vocabulary words. What the translator might consider an insect, may be an animal in the people’s system of classification. What might be an inanimate object to the missionary may be an animate object in the thinking of the people.

Fifth requirement: Interpret the text

The translator must clearly understand the source text, the Bible. For example, if one begins translating the Gospel of Mark, he should be thoroughly acquainted with that book. He should know about the author and the historical and cultural context in which he wrote the book. By reading the book several times, one can acquaint himself with the writing style of the author and the purpose of the author for writing the book. One will need to understand the meaning of biblical words and the meaning of basic grammatical principles used in the book. All these matters will involve use of the Hebrew and Greek texts that underlie the English text of the King James Version. The use of commentaries, lexicons, Bible dictionaries, and other aids will help one make a grammatical analysis of the biblical text. Such study will help one understand the meaning of the words in the text in the way intended by the author. A

133 translator can learn to use other books or computer programs that explain the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts. By carefully studying books that help with understanding the Hebrew and Greek texts, one can arrive at the meaning of the words as intended by the original author. If a translator does not arrive at a clear understanding of a particular verse of Scripture, it will be impossible for him to translate that verse correctly. If one refuses to make a decision about what a particular verse of Scripture means, it is also impossible for him to translate such a verse correctly. Therefore, it is necessary that one do an honest and careful grammatical and exegetical study of Bible verses if one is to translate them accurately.

Sixth requirement: Translation studies

The translator should understand the principles of Bible translation. As in any job, there are skills that one must master. Each missionary can learn these skills the hard way by blundering along on his own, or he can learn the principles of Bible translation from experienced translators who have already translated many books of the Bible. By learning from the experience of other translators, he will avoid some of the pitfalls into which translators commonly fall. His translation will benefit greatly from the work of those who have gone before him. A translator need not know everything, but he must learn where to go for help when he comes up against a translation problem. There are many helps available to speed up the work of translation and make it more efficient. If one is not aware of these helps or does not know how to use them, he will waste a lot of valuable time and become discouraged.

Seventh requirement: Native speaker

The translator must learn to use a native speaker of the language as his translation helper. The translator should not translate without the presence of a native speaker of the language to guide him. The skillful use of a translation


134 helper is essential to the production of a good and faithful Bible translation. The translator who trusts only in his own knowledge of a native language and culture is not wise. Some translators become good bilingual speakers of a language, but few, if any, of them become authentic bicultural speakers of a language. To be both bilingual and bicultural one must be born and raised in the native environment. Very few missionaries, if any, are born and raised in the native language environment. Therefore, Bible translators must depend upon native speakers of the language to help them understand the cultural context of words and the correct use of native language grammar.

Eighth requirement: Text material

Before the translator begins translating, he should analyze at least two hundred pages of native language text material. Text material consists of spontaneous language utterances spoken by a native speaker. One should not obtain text material by suggesting to the native speaker how he should say a certain phrase. One should allow the native speaker to say what he wants to say in his own way. By recording and analyzing a native speaker’s unrestrained utterances, the translator will develop an instinctive awareness for a good written style that will be close to the spoken style of a native speaker’s language. Text material will become an objective check on just how well the written style of the translator matches the spoken style of the people. If the written style of the missionary’s translation is completely different from the spoken style of the people, the translation will seem foreign and will not communicate the correct meaning of God’s Word to the native speakers of that language.

Ninth requirement: Patience

The translator must have the endurance to stick to the job of translation hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year. Bible translation work is not for the quick fix person. If one does not have the patience to

Chapter 17 work long hours over an extended period, he will not be a good translator. A translator need not be brilliant, but he must have the determination to keep at the job. The motto of William Carey, that great Baptist Bible translator of India, was, “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything” –F. Deaville Walker, Moody Press, William Carey, page 42 The ability to plod along day after day, doing a few verses a day, is a necessary quality for a Bible translator. However, this does not mean that one must enjoy long, tedious hours of work to be a Bible translator. No one likes long hours of hard work. However, someone must make the sacrifice of working many tiresome hours if people are to have God’s Word in their language. One thing that will help with long hours of work is an exercise program. Translators need to take rest breaks and they need to take exercise breaks. I know of translators who have worn circular paths behind their houses. The paths were there because these translators would walk or run around the paths. A disciplined program of exercise is very important to the health and productivity of a Bible translator.

Tenth requirement: Orientation

There is a correct orientation necessary for a faithful Bible translator. He must be oriented to producing a nearest formal equivalent translation. He should not be oriented to producing a dynamic equivalent translation. During the last forty years, those who advocate dynamic equivalence translating have heavily influenced the translation of Scripture into ethnic languages. Dynamic equivalence means that the translator translates the meaning of words in the Bible by emphasizing the importance of using culturally equivalent words in the ethnic language. The American Bible Society’s Eugene Nida and Wycliffe Bible Translators’ founder Cameron Townsend have both been supporters of the dynamic equivalence approach to translation.


Ten Requirements for Bible Translators

Three errors of dynamic equivalent translating:

1. In a dynamic equivalence translation, the goal is to use words that maximize conformity of Bible words to culturally equivalent words in an ethnic language. If one translates dynamic equivalently, it causes a translator to force Bible words to conform to the context of ethnic culture, instead of conforming to the context of biblical words. A dynamic equivalent translator does this by choosing words that maximize ethnic language meaning over biblical language meaning. This results in the decreasing of biblical meaning. Dynamic equivalent translating is a result of an emphasis on thought-for-thought translating instead of word-for-word translating. Dynamic equivalent translating is not faithful Bible translating. The nearest formal equivalent words used in a Bible translation should not always conform to the reader’s cultural thought. In dynamic equivalence translation, the reader’s cultural worldview often takes priority over the JudeoChristian cultural worldview as written in the Bible. Dynamic equivalent translation gives the false impression that what one is reading happened in one’s own culture rather than in the historical Judeo-Christian culture. 2. The goal of dynamic equivalent translation is to translate in such a way that it maximizes conformity of the translation to the understanding of the unregenerate person. This approach sounds like it would be commendable but it is a mistake. One must refuse influence from the dynamic equivalent philosophy that advocates that unregenerate people must understand the Bible. It assumes that unregenerate people can understand the vocabulary used in the Bible. This is impossible. Jesus said in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see [understand] the kingdom of God.”

135 One who has never had the experience of being born again will never understand what being born again means. After having been born again, he will understand it and be able to describe it in terminology that a regenerate person would use. The nearest formal equivalent words used in faithful Bible translation may or may not conform to the unregenerate reader’s understanding. In many cases, the unregenerate person will not understand biblical vocabulary. Native speakers of a language can only develop biblical vocabulary through experiential knowledge of the subject. Therefore, the unsaved person cannot adequately speak about that which he has not experienced. Any biblical vocabulary that comes from an unregenerate person is open to serious question as to its accuracy. 3. In dynamic equivalent translating, one achieves the desired equivalence between Bible words and ethnic language words by choosing words that conform to the understanding of the reader who must understand what he reads. If the reader does not understand the translation, the dynamic equivalent translator considers the translation to be at fault. The translator must change it to fit the understanding of the reader. Again, this sounds like a commendable goal, but it goes too far. When one translates the Bible, the nearest formal equivalent words used in the translation may or may not conform to the understanding of the reader. Like the Ethiopian reader of the Bible, one may not understand what he is reading unless a teacher of God’s Word explains it to him. This is exactly what happened with the Ethiopian in Acts 8:30–31. Bible translation should go hand in hand with Bible teaching and church planting. If it does not, a translator could be tempted to resort to dynamic equivalent translation in order to make sure his readers understand his Bible translation. The problem in that approach is that a reader may understand what the dynamic


136 equivalent translation means, but this meaning may not be what the original writer of Scripture meant by the words he wrote. Instead of dynamic equivalent translating, this book advocates nearest formal equivalent translating. The word formal means that the words chosen for the ethnic translation conform as closely as possible to the formal grammatical patterns and meaning of the words used in the Bible. The word nearest means that one continually strives to find ethnic language words that are the closest meaning equivalents of the words used in Scripture. The formal equivalent translator resists the pressure to conform biblical words to the cultural meaning of the ethnic language. He seeks those native language words that conform to the nearest formal equivalent meaning of biblical words. For example, First John 3:17 reads, “And shutteth up his bowels of compassion.” The word bowels is a translation of the Greek word splagcna, meaning “intestines.” The King James translators accurately translated this word. They preserved the formal equivalent of the Greek word splagcna even though this word would not be equivalent to what English people usually say today. However, English

Chapter 17 speakers do say that they have a gut feeling about some things. In First John 3:17 the word bowels is the nearest formal equivalent English translation. However, the translators added the phrase “of compassion” to help the English reader understand the connotative meaning of the Greek word splagcna. Printers later put the words “of compassion” in a different font to show that these words were added to the text by the translators to help the reader understand the connotative meaning that is associated with the word bowels. This allows the English reader to know what Greek word the author used in the Greek New Testament, and at the same time, allows the English reader to understand the meaning of the Greek word in the way intended by the original author. Leland Ryken, Professor of English at Wheaton College, summed up the problem of dynamic equivalent translations when he said, “Each successive wave of these translations has tended to be increasingly bold in departing from the words of the original text. Stated another way, we can trace an arc of increasingly aggressive changing, adding to, and subtracting from the words that the biblical authors wrote.”


Adding to and Taking Away from Scripture

137

The phrase “Jolly Green Giant,” when translated literally into Arabic means, “Scary Green Monster.”

Chapter 18

Adding to and Taking Away from Scripture

“F

or I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19).

A good fear to have

Because of the above two verses, most Bible translators have a well-founded fear of adding their own ideas to Scripture. This is a fear every translator should have. Every Bible translator should work hard to keep from adding his own personal interpretation to the Word of God. Most Bible translators try very hard not to add to God’s Word. However, some Bible translators forget that the above verses not only warn us from adding our own thoughts to Scripture, they also warn us about taking anything away from Scripture. It is as equally serious that we take nothing away from Scripture, as it is that we add nothing to Scripture. As Bible translators, we are not to add our own words to Scripture. If we do, we could make the Bible say things that God has not said. We are also not to translate in such a way that our translation is

inadequate because it does not say all that God said. By producing an inadequate translation, we may be guilty of taking away from God’s Word. The Bible translator must translate in such a way that his translation says exactly what God said, nothing more and nothing less.

Taking away from Scripture

How is it possible that a Bible translator could take away from God’s Word? If a translator translates in such a way that his translation does not convey the meaning intended by the words that God inspired, he is taking away from God’s Word. Such a translation misrepresents what God said. Sometimes a lie is saying less than the truth. This applies to Bible translation as well. If a Bible translator does not do a good job of translating all that the original author intended, he is taking away from the Word of God. This is just as bad as a translator who adds his own thoughts to the Scriptures.

Ignoring grammar

A translator may also take away from God’s Word by ignoring what his translation means to the native speakers of the language. He may know what the biblical words mean, but he may make little or no effort to make certain that this same meaning carries over into the native language translation. He may translate with


138 little or no regard for what the verse means in the vocabulary and grammatical structure of the native language. A translator who does this is also very likely taking away from God’s words. If a translator does not make sure that the meaning of Bible words is the same meaning the people understand when they read his translated words, it is possible that his translation means something different from the words of Scripture, and he may be guilty of taking away some of God’s words.

The mind will try to make sense of nonsense.

A Bible translator may also take away from God’s Word by producing a translation that is confusing to those who read it. People do not read a poorly translated verse of Scripture and simply ignore it. God has made the human mind in such a way that the mind will try to make sense out of a translation that is nonsense. The reader will decide what a verse means even if the verse he reads makes no sense to him. In his mind, there is no neutral ground. God has programmed the human mind to work in an orderly way. If a Bible translator translates in such a way that his readers must try to make sense of his confusing translation, this Bible translator may be guilty of taking away from the Word of God.

Who is at fault for confusion?

Some would object to this conclusion and say that the confusion of the reader is not the fault of the translator but the fault of the reader. To some extent, this is true. If the translator has done all he can do to avoid confusing the readers of his translation, he is not at fault. However, if he has not, it is his fault that the readers are receiving a message that God did not intend them to receive. How much is a Bible translator responsible for the misunder-

Chapter 18 standings of those who read his translation? A Bible translator is primarily responsible for what his readers understand by the words he wrote in his translation. If he pays little or no attention to the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words used in Scripture or the meaning of words in the ethnic language, his translation will likely both add to and take away from the Word of God. It is not enough merely to take a word count to ensure that the same number of words in one’s translation is equal to the same number of words in the Bible. This is word matching, not translating. Word matching inevitably leads to misrepresenting what God has said in His Word.

Can teaching compensate for inadequate translating?

Some have suggested that by teaching the right meaning later on, one can compensate for an inadequate translation. This is an unnecessary risk. It is possible, at the time of translating, to incorporate in the translation itself the meaning intended by the words in the Bible. In addition, the opportunity may never come when teaching can be given to correct the confusion caused by an inadequate translation. The people reading the translation may live in a location far from the translator so he may never have an opportunity to correct his faulty translation by teaching.

A commentary is not a translation.

When I use the words incorporate in the translation itself the meaning intended by the words of the Bible, I do not intend to imply that a translation of Scripture should be a commentary written by the translator to explain everything said in the Bible. However, I do intend to imply that a translated verse of the Bible


Adding to and Taking Away from Scripture should contain enough information in it to allow the reader to understand the verse in the way that God intended people to understand it. If the translation does not communicate this, it is an inadequate translation, and the translator is guilty of taking away from the Word of God. This is equally as serious as adding to the Scripture.

An unwise choice

What is a translator to do then? Many missionaries have faced this dilemma, and rather than take the risk of adding to or taking away from the Bible, they do not translate any Scripture at all. These missionaries take away more of God’s Word from the people than anyone else! They do not give them any portion of God’s Word. To do no translating at all is not the answer. A translator who has done his best to study the meaning of the Bible and learn the native language and culture will not be adding to Scripture or taking away from it. He can rest assured that he will hear the Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Those who willfully distort the Word of God are the ones who should be concerned about the warning given in Revelation 22:18–19.

139 words in the translation say something that the Bible words did not say.

Translators are human.

All translators have made translation mistakes. That is, they often fail to translate all that God intended by the words He inspired. Translators are only human. It is not this kind of a problem that Revelation 22:18–19 addresses. These verses apply to the willful corruption of Scripture, either by false cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or by the lazy missionary who translates inadequately. The one perverts it to prop up his false doctrine. The other perverts it because he has not applied himself to learning the native language and culture thoroughly. If a Bible translator has not worked hard enough to learn exactly what a Bible passage means, both in its Greek or Hebrew contexts and in the context of the reader’s culture, that translator may be adding to and taking away from the Word of God. If a translator is not disciplined enough to learn the language and culture well enough to communicate in that language exactly what the words of the Bible mean, that translator will very likely be both adding to and taking away from Scripture.

Two ways to distort Scripture

However, one may distort God’s Word in one of two ways. He may deliberately attempt to distort it to support his personal prejudices, or he may distort God’s Word by failing to learn the native language and culture well enough to make a translation that is understood in the way God intended for it to be understood. If one fails to learn the language and culture of the native people, this will inevitably result in distorting God’s Word. By either prejudice or carelessness, the result is the same: the translation is misleading the reader to think the

18.1 Some distortions of the Bible are deliberate. Others are due to carelessness.


140

Chapter 19

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” means, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

Chapter 19

Teaching Bible Translation Principles

O

ne of the best ways to learn Bible translation principles is to do some Bible translation yourself. Many people have strong opinions about how to translate the Bible. However, they often cannot base their opinions on Bible translation experience, because they have no Bible translation experience. Therefore, their opinions are often invalid. If one does some Bible translating, he becomes more sympathetic and less critical of those who are engaged in Bible translation work. One of the most common Bible translation experiences is that of Bible college students who take a course in New Testament Greek. By translating from the Greek New Testament into English, they are doing Bible translating. It is for this reason that New Testament Greek is a part of the curriculum at Baptist Bible Translators Institute. Studying New Testament Greek not only provides the students with a tool to use in their interpretation of the New Testament, it also gives them some experience in Bible translating. It is difficult to tell people what translation is, but if they do some translating themselves, they soon realize what translation is and how to do it properly. This is the purpose for the following exercise. By following this exercise, you will learn some New Testament Greek grammar so that you can translate verses from the Greek New Testament yourself.

Greek present active indicative tense

Greek sentences that contain a verb in the first person singular present active indicative tense are common in the Greek New Testament. Verbs in the present active tense express present time and the continuing action of events. However, the present tense means continued action more than it means present time. The word active means that the subject is the one doing the action of the verb. He is the one performing the action, not the receiver of the action. Active voice is the opposite of passive voice. The word indicative means that the sentence is in the form of a statement. It means that an action is occurring, in contrast to an imperative statement that would be commanding someone to perform an action. First person singular means that the subject of the verb is the speaker himself, which would be translated as “I” in contrast to the first person plural “we.”

The Greek root verb λυThe Greek verb λυω (luow)

For the purpose of this exercise, we will transliterate Greek letters with letters from the English alphabet. We will also not write the Greek diacritic marks above and below letters. For instance, the Greek verb luw will look like


Teaching Bible Translation Principles this: luow. The Greek verb luow is composed of the following morphemes [parts of words]. Luis a verb root meaning “to release any person or thing that is tied or fastened.” The hyphen after the root indicates that one may add suffixes following the root. The morpheme -ow is a verb suffix meaning, “I am.” It indicates that the verb is first person singular, present tense, active voice, and indicative mood. The hyphen before the suffix indicates that one may add this suffix following the verb root.

Translating λυω (luow)

The verb root lu- means “to release” and the suffix -ow means, “I am.” Notice that the verb root lu- comes first in the Greek sentence and then the suffix -ow follows the verb root. Therefore, one can translate the Greek verb luow as “I am releasing.” I should point out here that in many languages the phrase “I am releasing” would be an incomplete sentence. This is because in many languages an object of the verb releasing is required in the grammatical structure. In such languages, one must say, “I am releasing a sheep” or some other object of the verb. In many languages, verbs do not occur without the objects of the verbs. One must add an object to the sentence whether one wants to include it or not. In this case, the Bible translator must decide what the object of the verb is and include it in the sentence.

The Greek verb λυεις (lueys)

Translate the Greek sentence lueys into English. The verb root lu- means “to release.” The suffix -eys means “you [singular] are.” You should translate the Greek verb lueys as, “You are releasing.” Notice that it takes three words in English to translate what is a single word in Greek. This should make it obvious that wordfor-word matching is not possible between languages. One must translate a single word in Greek into three words in English.

The Greek verb λυει (luey)

Translate luey into English. The verb lumeans, “to release.” The suffix -ey means “he

141 is.” You should translate the Greek verb luey as “He is releasing.” Notice again that it takes three words in English to translate a single word in Greek.

Translation exercises with λυTranslate the Greek sentence below: λυω προβατον (luow probaton)

We know that luw [luow] means “I am releasing.” The word probaton consists of the root probat- and the suffix, -on. The root probat- means “a sheep.” The suffix -on, when added to the root probat-, means that the word probat- is singular: one sheep. The suffix -on makes the root probatthe object of the verb lu-. Because the root probat- is the receiver of the action of the verb lu-, one must translate “luow probaton” with the English words “I am releasing a sheep.” Notice that it takes five English words to translate two Greek words. It is not possible to translate this Greek sentence by using a single word in English for every single word in Greek. It would not be correct English to say, “loosing sheep.” One must translate the two Greek words by the five English words, “I am releasing a sheep.”

Translate the Greek sentence below: λυεις προβατον (lueys probaton)

The verb lu- means, “to release.” The suffix -eys means, “You [singular] are.” The root probatmeans “a sheep.” The suffix -on is an object indicator. It shows the receiver of the action of the verb. The suffix -on marks the object as singular in number. One would translate the sentence, “lueys probaton” as, “You are releasing a sheep.” Notice again that it takes five English words to translate two Greek words. Because we do not want our Bible translation to sound like a Greek grammar book, we should translate “lueys probaton” with the nearest formal English equivalent: “You are releasing a sheep.” Elizabethan English made it possible to indicate a difference between second person


142 singular you and second person plural ye. We no longer have a way to indicate both the second person singular and the second person plural in our modern English language. That meaning is lost in contemporary English translations.

Translate the Greek sentence below: λυει προβατον (luey probaton)

Your translation of the sentence should be, “He is releasing a sheep.” Notice the word order of the Greek sentence is first the verb lumeaning, “to release.” Then comes the suffix -ey meaning present active indicative, third person singular, and then follows the noun probat- that means “a sheep.” The suffix -on makes the word probat- the object of the verb lu-. If we were to translate the Greek word order literally into English, the translation would be “Releasing, he is, a sheep.” This would not be proper English sentence structure. Conventional English sentence structure would change the word order to read, “He is releasing a sheep.” The three Greek sentences we have learned to translate are as follows: lu-ow probat-on: “I am releasing a sheep.” lu-eys probat-on: “You are releasing a sheep.” lu-ey probat-on: “He is releasing a sheep.” Our vocabulary of the Greek language consists of the following morphemes: lu-: “To release.” -ow: “I am” -eys: “you are” -ey: “he is” probat-: “a sheep.” -on: indicates that a word is a singular object of the verb. Let us apply what we have learned to another Greek verb.

The Greek verb γραφω (grafow)

The verb root graf- means, “to scrape marks to make letters.” The verb suffix -ow means “I am.”

Chapter 19 The nearest formal English equivalent of grafow is “I am writing.”

Translate the Greek sentence below: γραφω βιβλον (grafow biblon)

The Greek word biblon comes from the root word bibl- meaning “the inner bark of the papyrus reed.” People used the papyrus reed to make paper upon which they could write, and so it came to mean “a book.” The -on suffixed to bibl- indicates a singular object. Therefore, we should translate “grafow biblon” into its nearest formal English equivalent as “I am writing a book.” Notice, again, that we translated the two Greek words by using five English words. What does this tell us about the translation process? It tells us that matching one English word for one Greek word would not be the way to translate Greek into English. Suppose we wanted to force the issue and demand that, we must use only one English word for each Greek word. If so, our English translation of “grafow biblon” would be “write book.” This would leave out information that is in the Greek sentence. The words “write book” do not tell us who the subject of the sentence is. If this were a sentence in the Bible, we would be guilty of not translating all that the author said. By forcing the English sentence to have the same number of words as the Greek sentence, we would be taking away from the meaning of the words of the Greek sentence. The translation is also misleading because the words “write book” sounds like baby talk. It also would not be proper English. It would be misunderstood to mean, “You, write a book!” which is a command. The Greek sentence “grafow biblon” is not a command. Now we are in more trouble. We have misrepresented what the Greek words said. The author of the words made a statement that we have translated as a


Teaching Bible Translation Principles baby talk command. Therefore, a “literal” wordfor-word English translation of “grafow biblon” is not an adequate translation. What are we to do then? We should translate “grafow biblon” into its nearest formal English equivalent “I am writing a book.” Although there are more English words than Greek words, the five English words translate the two Greek words correctly. This is faithful translating. An accurate translation always communicates the meaning intended by words the author wrote. In this case, word matching would not communicate the correct meaning.

Translate the Greek sentence below: ανθροπος γραφει βιβλον (anthropos grafey biblon)

The Greek word anthropos comes from a word root anthrop- that means “face.” Because the Greeks considered the face as the most prominent part of a person, the word, anthrop- came to mean “man” in the general sense of humankind, and, in the specific sense, a male human being. The suffix -os at the end of the word, anthropis a subject indicator that tells us that this word is the subject of the sentence and that the subject is singular. The meaning of anthropos would be “a man” (subject of the sentence). The verb grafey is familiar to us already. It consists of graf- meaning “to scrape” or “to write” and -ey meaning, “he is.” The word biblon consists of the two parts, bibl- meaning “book” and -on which indicates singular object. Therefore, we could translate “anthropos grafey biblon” as, “A man, he is writing a book.” This sentence would be a correct English translation, but it is not normal English sentence structure. To translate it as “A man, he is writing a book” would not be the nearest formal equivalent in English. It would be better to

143 translate this sentence as “A man is writing a book.” Suppose we believe we must be as close to the original Greek sentence as we possibly can, and so we translate the sentence “literally” wordfor-word. This literal translation would be “Man he writes book.” This sounds more like the Lone Ranger and Tanto talking. It would not be the nearest formal equivalent English translation of the Greek sentence. Correct English sentence structure and faithful translating would require us to translate the Greek sentence as “A man is writing a book.”

Translate the Greek sentence below: αποστολοι διδασκουσι (apostoloy didaskousi)

This sentence consists of the noun root apostol- meaning “apostle,” and the suffix -oy which indicates the subject of the sentence and it also shows that the subject is plural. The word apostoloy therefore means “apostles” and it is the subject of the sentence. The root word didaskis a verb root that means “to teach.” The suffix -ousi means “they are.” The sentence would therefore mean, “Apostles, they are teaching.” If we put this in better English we would say, “The apostles are teaching.” Notice that we have added the word the for which there is no corresponding word in the Greek sentence. Are we guilty of adding to the text words that should not be there? No, we are not adding to the text. To make the sentence sound like a normal English sentence we must say, “The apostles are teaching.” In addition, notice that we deleted the word they from that part of the sentence which said, “They are teaching.” Are we guilty then of deleting something out of the English that was a part of the Greek sentence? Again, no, we are not deleting anything from the text. To make the Greek sentence like a normal English sentence we must leave the word they out of the sentence and simply say, “The apostles are teaching.”


144 Add two words to the last Greek sentence: αποστολοι διδασκουσι τον λογον (apostoloi didaskousi ton logon)

The word ton is a Greek word that means “the.” The word logon consists of log- and -on. The root word log- means “word.” The suffix -on indicates that the word root log- is a singular object. What does “apostoloy didaskousi ton logon” mean in English? One could translate this Greek sentence as, “Apostles, they are teaching the word.” In better English we would say, “The apostles are teaching the word.” In this case, it takes six words to translate the four Greek words. The six-word translation is a closer match between the number of words in Greek and the number of words in English, but the number of words in each language still do not match.

Translate John 10:11: εγω ειμι ο ποιμην ο καλος (ego eimi ho poimen ho kalos)

The word egow means “I.” The word eymi is a verb meaning “I am.” The word ho means “the” [singular-subject]. It modifies the next word, poimen, which is made up of two parts: poimmeaning “a shepherd,” and -en, which indicates “singular subject.” The second ho is the same word as the first ho that means “the.” However, this time ho modifies the adjective following it, which is the word kalos. The word kalos consists of kal-, meaning “good,” and the suffix -os. The suffix -os means that kal- modifies the singular subject of the sentence, which is the word poim-, meaning “shepherd.” From this information, let us translate John 10:11 from the Greek New Testament into English. Literally, the sentence could be translated as, “I, I am the shepherd, the good.” The Greek writer of this sentence used the reduplication of words to show emphasis. The double words, “I, I am” are used in order to say emphatically, “I!” This information is nearly impossible to trans-

Chapter 19 late into English since we do not usually use the reduplication of words to indicate emphasis in the English language. We could translate the double “I, I am” by saying, “I myself am.” Therefore, we could translate the sentence as, “I myself am the shepherd, the good one.” That sounds a little better, but the phrase, “the good one,” is still too awkward. We are striving to reflect the Greek language in our English translation. When a Greek speaker wanted to emphasize an adjective, like the word kalos (good), he would use the word ho two times. He would put it once before the subject and once before the adjective. By doing this, he would be saying, “I am emphasizing this adjective.” Therefore, we should include this bit of information in our translation. We would further modify our translation to read, “I am myself the shepherd, the good one.” Jesus is saying that he is the shepherd and that he is the only good shepherd. Other shepherds were hirelings who, when not paid, stopped caring for the sheep. This was not true of Jesus. He cared for His sheep even when the only “payment” He received was death by crucifixion. Other shepherds were bad shepherds. They looked after the flock only when there was something in it for them. When there was no financial return, they proved to be false shepherds and left the flock to the wolves. They were bad shepherds. That is why Jesus said, “I myself am the shepherd, the good one!” The nearest formal equivalent meaning does not always contain the total meaning of a Greek sentence. In the Greek sentence the two words I and good are placed in the emphatic position. However, the emphasis on these two words is mostly lost in the English translation. In our English translation, we do not know that the Greek writer emphasized these two words. It is not always possible to say in English all that the Greek sentence means. Therefore, English language structure forces us to settle for the nearest formal equivalent English meaning. Perhaps,


Teaching Bible Translation Principles we could write the sentence as, “I, myself, am the good shepherd.” However, italicizing a word to show emphasis may not be a good solution. So we settle for “I am the good shepherd” and lose the emphasis on the words I and good. We cannot avoid some loss of meaning. It is the result of translating from the Greek language into the English language. The English language cannot transmit all of the information contained in the Greek language. Therefore, we must often settle for the nearest equivalent meaning in Bible translating.

Translate a part of Matthew 1:18 εν γαστρι εχουσα εκ πνευματος αγιου

The Greek word en literally means “in.” However, in this sentence, it is a Greek idiom meaning “by means of.” The word gastri is derived from the root gastr- meaning “stomach.” The suffix -i that follows this root indicates that gastr- is the means used by the subject of the sentence. The subject of the sentence is Pneumatos Hagiou. The word exousa consists of the verb root ex-, which means, “to have” and the suffix -ousa indicates that the participle is a present active participle. The word ek means “the source of.” It indicates the cause of the participle ekousa. Pneumatos consists of Pneumat-, meaning Spirit, and the suffix -os that makes the word Pneumatos the singular subject of the sentence. Hagiou consists of Hagi-, a root meaning “holy,” and the suffix -ou that means “belonging to.” Hagiou modifies the word Pneumatos to mean, “Spirit, the one that is holy.” Matthew wrote the word Hagiou last in the Greek sentence to emphasize the word Holy. Matthew wanted to make it clear that the Spirit was the Holy Spirit, not an unholy or immoral spirit. The phrase “en gastri ekousa ek Pneumatos Hagiou” is a Greek idiom that translates literally as, “by means of stomach having, from the source Spirit, the Holy one.” The English translators translated the Greek idiom “by means of stomach having” as “with child.” This is a good

145 translation, but actually, there is no word for child in the Greek idiom. Does this mean the translators are adding words to the Scriptures? No. The English language makes it necessary to add the words “with child” into the text. This is not adding to Scripture. It is translating exactly into English what the Greek idiom means. The literal English translation of the Greek idiom “by means of stomach having” means very little in English. One must not try to understand idioms literally. The individual words of an idiom translated word-for-word does not make sense in English. The Greek idiom, “by means of stomach having” is a euphemistic way of saying “pregnant.” Here in Matthew 1:18, Matthew purposely used a euphemistic Greek idiom in the place of the tactless word pregnant. The Greek idiom would sound much like the way the King James Version translators translated it. They used the euphemistic form “with child.” Matthew is also careful to add the words “from the source Spirit, the Holy one.” He wanted everyone to know that the conception of the child by Mary came from the Holy Spirit of God. It is difficult to say in English all that this Greek idiom means. The emphasis that Matthew put on the word Holy in the Greek is lost in the English translation.

Translate a part of Matthew 1:6 Δαβιδ δε o βασιλευς εγιννεσι τον Σολομοντα εκ της του Ουριου (Dabid de ho basileus genneyse ton Solomonta ek teys tou Ouriou)

Do not look at the English translation of Matthew 1:6 until you have translated the Greek words in that verse. After you have translated Matthew 1:6, using the information below, check the King James Version to see if you translated it properly. Your translation does not have to be identical to the King James Version in order to be a proper translation. Here is the information you need to translate Matthew 1:6.


146 Dabid: “David” (masculine subject singular) de: “and” (a conjunction joining Matthew 1:6a with Matthew 1:6b) ho: “the” (masculine subject singular, modifying the word Dabid) basileus: “king” (subject singular modifying the word Dabid) egenneyse: “to beget,” or “to generate.” ton: “the” (masculine object singular article that modifies the word Solomonta, “Solomon’’ (masculine singular object) ek: “out of” (denoting origin or source) teys: “the” (feminine possessive singular) tou: “the” (masculine possessive singular) Ouriou: “Urias” The literal word order of this sentence in the Greek is “David, and the king, he begat the Solomon out of the the Urias.” The words “the the” are not a typographical error. That is exactly the order in which the words occur in the Greek sentence. The first, the is feminine possessive and means “the woman of” or “the woman who belonged to.” The second the is in the masculine possessive case which means “the one who belonged to him.” Now write out what you believe to be the correct translation of this verse. Do not check your translation with the King James Version until after you have made your own translation of the verse using only the information provided above. Do not read the next paragraph until you have attempted to translate the verse yourself. The King James Translators faced the difficulty of translating the idiom in this verse that does not make sense if they translated it literally. They saw the need to translate a single genitive, feminine word with the six words “that had been the wife of.” Does this mean they added words to the Bible? No. They are translating the word teys that means “feminine possessive.” The word the is in the feminine possessive case and would have the meaning, “the female

Chapter 19 person who belonged to.” The translation of all of this is, “the female who belonged to Urias,” meaning, “his wife.” It would be impossible to translate this verse literally. If we translated it literally, it would read, “David and the king begat the Solomon out of the the Urias.” A literal translation would not be good English. The translators were correct when they added the words, “that had been the wife of.” They added no additional meaning to the Bible. They simply translated the Greek idiom into the English language that requires these additional words to make sense.

Translate a part of First John 3:9 πασ o γεγεννημενος εκ του θεου άμαρτιαν ου ποιει (pas ho gegenneymenos ek tou Theou hamartian ou poyey)

Do not check your Bible to see how the translators translated this verse until after you have translated the verse from the Greek into English. Below is all the information you need to translate the verse into English. pas: “all’’ (masculine subject singular) ho: “the” (masculine subject singular, modifying, “pas.” gegenneymenos: “to be born” The tense of this verb-like word is the perfect tense. Perfect tense indicates an event that was completed in the past with the results of that event continuing into the present time. ek: “out of” (denoting origin or source) tou: “the” (masculine possessive singular, modifying the word God) Theou: “God” (masculine possessive singular) hamartian: “sin” (singular object, modifying poyey. ou: “not” (negative) modifies the word poyey: “he is not doing.” Poyey: “he is doing” Present active indicative tense.


Teaching Bible Translation Principles The action of the verb poyey is continual action in present time with the importance placed on the continually repeated action. The literal word order of the sentence in Greek would be in English “All the born out of the God sin not he is doing.” The translation in the King James Version is “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” One could translate it a little more accurately as, “All who have been born of God do not go on persistently sinning.” The English translation in the King James Version appears to indicate sinless perfection. As translated, it seems to be saying that if a person is born of God he never commits a sin. However, the present continuative tense of the verb

147 should cause us to understand it as “is not persistently sinning.” This meaning is lost in the English translation. Would it be wrong to put the information of the present active tense of the verb into the translated text? If we include the information of the present continuative tense of the verb, the verse would read, “Whosoever is born of God does not go on persistently sinning.” To include this information or not include it will be a decision that you the translator will have to make. The decision will be up to you. I hope you can see from this exercise some of the complexities that Bible translators must deal with on a daily basis.

Homework 1. Is it always possible to translate a verse of Scripture literally? Explain the reason for your answer.

2. What is an idiom? Write a definition of the word idiom, and write an example of an idiom that occurs in Scripture.

3. Is it always possible to translate the total meaning of a verse into another language? Explain the reason for your answer.


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The grammatical structure of the Pennsylvania Dutch language allows Pennsylvania Dutch English speakers to say, “Throw the horse over the fence some hay,” and “Throw me down the stairs a towel.”

Chapter 20

Which Bible Text?

P

salm 11:3 says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” If someone could succeed in destroying the foundations of our faith (the Bible), the righteous would have nothing left upon which they could base their faith. Therefore, it is critical that we defeat those who would destroy the foundation we have in Holy Scripture. The New Testament in English is the result of translating the Greek New Testament into English. However, there are several different Greek texts, each one different from the other. The 1973 edition of the United Bible Society’s Greek text by Aland, Black, Martini, Metzger, and Wilgren is different from the 1881 Greek text of Westcott and Hort. The Westcott and Hort text is different from the American Bible Society’s Greek text by Nestle, and the Nestle text is different from the Trinitarian Bible Society’s Textus Receptus Greek text. Which one is the translator to use as the basis for his translation of the New Testament into another language? Translators have translated these many Greek texts into many different English versions. There are over two hundred translations of the New Testament in the English language. Which one is a translator to use as the basis for his translation? Before we answer this question, one should consider the following facts.

The permanency of the Bible

Psalm 119:152 says, “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded [established] them forever.” Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:160 says “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.” Psalm 12:6–7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” Mark 13:31 says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 5:18 says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

The preservation of the Bible

Christians very carefully guarded the New Testament Scriptures as they passed them around from church to church. Colossians 4:16 says, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in


Which Bible Text? the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” Second Timothy 4:13 says, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” Most likely, these parchments were scrolls of Scripture. Luke 1:1–4 says, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” There were corrupters of the New Testament as early as the late first century. Geisler and Nix wrote, “At least as early as A.D. 140 the heretical Marcion accepted only limited sections of the full New Testament canon.” – Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, page 278.

20.1 A heretic is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

In fact, most of the corruptions of Scripture by heretics occurred in the early second century. Three of the early heretics, Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus did their heretical teaching during this period. In A.D. 140, Marcion accepted only Luke’s gospel and only ten

149 of Paul’s epistles and promoted his own “Gospel of Marcion.” He also promoted many other doctrinal errors that he wanted reinforced by Scriptures that he twisted to suit his purposes. Therefore, the early copies of Bible manuscripts are the most corrupted. The manuscripts that came later were manuscripts that churches had corrected in order to free them from these early corruptions. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “It is now clear that very many of the corruptions of the text became current at an early date, so that in some cases it is found that later copies really represent a more ancient reading.” –International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, page 2955 Second Corinthians 2:17 says, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God.” Second Peter 3:16 says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” These verses make it clear that the apostles were aware of Scripture corrupters and warned Christians to be on guard against those who would take away or add to their Scriptures. Christian people in faithful churches carefully guarded the Scriptures they revered and treasured. These faithful churches were the instruments that God used to preserve accurate copies of the original manuscripts of the Bible. The chart on the next page shows how Christian people in faithful churches used their uncorrupted copies of God’s Word to get rid of the corrupted copies of false teachers. The chart should be read from the bottom up to the top.


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Chapter 20 Chart 15: The inspiration, transmission, and preservation of the Scriptures by Israel and Christian churches

Old Testament

New Testament

Dates

Text Types

Copy Types

Books of the Bible

Historical Events

1525

English NT translated by Tyndale from Greek NT

First Printed copies of the English New Testament

Matthew— Revelation

Elizabethan Period

1380

English NT translated by Wycliffe from Latin Vulgate

Hand written copies of the New Testament

Matthew— Revelation

Anglo Saxon Period

AD 700

Anglo Saxon Translations of three gospels

Hand written copies of three gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke

Anglo Saxon Period

AD 400

Copies of NT manuscripts

Scribal copies Codices (Bound Books) of the New Testament

Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus New Testaments

Byzantine Empire

AD 300

Copies of NT manuscripts

Scribal copies correct errant copies

Papyrus NT Matthew— Revelation

Diocletian, Roman Emperor

AD 100 — AD 200

Copies of NT manuscripts in Greek

Scribal copies correct errant copies

Matthew—Acts

Beginning of Syriac, Coptic and Itala NT’s

AD 100— AD 200

Copies of NT manuscripts in Greek

Inspired, inerrant autographs

Paul’s letter to Titus

Roman Caesars

AD 50— AD 100

Original NT manuscripts in Greek

Inspired, inerrant autographs

The Gospel of John, Gospel of Matthew

Birth of Christ to the Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70

500 AD

Masoretes scribes

Scribal copies made, corrected vowel pointing

Genesis—Malachi

Justinian Roman Empire rulers

5 BC—AD 70

Herod’s Temple Scrolls

Scribal copies correct errant copies

Genesis—Malachi

Birth of Christ to the Destruction of Jerusalem

100 BC

Jerusalem Scrolls

Scribal copies correct errant copies

Genesis—Malachi

Roman Period

300 BC

Second Temple Scrolls

Scribal copies made

OT translated into Greek Genesis—Malachi

Alexander the Great Greek Period

400 BC

Second Temple Scrolls in Hebrew

Scribal copies made

Genesis—Malachi

Restoration to Land of Israel during Persian Period

600 BC

Hebrew Scrolls Brought to Babylon

Inspired, inerrant autographs

Ezra—Malachi

Babylonian Captivity

1000 BC

Solomon’s Temple Scrolls in Hebrew

Inspired, inerrant autographs

Joshua— Chronicles

The United Kingdom of King Solomon

1450 BC

Original OT manuscripts in Hebrew

Inspired, inerrant autographs

Genesis— Deuteronomy

The Exodus from Egypt to the Conquest of the Land


Which Bible Text?

Problems

The problems of rationalism

Rationalism is the reliance on reason as the basis for the establishment of truth. Rationalism is a theory that believes reason itself is a source of knowledge and that such knowledge is superior to and independent from the words written by the Bible’s authors. Rationalism uses natural explanations of Scripture to explain the super-natural events of the Bible. Since one cannot prove that miracles are a reality by rational means, the rationalist concludes that there is no such thing as a miracle. Therefore, the rationalists think solutions to all problems are solvable by rationalistic explanations.

The motive of textual critics

In 1809, Joseph S. Buckminster, a Liberal Unitarian minister, brought the new method of biblical textual criticism to America. He imported it from German biblical textual criticism that had swept across Europe. Buckminster’s goal was to prove that the Bible did not support the dogmatism of traditional Christians who believed in the verbally inspired and inerrant Scriptures. Buckminster persuaded the officials at Harvard College in 1809 to publish an American edition of Griesbach’s critical Greek New Testament, because he saw its value in promoting biblical textual criticism, which he said was, “a most powerful weapon to be used against the supporters of verbal inspiration.” –The Ecclesiastical Text, by Theodore P. Letis, The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, Philadelphia, PA, page 2

The problem of biblical textual criticism

Buckminster’s opinion soon became the trend of many biblical “scholars” in America. These textual critics claimed to produce a better and more accurate Hebrew and Greek text of Scripture. However, this claim is simply not true.

151 The truth is that the current Hebrew and Greek texts produced by textual criticism have undergone so many adjustments by the application of the imprecise and prejudiced rules of textual criticism that their Hebrew and Greek texts do not represent any known group of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. The random and prejudiced selecting of variant readings by modern textual critics has reduced the Hebrew and Greek texts to merely eclectic texts created by the passing impulses of textual critics. These textual critics begin with the presupposition that the Scriptures are hopelessly corrupted and therefore no one can know what the original words of God were. Therefore, is it any great wonder that they try to “prove” their prejudiced opinions? The problem is that the prejudiced opinions asserted by these “scholars” have no basis in the faithfully copied Hebrew and Greek manuscript evidence. In contrast to the confusion created by modern textual critics, the Received Hebrew and Greek texts represent more than 99.9% of the tens of thousands of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that all agree together on what the correct readings of the Bible should be.

Modern translations

What we lose in modern versions

1. We have lost a common Bible for English speaking Christians. English speaking Christians no longer use a common biblical vocabulary because they no longer read a common Bible. This contributes to the biblical illiteracy of the present generation and splits the Christian community into a splintering of allegiances to various versions of the Bible. 2. With the loss of a common Bible, we have lost the ease of memorizing the Bible. When we used a common Bible, we heard the same words repeatedly. We memorized verses without consciously striving to do so. Now a discord of versions makes memorization of Scripture all but impossible. Modern translations are essentially deficient in the quali-


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3.

4. 5.

6. 7.

8.

ties that make for interesting memorization. There is little about them that would make one want to memorize them in the first place. Because of multiple translations of Scripture, many people have called the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture into question. For them the integrity and authority of the Bible is weakened by many versions that use words different from those in the King James Version. The multiplication of translations has caused people to be less certain that what they read is in fact what the original text said. English Bible translations come and go as quickly as clothing styles. People see this and equate Bible translations with the changing of fashionable clothing. This has had the effect of destabilizing the authority of the biblical text. It gives the impression that the Bible is ever changing. The picking and choosing of this version or that version has robbed the Bible of its authority and replaced personal preferences in its stead. Instead of one authoritative Bible, people think they have the authority to decide which version among many will be authoritative for them. In essence, they have become the authority, not the Bible. The multiplication of versions has increased biblical illiteracy rather than promoted biblical literacy. Translators have often replaced the dignity of expression in Scripture with vulgar expressions and an excess of words that add little or nothing to the meaning. A departure from the King James Version has resulted in a departure from literary excellence. Following a misguided belief that they should simplify the Bible, translators have edited out important theological terms, such as redemption, propitiation, inspiration, atonement, justification, and reconciliation, and replaced these words with explanatory commentary. From a misguided belief that the average person cannot understand what the Bible means, modern translations have chosen

Chapter 20 to interpret the meaning of a verse for the reader by changing the original words to produce what the translators think the passage means. This is very similar to the belief of Roman Catholicism that claims that the only valid interpreters of Scripture are the Roman Catholic clergy. This was one of the main reasons for the reformation. The reformers believed that every person has the right to interpret the Bible for himself. 9. From the misguided belief that translations should be easy to read, modern translations have put a high value on effortless reading translations rather than faithfully translating the words of the text. What good is readability if a translation does not accurately translate what the Bible actually said? Simplifying the complexity of a biblical text for the sake of readability does not increase understanding of the Bible. Instead of clarifying the Biblical text, it obscures it. It may occur to some that I am contradicting myself here because I have said that it is important to make a translation that is easy to read. This principle is generally true, but if followed to an extreme, it becomes wrong. Proverbs 11:1 says, “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.� This applies to Bible translation principles as well. A Bible translator must achieve a balance in his translating. One should not simplify the translated Scriptures to such an extreme that it is easy to read, but the translation obscures the actual meaning of the biblical text. 10. Modern translations are not literal enough. They take too much liberty in their translation of the biblical text. They frequently mislead the reader and, many times, deliberately deceive him because of personal theological bias.

The problems of modern translations:

Although the King James Version has room for improvement, it does not have the very serious problems that modern translations have.


Which Bible Text? Some of the problems of modern translations are as follows. 1. Modern translations make it more difficult to know exactly what the Bible actually said. Several translations, all saying different things, cause confusion as to exactly what the words in the text mean. 2. Literary excellence is not a quality of modern translations. They certainly do not compare with the usually excellent readability of the King James Version. 3. Modern translators, treating the Bible as they would a secular text, take liberties to change the biblical text that even ordinary readers of secular text material would consider illegitimate. 4. Modern translations abandon translation for interpretation and commentary. This impedes a reader’s access to the actual words of the Bible. 5. Modern translators reduce the level of vocabulary used in the original words of Scripture to a simplified, inferior level. 6. Modern translators often cut sentences down into a series of sentences that are too short and disjointed. 7. Modern translators often remove metaphors because they assume their readers would not know how to understand figurative language. 8. Modern translators impulsively change words that they consider out of date and old-fashioned. 9. Modern translators eliminate words that they think are too technical for the average person to understand. They consider their readers to be on a lower level of intelligence than themselves. 10. Modern translators feel free to change words to match what they think the author had intended to say, even though the original writer used other wording. 11. Modern translators often show that they sense no obligation to reproduce the precise wording of the original Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible text.

153 12. Modern translators do not make certain that every word in the original Hebrew and Greek text has an equivalent word or words in the English translation. 13. Modern translators do not indicate all the words that they add to the text. This is dishonest. 14. Most modern translations do not indicate places in the Bible where the translators have purposely deleted words and phrases from the text. This is even more dishonest. 15. Modern translators have not followed the word order of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Even where it is perfectly possible to follow the word order of the original texts, and still make good sense in English, the translators do not follow the word order of the original texts.

The pedigree of modern translations

Modern translators base their translations on presuppositions that are not true. Among these presuppositions are the following misconceptions. 1. You should consider the King James Version deficient in scholarship. 2. You should consider the King James Version old and therefore culturally obsolete. 3. A modern translation should be anti-establishment, anti-traditional, and cool. 4. Literary excellence in a translation is irrelevant. 5. Informal writing is preferable to formal written discourse. 6. You should endorse whatever Bible versions produce the most “conversions.� 7. You should have a Gallup poll, consumeroriented mentality that causes translators and publishers to give readers what they want because it makes more money for the publisher. 8. Bible versions should take into consideration that modern readers are lazy. The translation should adjust to the modern obsession


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to make all pursuits, including Bible reading, effortless. 9. You should produce Bible versions that appeal to specific market groups such as teenagers, charismatics, African Americans, Native Americans, and so on. 10. Bibles should appeal to the present cultural orientation that is more interested in selffulfillment rather than a concern for the words that the authors of the Bible actually wrote.

The parting of the ways

The original authors of Bible texts wrote their books using either the Hebrew language or the Greek language. Hebrew is the language used by Old Testament writers and Greek is the language used by writers of the New Testament. The Hebrew Old Testament texts have survived in many more than 10,000 manuscripts. Some 10,000 biblical manuscripts alone were discovered in a Cairo synagogue attic storeroom where worn out Bible manuscripts had been stored. Moshe-Goshen-Gottstein in his book, Biblical Manuscripts in the United States says on page 31 that the total number of Old Testament manuscripts and fragments of Old Testament books that exist throughout the world is in the tens of thousands. The Greek New Testament texts have survived in more than 5,366 Greek manuscripts,

20.2 A fragment from the Gospel of John. It was part of a papyrus codex of the Gospel of John. It was found in Egypt. It dates to before the end of the first century A.D.

verifying the accuracy of the Greek New Testament text. Faithful churches have preserved 99.9% of the New Testament in Greek manuscripts dating less than one hundred years after the original authors wrote them. One Greek manuscript fragment of the Gospel of John has been dated to A.D. 100 or earlier. For 1,881 years, Christian churches used this kind of manuscript evidence to decide which variant reading was the correct one. They compared the manuscripts and concluded that the variant reading that agreed with the majority consensus of the manuscripts was the original reading. This is a very objective and reasonable way to distinguish between a corrupted Scripture text and an uncorrupted Scripture text. In the year 1881, textual critics devised a new method for determining the original readings of Bible texts. Instead of counting the manuscripts to find a consensus, they evaluated the manuscripts by the rules of textual criticism to discover what the original reading was. German rationalists produced these rules of textual criticism. At first, many Christian leaders accepted this rationalistic approach, but over the years since 1881, it has become increasingly clear that the rules of textual criticism are too vague, unreliable, and prejudiced to use to determine the original text of the Bible. It has become perfectly clear that those who have followed these rules of textual criticism have done so because of their liberal prejudices against the inspiration of the Bible. They begin with the presupposition that they must uphold every fact based on humanistic rationalism that precludes any possibility of the miraculous. These presuppositions align liberals against Christian scholars who believe that God not only inspired the Bible, but that he also providentially preserved it 99.9% error-free in the copies of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Liberal rationalists do not accept the fact that God used the nation of Israel and Christian churches to preserve and protect the original-


Which Bible Text? ly inspired biblical texts in Hebrew and Greek. Faithful churches used these thousands of Biblical manuscripts to arrive at the original Bible text by following the consensus of the majority of the manuscripts that all agreed that a certain reading was the original reading of the author. By following this principle, two distinct types of Bibles have resulted. Those who follow a non-critical text produced the first type of Bible. The translators of the King James Version based their translation on a consensus of the majority of manuscripts that agreed on what the original text should be. Christian churches have accepted this kind of Bible for nearly two thousand years. Those who follow a critical text produced the other type of Bible. Modern Bible translators have based their translation on the prejudiced and often confusing rules of textual criticism. This type of Bible is a product of German rationalism that began in 1881. The first type of Bible, based on the majority text, has produced strong Christian churches. The second type of Bible, based on rationalistic textual criticism, has produced a European continent that is a spiritually barren wilderness of closed churches.

Comparing translations

Characteristics of the King James Version:

1. The King James Version is the Bible translated from the historical, non-critical Greek and Hebrew texts. The historical non-critical text has existed undisputed from A.D. 100 until 1881 when modernists created the first critical text for opposing those who believed in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. 2. The King James Version is the Bible translated by those who believe in God’s providential preservation of the original, inspired Hebrew and Greek autographs that exists in the faithful copies made by the nation of Israel and by faithful Christian churches. Jews and Christians carefully and reverently guarded

155 accurate Hebrew and Greek copies through thousands of years unto the present day. 3. The King James Version is the Bible translated by those who believed that God had used faithful churches to preserve the Bible’s original text by finding a consensus of the majority readings in all the existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. 4. The King James Version is the Bible that has always been associated with faith in Jesus’ promise that his words would not pass away. 5. The King James Version is the Bible that is associated with the faith that the apostles delivered unto the saints (See Jude 1:3). 6. The King James Version is the Bible that fundamental and conservative Christians have used for 400 years! 7. The translators of the King James Version based their translation on the non-critical text. Most of the Bibles translated into many other languages from the second century until 1881 were also translated using the same non-critical text as the basis for their translation. 8. The translators of the King James Version based their translation on Greek and Hebrew texts which faithful churches have preserved for more than 2,000 years. 9. The translators of the King James Version began with the presupposition that God has providentially used the nation of Israel and Christian churches to preserve all of the Bible’s manuscripts practically free of human error. 10. The King James Version is the Bible arrived at by the objective counting of the number of existing manuscripts that agree that a certain reading is the correct one. The King James Version translators did not base their translation on a text produced by the vague and prejudiced personal opinions of modern textual criticism. 11. The King James Version is the Bible that people can have rock solid confidence in because it was not translated using the continually changing, ever diminishing critical text. In-


156 stead, the King James Version translators used the non-critical text that has remained practically unchanged for over 2,000 years. 12. The King James Version is the kind of Bible that builds faith in the Word of God instead of destroying people’s faith in the Bible.

Characteristics of modern translations:

1. Even though modern textual critics claim that they translate from the oldest and most reliable manuscripts, modern versions are Bibles translated from the modernistic critical text that has only existed since 1881 when textual critics began following the vague and prejudiced rules of so-called “higher” textual criticism. 2. The people who produce modern translations believe that they must scientifically reconstruct the Bible’s supposedly lost text by following the rules of textual criticism. 3. Modern versions are Bibles translated by those who believe that a few older manuscripts are more important than the greater majority of Bible manuscripts that all agree on what the Bible’s text should be. They believe this in spite of the fact that many of the older manuscripts are the most corrupted. These few older manuscripts are the most corrupted because scribes, for some reason, did not have the opportunity to correct them by the majority of manuscript evidence. 4. Modern versions of the Bible have usually been associated with translators who believe that the Bible is hopelessly corrupted and that it is impossible to recover the original text of the Bible. 5. Most modern versions of the Bible are associated with the apostasy that denies the faith once delivered unto the saints (See Jude 1:3). 6. The producers of most modern versions of the Bible are either ecumenical, modernistic, liberals, or new evangelicals. 7. Those who have produced modern versions of the Bible since 1881 are people who have followed the critical text. The critical text is

Chapter 20 in contradiction with the majority of existing manuscripts. The critical text relies mostly upon two manuscripts (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) both of which contradict each other in over 3000 places. The critical text is a Johnny-come-lately arrived at by the prejudiced rules of modern textual criticism and German rationalism. 8. People who have produced modern versions of the Bible begin with the presupposition that the Bible is merely a human book that contains a text flawed by human error. 9. People who produce most modern versions of the Bible are people who follow the subjective and prejudiced judgment of textual critics whose purpose is to destroy people’s faith in the divine inspiration and preservation of the Bible. 10. Modern versions of the Bible display a hopeless confusion in the multitude of textual variants in the critical text. The critical text changes constantly and becomes shorter and shorter with every new academic trend that deletes more and more text from the Bible. This constantly diminishing of the text is obviously coming from the enemies of the Bible, not its friends. 11. Modern versions tend towards weakening people’s faith in the Word of God, not strengthening their faith in God’s Word.

The peril of not believing the words of Jesus

John 12: 47–48 says, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” We are required to know what the words of Jesus are and to obey them. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse. Similarly, there will be no valid excuse for those who have followed a corrupted Bible when they stand before Jesus some


Which Bible Text? day and give an account of whether or not they have indeed obeyed the words of the Lord Jesus or merely blindly followed the corrupted words of a prejudiced textual critic.

The peerless King James Version

Dr. Ryken, in his book Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation says, “The King James Version, as everyone agrees, possesses in the highest degree the translation criteria for excellence in Bible translation. The King James Version is the very touchstone of exaltation and affective power.” Dr. Ryken quotes Dwight MacDonald, who said, “To make the Bible readable in the modern sense means to flatten out, tone down, and convert into tepid expository prose what in the King James Version is wild, full of awe, poetic, and passionate. It means stepping down the voltage of the King James Version so it won’t blow any fuses.” Dr. Ryken also quotes Henry Canby who said, “We are in real danger of losing, in an age of flat prose, an essential and invaluable capacity of the language, fully realized once in the English Bible.”

157 Dr. Ryken also quotes David Daiches who said, “Everyone knows that the Authorized Version came at the end of a great period of rich development in Tudor biblical prose and that in literary quality it stands unique.” Finally, Dr. Ryken quotes Charles Gulston who said, “The beauty of this translation has made it peerless among literary masterpieces.” Dr. Ryken ends his book by writing, “People who prefer a colloquial Bible in the contemporary idiom might complain that the King James Bible is more exalted than the original. In some places, this is doubtless true, but not on balance. The real issue is that modern colloquial translations, because of their a priori [presumptive] preference for colloquialism, have given us a Bible that is less exalted than the original.” Unfortunately, Dr. Ryken does not accept the Hebrew and Greek texts that underlie the King James Version. He prefers the modern critical texts even though he speaks well of the King James Version as a translation. Many of the thoughts I have expressed in this section comes from two books: 1. Touch Not The Unclean Thing, by Dr. David Sorenson. 2. The Word of God in English, by Dr. Leland Ryken.


158

Chapter 21

“If you ask what they had before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Greek of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, where through the olive branches empty themselves into the gold [candlestick]. If truth be tried by these tongues, [Hebrew and Greek] then whence should a Translation be made, but out of them?” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 430)

Chapter 21

The Need for a Standard

S

omeone has wisely said, “A person who owns one faithful watch knows what time it is, but a person who has two watches is never quite sure.”

21.1 More than one standard is confusing.

If a person sets his watch by a reliable source and buys another watch, he now has two standards. Which watch is right? One is never quite certain which one is right. This is similar to the problem created by the many translations of the Bible. Because there are so many translations of the Bible, all claiming to be God’s Word, many people are not certain “what time it is.” They are not sure which translation truly is God’s Word. There was a time when just about everyone accepted one translation as the Bible for English readers. It was the King James Version. When we wanted to know what God had said, we went

to our Authorized Version and read there the words of God. Now there are many Bibles that all claim to be the words of God, but each one differs from the other. The reason we have so many translations is due largely to the amount of money book sellers can make by publishing catchy, clever, and trendy translations of God’s unchanging Word. Why do people who speak English need over 200 translations of Scripture when there are more than 3,000 ethnic languages in the world that do not have one word of Scripture? The money that could have paid for the publishing of God’s Word in 3,000 ethnic languages is not available because spoiled Christians used it to pay for trendy translations that tickled their ears. Such a situation reflects a serious sickness in the spiritual condition of those who require many translations of the Bible when thousands of language groups have no Bible at all.

The erosion of authority

An even more serious issue is the matter of authority. With so many different translations, which one of them is authoritative? They cannot all be authoritative because they each differ from the other. Because there are so many authorities, people think that the Bible has little or no authority at all. These modern translations have eroded the authority of God’s Word in the


The Need for a Standard English language. Because they all claim to be the Word of God, how does one know which one of them truly is God’s Word? The answer to this question is that each person decides which version is the correct one. If a particular translation does not agree with his prejudice, he can probably find a translation that does. God’s Word no longer has authority over him. Because he decides which translation will rule over him, he becomes the authority over God’s Word! When people accept two or more versions of the Bible as authorities, they are under little or no authority at all. The many translations have robbed the Word of God of its authority and left man’s intellect in charge of deciding whether he would have this version or that version to rule over him. Today the situation is similar to Judges 17:6, which says, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” This is the deplorable state of modern man. Each person becomes an authority unto himself, and confusion reigns.

There is only one authority.

Because of the controversy and confusion caused by so many English translations, the King James Version stands out more than ever as the one authoritative Bible in the English language. We do not accept the King James Version as our standard because of some sentimental connection to its Elizabethan English. We accept it as the only standard because it is the most accurate and reliable translation of the Hebrew and Greek originals in the English language. The King James Version is the only major translation of the Bible based entirely on the Received Hebrew and Greek texts. Almost all other English language translations since 1881 have followed modern scholarship and based their translations on Greek and Hebrew texts that came from the prejudiced, poisoned wells

159 of textual criticism. If you think this statement is too strong, read the stated purpose of textual criticism that follows. In 1809, theological liberal Joseph Steven Buckminster persuaded the officials at Harvard College to publish an American edition of Griesbach’s critical Greek New Testament because he saw its value in promoting modern textual criticism. In the opinion of Buckminster, “textual criticism was a most powerful weapon to be used against the supporters of verbal inspiration.” This quote is from The Ecclesiastical Text, by Theodore P. Letis, page 2. Textual critics began with this evil motivation, and they continue with it unto this very day. The Textus Receptus is the only Greek text of the New Testament that scholars have not subjected to the prejudiced presuppositions of modern textual criticism. Modern Greek scholars, using the criteria they set up themselves, have deleted words, phrases, entire verses, and entire passages from the original Greek text.

Examples of deletions

The words in the last part of Matthew 6:13 read, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Textual critics have deleted all of these words from the Greek texts. If a translator were to translate from the critical text, he would leave these words out of his translation. Colossians 1:14 reads, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Textual critics have deleted the words “through his blood” in the critical text. In Romans 8:1, modern textual critics delete the words “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” There are many other such deletions. The only text of the New Testament that has survived the mutilation of so-called textual scholars is the Textus Receptus Greek text. All the


160 other Greek texts have grown shorter and shorter over the years as scholars took their lead from German rationalism and deleted more and more of the Word of God. This deleting of more and more of the New Testament is not genuine scholarship. It is a device used by textual critics to undermine the Bible. Their declared motivation is to destroy people’s faith in the divine inspiration, preservation, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible. When Luke, Paul, and others wrote the books of the New Testament, these books became the precious possession of local churches. These churches recognized these writings as different from commonplace communications. They recognized the apostolic books and letters as the inspired Word of God. These books and letters were hand copied and passed around to other churches in the first, second, and third centuries. Of course, in the copying of these books and letters, there were small mistakes made in the copying. They were much like the typographical mistakes we make while typing. In addition, people used the copies so much that they wore them out. Constant use of the copies wore the words that were nearer the edge of the parchment off the page. Sometimes, especially in the first and second centuries, false teachers deliberately changed the text in an effort to support their false teachings. However, it was always a simple matter to correct an errant text by comparing it with the inerrant copies held in trust by faithful churches. This brought the errant copies back to the standard set by the original text. By doing this, the churches made sure their biblical texts were without error, and by this means, they have preserved the biblical text in its original form until this very day!

Identifying the correct text

This process continued down through the centuries. Faithful churches would decide the validity of the Greek text by consulting the cop-

Chapter 21 ies of other churches. Churches decided the validity of a particular textual variation by judging it to be in agreement with the majority of copies held in trust by the other churches. If one church had an erroneous copy, the six or seven valid copies kept in trust by other faithful churches soon corrected the erroneous copy.

The biblical basis for a textual history

Second Peter 3:15–16 reads, “Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” In these verses, Peter clearly considers the words of Paul on the same level as “the other scriptures.” Peter believed the words of Paul to be the inspired words of God. Peter wrote this in a time when there were those who did wrest the Scriptures—that is, those who twisted words in Paul’s letters and perverted them. The word wrest has the meaning “to put on the torture rack” referring to forcing the Scriptures to say what their torturers wanted them to say. This clearly shows that the early churches were on guard, and were aware of those who wanted to pervert their copies of the Scriptures. Therefore, they took great care to avoid the distorting of their Scriptures by false teachers.

The churches circulated Scriptures.

Colossians 4:16 reads, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”


The Need for a Standard This verse shows that there was a sharing of the copies of the Word of God from church to church. Because such a prominent leader as Peter considered the words of Paul as equal to the other scriptures and because Peter said that he knew about those who were wresting (twisting) the Scripture, this is clear evidence that the churches were taking great care to watch over the Scriptures entrusted to them. The early churches, led by the Holy Spirit, rightly concluded that the words of Paul were the inspired Word of God. They took every precaution to watch over these Scriptures by comparing them with faithful copies held in trust by other faithful churches. When Erasmus collated and printed the Greek New Testament in 1516, he disallowed the readings that varied from the majority of the manuscripts, and accepted the readings of the majority. The churches had used the same method to preserve God’s Word for more than a thousand years before Erasmus. By this simple but accurate method, the Holy Spirit, working through the churches watched over God’s Word to preserve its inspiration and inerrancy.

Karl Lachmann the rationalist

This process of preserving the pure Word of God through faithful churches continued without interruption until 1881 when Karl Lachmann, a German rationalist, began to apply to the New Testament Greek text the same criteria he used in editing texts of the Greek classics. Lachmann had studied such Greek classics as Homer’s Iliad. Lachmann tried to validate what Homer and other Greek authors had originally written. Over the years, people had thoroughly altered the Greek classics. They had made so many alterations that no one was sure what Homer had originally written. Lachmann wanted to know what Homer’s original text had been, so he developed rules of textual criticism whereby he

161 would sort out the original text of Homer’s Iliad from the many alterations of the text. Lachman got the bright idea that he should apply his rules of textual criticism to the Greek New Testament. He had set up a series of presuppositions and rules for arriving at the original text of the Greek classics that were hopelessly corrupted. He now began with these same presuppositions and rules to correct the Greek New Testament. He began with the primary presupposition that people had hopelessly corrupted the Greek New Testament manuscripts in the same way that people had hopelessly corrupted the manuscripts of the Greek classics. This was an obvious mistake. The careless copying of the Greek classics did not match the loving and reverent care given to the copying of the Word of God by faithful Christian scribes. The Greek classics were hopelessly corrupted, but this was not true of New Testament manuscripts. Extremely careful scribes took great pains to copy New Testament manuscripts. These scribes knew the exact number of words and letters that were in the original copies. Each time they made a new copy, they counted the words and letters to ensure that they had added nothing to the text nor deleted anything from it. In addition to this, faithful churches fervently guarded their precious copies of Scripture to protect them from changes made by heretical teachers.

The Greek New Testament

On the other hand, Desiderius Erasmus collected all the available manuscripts of the Greek New Testament books and decided which variant reading was the original one based on the reading in the majority. He followed the same method used by the churches through the centuries, namely, correcting a variant reading by the reading in the majority of the texts. The


162 Greek text collated by Erasmus acquired the title Textus Receptus. The words “Textus Receptus” are Latin words meaning “received” or “accepted text.” When Erasmus published this text, most of the reformed churches accepted it as the only valid text of the Greek New Testament. Even though Erasmus slightly revised the Textus Receptus text in later editions, no scholar spoke about rival texts that claimed to have better manuscripts. This all changed when Lachmann came along in 1881.

The tyranny of the experts

Following Lachmann’s lead, B. F. Westcott, and F. J. A. Hort produced the first critical text of the Greek New Testament in 1881. They based this critical edition almost entirely upon the same presuppositions used by Lachmann in his textual criticism of the Greek classics. They used most of Lachmann’s rules of textual criticism and concocted some of their own rules. They applied these rules to the Greek text of the New Testament as produced by Erasmus and came up with a different Greek New Testament based on their own rules of textual criticism. This was the point of departure from nearly 2,000 years of majority text rule. No longer were the majority of manuscripts the basis for recognizing the original reading. From now on, these selfappointed experts of textual criticism would deliver the Christian world from their ignorance and, by their expertise, deliver to the churches a purer text of the New Testament. Dr. Gresham Machen, one of the greatest Greek scholars in American history, called this kind of scholarship, “the tyranny of the experts.” –J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, page 108 Just before his death in 1892, Charles Spurgeon preached his final sermon at the Pastors College Conference near London, England. He entitled his sermon “The Greatest Fight in the World.”

Chapter 21 In that sermon, Spurgeon refers to textual critics as “correctors of Scripture.” Spurgeon said, “We have given up the Pope, for he has blundered often and terribly; but we shall not set up instead of him a horde of little popelings fresh from college. Are these correctors of Scripture infallible? Are we now to believe that infallibility is with learned men? Now, Farmer Smith, when you have read your Bible, and have enjoyed its precious promises, you will have to go down the street to ask the scholarly man at the parsonage whether this portion of the Scripture belongs to the inspired part of the Word, or whether it is of dubious authority. We shall gradually be so bedoubted and becriticized that only a few of the most profound will know what is Bible, and what is not, and they will dictate to all the rest of us. I have no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy: they will rob us of all that we hold most dear, and glory in the cruel deed. This same reign of terror we shall not endure. For we still believe that God revealeth himself rather to babes than to the wise and prudent, and we are fully assured that our own old English version of the Scriptures is sufficient for plain men for all purposes of life, salvation, and godliness. We do not despise learning, but we will never say of culture or criticism, ‘These be thy gods, O Israel!’” Dr. Machen had it right, and so did Charles Spurgeon. Scholars did not draw the water of textual criticism from the wells of salvation. A horde of little popelings got the water of textual criticism from the wells of infidelity, and by their assumed infallibility; they intended to dictate to us what verses in God’s Word are valid and what verses are not. After Westcott and Hort had opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box, all the evils of German rationalism began to tear at the Foundation of the Faith. This has continued until the present day in the forms of modern textual criticism. Today


The Need for a Standard the situation involves almost as many different texts of the Greek New Testament as there are scholars. Each scholar decides for himself what he will or will not accept as the Word of God. Consequently, each critical edition of the Greek New Testament becomes a little shorter than the one before it. If Satan were to have his way, this diminishing of the Greek text would continue until the modern textual critics deleted the entire Greek New Testament!

A thousand years without the experts

Until 1881, faithful churches accepted a single text of the New Testament, the one preserved by faithful churches in the majority of the manuscripts. There were no textual critic “experts” around for a very long time. Why do we all of a sudden need them in 1881? Since 1881 and the Westcott and Hort text, there has not been a Greek text of the New Testament accepted by all Christians. Since 1881, there has been controversy and confusion. One can see this confusion in the many modern translations that all claim to be the Word of God though they are all different from each other. Some say that the United Bible Society’s Greek text and the English translations of it are God’s Word. Others say that the Nestle Greek text and the English translations of it are God’s Word. Now it comes down to the tyranny of the experts. They urge us to depend on what the scholars say, but each scholar says something different. This leaves the King James Version standing like a lighthouse on a storm-swept shore, for it is the only widely used English translation of the New Testament that is based entirely upon the text that has been passed on to us by faithful churches, not “expert,” prejudiced scholars. It comes down to two choices: accept the text handed down by faithful churches for 2,000 years or accept the findings of modern textual

163 critics, even though no two of them fully agree with each other. If we go with the scholars, there is no text accepted by all of them. Confusion reigns. There is no standard. With no standard, we are like a ship at sea without a rudder. Since 1881, all the critical texts of the Greek New Testament become a little shorter than the one published before it. Westcott and Hort had a few hundred variant readings. Metzger’s edition has three to four thousand variant readings, many of which he has deleted from the text without even a footnote to indicate it was deleted. The modern critical texts are steadily becoming shorter and shorter. This is a clear indication that there is a snake in the woodpile somewhere!

The rules of modern textual criticism

These textual critics have rules they follow to decide if they will allow a word, phrase, sentence, or verse to remain in the text or remove it from Scripture. The rules that follow are from the book, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger of the United Bible Societies. One rule of modern textual criticism says: “In general, the more difficult reading is to be preferred, particularly when the sense appears on the surface to be erroneous, but on more mature consideration it proves itself to be correct.” This statement is vague. It begins with, “In general,” which means, “sometimes this rule applies and sometimes it does not apply.” Who decides when the rule applies and when it does not apply? On what basis is such a decision made? The scholars do not tell us. Then it says, “The more difficult reading.” Who decides when a reading is more difficult than another one and on what basis? Again,


164 they do not tell us. Then the rule says, “Particularly when the sense appears on the surface to be erroneous.” Who decides when this sense or that sense is on the surface and appears to be erroneous? As you would expect, the scholars do. Then it says in a question-begging statement, “on a more mature consideration it proves itself correct.” How does one know which consideration is the more mature one? Naturally, the same self-appointed scholars will tell you. This rule allows a textual critic to read the Greek New Testament variants and decide which reading is more difficult, which sense is a surface meaning, and which consideration is the mature one. Somehow, these experts are supposed to have a deeper knowledge that allows them to decide which words and verses of the Greek New Testament should be included or excluded from the text. They make their decisions to include or exclude words and verses from the Bible based on what the scholars think. It is no longer the Word judging them. Because of their self-appointed scholarship, they can now judge the Word. This is nothing more than the old firstcentury Gnosticism, which feeds on the pride of man in his own intellect and leads to the destruction of the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. Another rule of textual criticism says: “In general, the shorter reading is to be preferred.” If a textual variant is the longer reading, then choose the shorter textual variant as the most valid one. Who says so? The scholars do. In textual criticism, you can make up your own rules, follow them to your own prejudiced, predetermined conclusions, and impose them on the public as if it were the fruits of infallible scholarship.

Chapter 21 Another rule of textual criticism says: “That reading which involves verbal dissidence is usually to be preferred to one which is verbally concordant.” This vague language means that one should choose the variant reading that clashes most with the grammatical structure of the book rather than the reading that is most in harmony with its grammatical structure. This scholarly gobbledygook allows each scholar to choose whatever verses he wants to leave in the text or delete from the text. Following these vague rules of textual criticism is not the right way to go about deciding the text of the Holy Scriptures. The textual critic is flying in the face of a thousand years of history when faithful Christian churches were the ones who preserved the text of the New Testament, not scholars. For nearly 2,000 years, the churches never applied these vague rules of textual criticism to determine what the correct reading of Scripture should be. Over the years of the first century, the apostles sent various New Testament manuscripts to various churches. These churches cherished their New Testament manuscripts and faithfully guarded their accuracy. A thousand years later, the scholars came along and said, “The New Testament text is as corrupted as the Greek classics. In addition, you cannot determine the correct reading based on the majority of the manuscripts. You must now determine the correct reading on the basis of scholarly principles.” Therefore, it comes down to accepting what the scholars say or accepting what the majority of the manuscripts say.

No two Greek scholars agree.

So now, the correct reading among variants is up for grabs. One Greek scholar says one reading is right, while another says it is not. There


The Need for a Standard is confusion in textual criticism much like the uncertainties of modern art. That is how the situation came to be, but that is not how it should be. God is not the author of confusion. He used holy men whom he controlled by the Holy Spirit to write inspired, inerrant Scriptures (See First Corinthians 14:33 and Second Peter 1:21). Moreover, after God inspired His Word, He did not abandon it, leaving it up to scholars to protect it. He used faithful churches to watch over the transmission of the Scriptures from one generation to the next. It is true that during the process of transmitting the Scripture from worn out copies to new copies, copyists made mistakes in their copying. However, they always checked the local manuscripts with other manuscripts held by faithful churches in other places. This process ensured that the manuscripts transmitted from church to church were free from errors. God not only took great care to inspire men to write the Scriptures, He also took great care to preserve those Scriptures by using faithful churches who carefully watched over them. When God sent Jesus into the world as the living Word, He did not abandon Him. God preserved His life until it was time for Him to die on the cross. Even then, He raised Him from the dead to triumph over all His enemies. Similarly, God did not send His written Word into the world and abandon it. He watched over His written Word to preserve it just as He preserved His Son, the living Word. Without the preservation of Scripture, the inspiration of Scripture would be worthless. God guarded His Word through faithful churches. These churches carefully checked their copies of manuscripts with those of other churches. The result is that today there are more than 5,000 manuscripts of various books of the Greek New Testament and some complete New Testaments, all of which, in the

165 majority of the manuscripts, agree. If we need to decide what the right text is, we can go by what the reading is in the majority of the existing manuscripts. Because of the extreme care taken by the copyists and the reverent care of faithful churches over their Scriptures, God has preserved a text in the majority of manuscripts that is for all practical purposes the same as the original autographs of the Greek New Testament!

Which books are canonical

The word canon comes from the Greek word kanwn that means “a reed,” or “rod.” It came to mean “a ruler” or “a standard” by which the many books claiming divine inspiration were judged as canonical (accepted as Scripture) or non-canonical (rejected as Scripture). In the year A.D. 397, churches formally confirmed which books they believed should be in the New Testament Canon. However, faithful churches had decided long before this which books were canonical (authentic Scripture). The churches had rejected many other books as not being Scripture. Those rejected books were the unauthenticated books that claimed to have a special revelation of God’s truth. The churches rejected these apocryphal (mythical) books because the Holy Spirit bore witness in their spirit that the apocryphal books had no marks of divine inspiration in them. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the churches decided the issue of which books they would accept as a part of Scripture and which books they would not. Therefore, since God, through the churches, took great care to determine which books should go into the New Testament, it logically follows that He preserved, through faithful churches, which words should go into that New Testament. Since we know that the churches preserved the books of the New Testament, we also know that God preserved the words in each book of the


166 New Testament. God preserved every word of the New Testament by preserving a large number of manuscripts that, due to copying and recopying, had a few mistakes in them. God used the churches to correct these few mistakes by comparing the majority of correct manuscripts with the manuscripts that had a few mistakes in them, and correcting the mistaken copies. Geisler and Nix said, “At first, the great multitude of variants would seem to be a liability to the integrity of the Bible text. However, just the contrary is true, for the larger number of variants supplies at the same time the means of checking on those variants. As strange as it may appear, the corruption of the text provides the means for its own correction” –Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, page 474

The majority of variants agree.

At the scene of a car accident, nine people witness it and report that it happened in a certain way. However, one person says it happened a different way. Usually, judges will accept the account given by the nine as the true one. This is especially true when the witnesses are reliable and have no reason to falsify the facts. The same thing is true of over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that exist today. They are reliable. Faithful churches had no reason to falsify the facts. The overwhelming majority of these manuscripts agree as to what a variant reading should be. Christian churches for over 1,000 years have accepted this evidence as final. So should we today.

What did Jesus say?

More important than these reasons is the word of the Lord Jesus on the matter. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” In this verse, Jesus sanctions every word

Chapter 21 of Scripture. He says that every word of Scripture “proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” not only out of men’s minds. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” He declared that His words would not pass away. We have His promise on it. We may choose to believe Jesus or the textual critic. The textual critic begins with the presupposition that copyists hopelessly corrupted the New Testament, but in Luke 16:17 Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” Jesus was speaking about the Old Testament, but what He said about the Old Testament is equally applicable to the New Testament because He is the Author of both Testaments. In these verses, Jesus declares that it is easier to destroy heaven and earth than it is to destroy the smallest part of a letter of Scripture. The “jot” refers to the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, called a Yodh (y). The “tittle” is a curve used to distinguish one letter of the Hebrew alphabet from another letter of similar appearance. Jesus said that even the smallest part of a letter would not be lost. His argument is that if God preserved the smallest parts of the words in Scripture (the jots and the tittles) then certainly He would preserve the larger parts (the words, the verses, and the books of Scripture). In John 10:35, Jesus bases His argument on a single letter in a word. His argument depends on the difference between the word θεος (God) and the word θεοι (gods). The difference is whether the last letter is the consonant sigma ς or the vowel iota, ι. The suffix -ς indicates the word is singular, meaning “God.” The suffix -ι indicates the word is plural, meaning “gods.” The Lord based His argument on the single vowel ι. This is proof that Jesus believed that God had not only preserved the words of Scripture without error, He believed that God had also preserved the let-


The Need for a Standard ters of Scripture without error. Because Jesus bases an argument on a single letter in Scripture, and He says that no one can destroy even the smallest part of a letter, this proves that Jesus had complete confidence in the preservation of the words, letters, and smallest parts of letters in Scripture.

Believe the critics or Jesus.

One can accept the confused thinking of scholars or the clear words of Jesus. Jesus said that God would preserve His Word, and that is exactly what has happened. God not only inspired holy men to write His Word, He used faithful churches to preserve that Word in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts from that time even unto the present day. Because God guided the churches to base their decisions on the majority of manuscripts preserved by the churches, we have God’s inerrant Word in the Textus Receptus Greek text for the New Testament and the Masoretic Hebrew text for the Old Testament. Since 1881, much of Christendom has followed Westcott and Hort into the errors of modern textual criticism. Most of the major denominations, mission boards, Bible institutes, colleges, and Bible Societies have also fallen into the same errors of modern textual criticism. Every Christian should stand with those faithful churches that have preserved God’s Word as transmitted to us in the Greek and He-

167 brew manuscripts that were carefully guarded down through the centuries until the present day. Every Christian should also stand on the Word of God in the King James Version because it is the only translation in the English language that is free from the false presuppositions of modern textual criticism. Textual criticism has become just another expression of modern Gnosticism. There is no reason for Christians to move into the Gnostic camp, where it is a matter of one intellectual opinion versus another. We must not follow the scholar’s opinions. If we do, we will be shifting constantly and every man will be doing what is right in his own eyes. This is the deplorable state of modern man.

The conclusion of the matter

God has preserved His Word through the centuries to our present day. God used His faithful churches to preserve thousands of carefully guarded Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible. It is a simple matter of reading the manuscripts and finding what is the agreed upon reading in the majority. We accept it on that basis. God caused faithful churches to use this accurate method to preserve these manuscripts and keep them pure through the centuries unto the present time. Therefore, we can know beyond a shadow of doubt that we have the Scriptures down to the very word, to the very letter, and to the smallest part of a letter. The Lord Jesus said we would. Whom do you believe?


168

Chapter 22

“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Chapter 22

An Introduction to Semantics

B

ecause meaning is the primary part of language that is translatable from one language to another, any study of the principles of Bible translation should have an introduction to semantics (the meaning of words). I use the word introduction because this book will not exhaust all that one needs to know about semantics. Therefore, I am dividing the next few chapters into two subjects. The first subject is a study of semantics (word meaning) with applications made to Bible translation principles. The second subject is a study of Bible translation problems with applications made to translating the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

Why should Bible translators study semantics?

Every missionary must struggle with linguistic and cultural barriers if he is to do his work successfully. Along with learning the language, the missionary must learn the culture of the people in the context of their language. One can only understand the meaning of words in a particular language in terms of the cultural context in which people speak those words. A study of meaning will help missionaries understand the various ways words are used and what they mean in their linguistic and cultural contexts. This is especially true where the missionary is dealing with linguistic and cultural contexts that are radically different from his own. The

access available to a missionary for probing into the thinking of people in another language and culture is very limited and difficult to achieve. The result, all too often, is misunderstanding by the missionary who is confused as he studies the people’s language and culture. Likewise, the people are confused as they try to understand the missionary’s message. A missionary who does not understand the language and the culture of the people is like a blindfolded man trying to find out what is wrong with the engine in his car. He will have a very difficult time repairing an engine he cannot see and does not understand. In Mark 12:30, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind.” This means that we should diligently apply our minds to study subjects that will help us do a better work for Christ. Some would say, “Just let the Spirit lead,” but all too often “letting the Spirit lead” is just a disguise for a lack of disciplined hard work. If one truly loves the Lord with all his heart, he will love the Lord with a disciplined mind as well. During the twenty years I lived among the Sinasina people in Papua New Guinea, I tested and applied each of the semantic principles I present in this book. If a missionary understands these semantic principles and applies them, they will make his work a lot less frustrating and a lot more effective.


An Introduction to Semantics

Understanding words in the way intended by the speaker

Someone estimated that an English-speaking person listening to the message of another English-speaking person understands correctly less than 80% of what the other person attempted to communicate to him. Even among literate people who speak the same language and have a common culture, people understand less than 80% of what other people say to them. This percentage drops to 50% or less when communication takes place between people of a different language and culture. For this reason, an understanding of some facts about languages and the basic elements of the communication process will be helpful to missionaries.

Some facts about language

1. There are no primitive languages.

Some well-meaning missionaries have said that it is not possible to translate the Bible into many of the world’s languages because those languages are not complex enough for missionaries to translate the Scriptures into them. They have mistakenly thought that the faulty use of a language by a missionary is the measure of the capability of the language. Just because a missionary did not study a language well enough to discover all of its complexities is no indication that the language is not complex enough for a missionary to translate Scriptures into it. The fault lies not in the language, but in the missionary’s inadequate mastery of the language. Someone has well said, “God don’t make no junk” [sic]. This statement is as true of God’s creation of human language as it is of God’s creation of people. God did not create languages that are inadequate to express complex meaning. The speakers of any language on earth can use their language to say whatever they need to say. Missionaries often make a statement like, “The word love does not occur in this language.” What they should say is that they have not yet discovered or developed a word that means

169 “love” in that language. To say that there is no word for a particular concept in a language is like saying that there are no rabbits on a certain island. How can one be sure there are no rabbits on the island? If he has diligently searched every inch of the island, and found no rabbits, then he may conclude there are no rabbits on the island. In a similar way, one cannot say that a language does not have words for this or that concept unless he has exhausted all that there is to know about that language. A missionary who talks as if the language he is studying is deficient of vocabulary is showing, not the supposed deficiency of the language, but his own ignorance of the language. God did not create human beings with a primitive language of just a few grunts and squawks. Every diligently studied language has always proven to be adequate for the people who use it to say whatever they need to say. If a native speaker of a language of the jungle sees an airplane for the first time, he is able to express this new experience in his own language. He has the inborn capacity to develop ways for describing new experiences precisely. He received this inborn capability from the first man, Adam, who gave a name to every living creature. Adam’s naming of every creature was a great linguistic achievement! Genesis 2:19 says, “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” God did not create languages with a narrow range of meanings that limit the ability of the speaker to express only primitive concepts. No human language, anywhere on earth, is in any sense primitive. There is no such thing as an evolution of language, just as there is no such thing as biological evolution. Language is an inborn part of human experience. Many of the languages that some linguists at first thought were primitive proved to be among the most complex languages in the world.


170 The Zulu language spoken in South Africa is one of the most precise languages in the world. All word roots in Zulu must have a prefix that marks the word as belonging to one of several word classes. Zulu speakers classify words as animate, inanimate, concrete, mass, individual, or collective. This results in Zulu having about twenty-three kinds of nouns and a complicated verb system as well. During World War II, the Comanche Code Talkers used a very complicated code to transmit information from one part of the battlefield to another. This code was so complicated that the Germans were never able to break it. The code they used was the Comanche language.

Chapter 22 2. Language and culture are inseparable.

An ethnic language speaker expresses meaning in terms of the cultural context in which he lives, and he expresses his ethnic culture in terms of the language system he has learned. The language and culture of a people are co-dependent. People use their language to express their culture and their culture determines the meaning of words they use in their language. For example, the Sinasina people use a sentence meaning, “He pays a bride price.” Translated literally, this sentence means, “He puts a stone axe on a rain cape.” In the past, the major part of a bride price was a large stone axe. The blade of the axe was made of black volcanic glass and was very valuable. It took many months of work to rub the blade against another stone to make the axe blade smooth and sharp.

22.1 Comanche Code Talkers, Fort Benning, Georgia, 1941

Because there is no such thing as a primitive language, the missionary will not need to waste time and effort forcing his own grammatical patterns onto the native people’s language to make up for some supposed deficiency in their language. The language of the native people can express any meaning any other language can express. However, the missionary must carefully study the grammar of the language to discover all of the grammatical features of the language. If he does, he is in a good position to take advantage of those grammatical features to express the meanings of New Testament words. If one is to know the full capability of the words as used by the ethnic people, one must learn the culture of the people as well.

22.2 A stone axe was the major part of a bride price.

In recent years, the people have acquired steel axes and large pieces of plastic. Because they now have steel axes and pieces of plastic for rain capes, stone axes and rain capes made of pandanus tree leaves have disappeared from Sinasina culture. Even though stone axes and much of the old material culture has disappeared, the material culture of the past still determines the words used in the phrase “He pays a bride price,”


An Introduction to Semantics which literally means, “He places a stone axe on the rain cape.”

22.3 Sinasina women use their rain capes. On a rainy day, women use their rain capes to keep themselves and their sweet potatoes dry.

Therefore, the words one will use in his translation will have meaning only in terms of the cultural context in which those words are used. To learn the meaning of ethnic-language words, one will have to discover how people use those words in a particular cultural context and how people respond to those words in that context. This will reveal the meaning of the words as used by the ethnic people. The missionary must know how the ethnic people understand the words he chooses from their language to express his message. He must be sure the ethnic people understand his words in the way he intends for them to be understood. After that, he will be able to use the ethnic language vocabulary correctly in his translation. It is impossible to claim that one has learned a language if one has not painstakingly studied the language and culture of the people to find out what they mean by the words they use in various cultural contexts.

3. There are no perfect languages.

No language has grammatical constructions for all the possible verb tenses that a language

171 could express. All languages have strengths and weaknesses. One language may have greater capability for expressing a certain concept, while another language may be weak in that area but strong in some other capabilities of expression. No language has all the grammatical constructions that could occur in other languages. For example, the English language has no word to express the difference between “we” (myself, including you) and “we” (myself, but excluding you). When a person says, “We will eat dinner now,” it is not completely clear if the speaker means to include other persons present or exclude other persons present from eating dinner with him. Many languages have exact words that express the difference between “we” (myself, including you) or the meaning “we” (myself, but excluding you). Bible translators should not force English grammatical structure or even New Testament Greek grammatical structure onto an ethnic language by making it conform to a supposedly superior language. Neither English nor Koine Greek is a perfect language. For example, the Koine Greek language uses prepositions in an indefinite way. The Greek preposition en can be translated as “in,” “within,” “on,” “at,” “by,” “among,” etc. Many ethnic languages have a more exact way for expressing such words. The Sinasina word igal means “inside,” and that is the only thing it means. Other Sinasina words can express the meanings “within,” “on,” “at,” “by” and “among.” Ethnic languages will have grammatical features that will enable a missionary to express meanings just as exactly as he could if he were using the Greek language. There is no need for a missionary to reconstruct the ethnic language in order to make it conform to Greek or English.

4. Every language can express any meaning that any other language can express.

In years past, the Sinasina people used their own words to describe a twin-engine airplane.


172 They had never seen one before 1945. Upon seeing one, they generated an equivalent meaning in their own language by saying, “The sky-animal (bird) attaches two noses (two engines).” They know that this precisely means, “The airplane has two engines.” The translator does not need to borrow words excessively from English or the national language in order to express the nearest formal equivalent of New Testament words in an ethnic language. Any meaning that an English speaker or a national language speaker can express, an ethnic language speaker can express the same meaning just as precisely. One should disregard the myth that one language is somehow superior to another.

5. Borrowed words are a part of all languages.

No language is 100% pure in the sense that it uses no words or grammatical constructions from other languages. Nearly 50% of English language vocabulary was originally not English. English language speakers have borrowed thousands of words from other languages. “Borrowed” is actually a misnomer. We never give them back. They are our words now. We may think the word chocolate is surely an English word. In fact, it is an Aztec word. Such a common English word as hamburger is a German word. The word garage is a French word, and the word thug is a Hindustani word. The word atoll comes from a language spoken in the Maldive Islands off the southern coast of India. It is legitimate for a translator to use borrowed words in Bible translation, but the translator should use caution in using them. There should not be an excessive use of borrowed words. All people borrow words, but one should be sure the people themselves have borrowed the words. It should not be just the bright idea of the missionary. He should check any borrowed word to find out if it means what he intends it to mean. The meaning of a borrowed word can

Chapter 22 only be identified by the way native speakers use the word, not by how English or the national language people use it. In Venezuela, the Spanish word santo means “holy,” but to most ethnic peoples it means “the images that line the walls of the Catholic Church.” Therefore, one must not take for granted that a word borrowed from the national language will mean the same thing in the ethnic language.

6. Every language has different grammatical features.

Just as the meanings of words in a particular language are distinct to that language, so also the grammatical features of a particular language are distinct to that language. New Testament Greek grammar uses passive constructions. For example, Matthew 5:4 says, “They shall be comforted.” Many ethnic languages do not have a passive grammatical structure. Instead of a passive voice, many ethnic languages use the active voice. In the active voice, the subject and object of the verb is obligatory. When the subject and object are obligatory, it will be necessary to have a subject word and an object word. Instead of saying, “They shall be comforted,” we would have to say, “God shall comfort them.” One could invent some form of a passive voice in the ethnic language and refuse to supply the object in the sentence, but it would only cause misunderstanding and discouragement to native speakers who had to listen to the missionary speak their language in a very distorted way. A Bible translator will have to discover the distinctive grammatical features of the ethnic language before he can take full advantage of them for his translation. Any language will have grammatical features available to it to express any meaning desired. In many cases there will be no grammar books written for him. He must discover how the grammar of the language communicates meaning. If the translator does not discover or fully understand a particular gram-


An Introduction to Semantics matical feature of the language, he has one less weapon in his grammatical armory for expressing the meanings of biblical words.

7. There are no total synonyms within languages or between languages.

People’s experiences with words differ widely; therefore, the meanings they associate with those words also differ widely. Total synonyms are not consistent with the law of language efficiency. If two words were to mean exactly the same thing, one of the words would be unnecessary. To a Roman Catholic the word Catholic means the Roman Catholic Church ruled by the Pope in Rome. However, to some people the word Catholic means simply the church made up of Christians from all over the world. The words dog and canine both refer to a four-legged animal, but the meaning of each word is a little different. Even the word dog means different things to different people. The meaning one has for the word dog depends on what one’s experience with dogs has been. If a person has had pleasant experiences with dogs, the word dog means a pleasant thing to him. If a dog bit a person, the word dog means a fearful thing to that person. The responses each of the two people make upon hearing the word dog will be different. The word dog has the same referential meaning to both people, but the connotative meaning is different for each person. Since there are no complete synonyms within the same language, then certainly one should not expect to find complete synonyms between different languages. This is especially true when the cultures of the two languages are entirely different. Realizing this should deliver the translator from trying to translate by matching a word in the Bible with a 100% formal equivalent word in the ethnic language. This does not mean that one does not strive for 100% formal equivalency. He should. However, in many instances one must be satisfied with the near-

173 est formal equivalent because that is the only equivalent available at the time.

8. All languages have vocabulary focus.

People use words to talk about what is important to their survival. Naturally, they will develop a vocabulary about those things that are important to them in the environment in which they live. On the other hand, they will develop fewer words for things of secondary importance. The Yupik Eskimo language has eight words for “snow.” The Yupik people have a certain kind of snow that is best for melting to make drinking water. They have another kind of snow that is for making igloos. Other words for “snow” are particular kinds of snow. They have a well-developed vocabulary for snow, but they do not have a word meaning “crocodile.” Crocodiles do not exist in their environment so they have no need for that word. The Iwam people on the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea have many words pertaining to crocodiles, but they do not need a word for snow. This does not mean that they cannot develop a word to mean “snow.” They could talk about snow if they needed to talk about it. Speakers of any language will focus their vocabulary on words that are important in the environment in which they live. However, a particular language speaker can expand his vocabulary to include new words that refer to new experiences that come to him from outside his culture. When he encounters new things that are not usually a part of his local environment, he can find a way to talk about them. Language focus indicates that a translator can concentrate on vocabulary in the language that will be useful for translating biblical words. He need not occupy himself with exhausting the entire vocabulary of a language. That would take a lifetime and still would not be complete. Instead, he should concentrate on words that are useful to him for translating Bible words. For example, it would not be critical for a Bible


174

Chapter 22

translator of the Sinasina language to learn the 200 names for 200 varieties of sweet potatoes.

Six elements of communication

To understand some of the problems involved in the process of Bible translation, it is helpful to understand some of the basic elements in any communication between two people. The basic elements of the communication process are as follows: 1. The Source of a Message 2. The Message given 3. The Receiver of the Message 4. The Feedback between the Source and Receiver 5. The Cultural Context of the Source 6. The Cultural Context of the Receiver

Symbolizing the process:

S = Source of Message M = Message R = Receiver of Message F = Feedback CC = Culture Context We can picture the communication process that takes place between two people by the following illustration.

S Source Culture Context

M F

R Receiver Culture Context

22.4 Source–Message–Receiver Feedback Source Culture Context–Receiver Culture Context

The circle symbolizes the culture of the Source who encodes his Message in terms of his culture. The square symbolizes the culture of the Receiver who decodes the Message of

the Source in terms of his own Culture Context. The word Feedback represents the Receiver’s response to the Message of the Source. He responds in terms of his own Culture Context. When Feedback comes from the Receiver back to the Source, the Source will also interpret the Receiver’s Feedback in terms of his own Culture Context. The Source is the one who speaks to a person. The one spoken to is the Receiver. The Message comes from the Source. The Receiver receives the message and sends Feedback to the Source. If we add the elements of Feedback (F) and Cultural Context (CC), we can illustrate this communication between two people as follows.

Applications of the communication process

As the Source of the Message, missionaries will be communicating with a Receiver of their message through two Culture Contexts: his own and that of the Receiver. M

S

Culture Context

Culture Context

R

F 22.5 Communicating through two cultural contexts

The illustration above would imply that the culture bias of the missionary could modify the original Message and thus a corruption of the original Message could occur. Jewish people wrote the original Message in a Semitic culture context. The Culture Context of the missionary is not a Semitic one. In addition, the missionary lives many years later from the time when Jewish authors wrote the original Message. Therefore, the possibility that his own Culture Context could distort the original Message is an ever-present reality.


An Introduction to Semantics The illustration also implies that the culture bias of the Receiver could also modify the original Message as given in the Scriptures. Just because the missionary understands the original Message clearly, that is no guarantee that the Receiver will understand the Message in the same way the missionary understands it. The process of communication as symbolized above would imply that there must be a change in the form of the Message if the Receiver is to understand the meaning of the Message in the way intended by the Source. If the Receiver is to understand correctly, what the Source meant by the Message he presented, the Source must change the form of his speech sounds (phones) to that of the Receiver’s speech sounds (phones). The source must also change the form of his grammar (morphology-syntax) to that of the Receiver’s grammar (morphology-syntax). These symbols of the communication process also imply that it is important for the Source to check the Feedback that comes from the Receiver to see if the Receiver understands the Message correctly. The Receiver will always receive some kind of Message when spoken to by the Source. However, the question is, will the Receiver understand the Message of the Source in the way the Source intended the Receiver to understand it? Feedback that comes from the Receiver to the Source will enable the Source to know if the Receiver understood his Message correctly. If the Receiver does not understand the Message of the Source correctly, the Source of the Message can make adjustments in the form of his Message to help the Receiver correctly understand the Message of the Source. These symbols also imply that the Source should understand the importance of being receiver-oriented. The Source must put his Message into words that the Receiver understands in the same way the Source does. If the Source uses words that he understands correctly, but

175 the Receiver understands a different meaning for the same words, confusion results. This illustration also implies that the Source must understand the Culture Context of the Receiver. If the Source is to know whether the Receiver understands his words as intended, the Source must understand the Culture Context of the Receiver. The Culture Context of the Receiver determines the meaning of the words used in his culture. The Source must use words the Receiver understands in the same way the Source does. If he does not, the Receiver will misunderstand what the Source intended to say. This also indicates that a Receiver will understand a message given by a Source in terms of his own Culture Context and not in terms of the Culture Context of the Source. The Source must not take it for granted that the Receiver will understand his words in the same way he intended them. It is not enough for the Source to know the correct meaning of his words. The Source must also know what meaning is stimulated in the mind of the Receiver by the words the Source uses. The Source must not interpret the feedback from the Receiver in terms of the Source’s Culture Context. The Source must understand the feedback coming from the Receiver in terms of the Receiver’s Culture Context. For example, a patrol officer urged a Sinasina man to help him arrest a thief. The Sinasina man looked at the patrol officer and gave a short, nervous laugh. The patrol officer understood this to mean the Sinasina man was being disrespectful. He promptly hit the Sinasina man in the mouth, splitting his lip. However, the incident involved a misunderstanding of feedback. It is normal for Sinasina people to react to a tense situation with a short nervous laugh. This man was not being disrespectful of the patrol officer who interpreted feedback


176 from the Sinasina man in terms of his own culture context.

Conclusion

All of these elements of the communication process are important to our understanding of the principles of Bible translation. Bible translation is similar to any communication between two people. When a missionary preaches the gospel to people, he has a Message that he wants them to understand. Preaching the gospel in a foreign language is somewhat like very rapid Bible translating. When one uses oral speech instead of written speech, one must choose words instantly. The missionary hopes he is choosing foreign language words that are communicating the nearest formal equivalent meaning of the words he is speaking to the Receiver. However, because of the rapid choice of words, it is unlikely that this will happen all the time. This is also the case when using an interpreter. The interpreter must make quick choices of words. Unless one makes careful preparation ahead of time, the interpreter may choose words that mean something other than what the Source intended. However, in the process of written Bible translating, one can slowly choose the words needed to communicate the intended meaning of the words used in the Bible. After that, one can “freeze� the Message in a written form that can be read by the Receiver. The first step in Bible translating is to understand the Message of the Bible clearly, without corrupting the Message by our own cultural and

Chapter 22 theological biases. In order to do this we must learn how to carefully exegete the meaning of the Bible verses we want to translate. All too often, we assume we know the meaning of a verse. Actually, we may not have studied the verse carefully enough to find out the meaning of the verse as was intended by the original Source. The next step involves the Source putting the biblical Message into a written form that the Receiver can read and understand in the way intended by the original Source. In order to do this, the Source must thoroughly understand the Culture Context of the people into whose language he is translating. He must know what the words he uses mean in the Culture Context of the people. If he fails to learn this, he will be using words that most likely will not express the Message intended by the author of the book of the Bible he is attempting to translate.

22.6 Each person sees the light differently.


Semantics I

177

The Sinasina people in Papua New Guinea call a white man a red man, and they call a black man a red black man. Therefore, a red man is equal to a white man, and a black man is equal to a white black man. Got that?

Chapter 23

Semantics I

T

he preceding study of the communication process should help us understand the following facts.

Semantics facts

1. Meaning is an event that occurs. It is not a thing that exists in a particular location in the brain.

When one person speaks to another person, the speaker (Source) puts the thoughts of his mind into words by means of his nervous system, including his brain and speech organs. The sounds uttered by the Source travel through the air as sound waves.

The sound waves cause a membrane of fibrous tissue to vibrate inside the ear of the Receiver. These vibrations send a Message to the brain of the Receiver. The brain of the Receiver distinguishes the vibrations and places word meanings on each set of distinct vibrations. The words spoken by the Source do not cause his meaning to occur in the mind of the Receiver. His words can only stimulate the brain of the Receiver, causing a Message to occur in the Receiver’s mind. Because the Receiver’s own mind will interpret the Message of the Source, the Receiver may not understand the Message of the Source correctly.

Chart 16: Meaning is an event. A thought occurs in the mind of the Source.

The brain transmits the thought to the speech muscles.

The speech muscles produce sound waves.

The eardrum receives the soundwaves that cause the eardrums to vibrate.

The eardrum vibrations send a stimulus to the brain of the Receiver. A though occurs in the mind of the Receiver.


178 If I were to say to you, “While I was in the Boot Heel area of Missouri, I worked on a farm and repaired the tin roof on the barn.” Would you understand my words in the same way I understand them? Most likely, the meaning you understand by these words will not be the same as I intend you to understand them. You may not know what the Boot Heel area of Missouri is like. You would not know that the land is flat. You may be thinking of the farms you have seen in Vermont or Pennsylvania. If so, your meaning for my words would not be the same meaning I intended you to understand. The color of the barn may occur to you as red, but in the Boot Heel area, barns are made of gray, unpainted Cypress wood. Because the meanings for words occur in the minds of both the Source and the Receiver, those meanings may not be the same. Each person will attach meanings to words in terms of the experience he had with those words. A French proverb says, “The spoken word belongs half to the one who speaks and half to the one who hears.” Meaning occurs in the mind of the Receiver in terms of his own experience. When people of another language read our translation, the meanings that the words signal to them will be in terms of their own culture, not in terms of the biblical culture.

2. Meaning occurs in response to a stimulus.

The meanings people have for words are stored in their brains. We do not know exactly how this storage system works. We do know that the brain stores meanings for all the events a person experiences. However, these meanings only occur when a stimulus (a spoken or written word) causes them to occur in the thinking processes of the brain. In the Sinasina language, there is a word, kware, which I often heard. I first heard it used when the speaker was talking about an event that took place a long time in the past. There-

Chapter 23 fore, I understood the meaning of the word kware to mean “a long time in the past.” I heard people say, “Kware koma Yani Geluwa kamin ya gaba elyomue.” This Sinasina sentence means, “A long time in the past, the Sun-Yani and the Moon-Geluwa made the earth” The word kware clearly seemed to mean “a long time in the past.” Then one day I asked a man named Bare if Milan had left to go to town, and he replied, “Kware pumue.” Without ever having heard the word kware in this new context, I knew exactly what he meant. He said, literally, “A long time in the past he went,” but I knew intuitively that he did not mean “A long time in the past,” but that he meant, “He has already gone.” The moment I heard the word kware used in this new context, my brain connected the former experiences I had with this word and compared it to the present context, and I knew exactly what the word meant even though I had never heard the word used this way before. My mind had already stored a meaning for the word kware but in the context of Bare’s reply, it clearly meant “already.” The new meaning for this word occurred in my mind based on my prior experience with the word kware that had already been stored in my brain. The second meaning “already,” was not stored in my mind, but it occurred in my mind when I experienced the new situation in which I heard the word kware. The new meaning was something that occurred in my brain rather than something that was stored in a particular location in my brain. Because meaning occurs in the brain rather than exists in a location in the brain, one should think of meaning in terms of all the situations in which people use a word in various culture contexts. One should learn to understand the meaning of a word in terms of how people use that word in culture events and how people respond to that word in the context of those events. These events, and the responses people make


Semantics I to them, are the contexts that surround words. These contexts will indicate the various meanings of a word. Therefore, the translator must understand the meaning of the people’s words in terms of the culture situations in which they use those words and how people respond to them in their own cultural settings. When a translator knows this, he can use the people’s words correctly and be able to predict what the words will mean to the people when they read them in his Bible translation.

3. One cannot tell another person the meaning of one’s words.

A missionary cannot tell people the meaning of his words. He can only transmit verbal stimuli by which the people will tell themselves the meaning of his words in terms of their own culture experience. When the Source speaks to a Receiver, it is impossible to transmit meaning to the Receiver’s mind. A Source can only transmit verbal stimuli that are produced by his nervous system and speech organs. The nervous system and speech organs of the Source put his thoughts into audible word symbols. These audible word symbols carried on the air as sound waves stimulate the brain of the Receiver, who will place his own meaning on the words he hears. When a Source has spoken words that stimulate his intended meaning in the mind of the Receiver, the Receiver understands the message of the Source correctly. If I were to say to you, “As the farmer plowed the field, he spoke to the mule saying, ‘Gee!’ and ‘Haw!’” Would you know what I meant by the words gee and haw? I would be transmitting audible, verbal stimuli that would travel through the air on sound waves to your brain. This would stimulate a meaning of some kind in your mind. However, if you had never seen a man using a mule-drawn plow, you may not know what the words gee and haw mean. I would be able to transmit stimuli to your ears by means of sound waves, but you would have received

179 these stimuli in your mind and placed a meaning on them according to your own experience. Therefore, I have not transmitted the meanings of the words I have in my mind to your mind. I have only transmitted stimuli to your mind. Your mind will receive these stimuli, and meaning will occur in your mind in terms of your own experience. Even if you had no experience with the words gee and haw and you are not sure what the two words mean, your mind will not stay blank. It will attach some kind of meaning to these two words even if you have never heard them before. In this respect, one cannot tell another person a story. One can only transmit stimuli to a receiver’s brain by which he tells himself a story in terms of the experiences that are stored in his own mind. This should make us aware of some of the reasons why people do not understand the words we speak in the way we intend for them to be understood. They are only receiving stimuli from us, and their own mind is placing a meaning on the stimuli they receive. The people who read our Bible translation will receive stimuli from the printed words on the page. The meanings they actually understand by these words will take place in their own minds in terms of their own experiences.

4. A person tells himself the meaning of words in terms of his own culture.

One can observe this fact if he were to go to Australia and stand before a group of people and say the word bum. He would notice that the people in the audience upon hearing this word became uncomfortable. In my understanding, a bum is a person who rides boxcars and does not have a job. To an Australian the word bum is a vulgar term referring to the buttocks. Australians refer to a person who rides boxcars and does not have job as a “swag.” They do not call him a “bum.” The translator must know the language and culture of the people well enough to predict


180 how the people who read his words will understand them. If he does not know how the people will understand his words, he may embarrass himself and cause misunderstandings.

5. Languages use different grammatical structures to communicate equivalent meanings.

Some languages show the receiver of the action of the verb by the syntactical position of the word in a sentence. In English we say, “John hit Bill.” We know that Bill was the receiver of the action of the verb because, in English, the object of the verb usually occurs after the verb. The English sentence order is subject (John), then verb (hit), and last object (Bill). The positions of the words in the sentence tell us who the receiver of the action is. In the Sinasina language, the syntactical word order is “John Bill hit.” The word order of a Sinasina sentence is subject (John), object (Bill), and verb (hit). In some languages, one can place words in any order because the words themselves have markers on them to indicate which word is the subject, which word is the verb, and which word is the object. In New Testament Greek the order in which words occur do not indicate what is a subject, what is a verb, and what is an object. One may write a Greek sentence as, “αποστολοσ λεγει λογον,” “an apostle says a word,” but the word order “λεγει αποστολοσ λογον” and “λογον λεγει αποστολοσ” are both perfectly possible. The English translation of a Greek sentence must be determined by observing the suffixes, not by observing the order of words in a sentence. The suffix -οσ marks a Greek word as the subject of the sentence. The suffix -ει marks a Greek word as the verb of the sentence. The suffix -ον marks a Greek word as the object of the verb. The translator must not force either his own grammatical structure or that of a biblical language onto his ethnic language translation. He should find out how the ethnic language uses its own grammatical features to express meanings

Chapter 23 that are the nearest formal equivalents of the grammatical meanings in the Bible.

6. Similar grammatical structures can have different meanings.

In English, we may say, “The man is eating,” meaning, “The man is eating food.” The Sinasina language has a similar grammatical feature. One may say in Sinasina, “The knife is eating,” but it does not mean, “The knife is eating food.” It means, “The knife is sharp.” We may say in English, “She killed the man.” The Sinasina language has a similar grammatical structure in the sentence, “She killed the moon,” but it means, “She had her monthly menstruation period.” In English, we can say, “He has a cold heart,” meaning “He has no sympathy for people.” However, to say, “He has a cold heart” in the Sinasina language, means, “He is not angry.” Though all these sentences have similar grammatical structures, the same grammatical structures have different meanings in each language. If a translator assumes that he must translate a grammatical construction in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament with a similar grammatical construction in the ethnic language, the two similar grammatical constructions can mean something entirely different. Translators must be primarily concerned with matching meaning for meaning not necessarily grammatical structure for grammatical structure.

7. Different grammatical structures can signal equivalent meanings.

In English, we greet a person in the morning with the words “Good morning.” The Sinasina people greet each other in the morning with the words, “Have you been horizontal, and come?” The grammatical structures are different but they are both a greeting one uses in the morning. The English New Testament in James 1:1 uses the phrase “a servant of God.” The Sinasina New Testament in James 1:1 uses the phrase


Semantics I “one who does water-wood work for God.” This phrase means “a person who is a servant of God.” The grammatical structure of the English sentence is different from the Sinasina structure, but they both express the same meaning. Even though an ethnic-language translation may use a verbal structure to express what is a noun in English or Greek, this is still faithful translating as long as the meaning is the nearest formal equivalent of the biblical words. Because different grammatical stuctures can express equivalent meanings, translating from one language to another is possible. However, the translator should think in terms of equivalent meanings, not necessarily equivalent grammatical structures.

8. If one is to translate the meaning of a source language into the meaning of a receiver language, both the translator and the receiver must make some adjustments in their use of both languages.

In the Sinasina New Testament, the phrase “born again” in John 3:3 is easy to construct literally. One can use the word that means “again” with the verb that means, “born” and thus create the phrase “born again.” However, the Sinasina people, after understanding more clearly the meaning of the term “born again,” added two more words “thoughts inside” to the words “born again.” When the people added the words “thoughts inside,” this caused the term to mean, “to be born again in the inner person.” The Sinasina words “to be born again in the inner person” are equivalent in meaning to the English phrase “to be born again.” If a translator does not adjust the source language meaning from the Hebrew or Greek to the receiver language grammatical forms, he will likely communicate a misunderstanding of the intended meaning of the words in the Bible. However, the speakers of the receiver language

181 must also adjust their grammatical word forms. They must be willing to adjust their word forms to that of the source language if they are to understand the meaning of biblical words correctly. However, a completely indigenous translation would be a totally pagan one. If there were no influences on the translation from outside the native culture, the native translator would be limited to his own cultural experience. There must be input from outside sources if the ethnic-language translation is to communicate the nearest formal equivalent of biblical words.

9. One should learn the meaning of words in terms of what they mean to the receiver.

A little girl came home from school one day and asked her mother, “Where did I come from?” The mother was embarrassed, but after reading some books on the “birds and the bees,” she took her daughter aside and carefully explained the process of human sexual reproduction. When she finished, the little girl said, “But Mom, I still want to know where I came from. Joe said he came from Chicago, and he asked me where I came from.” The mother had assumed that her daughter meant sexual reproduction by the words, “Where did I come from?” The meaning the little girl intended for the words “came from” was “place of origin.” Consequently, there was a complete misunderstanding of meaning between the mother and daughter. The mother only thought in terms of what the words meant to her. She did not stop to think what the words might mean to her daughter. The translator must think in terms of meaning as understood by both the original Hebrew and Greek source and the present receiver. He must know the meaning of biblical words as used by the original writers, and he must put these meanings into words the receiver will


182 understand in the way intended by the original writer. This implies three things. 1. The translator must know the meaning of words as used in the Bible. 2. The translator must know the accumulation of meanings the people have stored in their minds. 3. In order to find out the accumulation of meanings stored in the people’s minds, the translator must understand the language and culture of the people.

10. People can only understand the meaning of new words by relating the new words to old words that they already understand.

This fact of language is similar to the teaching principle of using what students know to teach them what they do not know. For example, if I were to tell you a story using Sinasina words, you would not be able to understand the Sinasina words. However, if I use a Sinasina word with words you already know, you are able to understand the meaning of the Sinasina word. I could say, “A Kabenoge usually has nice yome.” The

Chapter 23 first Sinasina word and the last Sinasina word would make no sense to you. You cannot tell what the words Kabenoge and yome mean in the sentence as it stands. If I were to add some more English words by saying, “A Kabenoge usually has nice fluffy yome. The Kabenoge sleeps all day concealed in a tree. He comes out at night and hops around looking like a small kangaroo. The Sinasina people value the yome of a Kabenoge for weaving purposes. They weave yome into their baby-carrying bags to make them soft and comfortable for the baby.” Now, because you have related the new Sinasina words to old words you already knew, you can conclude that a Kabenoge is an animal similar to a small kangaroo that has some fur (yome) that is fluffy in texture. A translation of the New Testament that uses new words must have sufficient contexts surrounding those words to indicate to the reader what these new words mean. This fact of language meaning results from the principle that words mutually delimit the meaning of each other. When words occur before and after a particular word, that word becomes more specific in meaning.


Semantics II

183

A mother directed her four-year-old son to go outside and get some fresh air. Perplexed, he cupped his hands and asked, “How will I bring it back in?”

Chapter 24

Semantics II

More facts about semantics

1. People who speak living languages use words that change in meaning over long periods. As people’s experience with a word changes, so does the meaning they have for that word. The Sinasina people call a powerful leader a “Yobal kun,” meaning, “a person of great authority.” As we taught the Sinasina people about God, it was natural for them to refer to God as “Kun,” meaning “a person of great authority.” As the Sinasina people learned more about “Kun” from the context of Scripture, their meaning for the word changed until it became the nearest formal equivalent to the God of the Bible. Similarly, people who speak Spanish address an adult male person or God himself by using the word Señor. Because people’s meanings for words can change, the translator can use the people’s words in new contexts to give old words new meanings. The translator can also construct words and condition them by a context that causes them to mean what he wants them to mean. 2. People who speak living languages do not have a single, fixed point of unchanging meaning for their words. A person uses a word in terms of his own experience. Since each person has varying experiences, the meanings a person has for words var-

ies according to what his experience was when he first heard those words. To one person the word father may mean, “a warm and loving person who protects the family and provides security for them.” To another person, the word father may mean, “a drunk who is violent, beats up the family, and makes their lives miserable.” A person may have trouble praying to God as “Father” when his father had been a drunken tyrant who beat up his mother and struck fear into the hearts of the children. The Sinasina people use the word father to mean “a person who is the biological father of children.” However, they also use the word father to mean “a person who is the owner of a parcel of land.” They say, “He is the father of the land,” meaning “He is the owner of the land.” They also use the word father to mean “leader.” A Sinasina man will say, “They are all my children. They will vote for me because I am their father.” The Sinasina people also use the word father to mean “police officer.” When they say, “He is the father of a gun” they mean that he is “a police officer” This should illustrate that words do not have a single, fixed point of meaning. Words have areas of meaning, and these areas of meaning can change. After a person grows in his experience with God the Father, he may overcome his experience of a father who was a drunken tyrant and begin experiencing new meanings for the


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words “Heavenly Father.” He may actually become comfortable using the word Father for God. The translator, realizing that words do not have fixed points of meaning, will try to learn the various areas of meaning covered by a word in the ethnic language. In the same regard, one should not use a word from the vocabulary of the New Testament without finding out the various areas of meaning covered by that word in the Bible. 3. The areas of meaning covered by a word will overlap areas of meaning covered by other words in the same language, but the overlap will not be complete. In English, we say, “I love you” and “I like you.” The words love and like overlap in meaning in some areas but do not overlap completely. The word love may also mean “lust.”

Like

Love

Lust

24.1 The meanings of words overlap.

4. Areas of meaning in a word will overlap areas of meaning in the words of a different language, but the overlap will not be complete. A translator must find words in the ethnic language that cover the areas of meaning that are the nearest formal equivalent meaning to the Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible. There will be some overlap of meaning between the words in the ethnic language and the words in the Bible, but the overlap will not be complete. The New Testament Greek word for love is agapaw. However, which area of the English word love does the Greek word love overlap? Is the Greek word agapaw equivalent to the meaning, “to be fond of,” “to fall in love with,” “to be devoted to,” or “to have benevolent

concern for”? The Greek word agapaw and the English word love overlap in some areas but do not overlap in others. In fact, no single English word covers the entire meaning of the New Testament Greek word agapaw. In English one must express the meaning for the single Greek word agapaw by using several words, such as “self-sacrificing love.” However, even these words do not adequately express the total meaning of the Greek word agapaw. This fact about meaning will save us from insisting that there must be 100% equivalents between words of two different languages. We must find the nearest formal equivalent meaning between the words of two different languages. This fact shows that there cannot always be a 100% transferring of the meaning of a word in one language over into a word of a different language. In some areas of meaning, there will be an overlap of meaning, but in others, there will be no overlap. 5. One can discover the areas of meaning in a word by learning the cultural situations in which the word is used and how people respond to it in those cultural situations. The word bone in Sinasina can mean “a bone in the body,” or it can mean “strength,” “power,” “faithfulness,” or “hard.” The meaning depends on how the people use the word in different cultural situations. If a Sinasina person prays to God asking Him for “bone,” he is asking for “strength” to endure trials. If he speaks about, “hitting bone,” he means “victorious in warfare.” If he speaks about someone who “bakes bone,” he means the person is “faithful.” If the cement “hits bone,” it has become hard. The meaning depends on the situation in which the word is used and how people respond to the word in a particular cultural situation. The translator must determine the meaning of a word by how people use it in different contexts. He may personally know of these situations, or he may ask a language helper to offer some examples of how the people would use the


Semantics II word in different situations that occur in his village. Further observation and study by the missionary may be necessary to find out all the areas of meaning covered by a single word. 6. The dictionary meaning of a word does not always reflect all the cultural situations in which a word is used. A missionary in Central America wanted a dresser for his bedroom, so he looked up the word for dresser in his Spanish dictionary, and found the word gabinete. Because he wanted drawers in the dresser, he looked up the word for drawers and found the word calzoncillas. Then he went to the local carpenter and told him he wanted a “gabinete con calzoncillas.” He intended to say, “I want a dresser with drawers,” but the word gabinete in Spanish means “a cabinet in the government.” The word calzoncillas that he chose for the word drawers is a word in Spanish that means “underwear.” What the missionary actually said was, “I want a government cabinet with underwear.” A person asked a Bible society to send him a dictionary of one of the ethnic languages so he could translate the New Testament into that language. This person thought he could just look up the English equivalent in the ethnic dictionary and place the ethnic word in the place where the English word occurred in the Bible text. He thought that by doing this, he could translate the New Testament into an ethnic language. It should be obvious why such a procedure would not result in a faithful translation. Even computers, which are capable of calculating millions of word matches almost instantly, cannot translate perfectly. Someone tried to use a computer to translate into Russian the sentence, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The result was, “The vodka is good, but the meat is spoiled.” One cannot rely on computer translation alone. Word matching from one language to another will not produce a faithful translation.

185 7. One can express a single meaning by using several different grammatical structures. It is possible to say the same thing in several different ways. In English, we can use five different grammatical structures to say essentially the same meaning.

Chart 17: Five different structures, one meaning 1

I did not go. It rained.

2

Because it rained, I did not go.

3

I did not go because it rained.

4

It rained, so I did not go.

5

It rained, and I did not go.

The following sentences illustrate the possibility of translating the same meaning into seven different language structures. All of these sentences have the same meaning but use different grammatical structures. Where one language may use one kind of grammatical structure, another may express the same meaning but use a different grammatical structure. The seven sentences that follow illustrate how seven different languages could use seven different language structures to express the same meaning.

Chart 18: Seven different structures, one meaning 1

They blamed me for the problem.

2

They blamed the problem on me.

3

They blamed me because of the problem.

4

They said that I caused the problem.

5

They said, “You caused the problem.”

6

They accused me of causing the problem.

7

They said I was the cause of the problem.


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It is possible to translate meaning from one language to another, but it is not always possible to translate grammatical structures from one language to another. It is not always necessary to translate by matching the grammatical structure of one language to that of another language. 8. One can express several meanings by using only one grammatical structure.

Chart 19: A single grammatical structure, three different meanings

English word is not equivalent to all the areas of meaning covered by the French word. One could say that the French word marche is in some ways like the English word march, but the French word marche can also mean “walk,” “move,” “work,” or “fly” in the French language.

Chart 20: One word, four meanings 1

Le bebe ne marche. (The baby is not walking.)

2

Le train marche. (The train is moving.)

1

I ate ice cream with my wife. (I ate ice cream in my wife’s presence.)

3

2

I ate ice cream with my spoon. (I ate ice cream using my spoon.)

Est-ce que ca marche? (Is it working out?)

4

3

I ate ice cream with my pie. (I ate ice cream together with my pie.)

Le temps marche. (Time flies.)

This example should help us to be more concerned about translating the meaning of a language structure, rather than always trying to duplicate a particular grammatical structure in another language that may not mean the same thing in the language into which we are translating. Even though a grammatical structure has a particular meaning in one language, this does not mean that this same grammatical structure will have the same meaning in another language. 9. A word in one language may be equivalent in meaning to a word in another language, but not all the areas of meaning between the two words will be equivalent. If one compares the French word marche with the English word march, he finds that the French word marche is translated as four different English words in four different contexts. The following sentences illustrate how the French word marche is similar in meaning to the English word march, but the two words have very different areas of meaning. Although the French word marche is in some ways equivalent to the English word march, the

A translator who finds a word in the ethnic language that is an equivalent of a Bible word should not think he can use that word in every place it occurs in the Bible. A word that is the nearest formal equivalent in one context may not be the nearest formal equivalent in another context. For example, the Greek word pneuma, meaning “spirit,” must be translated as “Spirit” in John 3:6 but must be translated as “wind” in John 3:8 and as “evil spirit” in Mark 1:26, and as “human spirit” in Luke 1:47. The word pneuma itself does not express which of these meanings you should translate in every context where it occurs. Context indicates which area of meaning a word should have. The word itself does not indicate the context in which it should occur. Because the context in which pneuma occurs determines the meaning of the word, a Bible translator should not translate the word pneuma the same way in every verse of Scripture. 10. One language may express a meaning with a single word, but people who speak another language may express the same meaning with several words.


Semantics II Many languages use more than one word to express a meaning that English speakers express with a single word. For this reason, many single words in English become several words in other languages. The Sinasina words “Ige kewa yale” mean “carpenter” in English. The Sinasina words “Ige kewa yale” literally mean “He who habitually builds houses.” Many languages do not have single-word nouns as the English language does. Instead, other languages are more descriptive and actually describe the meaning using a verbal phrase. The word teacher in Sinasina is “Nil sitowa yale.” These words literally mean, “He who habitually strikes learning to them.” The chart that follows illustrates this fact of meaning.

Chart 21: A single word becomes many words. Kill. (Caused to die.) Bring . (Take it and come.) Shepherd. (A person who cares for sheep.) Teacher (One who strikes learning to them.)

187 11. One may express a meaning using several words in one language, but in another language, one may have to express the same meaning with a single word. Here are some examples of this from the Sinasina language.

Chart 22: English sentences become a single Sinasina word. Bonamwe.

“It is his pig.”

Nemwe.

“He is his father.”

Mamwe.

“She is his mother.”

Nemamwe.

“They are his parents”

Igemwe.

“It is his house.”

The Sinasina language is sometimes shorter than its English equivalent and sometimes longer. It takes four English words to say, “It is his pig,” but only one Sinasina word, bonamwe, to say the same thing. However, it takes three Sinasina words to say the one English word carpenter. The Sinasina people say, “Ige kengwa yale,” that literally means, “a person who habitually builds houses.” They use three words to say the one English word carpenter.

Homework Is it possible for a person to transmit the meaning in his mind to the mind of another person? If your answer is yes, explain why you think it is possible. If your answer is no, explain why you think it is not possible.


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People from Thailand have difficulty saying such English words as clap. They tend to replace the letter l with the letter r. One evening after enjoying a musical performance, a Thai woman turned to some American friends and said, “Let’s stand up and crap.”

Chapter 25

Semantics III

T

here are many kinds of meaning. A red traffic light means, “stop.” In some cultures, the distance people stand in nearness to one another indicates the degree of friendliness they share. If one wants to appear friendly, he does not leave a wide space between himself and the one to whom he speaks. Motions of the body communicate many cultural cues. Body language communicates without the use of verbal symbols. However, as Bible translators, we are primarily concerned with the meaning of written word symbols. There are several kinds of meaning which we must communicate in a written form. Among these are the following kinds of meaning.

Types of meaning:

1. Referential meaning

A grocery list contains words that have a purely referential meaning. The list consists of single words such as milk, bread, and butter. Referential meaning is the primary or literal meaning of a word. Referential meaning is that meaning of a word that people usually assign to it unless the context gives it a different meaning. The referential meaning of words is that meaning we learn as a child when someone shows us an object and repeats the name of it to us. They show us a spoon and they repeatedly say the word spoon to us until we are able to associate the word symbol spoon with the instrument we

use to put food into our mouths. Humans use word symbols to represent objects, events, abstractions, and relationships. All people use their language to refer to objects by using symbols to represent the objects. Rather than carry a tomato around with them and show it to people each time they want to signal the meaning “tomato,” it is more convenient to invent the word symbol tomato, to refer to that object. The symbol chosen is mostly arbitrary. In most cases, there is no relationship between the symbol chosen and the object referred to by the symbol. When we say the word running, we refer to a movement of our legs to move us quickly from one place to another. We may also refer to things that have no physical properties. We may use a verbal word symbol for such things as, actions, processes, or things that happen rather than exist. We can say, “He died” or “He is sick.” We can even talk about abstract things by giving these non-physical things a verbal symbol. We can say, “He loves cats,” “He is faithful,” or “He is bad.” Such symbols as love, faithful, and bad are not physical properties, yet we can symbolize them and use the symbols to talk about abstract qualities. We may also refer to relationships that exist between things, people, or events. We use such symbols as under, on, and in. These words


Semantics III refer to spatial relationships between physical objects.

2. Connotative meaning

We not only use word symbols to refer to things (referential meaning), but we have emotional reactions to word symbols. Connotative meaning involves the emotional response a word symbol causes a person to feel. Such a word as mother in contrast to the word woman, illustrates the difference between connotative and referential meaning. For example, the words mother and woman may refer to the same person, but the word mother communicates a different emotional content than the word, woman. The emotion that we feel when we hear a particular word symbol is the result of how our experiences with that word have conditioned us to feel. The Sinasina people have a strong emotional response to the word blood. The word blood usually has a weaker emotional connotation to American English speakers than it does to Sinasina speakers. The Yanamamo people in the jungles of Venezuela reacted coldly to the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus surrendered to torture and death without resisting. The emotional response of the Yanamamo was that Jesus must have been a coward because any self-respecting Yanamamo would have fought violently for far less provocation. When the Sawi people in West New Guinea heard of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they considered Judas the hero, not Jesus. In the Sawi culture, the art of deceit and treachery is highly honed. Every Sawi person lives for the day when he can deceive his enemy and betray him into the hands of those who will kill him. Judas masterfully accomplished such a deed. In the minds of the Sawi people, Judas was the hero of the story. To the Yanamamo, the connotation of Jesus’ arrest and trial was the cowardice of Jesus who refused to fight. To the Sawi, the connotative

189 meaning of the same incident was the tremendous accomplishment of Judas, who skillfully used treachery to arrest and kill Jesus. These incidents illustrate why is necessary that a Bible translator must not only know the referential meaning of words, he must also know the connotative meaning of words. The word Samaritan does not have the same connotative meaning in English now that it had in the Greek language at the time of Christ. In A.D. 100 the word, Samaritan meant “a halfcaste disloyal Jew.” The word publican meant “thief” and “traitor” in New Testament times. A publican (tax collector) not only worked for the oppressive Roman government, he also exacted more tax money from the people than was due. The word circumcision meant Jews who were on a higher social level than people who were uncircumcised. The word uncircumcised referred to Gentile people whom many Jews considered to be on the same level as dogs. All of these words had high emotional content at the time of the writing of the New Testament, but when we read them in our Bibles today, these connotative meanings are lost. It is not enough merely to translate the referential meanings of such words. The words we use in our translation should be the nearest formal equivalent to the emotional responses that were stimulated by the words originally written in the Bible. The Bible translator should also be aware of the connotative meaning of the ethnic words he uses in his translation of the New Testament. If he does not know what the emotional response of the people will be to the words he uses, he may find that the people do not respond to his words in the way he intended.

3. Contextual meaning

It is not possible to know what a word means apart from the context in which that word occurs. The context that surrounds a word determines the meaning of that word.


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Eugene Nida illustrates this by using the word stone. What does the word stone mean? If the word stone occurred alone in a list of words, we probably would say it means “a stone that is found on the ground.” I must use the words “a stone that is found on the ground” before I can even tell you what I mean by the word stone. If we take the word stone from a list and put it into a different context, the word will take on a different meaning. In the sentence “They threatened to stone him,” the word stone, which was a noun on our list, becomes a verb. –Eugene Nida, The Theory and Practice of Translation, page 57 In the sentence “He is stone deaf,” the word that was a verb is now an adverb describing the person’s ability to hear. “He hears as a stone hears,” means, “He does not hear at all.” In the sentence “He got stoned,” we are not sure if it means “He is intoxicated” or whether it means, “He was bombarded with stones.” All of these sentences show how important context is in determining the meaning of a word. If I were to draw a small circle and ask you what it was, you probably would say, “A circle.” If I were to draw another small circle next to the original circle, you would not be sure what the two circles mean. If I were to draw a nose under the two circles, the two circles begin to have a clearer meaning. If I were to draw a mouth under the nose, you are more certain that the original circle was an eye. Finally, if I put eyebrows over the circles, you are certain that the original circle was an eye.

Words work in a similar manner. Words have a tendency to delimit the meaning of other words with which they occur. Just as we added more context to the circle and it became obvious what it meant, the meaning of a word becomes certain when one reads other words that occur before and after it. These other words delimit the meaning of the unknown word. This is what context is. Context delimits the meaning of a word to a more specific meaning. The more words there are that surround a word, the more that word is limited to a specific meaning. Words have meaning only in relationship to the contexts in which they occur. Therefore, the translator must be familiar with both the context in which ethnic words occur and the context in which Bible words occur. Only as one is aware of the contexts in which words occur will he be able to use those words with their intended meaning.

4. Generic meaning and specific meaning

Words may have either a general meaning or a specific meaning. That is, some words have a meaning that covers several areas of meaning (generic), while other words cover only a limited point of meaning (specific). It is important to learn this distinction in words. One would sound rather foolish if he asked, “Would you like a drink of liquid?” The word furniture is a generic word covering a number of kinds of furniture in a house. A more specific meaning of the word furniture would be the word chair. One would not say to someone, “Sit on this furniture.” He would say, “Sit on this chair.” An even more specific meaning would be “Sit in this electric chair,” which has a very specific meaning. Paul says in Galatians 1:13 that he “persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” Here he uses the word church in a generic sense, meaning the church in general, not a specific church. We know he is using the word church in a gener-


Semantics III ic sense in this verse because Acts 9:31 informs the reader that after Paul’s conversion (“then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria.”) Why did these churches have rest? Because Paul stopped persecuting these specific churches in Judaea, Galilee and Samaria after he was converted. In Ephesians 5:23, where Paul says, “Christ is the head of the church,” he is using the word church in the same way he used it in Galatians 1:13. He is using it in a generic sense, meaning that Christ is the head of the church in general. A misunderstanding of the generic and specific usage of the word church has led to false doctrinal teaching about the meaning of the word church. The word church in Paul’s words, “I persecuted the church” evidently includes within it a reference to specific churches. Paul persecuted churches in such places as Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria. In the same way that the word furniture includes within it the specific words table, couch, and chair so the general word church includes within it the specific churches that were in Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” In Revelation 1:13, Jesus is in the midst of the seven churches. The churches consisted of seven specific churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Evidently, the church that Jesus said he would build includes within it a reference to the multiple churches that Jesus built in those specific places mentioned in Revelation 1:13. When Jesus said He would build His church, He was using a generic term. When we see the church that Jesus built, we see that He is among seven specific churches in seven specific locations. When Paul writes Ephesians 5:25 to the church at Ephesus saying, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” he is using the word church in the generic sense. However, included within the generic word church is the

191 meaning of specific local churches in various locations all over the world. When Paul wrote First Corinthians 12:27 saying, “Now ye are the body of Christ,” he clearly meant that the church at Corinth was a body of believers who made up the church specifically in the city of Corinth. He did not mean, “Now ye are the body of Christ that exists all over the world.” The church at Corinth was a complete body that made up a specific church in the city of Corinth.

chair (generic)

high chair (specific)

electric chair (specific)

church (generic) Corinthian church (specific)

Galatian church (specific)

25.1 Generic and specific meaning

A Bible translator must know whether the vocabulary words he uses have a generic or specific meaning. If he does not know this, he may make the mistake of saying, “Christ died for our thefts” (a specific sin) instead of saying; “Christ died for our sins” (sins in general). I had assumed that salt would taste salty to the Sinasina people, but I found that the Sinasina people do not speak of salt as salty. They speak of salt as sweet. The specific word I expected was not correct. The more general word sweet was the one used by the Sinasina people when referring to the taste of salt.


192 The generic-specific relationship of words makes it difficult for the missionary who wants to find the right words for generic or specific meanings. Sinasina words did not come with tags on them indicating that one word was specific and another word was generic. On the other hand, this fact of meaning in terms of generic and specific can be helpful to a Bible translator. In his search for words, a missionary may often begin by finding a general word, which will lead him to a more specific word. One may be looking for a word that means, “to blaspheme,” so he begins with a generic word meaning, “to criticize.” Then the discussion with the translation helper can lead to finding a word that means, “To criticize by saying bad things about people.” As the discussion progresses, one may find a word meaning, “to criticize a person by saying bad things about his character.” Now the discussion is getting more specific and closer to the meaning of the phrase “to blaspheme.” Finally, by building upon the discussion that began with the generic word meaning, “to criticize,” the missionary should be able to find a specific word that means “to blaspheme God’s character.”

5. Idiomatic meaning

One should refer to a word that has an exceptional meaning as an idiom. An idiom is a word that has a fixed distinctive meaning that one cannot understand by combining the meanings of its parts. With words that are idioms, the literal referential meaning of the words no longer applies. For example, Paul says, in Philemon 7, “The bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee.” In this sentence, the Greek word splankna literally means internal organs, hence the translation “bowels.” However, the Greek word splankna is an idiomatic word. This Greek idiom means “the place where one feels emotions.” It is similar to our English word heart. We say, “I love you with all my heart.” The King James Version translators chose to translate the

Chapter 25 Greek idiom literally into English, and, therefore, we have the translation “the bowels of the saints.” The virtue of their translation is that it preserves the Greek idiom, but the downside of their translation is that they failed to realize that an idiom is usually unique to the language that uses it and is, therefore, difficult for people of a different language to understand correctly. Idioms are usually unique to the language using them and one can seldom translate them literally into another language without causing some problems. The Sinasina people say, “He steal eats,” meaning, “He commits adultery.” This idiom, “He steal eats” if carried over literally into English would sound strange to an English reader. In the same way, Greek idioms sound strange when translated literally into English. In hindsight, it would have been better to translate the meaning of the idiom instead of preserving it. Good English would yield the meaning, “The hearts of the saints are refreshed by thee.”

6. Figurative meaning

A word has a figurative meaning when the usual referential meaning does not apply in the context. In a figure of speech, one is extending the meaning of a word to mean something other than the literal meaning of the word. The word fox usually refers to a small, wild dog-like animal. However, when Jesus said, in Luke 13:32, “Go ye, and tell that fox” Herod, he was using figurative language meaning that Herod had some characteristic of a fox. When the Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray,” the writer is comparing people to sheep. People are like sheep that go astray. However, as idioms are unique to a particular language, so figures of speech are also unique to a particular language. The word fox may mean sly and deceptive to English speakers, but in other cultures rabbits and snakes are the animals considered sly and deceptive. When a Bible translator uses a figure of speech, he must


Semantics III know if the ethnic people understand his figure of speech in the same way that he understands it. He must know what figures of speech mean both in the language of the Bible, and in the language of the people who read his translation. If one finds a figure of speech in the Bible, he must find the nearest formal equivalent meaning of that figure of speech in the ethnic language. One must not only recognize a figure of speech, but one must understand the meaning that results when a writer or speaker compares two things. When Jesus said, “I am the door,” what characteristic of a door was Jesus comparing Himself? How is He like a door? Usually, a speaker is using only one characteristic that is common to the things he is comparing. Jesus is saying that He is like a door in the sense that a door is the entrance by which one gains access to a sheepfold. Similarly, Jesus is the only way people can access God and enter into Heaven.

193 7. Grammatical meaning

Word order is itself a kind of meaning. In English, the order of the sentence “John hit Bill,” is an example of structured meaning. This word order is a structure that means John is the subject because his name comes first in the sentence. The structure of this sentence also tells us that Bill is the object or receiver of the action of the verb hit. The order of the words is the signal that indicates who hit whom. If we change the order of the words to “Bill hit John,” the meaning is changed. We may also say, “Did you go?” and we may say, “You did go.” The position the words take in a sentence changes the meaning of the sentence. Meaning results from the grammatical relationships that exist between words. Not only must the translator know the usage of words, with their referential and connotative meanings, he must also know how grammatical structures change the meaning of words.

Homework Choose one of the words below for a word study. Look up every reference to the word in the New Testament. Write at least one full page listing the various meanings of the word as indicated by how the translators translated it in various contexts. The words to study are grace, spirit, flesh, and sin. If you wish to study a different word, please check with your instructor before doing so. Husbands and wives must choose a different word from that chosen by their spouse. A book that helps make a word study easier is The Englishman’s Greek Concordance. It lists each Greek word in every Bible verse in which it occurs and the meanings used to translate it.


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A second-grade girl came home from school and said to her mother, “What is sex?” For the next half an hour, her mother explained the meaning of the word sex. When she finished, the little girl showed her mother a school registration card and said, “But how can I get all that into this little square?”

Chapter 26

Semantic Component Analysis

T

he four components of referential meaning are thing-words, event-words, abstractwords, and relational-words. These four words, things, events, abstracts, and relational words represent the four basic semantic components of referential meaning. These four parts of referential meaning are a useful tool for analyzing the meaning of Bible verses. One can apply this method of biblical exegesis, called componential analysis, by using the four basic components of referential meaning (thing-words, event-words, abstract-words, and relational-words). They can be used to analyze the meaning of any verse in the Bible. These four components of referential meaning are universal to all languages. Every language will have words that signal things, events, abstractions, and relationships. One can remember these four components of meaning by using the acrostic T E A R. It stands for Things, Events, Abstracts, and Relational words.

1. Things

This component of meaning refers to persons or objects, such as a dog, a house, a man, water, spirit, or God. Things are the participators in events. They are the initiators or receivers of actions. Things can be people or non-living things. Componential analysis considers any word that indicates a material or non-material reality a thing. A thing is the component of meaning expressed by such words as house, person, stone, or

any real object in the material or non-material world. Referential meaning considers all objectlike words as things. We will label all words that indicate things with the letter T under them to show that they are Thing-words.

2. Events

This component of meaning refers to actions, processes, and events. Event-words are action words such as run, jump, kill, speak, appear, grow, die, melt, and freeze. In componential analysis, events are actions or processes that things do. Event-words are actions, such as running, walking, hitting, going, talking, and such processes as melting, rotting, aging, and dying. Event words refer to the actions people do, and processes that occur. An event is an action or process done by things. In referential meaning, we consider all action-like words as Events. We will do this even though the English language uses nouns to represent events. For example, the noun word baptism is in referential meaning an event that someone does to someone. We will consider all noun words that in reality indicate actions or processes, as Event words. We will label all words that refer to Events with the letter E under them to show that they are Events.

3. Abstracts

This component of meaning refers to words that express the qualities and quantities of


Semantic Component Analysis things and events. Abstract words such as red, blue, quickly, two, many, and slow are words that express abstractions. Abstracts are words that describe things and Events. One may describe a ball as “red.” The word red is an abstraction. An abstract has no physical qualities that one can touch or handle. However, abstracts like the color red are a reality and one can refer to colors with abstract words. One can see Abstracts and describe them, but one cannot hold an Abstract in his hand in the same way that one can hold Things in his hand. Words like red, blue, small, strong, quick, and slow are abstracts. They describe the quality of a Thing or how an Event occurs. In the sentence “It is a blue house,” the abstract word blue describes a thing, the house. In the sentence “He ran fast,” the abstract word fast describes an event. Abstracts are words that modify or describe Things and Events. We will think of all descriptive words as Abstracts. We will label words that describe things and events with the letter A under them for Abstracts.

4. Relational words

This component of meaning refers to spatial relationships that exist between things and events. Words that express spatial relationships are words such as near, between, under, in, at, around, to, and of. Relational words indicate spatial relationships between Events and Things. One may say, “The ball is under the house.” The word under expresses a relationship between the ball and the house. It tells us where the ball is, namely, under the house. Words that indicate spatial relationships and other relationships such as in, of, to, at, and under, we will call Relational words. We will label all words that indicate a relationship between things and events with the letter R under them to show that they are Relational words.

195

How to decide when a word is one of these four components of meaning

As one looks at a sentence in the Bible, he must first decide which words function semantically as a Thing, an Event, an Abstract or a Relational word, and label each word in the sentence with the letter T, E, A, or R. The linguistic context in which the word occurs determines its semantic category. For example, if we were trying to decide what label we should use for the word stone, we would look first at the context in which the word stone occurs. If we read, “He picked up a stone from the ground,” we know that in this context the word stone is a Thing. We would write the letter T under the word stone. If we read, “They will stone him,” we know that the word stone in this context is an Event. We would write the letter E under the word stone. If we read, “He is stone deaf,” we know that the word stone is an Abstract that describes the degree of deafness. It would mean, “He is very deaf.” We would write the letter A under the word stone. If we read, “They stoned him in the house,” the word in indicates a spatial relationship. It is the place where they stoned the person. We would write the letter R under the word in. By using these four components of referential meaning, one can analyze the referential meaning of words in any Bible verse. A major concern of a Bible translator is to determine the meaning of words in the Bible. This tool of componential analysis is of great value to the Bible translator because it helps him determine the meaning of words in the semantic contexts in which they occur. It will not be necessary to do a componential analysis of every word in every verse of the Bible. Componential analysis is a tool to help us determine the meaning of some of the more complex verses in the Bible.


196

What is the meaning of the verse?

After learning much of the language and culture of the people, the greatest challenge is to understand correctly what the words, phrases, and sentences in the Bible mean. Very often, translators assume they know what a verse means and quickly decide the interpretation of the verse, when in fact they do not know the meaning of the words as intended by the Author who wrote them. Translators who read the words in the Bible thousands of years after the authors wrote them are at a disadvantage to understand those words correctly. Besides this, the original authors lived in cultures and historical contexts that are very different from that of the person reading the text now. For these and other reasons, translators often misunderstand the meaning of words in the biblical texts. If a translator would translate Bible passages accurately, he must first clearly understand the meaning of the verses he would translate. This is the most important part of Bible translating. After one understands the meaning of the text clearly, he must decide what words in the ethnic language express the nearest formal equivalent meaning of the original words as used by the Author. Once the meaning of a verse has become clear in the translator’s mind, he can explain the meaning of the verse to his native-speaking language helper, who can then give him an approximate translation of the meaning using the words of his own language. I use the word approximate because the translator’s first attempt at explaining the meaning of a verse to his translation helper will usually be inadequate. Therefore, the translation helper’s first attempt to put the meaning of the text into his language will also be inadequate. By revising his explanation, a translator can find a more exact formal equivalent of the original meaning intended by the Author. However, if the transla-

Chapter 26 tor is not clear in his own mind about the meaning of a verse, he will only communicate his own uncertainty to the translation helper. The translation helper will not be able to offer an equivalent meaning in his language because he is not certain what meaning the translator wants him to express. The primary responsibility of the missionary translator is to explain to the translation helper what the words, phrases, and sentences of the Bible mean. Once the translation helper understands the meaning of a verse, he usually has very little difficulty translating that meaning into his own language. I learned this lesson the hard way. While working with my translation helper, Milan, I was not certain in my own mind as to the meaning of a certain verse. I assumed that I knew what the verse meant, but upon attempting to explain the meaning of it to Milan, I became uncertain of my explanation of the verse. Milan became frustrated with me, and I became agitated with him. We were both struggling to come up with a rendering of the verse, but neither one of us was sure what we wanted to say in the Sinasina language. Finally, Milan said disgustedly, “You tell me the foundation (meaning) of the words, and I’ll tell you how to say it in the Sinasina language!” I told him to take a break, and I began reading some Bible commentaries on the verse we were trying to translate. I did a componential analysis of the referential meaning of the words in the verse. I looked up the meaning of a word or two and checked to see how other translators had translated the verse in other languages. After a while, the meaning of the verse was clearer in my own mind. Upon explaining this meaning to Milan he said, “That’s not heavy (difficult). We would say the foundation (meaning) of this verse like this…” and he proceeded to give me a very good preliminary translation of the verse. Our first goal in Bible translation, after learning the language and culture of the people,


Semantic Component Analysis is to decide what the words, verses, phrases, sentences and paragraphs of the Bible mean. We must study the Greek or Hebrew text and the English text to decide what the meaning of a verse is. One does not have the option to say, “I do not know what this verse means, but I will translate it any way.” That is impossible to do! If one does not understand what a verse means, it will be impossible for him to translate that verse correctly. If a translator cannot make up his mind about the meaning of a verse and he refuses to decide the meaning of that verse, this also will make it impossible for him to translate that verse correctly. Often, the translator will not be certain what the exact meaning of a verse is. Even when one is not completely sure of the meaning of a verse, one must decide what the meaning is before one can explain it to his translation helper. The reason for this is simple. If you cannot explain the meaning of a verse to your translation helper, it will be impossible for him to tell you how to translate that verse. A translator will need to use every available means to find out the meaning of the biblical text. He must know what the Author meant by the words he wrote. One may read commentaries on the text and consult dictionaries, lexicons, and other translations of the Bible. When studying Bible verses that are difficult to understand, the translator should try to find and use every helpful procedure available. When faced by a complex verse that is difficult to understand, the componential analysis of such a text can be very helpful to the translator for understanding the meaning of that text correctly.

Semantic component analysis

One can use the four basic components of referential meaning, which are universal to all languages, as a tool to help the translator arrive at the referential meaning of a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a paragraph of Scripture.

197 These four semantic components of referential meaning are useful in the analysis of any language text. One can use these four components of meaning to analyze the referential meaning of any verse in the Bible. After one analyzes the components of referential meaning in a verse, he is in a more secure position to translate that verse correctly into any language.

Applying componential analysis principles

For example, First Corinthians 1:1 says, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” What does the phrase “the will of God” mean? How could I explain the meaning of this phrase to my translation helper? First, let us ask ourselves which of the four components of meaning (TEAR) each of the words in this phrase represents. Is the first word the a Thing, an Event, an Abstract, or a Relational word? The word the is an Abstract word because it describes the word will. It is not just any will; it is the will of God. Next, we look at the word will. Is it a Thing, an Event, an Abstract, or a Relational word? It is an Event because someone does it. God wills to do something or wills that someone should do something. The word will is not a thing because it is something someone does. God wills or decides that certain events should take place. The English word of indicates that there is a relationship between the word will and the word God. Therefore, we would write an R under the word of to indicate that there is a relationship between the words will and God. Unfortunately, the word of does not indicate what that relationship is. It merely says that there is a relationship between the two words. However, it should be obvious that since “will” is an event that God does, the “will of God” uses the word of to show that it is God’s will. He possesses the right to will that certain events should happen.


198

A procedure for analyzing semantic components

We can reduce the above statements to a procedure. There are three basic steps to analyze the components of meaning in a verse of Scripture.

Step 1. Analyze the components of meaning in the phrase “the will of God” and label each word with a T, an E, an A, or an R. “the will of God” A (T) E R T Parentheses ( ) are used to enclose an implied meaning. The symbol (T) placed before the E indicates an implied person who does the Event. In this verse, God (T) wills. An Event always implies someone or something that does or causes the event. A parenthesis with a T inside it means that the (T) indicates an implied person who does the event. Step 2. Make a statement of the event or events in each phrase or sentence. God wills that someone should do what he has decided. Step 3. Write a statement in which you express the relationships that exist between the Things, Events, and Abstracts. God decided that I should be an apostle.

Mark 1:4

Analyze the components of meaning in the phrase “baptism of repentance” in Mark 1:4. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance.” What does the phrase “baptism of repentance” mean?

Step 1. Analyze the components.

the baptism of repentance A (T) E (T) R (T) E The first word the is an Abstract because it describes the word baptism. The word the indicates a particular kind of baptism. The word baptism is an Event because it is something that a person does to another person. There are two persons implied in the Event of

Chapter 26 baptism. One person (the subject) baptizes another person (the object). We indicate implied persons by placing the symbol (T) next to the event. The (T) in parenthesis indicates that a Thing or Person (T) is doing the Event. The symbols (T) E (T) indicate that someone (T) baptizes (E) someone (T). The word of is a word that means there is a relationship between baptism and repentance, but the word of regrettably does not signal what that relationship is. One must find out from the wider context of the verse what the relationship between the word baptism and the word repentance is. The word repentance is also an event. Someone repents.

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone repents. Someone baptizes someone. Note: The Author of the verse does not state the order in which the events occurred. One must also discern the order of events from the context of the verse.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

One can state the relationship between these two Events as, “John baptized people after they repented.” One could also state the events as, “When people repented, John baptized them.” Since this “baptism of repentance” is what John preached, we could put the phrase into direct speech and state it as, “John preached, ‘If you repent, I will baptize you.’” We could also state this in a direct quote as “John preached, ‘Repent! If you repent, I will baptize you.’” We can confirm this meaning by the context of Mark 1:4. The context of Mark 1:4 is found in Matthew 3:7–8 that says, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, ‘O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.’” We know by reading Matthew 3:7–8 that John refused to baptize people who did not repent. Mark is using indirect speech to write what John said directly. If we put John’s words in indirect speech it would read, “John preached to


Semantic Component Analysis people, telling them that they must repent. John told them if they repented, he would baptize them.” However, due to Sinasina language structure, this verse, when put into the Sinasina language would become the direct quote “John preached to people saying, ‘You must repent. If you repent, I will baptize you.’”

Matthew 13:35

In Matthew 13:35, we read, “I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” What is the meaning of the phrase “the foundation of the world?”

Step 1. Analyze the components.

the foundation of the world A (T) E (T) R A T

Step 2. State the event(s). God founded the world.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning. God created the world.

Romans 15:33

199 See Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, page 1: “...and finding that they consisted partly of heathens converted to Christianity, and partly of Jews who had, with many remaining prejudices, believed in Jesus as the true Messiah, and that many contentions arose from the claims of the Gentile converts to equal privileges with the Jews, and from the absolute refusal of the Jews to admit these claims unless the Gentile converts became circumcised, he (Paul) wrote to adjust and settle these differences.”

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Now may the God who causes peace between people be with you all. Paul implies by the expression “be with you all” that he prays that God would be with the Jewish and Gentile Christians to cause them to be at peace with each other.

Second Timothy 1:2

Step 1. Analyze the components.

Second Timothy 1:2 reads, “Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Greek word kuriou is here translated “Lord.” It was originally the title of Roman emperors.

Step 2. State the event(s).

our Lord A (T) E (T)

Romans 15:33 says, “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” What does the phrase “the God of peace,” mean?

the God of peace A T R (T) E R (T)

God (T) causes peace E between R people (T) (who are hostile toward each other). The English word peace is a translation of the Greek word eireine which means, “to make people who are hostile toward each other be at peace with each other.” In this verse, God gives peace to people by causing them to be at peace with one another. Paul prays that God would cause Jews and Gentiles to be at peace with one another. See Acts 7:26, which reads, “would have set them at one again [make them to be at peace with each other].” In Romans 15:33, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians are not at peace with each other.

Step 1. Analyze the components. Step 2. State the event(s).

A person rules over us.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

The Lord who rules over us.

Ephesians 1:15

Ephesians 1:15 reads, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus.” What does Paul mean by the phrase “your faith in the Lord Jesus?”

Step 1. Analyze the components.

your faith in the Lord Jesus A (T) E (T) R A T


200 The line under the words “Lord Jesus” indicates that one should treat these words as a single component of meaning.

Step 2. State the event(s).

You believed in the Lord Jesus.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Chapter 26 Romans 1:5

Romans 1:5 says, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name.” What does the phrase “for obedience to the faith” mean?

Wherefore I also, after I heard that you believed in the Lord Jesus…

Step 1. Analyze the components.

First Thessalonians 1:9

Step 2. State the event(s).

First Thessalonians 1:9 reads, “How ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” What does the phrase “to serve the living and true God” mean?

Step 1. Analyze the components.

to serve the living and true God (T) E (T) A A R A T

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone serves someone. God lives [is alive]. God is genuine [is truly God].

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

How ye turned to God from idols to serve the God who is alive and who is genuinely God. (This is in contrast to idols that were dead and were not genuinely God.)

First Thessalonians 1:3

First Thessalonians 1:3 says, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith.” What does Paul mean by the phrase “your work of faith”?

Step 1. Analyze the components. your work of faith A (T) E (T) R (T) E (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

You believe [in our Lord Jesus Christ]. You work [for our Lord Jesus Christ].

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Remembering without ceasing how you believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, and because you believed in him, you are serving him.

for obedience to the faith R (T) E (T) R A T

Someone obeys something.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

By whom we have received grace and apostleship to cause all nations [people in the nations] to obey the faith. Note: We should define the words “the faith” as the doctrines that are taught in the Bible. The Bible is the body of truth (the faith) that people should obey. In this verse, “the faith” refers particularly to the message of the gospel that the people in the nations were to obey by believing in Christ.

First Thessalonians 1:3

First Thessalonians 1:3 reads, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does the phrase “patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” mean?

Step 1. Analyze the components. patience of hope in (T) E (T) R (T) E (T) R

our Lord Jesus Christ A T

Step 2. State the event(s).

You have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. You wait patiently for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and that because you believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, you are patiently waiting for his return to earth.


Semantic Component Analysis This phrase could also mean, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and how you are patient [in tribulation] because you eagerly expect [hope for] our Lord Jesus Christ [to come back again].”

201 God forgave people their sins. John baptized people who repented.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

in much affliction R A (T) E (T)

We could state the relationships of the components in two ways: 1. We could use an indirect quote. John was in the wilderness and preached that people [who had committed sins] should repent. John said that if they would repent, God would forgive their sins, and he [John] would baptize them. 2. We could use a direct quote. John came to the wilderness and preached to people, saying, “Because you have sinned, you must repent. If you repent, God will forgive your sins, and I will baptize you.”

Step 2. State the event(s).

Ephesians 1:7

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Step 1. Analyze the components.

Mark 1:4

through his blood, R A (T) E (R)

First Thessalonians 1:6

First Thessalonians 1:6 reads, “Having received the word in much affliction.” What does the phrase “Having received the word in much affliction” mean?

Step 1. Analyze the components.

having received the word (T) E (T) A (T) E (T)

Someone preached the word to someone. You received the word. Someone afflicted you very much.

Even though they afflicted you much, you received the word that we preached to you.

Mark 1:4 says, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

Step 1. Analyze the components.

John did baptize T (T) E (T)

in the wilderness and preach R A T R (T) E (T) the baptism of repentance A (T) E (T) R (T) E for the remission of sins R A (T) E (T) R (T) E

Step 2. State the event(s).

People committed sins. John came to the wilderness. People went out to John. John preached to people. People repented.

Ephesians 1:7 reads, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

In whom we have redemption R T T (T) E (T)

the forgiveness of sins, A (T) E (T) R (T) E according to the riches of his grace. R A A R A (T) E (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone committed sins. The penalty for committing sins is death. Jesus died by shedding his blood. The death of Jesus paid the penalty of the sins we committed. God is very gracious to us. God forgave the sins we committed.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Jesus paid the penalty for the sins we committed by shedding his blood and dying for us. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by dying for us, God very graciously forgave us of our sins.


202 Romans 1:5

Romans 1:5 says, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.”

Step 1. Analyze the components.

By whom we have received grace R T T (T) E (T) (T) E (T) and apostleship, R (T) E (T)

for obedience to the faith R (T) E (T) R A T among all nations, for his name. R A T R A T

Step 2. State the event(s).

God was gracious to us. God sent us. People obey the faith. This glorifies God’s name [Person].

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

He [the Lord Jesus] was gracious to us and sent us to cause people in all the nations to obey the gospel [message of the Bible] so that people would glorify God.

Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Step 1. Analyze the components.

For by grace are ye saved R R (T) E (T) (T) E (T) through faith; and R (T) E (T) R that not of yourselves: (T) E (T) A R T it is the gift of God: (T) E (T) A (T) E (T) R T

Not of works, A R (T) E lest any man should boast. A A T (T) E

Chapter 26 Step 2. State the event(s).

God was gracious to you. You believed what God said. You did not save yourself. God saved you freely. God did not save you because you did good works, therefore you should not boast.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

Because God was gracious to you, He saved you when you believed [what He promised]. You did not save yourself. God saved you freely. God did not save you because you did good works. Therefore, you should not boast [that you deserved to be saved because you did good works.]

Analyze the components of meaning in a single word.

It is sometimes necessary to analyze the components of meaning in a single word. The word king implies a person (thing), an event, and a receiver of the action of the event.

King

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word king. King (T) E R (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone rules over someone.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A king is a man who rules over people.

Centurion

The word centurion has an implied person (thing), an event, an abstract, and a receiver of the action of the event.

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word centurion. Centurion (T) E A (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone commands 100 soldiers.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A person who is the commander of 100 soldiers.


Semantic Component Analysis Shepherd

The word shepherd implies a person (thing), an event, and a receiver of the action of the event.

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word shepherd. Shepherd (T) E (T)

Step 2. State the event(s). Someone shepherds sheep.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A person who cares for sheep

Apostle

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word apostle.

Apostle (T) E (T) R T E T

Step 2. State the event(s).

God sends someone to people to tell them His message.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A person who is sent [by God] to people to tell them God’s message [the gospel]

Mediator

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word mediator. Mediator (T) E R (T) - (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone mediates between God and people.

203 Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A person who mediates between God and people.

Disciple

Step 1. Analyze the components of the word disciple. Disciple (T) E R (T)

Step 2. State the event(s).

Someone learns from someone.

Step 3. Express the relationship/meaning.

A person who learns from someone who teaches him. There are other single words that one can analyze using the four components of meaning. The word sinner is similar to the above. It contains the components of a person (thing) and an event. A person who sins A T (T) E The word sanctify implies a thing (God), an event (separates), a thing (person), a relational word (from), an event (sins), a relational word (unto), and an event (doing what is right). When one wants to translate the word Jesus instead of using it as a name, the word Jesus implies a thing, an event, a thing, a relationship, and an event. The translation of the name Jesus would have the following components of meaning: God [thing] saves [event] people [things] from [relationship] sins [events].

Homework 1. Analyze the semantic components of meaning in First Thessalonians 1:3. State the events, and then state the meaning by stating the relationship between the components of meaning. If you need help you may consult the notes in this chapter. 2. Analyze the components of meaning in the words repentance, mediator, and apostle. State the events and the meaning of each word. If you need help you may consult the notes in this chapter.


204

Chapter 27

“A critic [interpreter] of the sacred text should be candid and learned, dispassionate, and free; free from the wayward bias bigots feel, free from fancy’s influence and intemperate zeal; for of all arts sagacious dupes invent, to cheat themselves and gain the world’s assent, the worst is Scripture warped from its intent.” –William Cowper

Chapter 27

Interpreting the Biblical Text

A

componential analysis of every verse in the Bible will not be necessary. However, an awareness of the four components of meaning (Things, Events, Abstracts, and Relational words) will help the translator apply this method of verse analysis in an informal way as he translates less complicated verses. Even though much of the Bible will not require componential analysis, some passages and verses will. One should analyze verses like Ephesians 1:7–12 and Second Thessalonians 1:3– 10 more carefully than some other less complicated passages. In order to acquire a clear understanding of verses like Ephesians 1:7–12, it may be necessary to write out a componential analysis of each verse by making statements of the event words and statements of the relationships that exist between the event words. A componential analysis of the passage will enable the translator to break up long, complicated sentences into more manageable units. The translator can then manage these smaller units with less difficulty. If one were to take all the concepts found in Ephesians 1:7–12 and try to translate them all at the same time, there would be too many grammatical and lexical components to control all at once. It will save time and effort if one takes the time to make a componential

analysis of complicated verses before beginning to translate them. It may seem like a componential analysis of verses would take a much longer time, but what may appear to be a shortcut, by not doing a componential analysis, could end up taking far more time, and result in a translation that is not as accurate as it could have been. It is often better to take the time necessary to sort out the components of meaning in a passage than it is to go into a translation session with only a vague idea about the meaning of a verse. This can end up taking a lot more time, with less fruitful results.

Some available helps

A second way to find out the meaning of a passage of Scripture is to use the various Bible exegetical helps that are available. These helps will aid the translator as he works at determining the meaning of a word, a verse, or passage of Scripture. There are many translation aids available, but one must know what they are, where he can get them, and how to use them. Even though one should be cautious about using corrupted Bible versions, sometimes they can help suggest a way to translate a particular verse. These so-called versions of the Scripture may be of some help to a translator who is struggling to express the meaning of a verse in the ethnic language.


Interpreting the Biblical Text Some versions are not translations at all. They are more like commentaries on the Bible rather than legitimate translations. In addition to that, the translators of these versions often use the corrupt critical texts as the basis of their translation. Therefore, many of these versions are unacceptable as guides for translators to follow. The King James Version is the most trustworthy version of all the English Bibles, but other versions may be of some use to a translator. It all depends on what text the translator used as the basis for his translation and how carefully he translated. One may at least use them to find out how other translators interpreted certain verses and how they attempted to solve a particular translation problem. This can be helpful because it may give the translator a possible solution for translating a difficult passage of Scripture.

National language translations

Other translations are especially helpful if they were translated either in the national language of the country or in a language that is related to the language into which one is translating. If national translations are available, they may be of help to the translator because these translations may have a similar grammatical structure that is common to the entire country. The Pidgin English translation of the Bible in Papua New Guinea is representative of the general grammatical structures that occur in languages throughout the country. The translators of the Tagalog Bible in the Philippines translated it from a grammatical structure that is similar to other language structures in that country. These national language versions may also be helpful by suggesting ways to translate a verse. However, one should be cautious about using them if the corrupt critical text was the basis for the translation.

Eight translations in one volume

There are books with eight English versions in a single volume. This makes it unnecessary

205 to carry around eight separate volumes. The Eight-Translation New Testament published by Tyndale House is such a volume. It contains the King James Version as the standard. It also has the Living Bible, which is more of a commentary than a translation. It has Phillips, which is also another commentary. It has the Revised Standard Version that follows the critical text; Today’s English Version, which is not a version but more of a paraphrase; the New International Version that follows the critical text; the Jerusalem Bible, translated by Roman Catholics; and the New English Bible that has all but disappeared. All of these versions and others are available as part of the computer program The Online Bible. The Online Bible is available at www.online-bible.com. The Online Bible contains biblical materials that total over $1,000 in value. I use it constantly in sermon preparation and in interpreting verses of Scripture in preparation for Bible Translation. I highly recommend the Online Bible! Other translators have made sincere attempts to translate the New Testament into English. Some of these may be helpful but one should use them with caution. The translator may have used the critical text as the basis for his translation, or he may be theologically slanted. Some of the more reliable English language translators of the New Testament are James Moffat, William Beck, Charles B. Williams, Edgar Goodspeed, and Francis Weymouth. However, a translator should never use any of these versions as the basis for a translation into another language. Some of the translators of these versions take too much liberty in expressing what they suppose the meaning of a verse to be. Many of these translations would lead a translator astray from the correct meaning of verses. Such translations as The Living Bible and the Modern English Version are of this character. They are highly untrustworthy. Today’s English Ver-


206 sion, The New English Bible, and The Revised Standard Version are all from questionable sources since most of the people on their translation committees seriously questioned the verbal, plenary, infallible inspiration of Scripture. Some of them are modernistic unbelievers. For this reason, these versions delete many words, phrases, and entire verses. In some places, they delete verses without even a footnote to tell the reader that they have deleted these verses entirely. The Revised Standard Version has a definite slant in the direction of modernistic, liberal theology. See Isaiah 7:14 in this version for example. The translators of the New International Version did not use the Textus Receptus as a basis for their translation, and so it is faulty because of deletions and the relegating of words of Scripture to footnotes. By so doing, this version creates a lack of confidence in the Bible. The Jerusalem Bible has a Roman Catholic bias. The translators slanted it toward the theological dogmas of Roman Catholicism. One other volume with eight English translations is The New Testament Octapla. The editor is Luther A. Weigle. It contains eight English versions of the New Testament in the TyndaleKing James tradition. These eight English translations influenced the translating of the King James Version. It has verses from eight translations printed on large facing pages. The translations included are Tyndale’s New Testament, the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Rheims Bible, the King James Version, the Revised Version, and finally the Revised Standard Version. The King James Version, with the Received Hebrew and Greek texts, is the only translation that can be trusted as a basis for translating the Bible into other languages. One can use it as a reference point to find out what verses the tex-

Chapter 27 tual critics deleted from the Greek and Hebrew texts.

The need for a standard

Other translations in Spanish, French, German, and other languages follow the example of the King James Version. They also used the Received Greek and Hebrew texts as the basis for their translations. Many older versions in other languages used the Received Hebrew and Greek texts as the basis for their translation but not all of them. One should be careful to find out what the translator used as the basis for his translation. He must know that the translator did not base his translation on the critical text before he can consider it trustworthy. There is a need for a standard that translators can use as the basis for translating the Bible into other languages. The Received Hebrew and Greek texts along with the King James Version provide that standard for English speaking translators. If one goes by the standard set by the Received Hebrew and Greek texts and the King James Version, he knows what the Bible says, but if he uses some other standard, he will not be sure what God has said. The standard for English speaking Bible translators is the Received Hebrew and Greek texts and the King James Version. This is especially needful if one is to strengthen the confidence of ethnic peoples in their Scriptures. They will eventually compare their ethnic Bibles with national language versions. Many of the translators of these older national language versions based their translation on the Received Hebrew and Greek texts. These translations will agree with the text of the King James Version. If the ethnic people find verses and words missing in their Bibles, this will have a tendency to undermine confidence in their Scripture. In addition, if the translation in the ethnic language is a radical departure from the more literal meaning used in the national language version, it will also cause a loss of confidence in their ethnic


Interpreting the Biblical Text Scriptures. Missing verses and radical interpretations will also cause the ethnic people to think of their Bibles as inferior to the national language translation, and they may put it aside in favor of the national language version even though they understand their own language best. This is especially true in some countries where the ethnic people consider the national language to be superior to their own language.

The use of Bible commentaries

Another helpful tool for the translator is reliable Bible commentaries written by doctrinally sound Bible teachers. Such commentaries may be useful in several ways.

1. Commentaries help a translator understand the historical context of Scripture.

Someone has well said, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context clearly indicate otherwise.” However, sometimes we do not know what the context of a book or verse of Scripture is. A good Bible commentary can help us understand the context of a book or verse of Scripture. Understanding this context is crucial for a correct interpretation of Scripture. For example, Second Corinthians is one of the most difficult books in the New Testament to interpret. A thorough understanding of the historical context in which Paul wrote will yield a satisfactory understanding of that book. The context of Second Corinthians is about Paul defending the gospel that he preached. The Judaizers forced Paul to defend his authority as an apostle. They not only assassinated Paul’s character, they taught the false doctrine of faith in Christ plus circumcision. A translator needs to understand this context before he can correctly interpret some of the difficult verses in Second Corinthians.

207 2. Commentaries present the interpretation accepted by the majority of interpreters.

The majority opinion may sometimes be wrong. However, if faithful Bible commentators all interpret a verse in a certain way, this should make a translator cautious of following a radically different interpretation. The commentators usually have good reasons for choosing one interpretation above another. If we depart from the majority opinion, we should have some sound exegetical reasons for doing so. The commentaries may help balance us and keep us from radical interpretations that are extremely individualistic and probably wrong. When one makes a decision about the best interpretation of a verse, he should base his decision upon at least three or more trustworthy commentaries that agree with his interpretation. If one cannot find three trustworthy commentaries that agree with his interpretation, he is probably mistaken in his interpretation.

3. Commentaries may help one understand the meaning of verses.

Commentaries may help clear up some words or phrases that are puzzling to us. If we have a clear understanding of a passage of Scripture in our own mind, this will make it easier for us to explain the meaning of the passage to our translation helper. A translator should do the work of reading commentaries before beginning the translation session with the translation helper. By preparing ahead of the translation session, it will help the translation helper to stay awake and be alert. He will not have to sit with nothing to do while the translator reads commentaries.

4. Use commentaries with caution.

People who are not doctrinally sound in the faith have written commentaries. One can buy William Barclay’s commentaries in many Christian bookstores, but you should know that he was a neo-orthodox modernist. See William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, page 10 where


208 he wrote, “The Virgin Birth is a doctrine which presents us with many difficulties; and it is a doctrine which our Church does not compel us to accept in the literal and physical sense.” Barclay once described himself as a liberal evangelical. The truth is that he is a theological modernist. For example, he did not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. He wrote that we are not compelled to accept this teaching “in the literal and physical sense.” Even though he felt there was some essence of the miraculous in the deeds of Christ, he believed that many of the Lord’s miracles had perfectly natural explanations. He argued that the Savior did not multiply the loaves and fishes literally; he said that Jesus merely motivated the thronging people to share their food with one another. He said that Christ did not actually walk upon the Sea of Galilee; it was just that, from the disciples’ vantage point, it appeared that he did. He only walked in the shallow water near the beach. So goes Barclay’s modernistic interpretation of Scripture. Some commentators have a denominational bias. Lenski, a Lutheran commentator, is usually helpful in his explanations of the Greek grammar of a verse, but when verses touch doctrines dear to Lutherans, he always follows the Lutheran view. If one can ignore his “Lutheranisms,” Lenski’s commentary on the New Testament can be helpful to translators. This is true also of other denominationally oriented writers. Each one will adhere to his particular system of biblical interpretation. As long as one is aware of this, he may separate the wheat from the chaff in the commentaries. One should first study cross-references to related passages and gather information from other Bible passages. Having studied the meaning in the Bible first, one may usually consult commentaries with profitable results.

5. Commentaries do not always help with the interpretation of verses.

When commentators come to verses that are difficult to interpret, many of them write

Chapter 27 nothing about such passages. What does one do when he comes to verses that are difficult to understand and the commentaries say nothing about the difficulty in question? One should continue to seek the mind of God in prayer and study other related verses of Scripture. After that, he may try to find help from commentaries, translations, dictionaries, lexicons, and Bible encyclopedias. It is also a good practice to confer with other people. The translator should ask his co-workers how they understand the verse. If possible, he should ask his pastor how he understands it. All of these pursuits will help shed some light on the Scripture passage under consideration. If possible, the translator should work closely with a Bible translation consultant. This is especially helpful for beginning translators. The consultant can help a translator start out on the right track and teach him some principles that will help him do a better job. The translator who translates his first chapter of Scripture should have it checked by a Bible translation consultant. If there is no consultant available, one can ask his co-workers or other missionary friends to check his work. Usually, beginning Bible translators can seek advice from other missionaries who have done some Bible translating.

Books on translation principles

Several books about Bible translating are helpful to translators. Although some of the material in these books is questionable, when read with discernment, they can be of some profit. Such books as, Eugene Nida’s Bible Translating and John Beekman’s Translating the Word of God have some helpful material in them. Nida has also written books entitled The Theory and Practice of Translation and Toward a Science of Translating. Mildred Larson has written a book called Meaning Based Translation. However, these authors are not Textus Receptus oriented. They advocate the dynamic equivalence view of translation, and some are ecumenical. Never-


Interpreting the Biblical Text theless, their books have some helpful material in them. The Bible Translator is a periodical published by the United Bible Society. It is available free to people actively involved in Bible translating. This publication has articles of interest to Bible translators. Some commentaries are available from the United Bible Society. They loan commentaries to Bible translators. The Society has published a book called A Translator’s Handbook on Mark. Translator’s Handbooks are available from the Society for Luke, Acts, and other books of the New Testament. The United Bible Society will usually loan these books to Bible translators who request them. Notes on Translation are available from Wycliffe Bible Translators. These are a collection of notes on problem areas of Bible translating and may have some help on particular problems a translator may be facing. Wycliffe Bible Translators also has some commentary compilations on various books of the New Testament. These compilations use several commentaries of a particular book of the Bible. They take out the most relevant material for translators from several commentaries and give a summary of the opinions of the commentators. These compilations may not be available to people who are not members of Wycliffe. The following authors have written commentaries that are helpful to Bible translators: Albert Barnes, A. T. Robertson, Matthew Henry, C. J. Ellicott, Alfred Plummer, Henry Alford, Joseph Lightfoot, Adam Clarke, R. C. H. Lenski, Johann Lange, Jamieson-Fausset & Brown, Conybeare and Howson, Alfred Edersheim, Matthew Poole, John Gill, and Charles Hodge. Many of these commentaries are available in the Online Bible computer program. A devotional-type commentary is not much help to translators. Bible translators need to know about the grammatical structure of sentences and the meanings of Hebrew and Greek words as used in biblical contexts. Commentar-

209 ies that allegorize and spiritualize the text are of very little help to a translator.

Dictionaries and lexicons

The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine is one of the most helpful dictionaries for Bible translators, but you should buy the 1966 edition of it. The new 1980 edition, edited by Unger and White, is not as helpful as the older one. The Westminster Bible Dictionary is thorough and helps when one needs facts about biblical subjects. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is also helpful on biblical subjects, but the authors in a few instances take a liberal view. This is especially true of the newer edition. Get the older 1939 edition. One of the better lexicons on the meaning of words in the Greek New Testament is that of Joseph Thayer. The name of his Greek Lexicon is The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. A book called The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament is very helpful for making word studies of particular Greek words. This book lists the different English translations of a Greek word in the order in which it occurs in the King James Version. The Analytical Greek New Testament by Wesley J. Perschbacher is also helpful. His book parses the morphological structure of every Greek word in the Greek New Testament and lists the English meaning of each word.

Back translations of other languages

For purposes of checking a translation for accuracy, Bible translators should make a back translation of their ethnic language Bible text. Back translations can be a great help. One can read the back translations of other translators. This will help one to see how other translators translated certain verses in other languages. This is especially true if another translator made a back translation of a language that is similar to the language into which one is translating. It will help the translator see some other possible ways he might translate the verse.


210 However, one should not slavishly follow such back translations because each language is unique and a solution that was helpful in one language may not be the right solution for another language.

Propositional outlines

Some translators have attempted to outline the components of meaning in verses and state the relationships that exist between them. These propositional outlines are helpful in direct proportion to how well the authors researched and wrote them. They can be helpful at times but you should not follow them without doing your own research.

An example of a propositional outline of Colossians 1:1–2

Verse 1: Paul = I am Paul an apostle = who is an apostle of Jesus Christ = who was sent by Jesus Christ by the will of God = because God willed that I should be an apostle and Timotheus = I, Paul am accompanied by Timothy our brother = who is our brother (Christian brother) Verse 2: To the saints = we write to you saints and faithful brethren = who are obedient brothers (Christian) in Christ = who are united to Christ which are at Colosse = who live in Colosse city/town Grace be unto you = may God give you grace (strength) and peace = may God give you peace (among yourselves) from God our Father = Peace that comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ = Peace that also comes from the Lord Jesus Christ

Chapter 27 Such a propositional outline may be helpful with passages of Scripture that are complicated and difficult to translate. In this case, it would be profitable to work through such Bible passages propositionally before trying to translate them. A propositional outline is similar to componential analysis in that it helps to see the components of meaning and make statements about how the components of meaning are related. Wycliffe Bible Translators has propositionally outlined several books of the New Testament. Some propositional outlines are more helpful than others are. The helpfulness of these outlines depends on how carefully and accurately the authors wrote them.

Some other helps

There are some other helps available from the United Bible Society. You can find a list of available helps from the Bible Society listed on the back inside cover of the periodical The Bible Translator. These helps are available free of charge to those engaged in Bible translation. Some of the helps listed are Fauna and Flora of the Bible and Section Headings for the New Testament.

Trinitarian Bible Society

This Bible society is a strong supporter of the King James Version and the Textus Receptus Hebrew and Greek texts. The growing disappointment over the United Bible Society’s ecumenical relationships and rejection of the Textus Receptus texts led to the establishing of The Trinitarian Bible Society. The main headquarters of this group is in England but there are branches in the United States and Canada. They publish Bibles in various languages and have notes on books of the Bible to help Bible translators. The Trinitarian Bible Society is Textus Receptus oriented. One can have confidence in their consistently sound view of Scripture with no entangling ecumenical alliances. There are other Bible translation groups such as the American Bible Society, the British and Foreign


Interpreting the Biblical Text Bible Society, The United Bible Societies, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (known in the USA as Wycliffe Bible Translators and Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics). All of these organizations are either new evangelical in philosophy or ecumenical or both. Any Bible translator who undertakes work with these groups should do so with caution. They will influence a translator away from a Received text orientation and toward the critical text.

Bearing Precious Seed

The late Dr. D. M. Fraser initiated this Scripture distribution agency. Several Independent Baptist churches have continued the work of Bearing Precious Seed. These churches are faithful to the Textus Receptus text and Independent Baptist doctrinal position. Several local Baptist churches across the country carry on different phases of the Bearing Precious Seed Bible publishing and distribution work. It assists missionaries by raising funds for printing Bibles in various languages of the world. Many of these Baptist churches have printing presses and turn out a great volume of first-class material. This work is having an impact by distributing the Bible in many of the national languages of the world. Bearing Precious Seed is also trying to meet the need for Scriptures among the thousands of Bibleless ethnic languages. A few years ago, Dr. Charles Keen, the pastor (at that time) of First Baptist Church in Milford, Ohio, dedicated a million dollar printing press for the work of Bearing Precious Seed.

Baptist Bible Translators Institute

Baptist Bible Translators Institute is an Independent Baptist school of missions. The East Side Baptist Church of Bowie, Texas is the sponsor of Baptist Bible Translators Institute. Dr. George Anderson founded Baptist Bible Translators Institute in 1973. The current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Baptist Bible Translators Institute is Charles V. Turner. The current

211 Director of Baptist Bible Translators Institute is Rex L. Cobb. Baptist Bible Translators Institute is a sister organization to the Bearing Precious Seed work, since both works originated out of Independent Baptist churches in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Each group is a separate organization from the other but cooperates closely because of their common heritage and convictions. Baptist Bible Translators Institute is a Textus Receptus, King James Version oriented, Independent Baptist organization. Baptist Bible Translators Institute is not a mission board but supports the work of Baptist churches and mission boards who send out their own missionaries. Baptist Bible Translators Institute is primarily a missionary training ministry that provides linguistic and cross-cultural missionary training for Independent Baptist missionaries. Baptist Bible Translators Institute trains missionaries to go into any country, learn any language, and adapt to any culture in the world. No matter where a missionary may be going, he would be wise to take the linguistic training offered by Baptist Bible Translators Institute. This training will greatly aid missionaries in their language learning, Bible translating, preaching in a foreign language, and understanding the customs and culture of people in any part of the world. No Independent Baptist church should be so cruel as to send their missionaries to a land of a hard language and a strange culture without giving them the opportunity to take the training offered at Baptist Bible Translators Institute. Missionaries trained at Baptist Bible Translators Institute will be thoroughly equipped to learn languages, reduce them to writing, translate Scriptures into an ethnic language, preach and teach in the ethnic language, and establish Independent Baptist churches.


212 Over 3,000 ethnic languages have no translation of God’s Word. If they are to have the Bible in their language, someone must go to them, learn their language, and translate the Bible into their language. Baptist Bible Translators Institute exists for training Independent Baptist missionaries who will become church-planting Bible translators. For this reason, Baptist Bible Translators Institute provides training in Linguistics, Language Learning Principles, Ethnology, Literacy Teaching, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Bible Translation principles, and other subjects that are helpful to missionaries. Baptist Bible Translators Institute fills an important gap in world evangelism. Too many missionaries are going to places already evangelized. Too few missionaries are going to places where no one has preached the Gospel of Christ. If churches do not make sure their missionaries have linguistic and Bible translation training, Bible distributors will be printing and distributing the Scriptures in only a few languages. This will be of little help to over two billion people in 3,000 Bibleless ethnic languages. If you would like to

Chapter 27 fill out an application as a possible student at Baptist Bible Translators Institute, please write or call the Institute. The staff there will be glad to send you a DVD that will explain most everything you would like to know about the finest missionary training offered anywhere. 27.1 Rex Cobb is the director of Baptist Bible Translators Institute

You can reach Baptist Bible Translators Institute by calling or writing to the addresses below. Website: www.baptisttranslators.com E-mail: info@baptisttranslators.com Telephone: 940-872-5751 Mail: Rex Cobb, Director Baptist Bible Translators P.O. Box 1450, Bowie, TX 76230


Problem Areas in Translation

213

Someone posted a note on a hotel air conditioner in Japan with the following instructions: “Cooles and heats. If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.”

Chapter 28

Problem Areas in Translation

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any translation problems are common to all Bible translators. If one studies translation problems and finds out how other translators solved them, it will help one avoid some mistakes. Learning about translation problems will make the work of translating easier, more efficient, and the quality of the translation will improve. The next few chapters contain help for many translation problems. Please be aware that these translation problems do not represent errors in the Bible. There are no errors in the Bible. There are places in Scripture that present translators with difficulties, but there are answers to each of these problems.

The problem of literal translation

It would be a lot simpler if one could always translate literally. However, it is not always possible to translate all words literally. There are many places in Scripture where a literal translation would distort the meaning of a verse. Most Bible translators have a tendency to translate too literally. This comes from a sincere desire to be faithful to what the Scripture says. However, this is a misconception. No faithful translation of Scripture can be a completely literal translation.

A Bible translator is under a constant tension between translating too literally and translating too freely. If he translates too literally, readers may not understand the meaning as intended. If he translates too freely, the readers may understand the translation, but the meaning may not be the one intended by the author. How are we to solve this problem? First, one must accept the fact that there is no such thing as a completely literal translation. For example, if Ephesians 2:8 were translated literally from the Greek New Testament, it would read like this: “The for grace by you are saved through the faith and this not from yourselves. God the gift.” On the other hand, here is an example of a too-free translation of Ephesians 2:8: “Because of his kindness you have been saved through trusting Christ. And

Chart 23: Adding to and taking away Adding Too free

Taking away

Modified free translation

Faithful translation

Modified literal translation

range of acceptable translation

Too literal


214 even trusting is not of your selves. It too is a gift from God.” This translation comes from The Living Bible. The translator of this text has added at least ten English words that do not occur in the Greek text, and the added words do not convey the meaning of the words used by the original author. Bible translators often lean toward one of two extremes. Some translate too literally. Some translate too freely.

Word matching is not translating.

Most Bible translators have a tendency to match a word in the Bible with a word in the ethnic language. In many instances, it is not possible to match word-for-word equivalents between two languages. For example, in English we say, “I am hungry.” To say the same thing in the Sinasina language takes only two words: “Kwa golue.” The English sentence is not only different from the Sinasina sentence in the number of words, but the two sentences are very different in meaning. The Sinasina word kwa means “sweet potato.” The other Sinasina word golue means, “I am dying.” Literally, the Sinasina sentence means “Sweet potato I am dying.” The number of words in the English translation does not match the number of words in the Sinasina translation and the word meanings in the Sinasina language are very different from the word meanings in the English translation, but the Sinasina sentence “Kwa golue” is the nearest formal equivalent of the English sentence “I am hungry.”

Grammatical matching is not translating.

Different languages have different grammatical systems that determine sentence structures. For example, the English language only has the word my to express first person possessive. We may say, “It is my shirt” or “It is my apple.” However, it is not possible for the

Chapter 28 people of Woodlark Island to use a single word for my. People on Woodlark Island must choose one of three different words for my. One form of the word my means “my object for eating,” while another form of my means “my object intimately related to me,” and still another form of my means “my object distantly related to me.” The Woodlark language requires one to decide if an object is closely related to him, is distantly related him, or is an object for eating. If a Bible translator were not aware of these grammatical distinctions, he could unknowingly choose the form of my meaning “my object for eating” when referring to his shirt. This would probably provoke some laughter from the Woodlark Island people. In Mark 8:17, we read that Jesus asked His disciples, “Have ye your heart yet hardened?” This phrase was translated into the Pidgin English New Testament as “Ating bel bilong yupela i pas a?” This Pidgin English sentence means, “I think your intestines are blocked up, huh?” The word for “heart” in Pidgin English is bel, which means “intestines.” When I asked my translation helper how to say this Pidgin English question in the Sinasina language, he replied, “Den miriyen sigii dimio?” When I asked what this Sinasina language question meant, he said, “It means that Jesus was asking the disciples if their intestines were stopped up.” He further explained that this meant that Jesus was asking them if they were constipated. A missionary was trying to translate Genesis 39:9 where Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The missionary asked the translation helper for a word that would be the equivalent of the English word how. The translation helper dutifully gave the missionary the literal Sinasina equivalent of the English word how, but the missionary was not aware that the Sinasina


Problem Areas in Translation word for how means “by what means.” By trying to match literally the English word how with the Sinasina word how, the meaning of the verse in the Sinasina language meant, “By what means can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” It meant that Joseph was asking Potiphar’s wife if she could suggest a way that they could commit adultery without people discovering it. Literal translating like this can often result in a meaning that is the opposite of the intended meaning. General Motors has always boasted of how the Fisher Company makes their auto bodies. “Body by Fisher” was their boast in English. However, their sales of cars in Belgium dropped when they used the Flemish translation of the words “Body by Fisher.” The literal Flemish translation meant, “Corpse by Fisher.” Chevrolet tried to sell a car in Spanish-speaking countries with the name Nova, but Spanish people did not want to buy a car named Nova, because “no va” in Spanish means, “It will not go.” The Parker Pen Company advertised in Spanish what they thought meant, “Avoid embarrassment from leaky pens. Buy Parker pens!” However, the Spanish word chosen for embarrassment was the word embarazar, which means, “to become pregnant.” The advertisement actually said, “Avoid becoming pregnant from leaky pens. Buy Parker pens!” The Spanish-speaking public thought that Parker pens must be a new kind of contraceptive device. The order in which events occur can be a problem if translated literally into another language. A speaker of the Sinasina language usually translates events in the order in which they occur. A literal translation of Luke 10:34 into Sinasina would give a false impression as to the order of events. Luke 10:34 says that the Good Samaritan stopped to help the victim of a rob-

215 bery and “bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.” If a translator translated this verse literally into Sinasina, it would mean that the Good Samaritan first bandaged the wounds and then poured oil and wine onto the bandages. That was not what happened. Luke 2:16 says, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” If people understand this verse in the literal sequence in which it occurs, it means that the shepherds found the manger to be very crowded with Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in it.

A Bible translator should not always translate figures of speech literally.

Usually, Bible translators should not match figures of speech from one language to another language. Figures of speech have a tendency to be unique to the language that uses them, and if used in other languages, they could cause people to get the wrong meaning. For example, a foreign journalist translated the American expression, “There will be a hot time in the old town tonight” as “It will be excessively warm tonight in the older section of town.” This is a good literal translation, but it does not convey the intended meaning. In a similar way, a translator could literally translate Matthew 23:14, “Ye devour widows’ houses,” which would literally mean in some languages, “You hungrily eat the houses of widows.” Many ethnic readers of this translation would think that the houses of widows were made of edible materials because the Pharisees hungrily ate them! This is not the meaning intended by what Jesus said. The intended meaning was that the Pharisees took advantage of widows and used the occasion of their husband’s death to talk them into giving their valuables to the Pharisees. In this sense, they “devoured” the houses of widows. A Bible trans-


216 lator must at least check his translation with native speakers and if they consistently, time after time, take the words, “Ye devour widows’ houses” to mean, “You hungrily eat widow’s houses” it may be necessary to change the metaphor to what it means rather than what it literally says. If a translator translates this metaphor literally, he may be risking the possibility that people will read “hungrily eating widow’s houses” and decide for themselves that it means whatever their imagination tells them. The human brain functions in such a way that it will make some kind of sense of literal meaning even when the literal meaning does not mean what they think it means. The result will often be a meaning that is far from the intended meaning of the Bible writer.

The problem of abstract words

Another problem for the translator is finding the nearest formal equivalent meanings in the ethnic language for such abstract Bible words as peace, hope, glory, love, and repentance. The English language permits us to change verbs into abstract nouns. Not every language permits this. For example, the words “he repented” (an English verb phrase) can become the English noun repentance. The words “he forgives” can become the English noun forgiveness. “He baptized can become the English noun baptism. Many languages have a different structure from that of English. Instead of using abstract nouns, these languages translate English abstract nouns into verb phrases. For example, in the Sinasina language one must change the word baptism into the verb phrase, “He baptized him.” One must change the word repentance into the verb phrase, “He turned from sin unto God.” The English word friend becomes in the Sinasina language “he with whom I share food.” The English word teacher becomes “he who habitually strikes learning to them.” English grammar

Chapter 28 allows one to change a verb into a noun. In English, the verb phrase, “God saves people” can become the noun salvation. “God declares people to be righteous” can become the noun justification. “God pays the price and sets people free” can become the noun redemption. An abstract English noun that stands for a verb phrase occurs in First Corinthians 13:4: “Charity envieth not.” In this verse, the word charity is an abstract noun that stands for the verb phrase “Someone loves someone.” The word charity does not indicate who loves whom. To translate this word into many languages it is necessary to change charity into the event it represents and supply the subject and object of the verb. Therefore, “Charity envieth not” would become “The person who loves people, is not jealous of them.” Another example is Matthew 26:66: “He is guilty of death.” The word death is an abstract noun that represents an event that someone does, namely, someone dies. Therefore, the sentence “He is guilty of death” becomes “Because he is guilty, they should kill him.” Another example is Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other.” The word salvation is an abstract noun that stands for an event. The event is “Someone saves someone.” Therefore, we may state the event in Acts 4:12 as “No one else can save people.” Another example is Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” The word righteousness is an abstract noun that stands for an event, namely, “Someone does that which is right.” Therefore, we may state the event in Matthew 5:10 as “Blessed are those who do that which is right even though they are persecuted for doing it.” If one refuses to make necessary grammatical structural changes, he may be guilty of taking away from the meaning of the Bible. Please no-


Problem Areas in Translation tice the word necessary. One should only make such changes when it is necessary to preserve the meaning of biblical words. The verses in Revelation 22:18–19 warn us about adding to the text of Scripture. It also warns us about taking away from Scripture. Usually, translators are concerned about adding to the words of Scripture. They should be concerned about that, but it is equally wrong to take away meaning from Scripture by causing readers to get a wrong meaning from an inadequately translated verse. Bible translators must be concerned about taking away from Scripture as well.

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28.1 Abstract nouns can become verbs. Some languages change abstract nouns into verbs. Other languages change verbs into abstract nouns. Some languages do both.

Homework Find the abstract words in the following verses, and adjust them to the events they represent. Then restate the abstract words with the adjustments you made. For example, James 1:15 reads, “Sin bringeth forth death.” The abstract words in this sentence are sin and death. The word sin is a noun that one can change to the verb phrase, “Someone disobeys God’s laws.” The word death is a noun that one can change to the verb phrase “Someone dies.” One could then restate James 1:15 with these adjustments as, “Because people disobey God’s laws, they must die.” Find the abstract words in Colossians 1:8, John 4:10, and John 3:19. After finding the abstract words, adjust them to the events they represent.


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Chapter 29

After hearing about how Joshua told the sun to stand still in Sunday school, a little boy came home and told his parents that the greatest miracle in the Bible was when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

Chapter 29

The Problem of Genitive Structures

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genitive grammatical structure consists of two or more English words with the word of occurring between them. For example, “love of God.” The preposition of indicates that there is a relationship between the two words love and God, but it does not tell us what that relationship is. We do not know if this phrase “love of God” means “God loves us” or “We love God.” This grammatical structure, called a genitive construction, is very common in the New Testament, and it has many meanings. It is especially common in Paul’s epistles, occurring on the average about one time per verse. In the entire New Testament, genitive structures occur about twice in every three verses.

Examples of genitive structures

Acts 21:8: “house of Philip” The word of indicates a relationship between the word house and the word Philip. The relationship between the two words is that of possession. It is Philip’s house. This is the possessive usage of the genitive structure. Luke 1:27: “house of David” The word of indicates a relationship between the word house and the word David. In this case,

the relationship is not that of possession but that of kinship. It means people who are descended from David. Matthew 10:6: “house of Israel” The word of indicates a relationship between the word house and the word Israel. In this case, the relationship between the word house and Israel is not that of possession nor of kinship, but refers to all the people who make up the nation of Israel. The word house in this case means “nation.” Romans 2:4: “goodness of God” In this genitive, the word goodness describes the word God. It means that God is one who does good things for people. The word of could also indicate the meaning that goodness is one of the characteristics of God. Matthew 23:28: “full of hypocrisy” This genitive indicates the degree of the second word hypocrisy. The word full is the degree of hypocrisy. It means “very hypocritical.” Matthew 20:30: “Son of David” This genitive indicates a kinship relationship between the words Son and David. When people called Jesus the Son of David, they were saying, “Jesus is a descendent of David.”


The Problem of Genitive Structures Matthew 15:31: “God of Israel” This genitive indicates that God is Israel’s God. He is not their God in the sense that they possess him, but in the sense that God has a unique relationship with the nation of Israel. Matthew 1:1: “Bethlehem of Judea” This genitive relates the word Bethlehem to the word Judea to mean that Bethlehem is located in Judea province. Luke 24:49: “city of Jerusalem” This genitive relates the word city to the word Jerusalem to indicate that the name of the city is Jerusalem. Matthew 10:42: “a cup of cold water” This genitive relates the word cup to the words “cold water” to mean that the cup contains cold water. Luke 13:21: “three measures of meal” This genitive indicates that the amount of the meal was three measures. Mark 1:1: “Gospel of Jesus Christ” This genitive is equal to saying, “the gospel is about what Jesus Christ did and said.” Revelation 12:1: “crown of twelve stars” This genitive means that the crown consisted of twelve stars. Acts 1:22: “baptism of John” This genitive relates the word baptism to the word John to mean that John baptized people. Matthew 12:31: “blasphemy of the Spirit” This genitive is a way of saying that a person makes a false statement that maligns the reputation of the Spirit. Second Thessalonians 2:10: “love of the truth” This genitive indicates that the word truth is the receiver of the action of the verb love. It means, “They love doctrine that is true.”

219 Ephesians 4:30: “day of redemption” This genitive construction means that the word day stands for the time when God will complete redemption. Philippians 4:9: “God of peace” This genitive means that God causes people to be at peace with one another. It could also mean that God gives people peace in their minds. The context will determine which meaning is the correct one. John 5:29: “resurrection of damnation” This genitive indicates a relationship between the word resurrection and the word damnation. The relationship is the chronological order in which the two events take place. The chronological order of events will be that God first raises unbelievers from the dead, and then he condemns them to eternal punishment. First Thessalonians 1:3: “work of faith” This genitive means that because people believe in Christ, they do good works to serve Christ. First Corinthians 1:12: “I am of Paul” This genitive indicates a relationship between the words “I am” and the word Paul. In this case, the relationship means, “I follow Paul’s teaching.” Luke 4:34: “Jesus of Nazareth” This genitive means that Jesus grew up in the city of Nazareth. Acts 1:22: “a witness of his resurrection” This genitive means that a person bears witness to the fact that Jesus arose from the dead.

Analyzing genitive structures

One can also analyze genitive structures by using the four components of referential meaning: Things, Events, Abstracts, and Relationals.


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Chapter 29

In the same way that we would analyze any other sentence or phrase, we can also do this with genitive structures. Galatians 3:2, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith.” What do the words “the hearing of faith” mean?

1. Analyze the components. the hearing of faith

A (T) E (T) R (T) E (T)

2. State the event(s).

Someone hears that which someone preached. Someone believes that which someone preached.

3. State the relationship of the components to indicate the meaning of the verse.

The meaning of the verse is, “You did not receive the Spirit by obeying the law and doing good works. You received the Spirit by hearing the Gospel that was preached to you and believing it.” Another way to state this same meaning would be “This only would I learn from you. Did you receive the Spirit because you obeyed the law and did good works, or did you receive the Spirit because you heard the Gospel and believed it?”

29.1 The fruit of our lips?

Homework Read in Bible Translating by Eugene Nida, pages 64 (starting at 5.2) to page 70, and answer the following questions. 1. What is text material in an ethnic language? 2. How many pages of text material should a translator analyze before he begins Bible translation work? 3. What is the meaning of the genitive structure in the verses that follow? Mark 3:17: “The sons of thunder” Revelation 1:1: “The revelation of Jesus Christ” Hebrews 13:15: “The fruit of our lips”


The Problem of Rhetorical Questions

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An American missionary, flying on British Airways, was walking to his seat when he noticed a little girl about three years old. He remarked to the girl’s mother, “She’s a cute little bugger.” The mother was very angry. In British English, “cute little bugger” means “cute little prostitute.”

Chapter 30

The Problem of Rhetorical Questions

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characteristic of Eastern Semitic culture is the use of rhetorical questions. An American asked a Jewish friend why it was that when someone asked him a question he always replied with a question. He replied, “Why not?” Not all cultures use rhetorical questions to this same degree, but in biblical languages, rhetorical questions indicate many different kinds of meaning. In American culture, we usually ask a question to get information, and we usually expect an answer to our question. A rhetorical question is actually not a question at all. The person asking a rhetorical question is not seeking information. Instead, he is using a rhetorical question to communicate information. By using a rhetorical question, a person may be trying to ridicule an action, call attention to a particular part of a statement, or emphasize his line of reasoning. When we read questions in the Bible, we do not hear the voice inflections of the speaker. Therefore, we do not always know whether the speaker’s question means that he is asking for information or making a statement. Actually, the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures contained no question marks or any other forms of punctuation. Usually, the compilers of the Hebrew and Greek texts carefully noted the context and were able to decide whether a sentence was a question asking for information or a rhetorical question used to

make a statement. After the first compilers of the biblical texts added their question marks, others also added other punctuation marks and more question marks to our English Bible texts. For this reason, we are not completely sure when a question in Scripture is asking for information or is a rhetorical question that is making a statement. The Sinasina people use rhetorical questions mainly to ridicule another person. They will say, “Kinan gii dimo?” that means, “Are your ears plugged up?” The intended meaning is “You should have done what I told you to do!” In Genesis 39:9, the question that Joseph used in his reply to the wife of Potiphar is a rhetorical question. He intended to express the horror of sinning against God. Joseph says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” This is not a question asking for information. Joseph is speaking to the wife of Potiphar, who is tempting him to commit adultery with her. He is saying, “I most certainly will not do such a great wickedness and sin against God!” If a translator does not realize this and translates this as a real question, it could mean that Joseph was asking Potiphar’s wife for her suggestion about how they could get away with committing adultery. Matthew 18:12 reads, “How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and


222 nine and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” If one were to translate this as a literal question, in many languages it could mean just the opposite of what Jesus intended. It could mean that Jesus said, “A man who had 100 sheep and one of them got lost, he certainly would not leave the 99 sheep in danger just to go and look for one lost sheep!” In this case, the question would mean that Jesus was ridiculing such a foolish idea. However, Jesus used this question to show the reasonableness of leaving the 99 sheep to go and find the one lost sheep. It may be necessary to remove the rhetorical question and make it a statement of fact: “A man who has 100 sheep, and one of them is gone astray, he will leave the 99 sheep, and go into the mountains to find the one which has gone astray.”

Is it a rhetorical question or a real question?

There are two things one must consider when interpreting questions. 1. Is the question asking for information? If not, it may be a rhetorical question. 2. What is the purpose for asking the question? If the purpose is to indicate the speaker’s attitude about what someone has done or said, it may be a rhetorical question. If someone other than the questioner answers the question, the question is likely a real question. However, if a question remains unanswered, or if the questioner answers it himself, it is probably a rhetorical question. One must carefully consider the context of each question to determine the intended meaning of the question.

Five meanings expressed by rhetorical questions

There are about 1,000 questions in the New Testament. These questions divide into two groups: questions asking for information and rhetorical questions. About 70% of the questions in the New Testament are rhetorical ques-

Chapter 30 tions. A speaker may use rhetorical questions to indicate the following kinds of meaning: 1. He may want to emphasize the negative or positive aspect of something someone did or said. 2. He may want to emphasize the certainty or uncertainty of something someone did or said. 3. He may want to emphasize his evaluation of something someone did or said. 4. He may want to emphasize a command or exhortation. 5. He may want to introduce a new subject or some aspect of his subject.

1. Emphasis

Rhetorical questions often mean that one is emphasizing the negative or positive aspect of a statement. For example, Luke 12:14 reads, “Who made me a judge or divider over you?” By using this rhetorical question, Jesus emphasized the meaning, “No one made me a judge or divider over you!” In John 18:35 we read, “Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew?’” Pilate used this rhetorical question to emphasize that he certainly was not a Jew. He used the question to ridicule the fact that the Jews had brought Jesus to him, a Roman, to judge Jesus according to Jewish laws. He was implying “I do not know your Jewish laws, so you should not expect me to judge Jesus according to the laws of the Jews.”

2. Certainty

Sometimes, people use rhetorical questions to indicate certainty or uncertainty. For example, Luke 11:12 reads, “Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” Jesus uses this rhetorical question to indicate the certainty that a father would not offer his child a scorpion! A similar example occurs in First Corinthians 12:17 which reads, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?” Paul uses this rhetorical question to indicate the certainty that there would be no hearing at all, if the whole body consisted only of an eye. Matthew 6:30 reads, “Shall he not much more clothe


The Problem of Rhetorical Questions you?” This rhetorical question emphasizes that God would certainly clothe you! Matthew 26:55 reads, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me?” This rhetorical question means, “You have come out with swords and staves to arrest me as if I were a thief!” Mark 3:23 reads, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” This rhetorical question means, “Satan certainly does not cast out his own demons!” Luke 16:11 reads, “If therefore ye have not been faithful who will commit to your trust the true riches?” This rhetorical question means, “If you have not been faithful, certainly no one would commit true riches to your trust!” Matthew 13:56 reads, “Whence then hath this man all these things?” This rhetorical question means, “We do not know the source of all these things this man does!” Matthew 6:31 reads, “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” These are rhetorical questions meaning, “We are uncertain about what we will eat, drink, or wear.”

3. Evaluation

Jewish people often used rhetorical questions to express an evaluation of a situation. Matthew 7:3 reads, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” This is using a rhetorical question to say, “Before you judge your brother’s faults you should first judge your own faults.” Matthew 8:26 reads, “Why are ye fearful?” This is a way of saying, “You should not be fearful!” Mark 2:7 reads, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?” This is an evaluation meaning, “This man should stop speaking blasphemies!” Mark 14:4 reads, “Why was this waste of the ointment made?” This is an evaluation that means, “This waste of the ointment should not have been made!”

4. Exhortation

Some rhetorical questions indicate a command or exhortation. For example, Mark 14:6

223 reads, “Why trouble ye her?” This is a way of saying, “Stop troubling her!” Romans 14:10 reads, “Why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” This is a way to say, “You should not set at nought your brother!”

5. Introduce a new subject.

Sometimes rhetorical questions indicate the beginning of a new subject or they introduce some new aspect of the same subject. For example, Matthew 11:16 reads, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation?” This is a way of saying, “I will tell you what this generation is like.” Then Jesus tells them what this generation is like. Another example is Matthew 12:48, where Jesus says, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” If a translator translates this question literally, it could mean that Jesus did not know who his mother and his brothers were. It would mean that he was asking someone to tell him who his mother was and who his brothers were. These two questions are rhetorical questions, and they mean, “I will tell you who my mother is and who my brethren are.” Then with his hand, he gestured toward his disciples indicating that those who do the will of his Father are, as it were, his mothers, and his brothers! John 13:12 reads, “Know ye what I have done to you?” This is a rhetorical question meaning, “I will explain to you the meaning of what I have done to you.” In Mark 13:2 Jesus asks his disciples “Seest thou these great buildings?” Jesus is using a rhetorical question to say, “I want to tell you something about these great buildings.” In Matthew 11:8 Jesus says, “But what went ye out for to see?” Jesus spoke these words about John the Baptist. This rhetorical question means, “I will explain to you some things about this person you went out to see.” Then Jesus proceeds to explain to them the purpose for the ministry of John the Baptist.


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Other uses of rhetorical questions

People often use rhetorical questions to prohibit an action. We read in First Corinthians 6:16 “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?” In this verse, Paul used a rhetorical question to condemn an evil action. Paul says in First Corinthians 3:5, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?” Paul is using a rhetorical question to belittle the divisive attitude of putting one servant of God above another. In Matthew 3:14, we read, “But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” John used this rhetorical question to show a polite disapproval, but not an absolute refusal to baptize Jesus. Mark 4:41 reads, “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The disciples most likely used this rhetorical question to show their astonishment at the power of Jesus. However, they may have used it as an actual question because they wondered whether Jesus was truly God or not. When they saw Jesus make the wind and the sea obey him, any doubt they may have had about Jesus being God began to fade away.

Adjusting rhetorical questions

The translator must find out how ethnic people use rhetorical questions. Some ethnic languages do not use rhetorical questions in the same way that Jesus did. They use rhetorical questions in ways that are different from the ways people used them in the Bible. Sometimes the speaker wishes to moderate the boldness of an action. In Matthew 3:14, John expressed his polite disapproval of his baptizing Jesus. John said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” This was John’s way of indicating he was reluctant to baptize Je-

Chapter 30 sus because Jesus was superior to him. We will need to know what the function of a question is in a particular verse, and we will need to know how we should translate this meaning into the ethnic language. If ethnic people constantly misunderstand a question in the Bible, it may be they use rhetorical questions only to ridicule or emphasize the negative aspects of an action. In this case, the translator may have to make an adjustment to make the question understandable in the way the writer of Scripture intended.

Three ways to adjust rhetorical questions:

1. Change the question into a statement.

In John 18:35, Pilate asks Jesus, “Am I a Jew?” If this question is repeatedly taken to mean that Pilate was not sure whether he was a Jew or not, and so he was asking Jesus if he knew whether he was a Jew, it may be necessary to change this to the statement “I am not a Jew!” Matthew 5:13 reads, “If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” A translator may need to adjust this to read, “If salt has lost its savour, (by pollution) the savour cannot be restored.” Matthew 5:46 reads, “If you love them which love you, what reward have ye?” One may have to adjust it to read, “If you love only those who love you, you will not be rewarded for that.” Romans 3:9 reads, “Are we [Jews] better than they?” One may need to change this to read; “We [Jews] are no better than they are.” Romans 6:15 reads, “Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” One may need to adjust this to read, “We should not sin just because we are not under the law, but under grace.” Hebrews 1:5 reads, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?” One may need to adjust this to read, “He has never said to any of the angels at any time, you are my Son.”


The Problem of Rhetorical Questions 2. Change negative questions to positive statements.

John 7:19 says, “Did not Moses give you the law?” One may adjust this to read, “Moses gave you the law.” Matthew 5:46 reads, “Do not even the publicans the same?” One may adjust this to read, “Even publicans do the same.” In Matthew 13:55, it says “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” One can change this to read, “He is merely the carpenter’s son” (not God’s Son).

225 Whaddya mean I never shave?

3. Supply an answer to the question.

In Romans 8:31, it reads, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” One could supply the answer, “No one!” In Second Corinthians 6:15, it reads, “And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” One could supply the answer, “None at all!” Mark 8:37 reads, “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Because people often misunderstand this verse to mean, “A man can give something in exchange for his soul,” one may answer the question by saying, “He cannot give anything in exchange for his soul!”

30.1 To shave or not to shave. That is the question.

Homework 1. Change the question in John 6:70 to its nearest formal equivalent statement. 2. Change the negative questions in Matthew 13:55 into positive statements. 3. Supply the answers to the questions in Romans 8:31.


226

Chapter 31

During the Sunday school service at Easter, a pastor announced, “Mrs. Jones will now come up and lay an egg on the altar.”

Chapter 31

The Problem of Passive Voice

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any languages do not have a passive voice. In order to translate into these languages one must change all passive voice sentences to active voice sentences.

John hit the dog. (subject) (verb) (object)

When the subject of a sentence is performing the action, as in the words “John hit the dog,” the sentence is in the active voice. John, the subject of the sentence, is the person who hit the dog. The dog is the object of the verb hit. There is a subject (John), a verb (hit), and a receiver of the action of the verb (the dog). This is an active voice sentence. The dog is being hit by John. (subject) (verb) (agent)

When the subject is the receiver of the action, as in the words “The dog is being hit by John,” the sentence is in the passive voice. “The dog,” the subject of the sentence, is the receiver of the action of the verb hit. There is a subject, “The dog”; a verb, “is being hit”; a receiver of the action of the verb, “the dog”; and the one doing the action of the verb, “John.” This is a passive voice sentence. Another example of an active voice sentence is, “My father gave a watch to me.” The subject is “My father,” the verb is “gave,” and the object is “me.” The subject (“My father”) is acting, and the receiver of that action is “me.” This is an active voice sentence. One can change it to

the passive voice by saying, “I was given a watch by my father.” The subject now is “I.” The verb is “was given.” The receiver of the action of the verb is the subject “I.” This makes the active voice sentence become a passive voice sentence.

Another kind of passive voice

When there is no subject in a declarative sentence, one may consider it a statement in the passive voice. Mark 1:9 reads, “Jesus was baptized of John.” Jesus is the receiver of the action of the verb baptized. Therefore, this sentence is in the passive voice. To change it to the active voice, one must make John the subject and Jesus the receiver of the action of the verb. Then it would read, “John baptized Jesus.” Mark 2:5 reads “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” This sentence is in the passive voice because the subject is the receiver of the action of the verb. We could change it to an active voice by supplying the subject of the sentence. Jesus was speaking, therefore the sentence would read, “I [Jesus] forgive your sins.” Now the sentence is in the active voice John 19:20 reads “The place where Jesus was crucified.” This sentence is in the passive voice because the subject receives the action of the verb. To change it into a sentence in the active voice we supply the subject by saying, “The place where they [subject] crucified [verb] Jesus [object].”


The Problem of Passive Voice James 1:13 reads “I am tempted of God.” The subject I is receiving the action of the verb tempted. This verse is in the passive voice because the subject is the receiver of the action of the verb. To change the sentence to the active voice one could say, “God [subject] is tempting [verb] me [object].”

The problem of passive voice only

On the other hand, some languages have only passive voice sentences and no active voice. In these languages, one must change all active voice sentences into passive voice sentences.

227 Mark 13:5 reads, “…lest any man deceive you.” This sentence is in the active voice. The words “any man” are the subject, the word deceive is the verb, and the word you is the object. In languages that only use the passive voice, this active-voice sentence must be changed to read, “…lest you be deceived by any man.” Acts 1:6 reads, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” To change this sentence to the passive voice we would say, “Lord, will the kingdom be restored to Israel at this time by you?”

Homework 1. Recast the following phrases into the active voice: Mark 2:5: “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Colossians 1:11: “Strengthened with all might” Mark 1:14: “Now after that John was put in prison.” 2. Study the following terms and concepts to be sure you understand them: Translation Translation occurs when one takes the meaning of a message, which a writer had encoded by the words of his language, and translates that same meaning by using the nearest formal equivalent of those words in another language. Compare translation to transliteration. Encode A person encodes his thoughts by putting them into words, either spoken or written. One can encode messages in other ways, but the writing of word symbols is the most important encoding method for a Bible translator. Source The source of a message Decode One decodes a message when one hears it, reads it, and understands it. One can decode messages in other ways, but the reading of a message of word symbols is the most important decoding method for a Bible translator.

Receiver The receiver of a message Source language Men received the original message from God and encoded it into the source languages of Hebrew and Greek. In the case of Bible translation, the source languages would be the ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek languages. Receiver or receptor language The receptor language is the language into which one translates the Bible. Sometimes people refer to the receptor language as the Target Language. Semantics Semantics is the study of how word symbols indicate meaning. Referential meaning Referential meaning is the meaning of a word when it refers to an object in the physical world. It can refer to an event that happens. It can refer to an abstraction. It can refer to a


228 relationship that exists between objects and events.

Connotative meaning The meaning of a word that results from the emotional attachment one has to that word. Literal translation Literal translating is transferring the meaning of a word in the source language into the meaning of a word in the receiver language without any regard for context, idioms, figures of speech and other literary devices. For example, the word πνευμα that usually means “spirit” can mean “evil spirit,” “the Spirit of God,” “wind,” and other meanings that must be determined from the context in which the word πνευμα occurs. To translate the word πνευμα literally in every context as “spirit” would be a translation mistake. Transliteration When one transfers a word from one language to another language letter by letter, we say that such a word is transliterated. For example, the word baptize in Romans 6:3 is a transliteration, not a translation. The translators of the Greek word baptizo transliterated this word letter by letter into English as baptize. No translation occurred. Only transliteration occurred. The inspiration of Scripture Inspiration of Scripture is that extraordinary supernatural control exerted by the Holy Spirit upon the writers of the Bible by which the words they wrote were the words of God and therefore, are perfect and without error. Inerrant This word, when applied to the Bible, means that there are no errors in the texts of Scripture. The Bible does not say something that is not true. No one has added words to what the original writers wrote, and no one has deleted words from the text they wrote. God not only inspired His Word but also providentially preserved the inerrancy of it through the nation of Israel and Christian churches. Therefore,

Chapter 31 the inerrancy of Scripture that God inspired during the time of Israel and the early Christian church has continued until the present day in the Hebrew and Greek copies that are 99.9% the same as the original autographs of Scripture.

Back translation The translator back translates the ethnic language text into an English form that reflects the meaning of the ethnic text. The purpose of this is to enable a translation consultant to check the translation for accuracy, deletions, additions, and so on. The consultant checking the translation may not know the receiver language, but if the translator has done an honest and well-done back translation of his ethnic Bible translation, the consultant can read the back translation, understand what the receiver language text is saying, and be able to check it for accuracy, deletions, additions, and so on. Exegesis Exegesis is taking out meaning from the words and grammatical structures of a Bible paragraph. Exegesis is the opposite of eisegesis. Eisegesis is the placing of one’s own meaning into the words and grammar of a Bible paragraph without giving attention to what the words and grammar actually mean. Idiom An idiom is an expression consisting of words, the meaning of which one should not try to understand by taking the words literally. The majority text This is the text of the Bible derived from adding up the number of manuscripts that agree on which textual variants are the original readings in the autographs of Scripture. One decides which variants in the text are legitimate by choosing the variants that agree with the most manuscripts. This is how we got the Received or Accepted Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible. The nation of Israel and Christian churches accepted this text as the only valid one until 1881, when the first Critical text appeared.


The Problem of Passive Voice The critical text Textual critics decide the critical text by applying the rules of textual criticism to Hebrew and Greek variants. This involves judging whether a variant reading of Scripture is the original reading or not. Textual critics decide which variants are the original ones based on external evidences; internal probabilities; and the prejudiced rules of modern textual criticism. Componential analysis Componential analysis is a literary method that uses the four basic semantic components of meaning, thing-words, event-words, abstract-words, and relational-words to analyze the grammar of the source language text to discover its meaning. Source text Bible translators refer to the text that one uses as the basis for his translating the Bible into another language as the Source Text. An English speaking Bible translator should use the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Textus Receptus Greek text, and the King James Version as the basis for his Bible translating. Canon of the Bible The books of the Bible that the nation of Israel and early Christian churches accepted as authentic Scripture are known as canonical books. The word canon is a transliteration of the Greek word κανον (canon) that means “a measuring rule or a standard.” The early churches set up standards by which they decided whether a book or letter should be included in the Bible. In A.D. 397 at the Council of Carthage, the churches decided which books of the Bible were canonical. At this time, the churches closed the Canon of Scripture to any further writings. Although earlier Christian churches had already judged the books of the Bible to be canonical long before the Council of Carthage, this was the first time the churches made a formal recognition of the canonical books of the Bible. The early churches decided the canonical quality of a book or letter based on four criteria:

229 1. The author of the book must be a prophet, an apostle, or a servant of God. 2. As far as the Old Testament is concerned, the nation of Israel and Christian churches must approve the book as part of the canon of Scripture. 3. The obvious marks of inspiration must be upon the book or epistle. 4. The book or epistle must spiritually enlighten God’s people in Israel and in the Christian churches. The Canon of Scripture, as authenticated in A.D. 397, continued until 1545 when a pope, presiding over the Council of Trent, decided that fourteen books of the Apocrypha should be included in the Canon of Scripture. However, the Jewish community and faithful Christian churches have always considered the pope’s decision to include the apocryphal books as part of Scripture as unlawful and dishonest.

Scroll The writers of Scriptures wrote on rolled up scrolls. Scrolls were in use long before codexes, so biblical manuscripts written on scrolls are older than biblical manuscripts written in codexes. Codex Codexes are Scriptures written on pages that are bound together to form a book. Majuscule One refers to Scriptures written in all capital letters as majuscule text or uncial text. Authors of original Scriptures wrote books using all capital letters, majuscule text, with no punctuation marks. Majuscule biblical texts began to appear in 500 B.C. or earlier. Minuscule One refers to Scriptures written in small letters as minuscule text or cursive text. Minuscule texts included some punctuation marks. Scriptures written in minuscule text began to appear at the end of the first century A.D.


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Chapter 32

“The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the original [Hebrew] in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, and majesty; yet which of the apostles did condemn it. Condemn it? Nay, they used it… which they would not have done if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the Word of God.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 427)

Chapter 32

The Problem of Translating from a Translation

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ible translators of the second and third centuries A.D. used the Greek Old Testament, which was itself a translation, as the basis for making translations of the Old Testament into Mediterranean languages. These early translations of the Greek Old Testament were made in the Sahidic, Bohairic, Ethiopic, and other languages spoken in the Mediterranean region. This was a translation mistake. This mistake was due to the sincere, but mistaken belief, that the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was itself a divinely inspired translation. Bible translators should not make translations solely from another Bible translation to the exclusion of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. It is acceptable for a Bible translator to use a particular Bible translation as a source of help for his translating. However, in the final analysis, he must ensure that his translation conforms to the standard as set by the original Hebrew Old Testament and the original Greek New Testament. A Bible translator must be certain that his translated biblical text conforms to the Hebrew and Greek texts. If a Bible translator makes a translation based exclusively upon another translation, he is moving the readers of his translation two steps away from the original text of Scripture. This tends to produce inaccurate translations. He could have avoided inaccurate translations had he based his translation on the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Therefore, translators should use the original Hebrew text to guide their translation of the Old Testament and the original Greek text to guide

their translation of the New Testament. If one is not familiar with the Hebrew and Greek texts, he should consult references until he is experienced in the use of the Hebrew and Greek texts. One must realize that God used common people to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. Because of the prejudices of the scribes and Pharisees, they were not available to God to translate God’s Word into Greek. Instead, God used ordinary people who were available to Him for the translation of his Word. God often uses ordinary people who are available to Him more than He does people who have greater ability. Availability to God is the greatest ability. One should not consider any translation of Scriptures as inspired or inerrant. Bible translation is a process that takes place over many years. During these years, a translator’s translation skills progressively improve. He makes revisions of his translation that reflect these improvements. However, even with improving skills, a translator may still make some inadequate translations of words and verses that will need revision later. A missionary’s Bible translation is inspired only to the extent that it faithfully conveys the same meanings that were in the words of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. If a missionary’s Bible translation of the words, phrases, and sentences of the Bible does not faithfully convey the same meaning as the words, phrases, and sentences in the original Hebrew and Greek texts, this translation does not


The Problem of Translating from a Translation transmit the inspiration of Scripture in those words, phrases, sentences that do not agree with the Hebrew and Greek texts. Therefore, one should correct an inadequate translation by revising it until it adequately conveys the meaning of the words in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Multiple revisions of translated biblical texts are inevitable. Revision is a necessary part of making a good Bible translation a better one. Printing mistakes and theological prejudices should cause one to realize that good and faithful translations develop over an extended period during which the translator overcomes many obstacles. Do not expect your translation of Scripture to be perfect the first time you translate and print it. Most likely, you will need time to develop your translation skills as you learn more of the people’s language and culture. Realize that mistakes, whether printing mistakes, translation blunders, or theological prejudices are inevitable and should be taken into account in all Bible translation projects. It is a noble desire to want one’s translation of the Bible to be perfect the first time one translates it, but it is unrealistic to assume that it will be so. One must diligently proofread his translation for mistakes and correct them. One must diligently guard against putting his own theological preferences in his translation. For these reasons, a refinement process is necessary to make a faithful translation of the Scriptures. This same refinement process has taken place with the revisions made in the King James Version. This is one of the reasons that in spite of printing mistakes and Anglican bishops, the King James Version remains the most accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek Received texts in the English language. Even with its problems, the King James Version delivers to us the best translation in English of the inspired, inerrant word of God. This is due to the King James Version’s faithfulness to the Hebrew and Greek Received texts to which the King James Version conforms in 99.7 percent of its content.

231 You should understand that God watches over his Word to keep it pure. He uses his faithful people, not necessarily scholars, to protect the Word of God from cultists, bishops, misguided translators, and even inadequate translators. See Psalm 12:6–7 that says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” This verse indicates that silver is refined seven times to remove impurities from it. This same process of purification takes place in the purifying effect of revising and correcting translated Scriptures until they adequately express at least 99.7 percent of the same word meanings found in the Hebrew and Greek Received texts. Realize that even though there are differences in the abilities of Bible translators, all of them will need some help from someone who can be more objective about a particular translator’s translation work. Everyone is inclined to think his translation of Scripture is the best one ever, but someone with a more objective view can be a great help in pointing out deficiencies, theological preferences, and other problems in the translation. Do not be surprised if cultists try to pervert your translation to serve their own purposes. Many cults, since the beginning of time, have tried to pervert translations of God’s words in ways that support their false doctrine. See Genesis 3:1 that reads, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” The distorting of God’s words has been a problem from the time of the Garden of Eden until the present day. Because early Christians were effectively using the Greek Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, some Jewish translators deliberately translated their own prejudiced versions of the Old Testament into Greek for the express purpose of undermining the authority of the ancient Greek Old Testament. Since that time, and until now, translators have produced versions whose purpose is to undermine both the Greek Old Testament and the King James Version. Translators


232 have tried to mutilate both of these versions by producing many prejudiced versions, but both the Greek Old Testament and the King James Version have survived many deliberate attempts to make them agree with false teaching.

God uses imperfect translations.

Imperfect translations are necessary because Bible translation is a process that takes place over a long period, during which the translator improves his translation skills and learns more about the language and culture into which he is translating. A translator must improve imperfect translations until they are closer to perfection. Even though the process of improvement by revision may be stopped before coming to a more perfect translation, the translation is still of value for communicating the truths of God’s Word. Even though a percentage of a Bible translation may contain translation problems yet unsolved, the translation is still of great value for communicating God’s words. The translators of the Greek Old Testament were the first ones to use many theological vocabulary words that the New Testament writers later used in the Greek New Testament. For example, the translators of the Greek Old Testament used the word propitiation (‘ilasthrion) in the Greek translation of the Book of Exodus. The word propitiation refers to the lid of the Ark of the Covenant where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice once a year. The blood of the lamb satisfied God’s righteous justice so that the sinner did not have to die for his own sins. The lamb or bullock died in the place of the offender. After the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, the righteous justice of God was satisfied, and God showed mercy to the people of Israel by forgiving their sins. Even such an important word as believe (pisteuw) was first used in the Greek Old Testament in Isaiah 28:16 that says, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” One can learn much about the meaning of New Testament words by check-

Chapter 32 ing the context of those same words in the Greek Old Testament. The survival of the Greek Old Testament, without the corruptions of Roman Catholicism, was not due to the diligence of scholars. It was due to the reverential care given to it, first by God’s people in the nation of Israel, and after that by God’s people in the early Christian churches. The Holy Spirit bore witness with these peoples’ spirits to enable them to make a difference between God’s revelation and the false revelation of the apocryphal books. Therefore, we should take the confusing decisions of modern day textual critics with a large grain of salt. Textual critics did not preserve God’s Word for us. God Himself, by his Spirit, bore witness in the hearts of God’s people who protected and preserved God’s Word down through the centuries until the present day. The opinions expressed by textual critics in the last half of this century have proven that modern textual criticism ends in conflicting results. This creates a confused ineffectiveness where there is very little agreement even among the textual critics. God’s people should stop looking to modernistic scholars to deliver to them a better Bible text. We already have 99.9 percent of the inspired, inerrant text of the Bible in the Received Hebrew and Greek texts as accepted and preserved by God’s people through the ages until the present day. Therefore, we do not need modernistic, prejudiced textual criticism to deliver to us a better biblical text.

32.1 The opinions of textual critics in the last half of this century have proven that modern textual criticism ends in confusion and inconsistent results.


The Problem of Indirect Quotations

233

Advertisers translated the name Coca-Cola into Chinese as “Ke-kou-ke-la.” The CocaCola Company did not discover until they had printed thousands of signs that the phrase “Ke-kou-ke-la” means, “Bite the wax tadpole.”

Chapter 33

The Problem of Indirect Quotations

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ome languages do not use indirect quotations. An example of an indirect quotation is Mark 5:20, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” In many languages, the grammatical structure of the language would make it necessary to change this indirect quotation to a direct quotation. Mark 5:20 would then read, “And he departed and began to tell people in Decapolis, ‘Jesus has done great things for me:’ and all men did marvel.” Mark 5:18 is a similar example, “And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.” In many languages, the translators must change this indirect quotation to a direct quotation. It would read, “And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him saying, ‘Let me be with you.’” Mark 3:9 reads, “And he spake to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.” To change this indirect quotation into a direct quote it would read, “He said to his disciples, ‘The people are all trying to touch me. Get a small boat for me to board to keep them from thronging me.’”

Mark 9:10 reads, “And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.” One could change this to a direct quote that would read, “They discussed what Jesus had said saying, ‘What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘I will die, and rise from the dead?’”

Direct quotations in other languages

In many languages, people express thoughts, opinions, and desires by direct quotations. The Sinasina people express many things using direct quotations. For example, the words, “Přřř dipumue” in Sinasina mean, “Saying přřř (the sound of flapping wings), it went,” meaning, “The bird flew away.” The Sinasina people also say, “Kolare bee dimue.” This literally means, “The chicken is saying, ‘bee.’” This means, “The chicken is crowing.” When a Sinasina man goes hunting he will say, “Kabe sinale dipiyue.” This literally means, “Saying, ‘I shall kill animals’ I am going.” One must translate the words in Romans 2:15, “Their conscience also bearing witness,” into the Sinasina New Testament with a direct quotation. The direct quote reads, “Their innermost


234 thoughts cry out saying, ‘You are doing right,’ or ‘You are doing wrong.’” The first problem with direct quotations is that we may not know the exact words that the speaker used. Because one must use a direct quote in many languages, the words in the quote are supposed to read exactly as the speaker said them. Usually, it is possible to construct from the context exactly what the speaker said, but sometimes this is difficult to do.

Chapter 33

Should one use quotation marks?

If you want to use quotation marks in your translation, you should know that keeping track of quotes within quotes could become complicated. If the language structure itself indicates where a direct quote begins and ends, one could leave quotation marks out of the translation. This would be one less problem to worry about.

33.1 A Sinasina pig says, “gogu.” In the Sinasina language, a pig says “gogu” and runs away. The words “Bona ‘gogu’ dire tii pumue” literally mean, “A pig saying ‘gogu’ runs away.”


The Problem of Implied Information

235

A sign in a Tokyo shop said, “Our nylons cost more than common, but you’ll find they are best in the long run.”

Chapter 34

The Problem of Implied Information

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mplied information is information the original readers of the Bible understood even though the author did not include that information in the text. The author knew that his readers understood this information, so there was no need for him to include it in his writing.

34.1 Many died that others may live.

This is one of the characteristics of Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew, writing to Jewish readers, took it for granted that his readers understood Jewish history and culture. Matthew leaves information about Jewish history and culture implied because his readers clearly understood the implied information without Matthew actually stating it. The problem arises when one translates the book of Matthew into an ethnic language

of people who do not have an understanding of Jewish history and culture. They will not be able to fill in the implied information that every Jewish reader took for granted. The King James Version sometimes adds words, usually in a different font, that were necessary either for good English grammar or for understanding the verse correctly. In Matthew 1:19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” There is some information that is implied but not stated. The implied information is that Joseph was “not willing to make her a publick example by accusing her of being immoral.” Matthew 2:9 says, “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” The implied information that is not stated is that the star “went before them, till it came and stood over the house where the young child was.” Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children…” The implied information that is not stated is that “Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth soldiers who went and slayed all the children…”


236 Matthew 4:21 says, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them to follow him.” Matthew 5:41 says, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” The implied information that is not stated is “And whosoever shall compel thee to go with him to carry his gear for a mile, go with him and carry it for two miles.” Matthew 16:14 says, “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” This verse has at least two bits of implied information that ethnic language readers would not know. The first bit of implied information is that the men mentioned in this verse had all died long ago. Another bit of information implied is that at this time, the Jewish people thought that Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremias, or one of the prophets who had died but now had arisen from the dead and returned to Galilee. The other bit of implied information is that the Jewish people at this time thought that Elias would return to earth in person to set up the Messianic kingdom in Israel. They thought that possibly Jesus was Elias for whom they had been waiting. They had visions of Elias coming with great power to exalt Israel and deliver them from their bondage to the Roman government. Ethnic readers would not know this implied information that Matthew and his readers took for granted. Another example of implied information is found in John 18:32, which reads, “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.” The original readers of the Gospel of John knew this meant that Jesus died by crucifixion, but ethnic readers, who are unfamiliar with Roman law that required crucifixion as the death penalty, would not be aware of this implied information.

Chapter 34 Matthew 8:21–22 reads, “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” The words of Jesus appear to be severe. It sounds like He is telling the man he should not attend the funeral of his dead father. Obviously, Jesus would not be so harsh with a person whose father had just died. Therefore, there must be some implied information here that we do not understand. Most likely, the implied information that is not stated is that this man’s father had not yet died. The man was asking Jesus to wait until his father eventually died and then after that he would come and follow Jesus. This would postpone this man’s following of Jesus indefinitely. Understanding this implied information helps one understand why Jesus spoke so strongly to this person. Mark 11:8 reads, “And many spread their garments in the way.” The implied information is that because they considered Jesus an important person, they spread their outer garments in the way. Without this implied information, some ethnic readers have concluded that the people took off their clothes and while naked, they spread their clothes on the road. In many cultures, it would also seem strange to spread one’s clothing on the road for someone to walk on them. Matthew 28:17 reads, “And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.” The implied information is that some doubted that Jesus had arisen from the dead. They thought that He was still dead and had come back to them in the form of a ghost.

Four reasons to include implied information

The translator must decide when to include implied information in his translation and when not to include it. Usually, one should not put implied information into his translation unless the receiver language makes it necessary for under-


The Problem of Implied Information standing the verse correctly. In many cases, one can teach the people about the implied information. One may have to teach the people about Jewish culture for which they have little or no knowledge. However, in some extreme circumstances it may be necessary to include implied information in the text. Some reasons that may make it necessary to include implied information are as follows.

1. The grammar of the language may require it.

In a language that has no passive voice, the translator will need to change passive sentences into active ones. Matthew 3:16 says, “And Jesus when he was baptized.” One may need to translate this as “And when John had baptized Jesus.” Some languages require the object of a verb to be explicitly stated. One cannot simply say, such sentences as, “They believed.” Therefore Acts 4:32, which says, “And the multitude of them that believed,” must be translated as “And the multitude of them that believed the Gospel.”

2. The word structure of the language may require it.

Some languages use an inclusive or exclusive morpheme that either includes the persons to whom one speaks or excludes them. They do not merely say, “We will eat now.” They must say, “We [including the one spoken to] will eat now” or “We [excluding the one spoken to] will eat now.” Mark 4:38 reads, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” In order to translate this verse into a language that uses inclusive or exclusive morphemes, the translator would have to decide whether the disciples meant, “Carest thou not that we [us but excluding you] perish?” or if they meant, “Carest thou not that we [us and including you] perish?” Which one did they mean? One may not know which one they meant, but because the language word structure dictates that the word we must be either

237 inclusive or exclusive, one will have to decide which one is correct. The grammar of the language requires the Bible translator to make this decision. Acts 2:15 reads, “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose.” In some languages, the use of the word these indicates that Peter excluded himself from those to whom he spoke. This would mean that although Peter was drunk, the ones to whom he spoke were not. This would require the translator to add a person indicator morpheme that would include the speaker (Peter) with those about whom he spoke.

3. A consistent misunderstanding of the text may require it.

Mark 2:4 reads, “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was.” If one leaves out the implied information that they climbed up on the roof, it could indicate that God suddenly transferred them from the ground to the roof by a miracle. This is not what took place.

4. The King James Version translators added implied information.

The translators indicated implied information by printing it in a different font. Later on, printers began using italics to indicate that the translators had added implied information to the text. For example, Matthew 1:6 reads, “And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias.” The King James Version translators thought it necessary to fill in the implied information by adding the words “that had been the wife of.” At Romans 11:4 it reads, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” The King James Version translators added the words “the image of.”


238

The problem of ellipsis

A similar kind of implied information involves words or phrases that the speaker prefers to leave out of a sentence. We use an ellipsis in English when we reply to the question “Where are you going?” by saying, “Home.” The ellipsis is the words “I am going.” With the ellipsis filled in the sentence would be, “I am going home.” Another example of ellipsis is Matthew 26:5 that reads, “But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” The ellipsis is the words “We must not arrest him.” With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “We must not arrest him on the feast day, lest there be uproar among the people.” Galatians 2:9 reads, “That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” The ellipsis is the phrase “to preach the Gospel to them.” With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “That we should go unto the heathen to preach the Gospel to them, and they should go to the circumcision to preach the Gospel to them.” John 7:21 reads, “Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.” The words “on the Sabbath day” are an ellipsis. With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “I have done one work on the Sabbath day and ye all marvel.” Matthew 9:6 reads, “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” The words “I will say, arise and walk” are an ellipsis. With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “But I will say, ‘Arise and walk’ that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Luke 1:9–10 reads, “His lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were

Chapter 34 praying without at the time of incense.” The ellipsis is, “So he went into the temple.” With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “His lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. So he went into the temple and the whole multitude of the people was praying without at the time of incense.” See also Matthew 6:28 that reads, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” The ellipsis is “wool to make clothing.” With the ellipsis filled in the verse would read, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin wool to make clothing.” Single words may imply information that readers in another language may not know. The word centurion implies “a person who is the commander of 100 soldiers.” The word Pharisee implies “a person who is a strict orthodox Jewish religious leader.” The word Nazareth implies “a town named Nazareth.”

When should implied information be included or excluded in the biblical text?

The translator should avoid extremes when

dealing with implied or elliptic information. He may add implied information when the source language text used statements that left information implied. However, he should avoid adding implied information that would make his translation read like a commentary. The chart on the following page may help one to decide when to include or exclude implied information in his translation.


The Problem of Implied Information

239

Chart 24: When to include or exclude implied information

Was additional information known to the original readers?

Yes.

Must this information be known in order to understand the text correctly?

No.

Yes.

Is the implied information obligatory in the receiver language grammar?

No.

Make the implied information explicit in a paragraph heading, a footnote, or, if necessary, in the text.

Let the implied information remain implicit in the text.

Homework Read Bible Translating by Eugene Nida, page 243, 14.1 to page 250, 14.2.2. Rewrite the following three verses, making the implied information explicit. Luke 12:5 Mark 2:27 Matthew 4:4


240

Chapter 35

A sign in a Hong Kong supermarket said, “For your convenience, we recommend courteous, efficient self-service.”

Chapter 35

The Problem of Figures of Speech

F

or example, in Luke 13:32 Jesus says, “Go ye and tell that fox.” A fox is an animal belonging to the canine family, but Jesus is using the word fox in a figurative sense. He does so by associating a characteristic of a fox with Herod. The referential meaning of a word is the literal meaning of that word when read in a list of words without any context. The word fox usually means a dog-like animal. However, there is also a figurative meaning of the word fox. The figurative sense of this word shares some characteristic of the referential meaning. This sharing of characteristics in a figurative sense is sometimes difficult to understand. First, one needs to know what the shared characteristic between the referential meaning and the figurative meaning is. Next, one will need to know what that shared characteristic implies. For example, 35.1 I slept like a log. we usually understand the word fox to mean “a canine animal.” After that, we understand the extended figurative meaning to be “the slyness of a fox that cleverly avoids capture.” However, other cultures do not use the same animal to carry the figurative meaning

of slyness. In some languages, people consider the rabbit the sly animal, not the fox. In such a language, this difference could be a translation problem. The word flesh as used in the New Testament, has the referential meaning, “The soft substance surrounding the skeletal structure of the body.” However, several extended figurative meanings of the word flesh occur in the New Testament. Romans 11:14 says, “Them which are my flesh.” This use of the word flesh means, “those who are of my same ancestry,” or “fellow Jews.” In Romans 11:14, Paul has extended the meaning of the word flesh to mean “Jewish ethnicity.” The association between flesh and ethnicity results from the fact that Paul received his flesh (body) by being born into the Jewish ethnic group. You can see the relationship of flesh to body and to ethnicity in the chart below.

Chart 25: The word flesh Referential meaning “flesh” Flesh is the soft substance that covers the bones.

Extended meaning “body” Flesh is the entire human body.

Extended meaning “ethnicity” Flesh is people who have a common ancestry.


The Problem of Figures of Speech There are other extended meanings of the word flesh used in verses like Acts 2:17, which reads, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” Here the writer extends the meaning of the word, flesh by the fact that the body, which is made of flesh, is the essential part of people. This causes the figurative meaning of the word flesh to be “people.” The meaning of the verse is, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.” Again, the word flesh occurs in John 8:15, which reads, “Ye judge after the flesh.” Here the word flesh has the meaning “human.” Jesus is saying that they are making a judgment on mere human understanding as opposed to divine revelation. This meaning results because of an association of the word flesh to the word body. The body is the place where one makes judgments; namely, in the mind, which is the most important part of the human body. John 8:15, therefore, has the meaning, “You are judging on the basis of mere human logic.” Romans 7:5 says, “For when we were in the flesh.” Here the word flesh has the meaning, “under the control of the sinful desires of the body.” The word flesh in this verse is the place where sinful desires exert themselves, namely, in the human body. When Paul writes in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he is using the word cross as an extended figurative meaning. This figurative meaning results from an association between the referential meaning “two pieces of wood made into a cross” and the extended meaning, “the person who accomplished the work of atonement by dying on the cross.” Paul is not exalting the cross as a wooden object, but rather he is exalting the person of Christ who achieved the atonement for people’s sins by dying on the cross. In Galatians 2:9, the words, circumcision and uncircumcision represent a physical act. The association between the physical act of circumcision and the people who perform this act extends the referential meaning to mean

241 “Jews.” The word circumcision means “Jews,” and the word uncircumcision means “Gentiles.” This association of figurative meaning results from the fact that the Jews perform circumcision and the Gentiles do not.

The problems of simile and metaphor

When one uses figures of speech to compare two things that are alike, he is using either a simile or a metaphor. A simile makes a statement that one thing is like another thing. A metaphor makes a statement that one thing is another thing. In First Peter 1:24 the phrase, “All flesh is as grass” states the comparison in the phrase itself by using the word, as. Peter is saying that flesh is like grass. In this verse, Peter uses simile. A metaphor only implies the comparison, as in, “All flesh is grass.” Metaphors imply a comparison, but do not use the words as or like in the comparison. Similes state the two things being compared and use the words as or like. Metaphors are implicit statements of comparison and similes are explicit statements of comparison. It is not always critical to remember the names of various figures of speech, but one should be able to recognize a figure of speech when it occurs in the Bible. Similes and metaphors usually involve three parts. The three parts in the chart below are A, B, and C.

Chart 26: Three parts of a simile When A is

compared to B

it results in C

All we

like sheep

have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)

All flesh

is as grass

perishable (1 Peter 1:24)

Faith

as a grain of mustard seed

small amount (Matthew 17:20)


242 A translator should recognize all three parts of a figure of speech. He must know what thing is being compared to what other thing, and what the meaning is that results from the comparison of the two things. After that, he is in a better position to translate the simile or metaphor with the same meaning the author intended by the words he wrote. In a comparison, one should first of all recognize the referential meanings of the two things being compared. Then one should clearly state the extended figurative meaning that results from the comparison. If one compares human beings to sheep, one should understand that such a comparison results in the meaning, “Like sheep go astray from the shepherd, so people go astray from God.”

Translating similes and metaphors

One should translate similes and metaphors in the following ways. 1. One can translate the simile or metaphor literally and explain it by teaching people what it means. 2. One may use a similar kind of comparison that the people already understand. This will help them to understand the comparisons used in Scripture. In some instances in the New Testament, the people did not immediately understand the intended meaning of the comparison. However, they eventually understood the comparison because of similar comparisons with which they were already familiar. For example, Mark 8:15 and the verses following reads “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” The disciples, at first, did not know what the basis of comparison was between the word leaven and the word Pharisees. Later when Jesus taught them the basis of comparison, they understood that the effect yeast causes in dough was similar to the effect the teaching of the Pharisees causes in people. Yeast spreads through dough affecting the

Chapter 35 whole lump of dough. Similarly, the teaching of the Pharisees spreads spiritual ruin in all the people who follow their teaching. Just as Jesus did in this instance, one may translate a simile or metaphor literally, and explain the meaning during teaching sessions. Jesus used a metaphor in John 6:53 that people have often misunderstood. Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” Jesus did not mean that we should literally eat his flesh and drink his blood. We know this because in verse 63 Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life]; the flesh profiteth nothing.” Jesus was using food as a metaphor. What Jesus said is similar to what we would say about a football fanatic. We would say that he eats and sleeps football. We do not mean that he eats footballs and sleeps on them. We mean that he gives most of his time and energy to the sport of football. When Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you,” He was referring to the truth that people must give time and energy to serving Him and fellowshipping with Him. Therefore, it is obvious that people who do not give time and energy to serving Christ, and fellowshipping with Him do not have eternal life in them. 3. One can translate a metaphor as a simile by adding the words like or as. For example, the words “I am the door” (John 10:9), could be translated as “I am like the door.” The word like gives a clue to the reader that Jesus is making a comparison between himself and the door that opens into the sheepfold. The way in which Jesus is like a sheepfold door is not explicitly stated. However, the context of John 10:9 is the shepherd who wants to protect his sheep from the wolves so he puts them into the sheepfold through the sheepfold door. This may give the readers some idea of what Jesus means. If not, you will have to teach the meaning of the metaphor, or you could state the meaning explicitly in


The Problem of Figures of Speech a paragraph heading or a footnote. However, one should usually avoid using paragraph headings and footnotes if possible. 4. One could spell out the comparison by using a statement that explains what the author is comparing to what, and what the resulting meaning is. For example, “Like sheep enter into the sheepfold by going in the door, so you must believe in me to enter into heaven.” This could easily become more of a commentary than a translation, so a translator should avoid this. However, one may have to translate it in some way similar to this if people consistently misunderstand a particular comparison that leads them into doctrinal heresy. 5. One can remove a figure of speech altogether and state the meaning of the comparison. One should do this only in extreme situations. If people understand a figure of speech literally and this consistently causes them severe doctrinal problems, the translator may have to replace the figure of speech with words that indicate the correct meaning of the figure of speech. In this case, one would translate “I am the door” by saying, “Like sheep enter the door of the sheepfold, those who believe in me will enter the door of heaven.” 6. One may substitute a cultural equivalent. This should only be done when the cultural equivalent does not violate the historical context of Scripture. For example, one could translate the metaphor “I am the door” as “I am the door mouth.” This would mean, “I am the entrance [of the sheepfold].” The Sinasina people make a difference between the

243 door that fills the doorway and the doorway itself. They call the doorway opening the door mouth. “Door mouth” means “the opening that the door fills.” This is an acceptable cultural substitution since it does not violate anything in the biblical context. 7. One may translate a simile or metaphor literally. Then one could write a paragraph heading that explains the meaning that results from the comparison. For example, just before the verse about Jesus being the door, one could put a paragraph heading that reads, “Jesus compares Himself to the door of the sheepfold.” One should tell the readers that the paragraph headings are not a part of Scripture. However, one should only use such a solution when it is necessary to avoid a serious misunderstanding.

35.2 It’s raining cats and dogs!

Homework State the referential meaning of all the topics of comparison in First Corinthians 3:1–8. After that, write a statement that explains the resulting figurative meanings that one finds in First Corinthians 3:1–8. For example, the word brethren when compared to the word babies, results in the meaning “spiritually immature Christians.” In a similar way, write statements that reflect the meaning of the other figures of speech in this passage of Scripture.


244

Chapter 36

A sign in a Belgrade hotel elevator said, “To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going up alphabetically by national order.”

Chapter 36

The Problem of Euphemisms and Other Literary Devices

A

euphemism substitutes an inoffensive expression for one that offends or suggests something that is embarrassing. For example, Mark 5:25 reads, “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years.” The translators used the phrase “an issue of blood” to remove some of the harshness of saying the woman had a menstruation period for twelve years. One should carry over this kind of sensitivity into the receiver language translation. The translator will have to translate this verse with the same meaning, “a menstrual disorder,” but he will have to find a way to say it that is

not overly explicit or offensive to the people’s sensitivity. If he fails to do this, he may find that people are embarrassed to read his translation in public. When one translates the word circumcision, one should translate this word in such a way that people can read it publicly without embarrassment. Acts 13:36 reads, “David fell on sleep [died], and was laid unto his fathers [was buried], and saw corruption [rotted].” The translator should check each word with his translation helper to find out which words have a special sensitivity and which ones do not.

Other possible euphemisms

36.1 A euphemism is a pleasant way to express an unpleasant experience.

Some of the more sensitive areas of language deal with death, pregnancy, and bodily functions. One can find examples of euphemisms in Luke 2:5, “Mary being great with child [pregnant],” and in Luke 7:37, “A woman in the city, which was a sinner [a prostitute].” You can also see euphemism in Matthew 22:13, “And cast him into outer darkness [hell],” and in Acts 1:25, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place [hell].” A euphemism also occurs in Acts 22:22, “Away with such a fellow from the earth [Kill that villain!].” Although there is general agreement about sensitive topics, what may be a euphemism in


The Problem of Euphemisms and Other Literary Devices one language may not be in another. Different cultures consider different things sensitive and express euphemisms in different ways. For example, Genesis 4:1 reads, “And Adam knew Eve his wife.” The King James Version translators showed sensitivity to what could be embarrassing when read in public, but the translators of Today’s English Version were not sensitive to public reading when they translated Genesis 4:1 as “And Adam had intercourse with Eve his wife.” They should have used a euphemism like the King James Version translators did.

The problem of hyperboles

People often use hyperboles (exaggerations) in order to emphasize a point, but they do not intend the hyperbole to be understood literally. For example, Matthew 11:18 reads, “For John came neither eating nor drinking.” This does not mean that John never ate food and never drank water. It only means that he ate and drank sparingly. Paul says in First Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ sent me not to baptize.” This statement is a hyperbole to emphasize how much more important it is to preach the Gospel than it is to worry about who baptized whom, whether it be Paul, Apollos, or Cephas who did the baptizing. Luke 15:24 reads, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again.” The son was not actually dead, although he was in a sense as good as dead because of his separation from his father. Another example of hyperbole is John 21:25: “The world itself could not contain the books.” This hyperbole means that it would take a great number of books to record all that Jesus did and said. Acts 17:6 reads, “These that have turned the world upside down.” This verse means “Those who have caused a disturbance wherever they go.”

245

John 12:19 reads, “The world has gone after him.” This verse means, “Large numbers of people have become his followers.” Some languages do not use hyperboles to exaggerate, emphasize, or make a dramatic effect. In such languages, people take the hyperbole literally. This usually results in their understanding the hyperbole in a way not intended by the author. In such a case, the translator must determine the meaning of the hyperbole and translate the meaning of it rather than preserve the hyperbole. For example, Mark 1:5 reads, “And there went out unto him all the land of Judea.” First, we know that the land of Judea did not go out to him. The people who lived in the land of Judea went out to him. We also know that this verse does not mean that every single person in the province of Judea went out to John. We know this because the same verse adds, “and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” We know that John did not baptize every person in Judea because he refused to baptize those who did not repent. One could translate Mark 1:5 as “And there went out unto him large crowds of people from the Province of Judea.”

The problem of litotes

Litotes is a literary device that lowers a thing in order to magnify it. Litotes is the name for a literary device that most people refer to as an understatement. One uses litotes not to call attention to the smallness of the thing lessened, but to emphasize the importance of it. For example, Acts 20:12 reads, “And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.” This means, “They were greatly comforted.” Acts 21:39 reads, “a citizen of no mean city.” This means “a citizen of an important city.” Luke 17:9 reads, “Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.” “I trow


246 not” means “I think not.” This means, “I know very well that he does not thank him for doing what he was told to do.”

The problem of metonymy

A metonymy is a literary device that uses a word to stand in the place of another word that is closely associated with it. A metonymy is the substitution of one word for another word as though they were synonyms, even though each word retains its distinct area of meaning. For example, Heaven is the place that is closely associated with God. In a similar way, the White House is the place closely associated with the President. To say, “The White House said…” is to mean, “The President said…” Luke 15:18 “I have sinned against heaven…” means, “I have sinned against God.” James 3:6 reads, “And it [the tongue] is set on fire of hell.” Here the word hell stands for the one who is associated with hell, namely, Satan. The verse means that Satan tempts people to use their tongue to say words that hurt people like fire hurts people. Mark 8:34 reads, “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The word cross is used in the place of what happens on a cross, namely, Jesus was about to die on a cross. Jesus means that if one would be his disciple, he should be ready to die as He is about to die. Acts 4:30 reads, “By stretching forth thine hand to heal.” The words “thine hand” are used to represent God who has power to heal people. Galatians 3:8 reads, “And the Scripture preached before the gospel.” Here the word Scripture stands for the writer who preached the Gospel by writing it in Scripture. Acts 21:21 reads, “Thou teachest all the Jews to forsake Moses.” The word Moses stands for that which is closely associated with Moses, namely, the law that God gave to Moses.

Chapter 36 Acts 7:18 reads, “Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.” This means another king arose who did not know the history about Joseph. Mark 3:23 reads, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” The second “Satan” in this question stands for those who serve Satan, namely, his demons. This verse means, “Satan would certainly not cast out his own demons!” Matthew 3:17 says, “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son….” To speak of a voice from heaven is to say that God speaks from heaven. For this reason, the words “the kingdom of heaven” are a metonymy that stands for the kingdom of God. One can see this by comparing the following verses: Mark 11:30 “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.” Jesus asked the Jewish religious leaders if the baptism of John was from God or men. Clearly the word heaven in this verse is a metonymy that stands for the one associated with heaven, namely, God. In the following two verses the word heaven and the word God are used in identically the same parallel verses. Matthew 11:11 “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Luke 7:28 “He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” I emphasized some words with italics to show that in these two parallel verses the words “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God” are used interchangeably. This is because the word heaven stands for the person associated with heaven, namely, God. Matthew 10:13 “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it.” In this verse the word house stands for the people who live in the house. If the apostles sent by Christ were well received by the family that lived in a house, the apostles were to let their peace come upon them.


The Problem of Euphemisms and Other Literary Devices

The problem of synecdoche

A synecdoche uses a part to stand for the whole. Luke 1:66 reads, “The hand of the Lord was with him.” The phrase “hand of the Lord” stands for the Lord who was with him. Matthew 15:37 reads, “They took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.” In this verse, the word meat stands for “food” that includes both meat and bread. Romans 3:15 reads, “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” The words “their feet” are a reference to the persons who were quick to kill people. The words “shed blood” are a reference to murdering people. Mark 1:11 reads, “And there came a voice from heaven.” The word voice is a part of the whole Person who spoke, namely, God. Matthew 8:8 reads, “The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof.” The word roof is the principal part of a house and so stands for the entire house. Acts 5:9 says, “Then Peter said unto her …the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” In this verse, “the feet of them” stands for the men who are at the door. Acts 18:6 “Your blood be upon your own heads.” Here the word heads stands for the persons who were guilty of rejecting Paul’s message that Jesus was the Messiah. Ephesians 6:22 “That he might comfort your hearts.” Here the word hearts stands for the entire inner being of persons (their minds, emotions and wills). Matthew 16:17 “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee.” In this case the words “flesh and blood” stand for human beings. Romans 11:26 “And shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” In this verse the word Jacob stands for the descendants of Jacob who make up the nation of Israel.

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Luke 2:1 “That all the world should be taxed.” Here the word world stands for the civilized world over which the Roman government ruled (the Roman Empire).

The problem of irony

Irony involves the use of words to say one thing but mean the opposite thing. It gives a powerful effect to words that show the foolishness of such a thought or action. In Mark 7:9, Jesus says, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” The words “full well” usually mean “You do very well,” but here the words mean just the opposite. They mean, “You do very badly!” Jesus is using irony to show the utter folly of placing human tradition above God’s Word. People often use irony to indicate their attitude toward a distasteful proposal or they may use irony to ridicule a suggestion. Jesus used irony to say, “You think you have done a good thing by rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your own tradition!” In Second Corinthians 12:13, Paul tells the Corinthians that he had served them without demanding payment for his services. Then he says, “Forgive me this wrong!” He is not saying he did something wrong. He is using irony to show how foolish it was for the Corinthians to reject him as an apostle simply because he refused to demand payment from them. He says in effect, “I served you freely and did not demand payment from you. Forgive me for doing such a wicked thing!” Again, in Second Corinthians 11:4, Paul says, concerning the false apostle who came to the Corinthians, “Ye might well bear with him.” Paul is not saying that they should be tolerant of the false apostle. Paul is using irony to say how foolish the Corinthian believers were to tolerate a false apostle who preached a false gospel. It is a forceful way of saying, “When that


248 false apostle came and preached heresy to you, you thought it was great!”

The problem of apostrophe

An apostrophe addresses something that is not alive as if it were a living person. For example, First Corinthians 15:55 reads, “O death, where is thy sting?” This has the meaning “Dying is not an extremely painful experience [for the Christian].” Matthew 2:6 reads, “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.” In this verse, the word Bethlehem stands for the people who live in Bethlehem. Luke 13:34 reads, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets” The word Jerusalem stands for the people who lived in Jerusalem who killed the prophets.

The problem of personification

Personification is a literary device that attributes human qualities to nonhuman things. For example, Revelation 11:8 reads, “And the nations were angry.” This means, “The people in the nations were angry.” Revelation 16:20 reads, “And every island fled away.” This means, “Every island was destroyed.” Romans 8:22 reads, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain.” This means, “The whole earth is polluted and this causes turmoil in the earth.” Revelation 20:14 reads, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.” This means, “The people who had died, and were in hell, were cast into the lake of fire.” Acts 20:32 reads, “The word of his grace, which is able to build you up.” This means that Bible teaching that emphasizes the grace of God has power to build you up [encourage you]. Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” This means that when someone preaches the Word of God, the Holy Spirit uses God’s word to reveal the thoughts and intents of people’s hearts to them.

Chapter 36 A translator will not need to remember the name of every figure of speech that occurs in the Bible. However, he needs to know when a figure of speech occurs and what it means. Once the translator is clear in his own mind about the function and meaning of a figure of speech, he is in a better position to translate that figure of speech accurately. If one fails to recognize a figure of speech and translates it literally, the meaning is likely to be something other than what the writer of the book or epistle intended.

The problem of hendiadys

When two nouns are joined by and, they normally stand in a coordinate relationship where one thing is different from the other thing. For example, “oranges and apples” are joined by the word and but they are two different things. There are examples in the Bible of two words joined by and but they stand in a subordinate relationship. The two words represent a single concept, rather than two concepts. The general term given to this special use of the coordinate and is hendiadys, that is, a single concept is expressed by means of two nouns that are joined by the word and. Matthew 4:16 says, “the region and shadow of death.” This expression does not refer to two places, but to one place. The two words mean, “the place where people experience the sorrrow of death.” Mark 6:26: “Yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him.” In this case “his oath’s sake” and “for their sakes” simply means, “because of the oath he swore before the guests.” Luke 2:47: “his understanding and answers.” This is a hendiadys that means “his intelligent answers.” Luke 21:15: “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom.” This is a hendiadys that means, “For I will give you ability to speak wise answers.”


The Problem of Euphemisms and Other Literary Devices Acts 1:25: “this ministry and apostleship.” This is a hendiadys that means, “this service as an apostle.” Acts 14:17: “filling our hearts with food and gladness.” This is a hendiadys that means, “filling our hearts with gladness because we have plenty of food.” Acts 23:6: “of the hope and resurrection of the dead.” This is a hendiadys that means, “I have hope because I believe in the resurrection of the dead.” Romans 1:5: “By whom we have received grace and apostleship.” “Grace and apostleship” is a hendiadys that means, “God graciously chose me to be an apostle.” In this verse the “we” is an editorial “we” that refers to Paul who says that God graciously chose him to be an apostle. 2 Tim. 1:10: “life and immortality.” The two words life and immortality constitute a hendiadys that means “a life that is immortal.”

The problem of Semitic passive

In Jewish culture it was considered a sacred duty to avoid using God’s name directly. Most Jews would use a passive construction to avoid the necessity of naming God as the subject of the sentence. They understood from the context

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when God was the subject of a sentence that was expressed in the passive voice, but today, readers may not understand that God is the subject of a passive voice sentence. Therefore, an active construction needs to be used with God as the subject rather than an indefinite subject. Here are some examples: Matthew 5:4: “they shall be comforted” Matthew 5:6: “they shall be filled” Matthew 5:7: “they shall obtain mercy” Matthew 5:9: “they shall be called the children of God” God is the subject of all these sentences. Therefore, it would be legitimate to translate these sentences as “God shall comfort them,” “God shall fill them,” “God shall be merciful to them,” and “God shall call them his children.” The third person plural is occasionally used as the equivalent of a Semitic passive. An example is found in Luke 12:20 where God says, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.” If this is interpreted as a Semitic passive, then the meaning is, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night I will require that you die: then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided?”

Homework Write a statement that reflects the meaning of the following figures of speech. Colossians 1:18: “He is the head of the body.” Mark 1:17: “I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 5:6: “ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Matthew 27:25: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Luke 16:29: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” First Corinthians 2:9: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard.”


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A careless Spanish translation of “out of sight, out of mind” is “invisible imbecile.”

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The Problem of Idioms

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n idiomatic expression consists of several words that one should not try to understand literally. First John 3:17 reads, “And shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him.” The phrase, “shutteth up his bowels” is an idiom from the Greek language that means, “He is not compassionate.” Greek people considered the bowels as the place where the emotion of compassion occurred. Therefore, the Greek New Testament uses the idiomatic phrase “shutteth up his bowels.” The translators realized that by translating the Greek word σπλαγχνα (splankna) as “bowels” without some explanation would not make sense in English, so they added the phrase “of compassion.” By so doing, they kept the Greek idiom “shutteth up his bowels” and explained the meaning of the idiom by inserting the phrase “of compassion.” The printer put these two words in italic type to show that the translators had added them to the text in order to explain the meaning of the Greek word σπλαγχνα, “bowels.”

Another idiom occurs in John 8:52, which reads, “He shall never taste of death.” The Greek language can speak of tasting death, but some languages would not use this idiom. They would simply say, “He will never die.” If we force this idiom, “tasting death,” into an ethnic language without some information in the text that explains it, we may cause the ethnic people to create some strange doctrine based on a misunderstanding of this idiomatic phrase. Some ethnic groups have customs that encourage them to eat parts of a person who has died. Such people could easily think the idiom “taste death” means “Eat the dead.” This could cause unnecessary problems. People use idioms in an extended figurative sense. With an idiomatic phrase, it is not possible to add up the meaning of each word and determine the meaning of the idiom. One should not try to understand an idiom literally. In Acts 2:30 the expression “the fruit of his loins” means “his descendants.” In Mark 2:19, the phrase “the children of the bridechamber” means “the friends of the bridegroom.” It is unlikely that an idiom from the Jewish culture will carry over into another culture with exactly the same meaning. Romans 12:20 reads, “For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” If a translator


The Problem of Idioms were to translate this idiomatic expression literally into some languages, it would imply a form of Christian torture that one should use on his enemies. The idiom “heap coals of fire on his head” has the meaning “you will cause him to be ashamed of his bad behavior.” Mark 10:5 reads, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” In Papua New Guinea Pidgin, the phrase “hardness of your heart” was translated as “…bel bilong yupela i pas ah?” My translation helper understood this to mean, “Are your intestines blocked up?” When I asked him what does “Are your intestines blocked up?” mean, he said it meant that Jesus was asking them if they were constipated. Jesus intended to say, “For the hardness [stubbornness] of your heart,” but to many Pidgin English speakers it literally meant, “Because you are constipated.” This same idiom, “hardness of heart,” if translated literally into the Shipibo Indian language of Peru, would mean “brave.” To say that a person is stubborn in Shipibo, one must use the idiom “He has holes in his ears.” We use a similar English idiomatic expression when we say, “It went in one ear and out the other,” meaning “He did not heed what was said to him.” Luke 9:51 reads, “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This is a way of saying, “He was determined that nothing would stop him from going to Jerusalem.” In Romans 10:9, the idiom “Believe in thine heart” is used. It does not mean that one believes in the heart muscle in his chest that pumps blood around in his veins. It has the meaning, “to believe in one’s innermost being (the place where the decision-making process occurs).” The Sinasina people do not believe in their hearts. They believe in their inside thoughts. Other languages speak about believing in one’s liver, or in one’s spleen. Some speak about believing in one’s stomach. All of these locations

251 of belief are idiomatic expressions that should not be understood literally.

How to translate idioms

In dealing with idioms, it is important that the translator first be able to recognize idioms for what they are. If he fails to recognize non-literal speech and translates it literally, he will most likely distort the intended meaning of Scripture. When a translator finds words in a verse that are idioms or some other figure of speech, he must decide what the writer of that verse intended to mean by the idiom or figure of speech he wrote. Then he will have to decide what the nearest formal equivalent of that meaning is in the ethnic language. The translator may choose to carry the idiom over into the ethnic language with an explanation of it in the text. This is what the King James translators chose to do in First John 3:17. Another way is to remove the figure of speech altogether and translate the meaning of the idiom. The King James translators did this in Matthew 1:23. In this verse, the phrase “shall be with child” is a translation of the Greek idiom “εν γαστρι εξει” [en gastri ekzei] that means, “by stomach shall be having.” Translating idioms and figures of speech is often difficult to do correctly. One must translate them with care and understanding of the intended meaning of the words as used by the original writer of Scripture. Equally so, one should take into consideration what the idiom or figure of speech will mean to the person who reads it in the receiver language translation. The original author may have intended to emphasize a point, indicate an attitude in the speaker, or arouse a certain emotional response in the hearer. The translator must try to achieve the nearest formal equivalent effect in his translation. The study of ethnic language text material will help the translator find out how frequently figures of speech occur in the ethnic


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language, how they are used, and what they mean. The study of ethnic language material will be a great help to the translator when he must translate biblical idioms into the ethnic language.

Historical context

Some figures of speech are part of the warp and woof of biblical historical context. One cannot change these figures of speech lest one distort the historical facts of the Bible. For example, John 1:29 uses the words “the Lamb of God.” One may help readers understand this figure of speech by putting a paragraph heading above the text that would give the reader some clue as to what the phrase “the Lamb of God” means. The heading could say, “Jesus is like a lamb that is sacrificed to make atonement for sins.” This may become too bulky because of the number of words involved. Usually, a translator should avoid adding paragraph headings because readers often take them to be a part of the Scripture text. However, a translator must preserve the figure of speech “the Lamb of God.” This figure of speech is an important part of biblical history. One cannot

change it without causing serious problems. If a translator uses some other animal or some other figure of speech, he would be falsifying the facts of history. In the same way, this is true of the word blood as used in Ephesians 1:7, which reads, “In whom we have redemption through his blood.” The writers of Scripture wove the biblical theme of redemption by blood throughout the warp and woof of Scripture. The entire Levitical system involves the shedding of the blood of the sacrificial lamb. This theme permeates the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled the reality of this theme in New Testament times. He died as the Lamb of God who shed his blood as a sacrifice to God in order to redeem us from the penalty of our sins. The word blood cannot be substituted by any other word lest the historical context of Scripture be violated. Paul, in keeping with the Levitical system of killing a sacrificial lamb, uses the word blood in Ephesians 1:7. The blood of the slain lamb symbolized a life given to make atonement for sins. It is wrong to use the word death in the place of the word blood even though one could argue that the word blood is a figure of speech standing for the shedding of blood that causes death.

Homework Read pages 274 to 279 in Bible Translating by Eugene Nida. Each of the following verses contains a figure of speech. Restate the verse to show the meaning of the figure of speech. By restating the meaning of the verse in writing, you will clarify the meaning of the verse in your own mind. This will help you translate the meaning of figures of speech more accurately. Luke 1:12: “…fear fell upon him.” Matthew 8:8: “…under my roof.” Acts 5:28: “…this man’s blood.” Acts 8:30: “…read the prophet Esaias.” Luke 1:42: “…the fruit of thy womb.”


The Problem of Doublets, Focus, and Flashback

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A sign in a Copenhagen airline ticket office said, “We take your bags and send them in all directions.”

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The Problem of Doublets, Focus, and Flashback The problem of doublets

A doublet involves using two words to emphasize a meaning. A doublet also involves two words that derive from the same source but have changed in form. For example, the words regal and royal are words with different forms but have very similar meanings. John 3:5 reads, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee.” The duplication of the word verily has the meaning of emphasizing the truth of the statement that is to follow. The meaning of this doublet is “I tell you truthfully.” The Sinasina people say, “Na ka one dienteyue” which literally means, “I talk true say-to you-give-Iindefinite aspect.” This is the Sinasina people’s way of saying, “I tell you truthfully!” Unless you are translating into a language that uses duplication of words to indicate emphasis, you may have to reduce the two words “verily, verily” to the intended meaning “I tell you truthfully!” John 2:19 reads, “Jesus answered and said unto them.” The words “answered and said” are probably double words that mean the same thing. To use the same kind of duplication in some languages would violate the normal usage of words and sound very strange. It even sounds strange in English. In some languages, it would mean, “Jesus answered, and then he

said something else.” The reader could be wondering what Jesus had answered before He said something else. This could be confusing. In such a case, it would be sufficient to translate this doublet as “Jesus answering said….” In Mark 13:20 it says, “But for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.” The doublet is the words elect and chosen. This verse could be translated as “But for the sake of those whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.” In Luke 15:27 it says, “Because he hath received him safe and sound.” The doublet is the words safe and sound. Actually, the Greek text contains only one word, ‘ugiainw, that means “healthy.” The verse could be translated as, “Because he hath received him [back] healthy.” In Acts 10:34 it says, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said…” The doublet is the words “opened his mouth, and said.” The verse could be simply translated as, “Then Peter said….” In Luke 1:20 it says, “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak.” The doublet is the words dumb and “not able to speak.” The verse could be simply translated as, “And, behold, thou shalt not be able to speak.” In Acts 2:17 it says, “And your old men shall dream dreams.” The doublet is the words dream


254 and dreams. This could be translated as, “And your old men shall have dreams.” The Sinasina people say, “And your old men shall see dreams.” In Acts 19:4 it says, “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance.” The doublet is the words baptized and baptism. This could be translated as, “John baptized those who repented.” In Acts 22:18 it says, “Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem.” The doublet is the words, “Make haste,” and quickly. This could be translated as, “Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem.” In Romans 3:9 it says, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise.” The doublet is the words no and no. The Greek text has only one negative. This could be translated as, “Not at all.”

The problem of language focus

When a translation distorts the focus of a verse, one will have to make an adjustment in his translation of the text. For example, Matthew 2:11 reads, “They saw the young child [main focus] with Mary his mother [not in focus], and fell down, and worshipped him [main focus].” The focus of the verse is not on Mary the mother of Jesus. The focus of the verse in Matthew 2:11 is on the fact that they saw the young child (Jesus) and fell down to worship Him. The translator must preserve this focus in his translation. Matthew 19:24 reads, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The focus of this verse may be lost if the translator uses a series of phrases explaining what a camel is and how it could not go through the eye of a needle. This would change the focus of the verse to be on what a camel is like and what the eye

Chapter 38 of the needle means. The intended meaning of the above verse is to show the impossibility of a rich person going to heaven as long as he gives his heart to material things. It is just as impossible for God to save such a covetous person as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. One must keep the focus of the verse on the impossibility of the situations mentioned. Matthew 8:4 reads, “Shew thyself to the priest.” A translator could distort the focus of this verse by a long explanation of the meaning of the word priest. A long explanation of what a priest is would leave the reader with the impression that this verse is about what a priest does. The translator must find a way to maintain the center of attention in such a verse. One can do this with a concise word or phrase that does not explain everything about a priest, but does serve as the nearest formal equivalent of the word priest. If necessary, one can leave a fuller explanation about a priest to teaching sessions. First Corinthians 5:6 reads, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” If a translator makes a long explanation of what yeast is and how it is used to make bread, this would not be the right focus. One must keep the comparison of yeast to the false teaching of the Pharisees as the focus of this verse. Acts 15:4 reads, “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” The focus in this verse is on all the things that God had done with them. This focus can be lost in a long explanation of the words for church, apostles, and elders. These three words must be translated in such a way that they do not distort the main intention of the verse, which is “all things that God had done with them.”


The Problem of Doublets, Focus, and Flashback

The problem of flashback

John 18:14 reads, “Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” John 18:14 is a flashback to what had happened in John 11:50. If one translates John 18:14 without some indication that this event has already taken place, it could indicate to the reader that what happened before in John 11:50 is now happening again. Therefore, the translator should give some indication in the text that allows the reader to know that this is a flashback to a previous event, not the same event happening again. By adding a time word, such as earlier, the verse would read, “Caiaphas was he, who earlier had given counsel.” By adding the word earlier, it casts what Caiaphas did into the past tense and removes the problem of people thinking that the event is happening again. John 4:39 is a flashback to John 4:29. John 4:39 reads, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” Adding the word earlier in verse 39 can indicate that what is said now is a flashback to what had already occurred in verse 29. Verse 39 would then read, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him because of what the woman had testified earlier, when she said, “He told me all that ever I did.” If the readers consistently recognize verse 39 as a flashback to verse 29, then no adjustment in the receiver language is necessary. If they consistently think the event is happening a second time in verse 39, something may need to be done to clarify the meaning. It is important for a translator to study enough ethnic language text material to find out how the receiver language expresses flashbacks.

255 A difficult flashback occurs in Mark 6:16–17 that reads, “But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.” Mark 6:17 is a flashback to a time in the past when Herod killed John the Baptist. People may understand this verse more clearly if the translator adds a time word to indicate that this verse is a flashback to events that had already transpired. One possible way to translate it would be to begin verse 17 with the words, “The meaning of what King Herod said is this: Earlier [time word] Herod had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and….”

The problem of flash-forward

Sometimes a flash-forward occurs. Mark 3:19 reads, “And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him.” This verse occurs a long time before Judas later betrays Jesus in the Gospel narrative. This is a flash-forward to what would take place later in Mark 14:43. If the readers do not have another one of the gospels to read, they could misunderstand this verse in Mark 3:19. When the event takes place in Mark 14:43, they may think it is happening a second time. This would distort the facts. Matthew 27:53 reads, “And came out of the graves after his resurrection.” The resurrection of Jesus had not yet taken place at this point in the narrative. One needs to find a way to indicate this flash-forward in the verse. Mark 14:24 reads, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” In this verse, Jesus speaks of the time when he would shed his blood as if it had already taken place. One should find a way to make this flash-forward understood correctly.


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Homework Choose two of the verses on this page and read some reputable commentaries on them to find out the meaning of each verse. After reading the commentaries, decide what you think the meaning of each verse is and write a statement of the verse that reflects this meaning. Make a list of the names of at least two reputable commentaries that agree with your interpretation of the two verses you choose. Husbands and wives must choose different verses. The verses to choose from are the following: First Peter 3:21: “…even baptism doth also now save us.” Second Corinthians 6:11–13: “… our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged…ye are straitened in your own bowels…be ye also enlarged.” First Corinthians 15:29: “…baptized for the dead.” First Timothy 2:15: “… saved in childbearing.” Mark 7:19: “…purging all meats?” Mark 9:48: “…where their worm dieth not.” Mark 9:49: “…every one shall be salted with fire.” Philemon 7: “…because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.” Hebrews 12:17: “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Exodus 8:9: “And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me.” Luke 9:59: “…suffer me first to go and bury my father.” First Peter 4:6: “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

After you have done your own work, you may check Chapter 16 for possible help with interpreting these verses.


The Problem of Collocation Clash and Cultural Substitutes

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A sign in a Pennsylvania cemetery said, “Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves.”

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The Problem of Collocation Clash and Cultural Substitutes

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nother problem area for a Bible translator is the translating of words that should not occur together. If they occur together, there is a clash. For example, English allows us to say, “a flock of geese,” but we must say, “a herd of cows.” One should not say, “a flock of cows.” The word flock clashes with the word cows. These two words should not occur together in English.

39.1 A clash is like a crash.

Romans 9:17 reads, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh....” The words “scripture saith” are a collocation clash in many languages. In these languages, only people speak. To make inanimate scriptures talk is a collocation clash. One may have to translate such words to read, “It is written in the scripture that God said to Pharaoh....” Another possible way to adjust this verse would be “They wrote in Scripture that God said to Pharaoh....”

Matthew 6:10 reads, “Thy kingdom come.” It is often not possible to speak of kingdoms coming in other languages. Some languages require the translation to say, “May the time for you to be king begin.” Only people come and go. Kingdoms do not come in these languages. John 4:1 reads, “The Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.” In many languages, the word made is limited to things that people produce from raw materials. If one uses the word made in his translation, it would mean that Jesus manufactured disciples out of clay or some other material. John 12:30 reads, “This voice came.” The translator must find out if it is correct in the ethnic language to say, “This voice came.” In many languages, one speaks of hearing voices. One should not take for granted that voices can come to someone. Normally, in some languages only people come and go. The Sinasina people do not say, “This voice came.” The Sinasina language reserves the words coming and going for actions of people. People can come and go, but voices do not come and go in this language. Sinasina people hear “the neck” (voice) of the person who speaks to them. John 16:6 reads, “Sorrow hath filled your heart.” A translator should ask whether the


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ethnic language permits one to say, “Sorrow fills your heart” like water fills a container? Some languages limit filling to the filling of containers. One cannot use the word filling to speak of filling a heart. Shipibo Indians in Peru say, “In your heart you are very sad” as the equivalent for “Sorrow hath filled your heart.” The Sinasina people say that the equivalent of “Sorrow filled your heart” is “You feel big pain in your liver.” John 8:51 reads, “He shall never see death.” In many languages, it is not possible to say, “See death.” In these languages one simply dies. John 16:22 reads, “And your joy no man taketh from you.” The verb take is often limited to concrete objects in many languages. One may take a person’s coat or pig, but one does not take abstract qualities such as “joy” from another person. To force a language to say this may be a collocation clash. John 10:17 reads, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” Does the ethnic language use the words “lay down,” in combination with the word life? Can one speak of laying down life and taking life up again? One should not take it for granted that one can speak of laying down one’s life. If there is a collocation clash, one may have to translate the phrase as, “If I want to die and rise to life again, I can do that.” Other languages speak about the planting and harvesting of crops in a different way than we do in English. To the Sinasina people, corn “hits” when it is ripe and is “folded over” when it is picked. Sweet potatoes “go big” when they

= / 39.2 This chief is not equal to this chief.

are ready for harvest and are “pulled out” when harvested. The translator must not assume that the language into which he is translating will use the same kind of word groupings as that of his own language. Such a false assumption can lead to ear shocking statements like “a herd of geese” or “a flock of cows.”

The Problem of Cultural Substitutes

Substituting an item in one culture for another item in another culture should be done with great care and usually only as a last resort. Luke 11:11 reads, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” First, this is probably a rhetorical question, but even so, it would be answered in many cultures with the answer, “Certainly he would give him a serpent, for everyone knows how much more delicious snake meat is than fish meat!” If the translator translates this verse literally, the point of the verse could be lost. He may say, “If he asks for a fish, will he for a fish give him a poisonous serpent [one that could bite and kill him]?” Then the answer would be the correct one: “Certainly not!” Luke 18:13 reads, “And the publican smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The intended meaning of beating upon his breast was to show remorse and repentance for sins. However, in other cultures, beating the breast indicates anger or a display of strength. A possible solution might be to say, “Because he was sorry for his sins, he beat upon his breast.” Acts 14:14 reads, “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes.” In many cultures, the tearing of clothing could be misunderstood. One can adjust the words “They rent [tore] their clothes”


The Problem of Collocation Clash and Cultural Substitutes by saying, “Because they were distressed, they tore their clothes.” Luke 12:3 reads, “That which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” To proclaim something on the housetops is probably equivalent in many cultures to proclaiming it in the village square or some other public place. It would be very strange behavior for someone to climb up on a grass-roofed hut to make a proclamation.

When to use cultural substitutes

1. When the biblical context does not entrench a particular cultural form in the historical context of Scripture, and it would not matter what item is used, then one may possibly make a cultural substitution in his translation. However, a translator should avoid making culture substitutions. The potential for people misunderstanding a cultural substitution is very high. For example, in Matthew 6:26, Jesus says of the birds, “They sow not.” The particular method used by people to sow seed, whether scattered or placed in the ground one at a time, is not an issue in this verse. Therefore, a cultural substitute like “They do not place seeds in the ground” may be acceptable. However, in the parable of the sower, this is not the case. In Matthew 13:18, the particular method of sowing seed is crucial to the meaning of the parable. Here the method of sowing must be that of scattering seeds. Therefore, the translator will have to use words that indicate sowing seeds by scattering, even if in the local culture people do not scatter seeds.

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2. The translator should not make a cultural substitute when the authors of Scripture have deeply entrenched a cultural item in the historical context of Judeo-Christianity. However, when a cultural item is not crucial to the point of the narrative or a part of the overall context of biblical history, a cultural substitute may be possible. For example, John 1:29 reads, “Behold the Lamb of God.” No cultural substitute for the word Lamb is acceptable in this verse. However, in Matthew 5:40, Jesus says, “Let him have thy cloak also.” Here the possibility of a cultural substitute for the word cloak may exist, because the word cloak simply means an article of clothing used to keep one warm. 3. One should not substitute a cultural item that would introduce something into the biblical context that did not exist at the time when the original author wrote the book. For example, Luke 12:3 reads “Shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” One should not translate these words with the cultural equivalent “Shall be announced on the radio.” Radios did not exist when Jesus spoke these words. In addition, one should not speak about proclaiming upon the housetops unless that is what is done in a particular culture. To climb up on a grass-roofed hut to proclaim a message would be strange behavior in many places. One should make cultural substitutes only as a last resort, when it is necessary to help readers who would misunderstand the verse without the help given. Sometimes one can solve this problem by placing a picture near the text to show what a camel looks like or what wheat and grapes look like.

Homework Read pages 201–211 in Translating the Word of God, by Beekman-Callow.


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Chapter 40

A notice in a Tokyo Hotel said, “Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.”

Chapter 40

The Problem of Chiasmus and Order of Elements

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hiasmus is a figure of speech by which the order of words in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. For example, Matthew 7:6 reads, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” In this verse, the order of the words in the first two phrases is “dogs” and then “swine,” but in the second two phrases, the order is swine and then dogs. If left in this order it results in the swine doing both the trampling and rending (biting). The problem with this is the chiasmus distorts the meaning. To remove the chiasmus the order should read, “Do not give dogs what is holy, lest they turn again and rend you, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.” By removing the Chiasmus, the intended meaning is preserved. If left as is, the meaning is misunderstood. In Matthew 13:15, we read, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” In this verse, the order of words is heart-ears-eyes in the first clause and eyes-ears-heart in the second clause. One should remove the chiasmus, and put the verse in proper sequence. Then it would read, “For

this people’s heart is waxed gross, lest at any time they should understand with their heart. Their ears are dull of hearing, lest at any time they should hear with their ears. Their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and should be converted and I should heal them.” Philemon 5 reads, “Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints.” The order of words is love and faith in the first clause, but it is the Lord Jesus and all saints in the second clause. If left as it is we are not sure if we should match love to be for Jesus or the saints. The verse should be translated in such a way that love is matched with all saints, and faith is matched with the Lord Jesus. By removing the chiasmus, the verse would correctly read, “Hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the saints.”

The problem of order of elements

The order of sentence elements involves the chronological ordering of events as they actually happened. For example, Luke 8:26–30 has this order of events: first, they arrived; second, Jesus got out of the boat; third, a demon possessed man met him; fourth, the demon possessed man cried out; fifth, Jesus commands the evil spirit to leave the man. However, the chronology of the events happened in this


The Problem of Chiasmus and Order of Elements order: first, they arrived; second, Jesus got out of the boat; third, a demon-possessed man met him; fourth, Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the man; fifth, the demon possessed man cried out. Most ethnic languages prefer a story to happen in the chronological order of the events. Otherwise, they will think the events happened as stated. This would be a distortion of the facts. The demon-possessed man did not cry out first and then Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave him. Jesus first commanded the evil spirit to leave the demon-possessed man, and then he cried out. By putting the events in the chronological order in which they actually occurred, the verses are understood as was intended by Luke. Acts 8:1–2 has a similar order of events. In verse one; Stephen has just died with Paul consenting to his death. Next, the verse speaks about a great persecution at that time. Then, verse two says that devout men carried Stephen to his burial. The order of events, as stated in the verses, makes it seem as if they kill Stephen, a great persecution occurs, and then after the great persecution is over, devout men finally find time to bury Stephen. The actual chronological order was first, they killed Stephen, second, devout men buried Stephen, and third, a great persecution broke out. By putting the events in chronological order, the meaning is understood correctly. Mark 16:3–4 reads, “And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.” The order of events is listed as, first, they talked among themselves, wondering who would roll the stone away from the sepulchre; second, they looked and saw that the stone had been rolled away; and third, the stone is said to be very great. Some languages would require that the translator reorder the events in their logical sequence. In logical sequence the verse would read, “Because the

261 stone at the door of the sepulchre was very great, they talked among themselves wondering who could roll the stone away from the sepulchre. Then they looked and saw that the stone had already been rolled away.” Second Thessalonians 2:8–9 reads, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” The order of elements as stated in the verse is first, that Wicked person is revealed, second, the Lord consumes that Wicked person, and third, that Wicked person comes. The actual order is, first, that Wicked person is revealed, second, that Wicked person comes, and third, the Lord consumes that Wicked person. If the order is not changed, it sounds like the Wicked person is revealed, the Lord consumes the Wicked person, but the Wicked person comes even after being consumed by the Lord.

The problem of pronominal reference She? He?

40.1 Pronouns: She? He? It?

It?

Sometimes it is not immediately apparent as to whom a pronominal referent refers. For example, Matthew 10:28 reads, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” People


262 often misunderstand this verse because they interpret the pronominal reference in the words “but rather fear him” to be Satan. However, the pronominal reference in the phrase, “but rather fear him” refers to God, not Satan. To avoid this misunderstanding, one could supply the pronominal reference so that the verse would read, “Fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Second Corinthians 5:21 reads, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” There are six pronouns in this verse. One could easily miss the point of who is doing what to whom. One can correctly understand the six pronouns as, “Because God made Jesus, who never sinned, become guilty of our sins, Jesus died for our sins. God can now declare us righteous because Jesus died for us.” John 19:30 reads, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished.” The last antecedent to the pronoun it is vinegar. This would mean Jesus finished drinking the vinegar. However, the word it does not refer to Jesus finishing (drinking) all the vinegar. The word it refers to the work that Jesus finished when he completely paid the price for the sins of all humanity by dying on the cross. We usually understand this verse correctly. However, will the ethnic people who have a limited Bible background understand it correctly? It may be that one will have to translate this verse as, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘My work [of atonement] is finished.’” John 5:38 reads, “And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.” If the phrase, “him ye believe not” is to be understood correctly, it may be necessary to change it to “I, the one whom God has sent,

Homework 1. Reorder the elements in Luke 2:7. 2. Adjust the pronouns in Mark 8:8.

Chapter 40 ye do not believe me.” If the translator uses the third person “him” in his translation, the verse could mean that Jesus was talking about a third person, someone other than himself. This is not the meaning of the words of Jesus. Matthew 3:16 reads, “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” Most people think all the references to “he” and “ him” in this verse refer to Jesus. They understand the verse to mean that Jesus saw the heavens opened unto him (Jesus) and he (Jesus) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him (Jesus). However, the words “he saw” refers to John the Baptist, not Jesus. In John 1:32–34 John the Baptist says, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him [Jesus].” John also says that God told him that he would know who the Son of God is when he (John) would see the Spirit descending and remaining upon the Son of God. It is important that the meaning of the pronoun in the words “he saw” in Matthew 3:16 is understood to be John. Because John saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus, John understood this to be God’s proof to him that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Son of God. Mark 9:20 “And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground.” The correct referents in this verse are as follows: “And they brought him [the son with the dumb spirit] unto him [Jesus]. When he [the spirit] saw him [Jesus], the spirit immediately tare him [the son with the dumb spirit] and he [the son with the dumb spirit] fell on the ground.”


The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism

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A sign in the Budapest zoo said, “Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.”

Chapter 41

The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism

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n the King James Version at Colossians chapter one, a sentence begins at verse 9 and ends at verse 17. The sentence is composed of nine verses without a full stop. Most languages do not use sentences this long. Long involved sentences make it unnecessarily difficult for people to read the Bible. The translator may need to adjust sentence lengths to a shorter form. The same thing that I wrote about question marks not being a part of the original inspired Scripture is also true of periods to indicate the end of a sentence. Neither the Hebrew Old Testament nor the Greek New Testament originally had punctuation marks as part of the text. In fact, translators added all punctuation marks to both the English text and the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture. This means that we are not always certain where periods should go in Bible translations. Because there were no punctuation marks in the autographs of Scripture, we are free to use punctuation in whatever way would be most helpful to the readers of our translation. The languages of Papua New Guinea have the potential for making very long sentences because of a grammatical preference for participles and medial verbs that tie clauses together to make long and involved sentences

that, though possible, are not practical because the information load in such long involved sentences makes them very difficult to read, much like the sentence you are reading now, which is why long sentences sometimes need to be shortened so the person reading them will not grow weary of them just like you probably are growing weary of this long sentence because I purposely wrote it lengthy so you would get the point, I hope. When people are newly literate, long sentences are difficult for them to read. On the other hand, sentences should not be so short as to seem like baby talk. An ideal Bible translation is one that can be read aloud in public and those listening comprehend most of the meaning from the oral reading.

The problem of spoken style versus written style

The spoken style of a language cannot serve as an ideal model for a written style of that language. The Bible translator must develop a written style over time by an interaction between the translator and the people for whom he translates. This written style must be true to the genuine native speakers’ spoken style, but the written style must be adapted to some practical consideration. One practical consideration is the length of sentences. They


264 must not be unnecessarily long. Sometimes the translator will have to reduce the communication load in a long group of verses by making the sentences shorter. For example, First John 1:1–3 is one sentence in English. These three verses are eleven sentences in the Sinasina New Testament. One of the best ways to develop a written style of a language is to study text material to find the significant units of spoken style. After this, the translator can encourage the people who become literate to write letters and stories. By observing the way native speakers of the language write letters and stories, one may gain a good approximation of what the written style should be. The translator should develop a written style that would be similar to the way a native speaker would write. The translator may not always be able to reach this ideal, but he should do his best to work toward a style of writing that is consistent with the major phonological and grammatical structures of the ethnic language.

The problem of ambiguity

A verse of Scripture is sometimes ambiguous, that is, one could interpret the verse correctly in two or more different ways. For example, the phrase in Matthew 9:13, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,” can be taken to mean two different things. It could mean, “I God, would rather you show mercy to people than have you offer a sacrifice to me.” The verse could also be stated, “I God, would rather deal with you in mercy than for you to approach me on the basis of a sacrifice.” Where possible, a translator should preserve the ambiguity of verses in the ethnic translation. If it makes better sense to remove the ambiguity by giving the verse a specific meaning, or if the language grammar makes it necessary to remove the ambiguity,

Chapter 41 then the translator must make a choice of which meaning he will put into his translation. For example, Romans 6:3 reads, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Many people have tried to say that there is not a drop of baptismal water in Romans chapter 6. This is not true. Paul may have deliberately used the Greek word baptize to allow the verse to refer to our Spirit baptism into Christ and to our water baptism into the local church. Both meanings are in this verse and both are important to a Christian’s growth. We need to know that the Spirit of God has joined us to Christ so that we can enjoy the benefits of our union with his death, burial, and resurrection. This baptism sets us free from the bondage of sin. We also need to know that we should be water baptized in order to become a part of Christ’s body, the local church. This baptism is also very important because it puts us into fellowship with church leaders and other believers who can help us become spiritually mature. Another example of ambiguity is Second Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Does this verse mean that Christ’s love for us constrains us, or does it mean our love for Christ constrains us? It is ambiguous. It could mean either one or both at the same time. Ephesians 5:25 reads, “Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Does this mean Christ loved the local church, or does it mean He loved the church as an institution? In fact, it means both. A good translation should make good sense. A translator should revise any verse that is so ambiguous that it does not make sense. He should replace any verse that does not make good sense with a clear meaning that does make good sense. If a verse does not make common sense, all people have a way of making sense


The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism out of nonsense and, as a result, they could come up with some strange doctrines. One can avoid generating strange doctrines by making ambiguous verses clearly understood in at least one way.

The problem of anachronism

Anachronism happens when translators introduce things into their Bible translation that did not exist at the time when the Scriptures were written. We have already seen that a translator should not translate “proclaimed upon the housetops” as “announced over the radio.” This also applies to introducing the name of Jesus into Old Testament quotes found in the New Testament. Although it is true that Jesus did exist at the time the Old Testament writers wrote, they did not know His name at that time as Jesus. A well-known anachronism occurs in Acts 12:4. In this verse, the word Easter is translated from the Greek word pasca (paska) which according to Thayer’s Lexicon means, “to pass over by sparing.” The Hebrew word for Passover is ‫( פסח‬pesax). It refers to the animal sacrificed at Passover and it refers to the entire festival of the Passover, including the days of unleavened bread. How a Bible translator should interpret this word has been a matter of dispute. However, there is no phonological or morphological connection between the word Easter and the Hebrew word ‫( פסח‬pesax) that is translated “Passover.” There is also no phonological or morphological connection between the word Easter and the Greek word pasca (paska) that is translated “Passover.” Therefore, there is no basis for translating the word Passover as “Easter” in either the Old Testament or the New Testament. If a Bible translator is concerned about translating what the author Luke meant by the words he wrote, he may have to face some conflicting opinions about the meaning of the

265 Greek word pasca. As always, the final choice of how to translate this word is a decision you, as a translator, must make. I do not necessarily expect you to agree with what I write here, but I hope you will at least consider the answer that I offer for this translation problem. First, you should know that this translation of the word pasca is not a textual problem. The editors of the Greek Textus Receptus text at Acts 12:4 correctly recorded the Greek word pasca from the original Greek text. Secondly, you should know that the problem of the word Easter occurring in this verse is not calling into question the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. The Greek word pasca that occurs in Acts 12:4 is inspired and inerrant. The problem that exists in this verse is about how a Bible translator should translate the word pasca into English and other languages. How it should be translated does not involve questioning the inspiration of the Bible. Thirdly, you should know that by addressing this translation problem, I am not against celebrating the Easter holiday. Even though the early churches celebrated the resurrection of Christ on every first day of the week, there is general agreement that Christians have a right to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter if they choose to do so. As mentioned, the problem is that the English word Easter has no linguistic attachment to any word in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures. The English word Easter began as an Old English word that was derived from Old High German. Ultimately, it is derived from the name of a goddess whose feast the Germans and AngloSaxons celebrated at the vernal equinox that marks the beginning of spring. Compare the German word ostern (eastern) to the English word Easter. They both have a common origin and meaning. The English word Easter originates from an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of the


266 dawn named Eastre, Eostre, or Ostara. All of this proves conclusively that the word Easter has no linguistic association with any Hebrew or Greek biblical words. A greater problem is that when Luke wrote the Book of Acts in A.D. 65, Christians did not celebrate a Christian holiday called Easter. In fact, the word Easter is a word that originated with Roman Catholics who evangelized the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain in A.D. 500. The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain says on page 56, “Even when converted, the English named one of the main Church festivals after their old goddess Eostre.” Venerable Bede, a Roman Catholic Monk, wrote a book in Latin entitled, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. He wrote this book in A.D. 731. In this book, he says that Roman Catholic monks converted the pagan word Easter and adapted it for Church use. The monks used the pagan word Easter, which in A.D. 500 was the name of the heathen spring festival. Because the converts to Roman Catholicism in Britain were annually celebrating a heathen spring festival, the Roman Catholic monks thought it prudent to convert this Easter spring festival into a time for celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, because the first occurrence of the word Easter in ecclesiastical history was recorded in A.D. 731, it would be impossible for Luke to have used the Greek word pasca to mean “Easter” when he wrote the book of Acts in A.D. 65. The King James translators translated the Greek word pasca as “Passover” 28 times in every other place it occurs in the New Testament, but in Acts 12:4 they translated pasca as “Easter.” The translators of the Greek Old Testament translated every occurrence of the Hebrew word, ‫( פסח‬pesax), meaning “Passover” in the Hebrew Old Testament by using the Greek word

Chapter 41 pasca. Because every occurrence of the word pasca in the Greek Old Testament is translated “Passover,” this alone is a good reason to translate the word pasca as Passover in Acts 12:4. One should also consider the fact that of the seven occurrences of the word pasca in the Gospel that Luke wrote, the King James translators translated all seven of them as “Passover.” They translated pasca correctly in the gospel of Luke. Therefore, it is very unlikely that Luke would use the word pasca to mean “Passover” in the gospel he wrote and then change his mind and use the word pasca to mean “Easter” in Acts 12:4. Before the first century A.D. the Jews had combined the Passover meal and the feast of unleavened bread as two parts of a single event that they called, ‫( פסח‬pesax) meaning the “Passover.” Luke, the writer of Acts 12:4, says this very thing in Luke 22:1 which reads, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (italic emphasis is mine). Why would Luke in the Gospel of Luke say that the feast of unleavened bread is called, the Passover, and then in Acts 12:4 change his mind and say that the days of unleavened bread was called, Easter? It is very inconsistent to translate the same author, Luke, as saying, “Passover” in the Gospel of Luke and then translating Luke as saying, “Easter” in the Book of Acts. Mark also indicates clearly that the Jews considered the feast of unleavened bread and the Passover as two parts of the same event. Mark 14:12 says, “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?” Exodus 12:8 says, “And they shall eat the flesh [of the Passover lamb] in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with


The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism bitter herbs they shall eat it.” Ezekiel 45:21 also says, “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.” These last three verses indicate that the Jews were to eat the flesh of the Passover lamb and unleavened bread with it at the same time. Further proof of this can be seen by comparing Numbers 9:5 with Exodus 12:18. Numbers 9:5 says, “And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai.” Exodus 12:18 says, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even” (emphasis mine). By comparing Numbers 9:5 with Exodus 12:18, it is obvious that the Passover and the eating of unleavened bread occurred at the same designated time. When the New Testament speaks of the days of unleavened bread, it includes within the days of unleavened bread the killing of the Passover lamb. The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are inseparable. In first century A.D. times, the Jews considered the Passover and the eating of unleavened bread as a single event, not two separate events. The immediate context of Acts 12:4 is Acts 12:3. Acts 12:3 reads, “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” The mention of the days of unleavened bread makes it clear that the context of Acts 12:4 is the Jewish Passover. According to Numbers 9:5 and Exodus 12:18 God set the time for celebrating the Passover on the 14th day of the month Nisan, and He set the day for the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 14th day of the month Nisan. Therefore, the feast of unleavened bread was simply a part of the Passover. Because this is true, the context of Acts 12:3 sets the time to be the days of unleavened bread, which is a part of the Passover. Therefore Acts 12:4 should agree with Acts 12:3 and should

267 read, “…intending after Passover to bring him forth to the people.” Some have offered the argument that Herod would not be thinking of the Jewish Passover because he was a Gentile heathen. Those who accept this think that Herod, as a Gentile heathen, would be thinking of the pagan festival Easter. Therefore, the translator should translate pasca as “Easter.” However, it is not so important what Herod was thinking as it is what God was thinking when he caused Luke to write the word pasca. First, we do not know what Herod was thinking regarding the meaning of the word pasca. A translator should be most concerned about what Luke meant by the word pasca that he wrote in the book of Acts. Actually, we do not know what Herod or Luke was thinking but we do know that Luke used the word pasca to mean “Passover” in the gospel that he wrote. Every Greek lexicon also lists the meaning of the word pasca as “Passover.” It also makes no sense to say that Herod, the heathen, was thinking that after the Christians had celebrated the resurrection of Christ, Easter, he would bring Peter to court. In the light of Acts 12:3 which indicates that Herod pleased the Jews by killing James, it would not make sense here to say he waited until a Christian Easter service was over before he would bring Peter to trial. This certainly would not please the Jews. However, if he waited until the Passover was over, his action would show respect for the Jewish Passover and would certainly please the Jews. Therefore, the word Easter in no way fits the context mentioned in Acts 12:2 and 3. No other verses in the Bible mention Easter. To place this meaning on the Greek word πασχα in Acts 12:4 when every other occurrence of the word is translated “Passover” is not a good principle of Bible interpretation. One should not make a decision of interpretation based on a single occurrence of a word.


268 The practice of first century Christians was to celebrate Christ’s resurrection every first day of the week, not just once a year. Acts 20:7 says, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.” The use of the word Easter is most likely an anachronism that the Anglican Archbishop, Richard Bancroft, introduced into the text because he wanted a proof text to promote the celebration of Easter by the Anglican Church. Easter was the most important celebration of the year for the Anglican Church. Easter was also the time when the Anglican Church collected the annual church taxes. The Anglican Church needed a proof text for their Easter celebration. King James and Bishop Bancroft had charged the King James translators to produce a translation that strictly followed the Bishops Bible. For this reason, Bishop Bancroft personally made sure that the word Easter occurred in Acts 12:4. The translators of the Bishops Bible had translated the word pasca as “Easter” so this made it mandatory for the King James Bible translators to do the same. The Bishops Bible was a Bible translated by a group of Anglican bishops. They had ulterior motives for promoting the annual Church of England celebration of Easter because it was also the day for the laity to pay their annual tax to the state Church of England. The Geneva Bible translators, who were under no such royal restraints, translated Acts 12:4 using the word Passover. If the King James Version translators had translated the word pasca as “Passover” it would have brought down the wrath of King James and the Anglican bishops on their heads. This could have been very serious because the King gave much of his civil authority to the Anglican bishops. In the days of King James, there were no courts and fair trials by a jury. The King of England and the Archbishop of

Chapter 41 Canterbury were in charge of the government of England. To go against either King James or the Archbishop meant imprisonment in the Tower of London. Often this imprisonment included execution as well. This is the reason the Reformation Bible translators escaped to Switzerland in A.D. 1550 to translate the Geneva Bible that does not use the word Easter in Acts 12:4. The Geneva Bible rightly translates the word pasca as “Passover.” T. H. Brown of the Trinitarian Bible Society says, “Passover is certainly to be preferred to Easter, as there is no evidence that Christians in the time of Herod observed an annual commemoration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, or any commemoration other than on the first day of each week. Herod would not have been concerned with any Christian observances in any case, and his intention was to bring Peter forth after the Passover. Tyndale was the first to use the word, Easter in his English translation, and the first to use the word, Passover. His renderings influenced all subsequent English translations, some using one, and some the other, until in course of time Passover prevailed. If Tyndale had lived a little longer, it is probable that he would have subjected his New Testament to a further careful revision, consistently rendering the Greek pascha by the word Passover in every passage in which the word occurs.” –The Use of “Easter” in Acts 12:4 by T. H. Brown in the Quarterly Record no. 470 of the Trinitarian Bible Society. Another possible anachronism occurs in Matthew 12:1 where it says, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.” The words “through the corn” sounds like the disciples were going through a cornfield. They were not. The anachronism in this verse exists because


The Problems of Length, Style, and Anachronism the old English word corn means “grain,” and in this verse, it means specifically “wheat.” In today’s English, the word corn means “corn on the cob or maize.” The problem with translating the word corn to mean “corn on the cob” is the fact that corn did not exist in the East at the time Matthew wrote his book. Corn was unknown in Europe and the East until colonists came to the American continent and found Indians planting, harvesting, and eating maize. If a translator uses the word corn in a Bible translation, he is misleading the reader to think that the disciples were eating corn on the cob. This would be false. The commentary of Jameson, Faucett and Brown says, “Palestine was famous for vineyards, and it produced varieties of corn, namely, wheat, barley, oats and rye.” Therefore, a Bible translator should translate the word corn as “grain.” Although corn is a grain, it is the wrong kind. The translation should convey the meaning, “wheat grain” specifically. See John 12:24 that says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die.”

The problem of concordance

People often understand the word concordance to mean that the translator must always translate the same word the same way in every verse in which it occurs. However, if a translator translates the same Greek word the same way in every place it occurs in the New Testament, regardless of the context, he will distort the intended meaning of that word in some verses. For example, the Greek word pneuma meaning “spirit” can either refer to the wind, the spirit of a man, the Spirit of God, a disembodied spirit of the dead, a demon, or the attitude of a person. The context in which the word occurs will determine which of

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these meanings the translator should use in a particular verse. The phrase “kingdom of God” is a phrase that biblical authors use in at least five different ways in the New Testament. The context determines which way is meant. Some verses speak about “entering the kingdom of God”; some verses speak about “preaching the kingdom of God”; some verse say, “the kingdom of God is at hand”; some verses say “it is like something” and other verses speak about “not being worthy of it.” One can translate the words “to enter the kingdom of God” as going into the kingdom of God, meaning heaven, or becoming a member of the group over which Jesus rules as King. To preach the kingdom of God is to preach and urge people to submit to the King of the kingdom of God, the Lord Jesus. To say, “The kingdom of God is at hand” is to say that King Jesus has come, and it is time for people to submit to His rule over them. To say the kingdom is “like something” is to say how people behave when they are under the rule of King Jesus. To speak of “not being worthy of the kingdom of God” is to say one is not worthy to be among the people whom King Jesus rules. Each of these five contexts will make it necessary to translate the words “the kingdom of God” in a different way in each different context. However, concordance also means that in parallel passages, the words used to translate a verse in Mark should be similar to the words used to translate parallel passages in the other Gospels. For example, if a translator used certain words to translate a verse in Mark, he should use similar words in a parallel passage in Luke. If a passage of Scripture in one of the gospels parallels verses speaking of a common event in another gospel, both parallel passages should have either the same words or similar words.


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41.1 The comparatives slow, slower, and slowest

The problem of comparatives

In language grammar, a comparative is the form of an adjective or adverb, which communicates the degree by which a person, thing, or quality is greater or lesser than that of another. Comparatives are phrases one may use to say that one thing is greater than another thing. One could say, “My new car starts quicker than my old car.” For example, Matthew 18:6 reads, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” This verse makes a comparison

Chapter 41 that it would be better for one thing to happen to him. However, it does not immediately say what the better thing is. In verse 8, the other part of the comparison is stated. It tells us that it would be better to have a millstone hanged about one’s neck and drowned in the depth of the sea than for God to cast one into everlasting fire. In many languages, a comparison must state the two things compared in the same statement. In other languages, there are different ways of making comparisons. The Sinasina people say, “One thing goes up and puts the other thing down.” This comparative means that one thing is greater than the other thing is. They also say, “One thing is big, the other is not big.” This means that one thing is more important than the other thing. They also say, “One is big. One is small.” This means that one thing is larger than the other thing. A Bible translator must learn how the ethnic language into which he is translating makes comparisons. He should not take it for granted that all languages make comparisons the same way.

Homework Rewrite the words in John 15:16 and John 20:19 using at least three or more sentences.


The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion

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A brochure for car rentals in Tokyo reads, “When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.”

Chapter 42

The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion

A

Methodist missionary was working with his translation helper and they came to the verse where it mentions John the Baptist. The translation helper, being a loyal Methodist, said to the missionary, “I think we should translate John the Baptist as John the Methodist!” This incident appears humorous, but it reveals a serious problem in Bible translation. It is the problem of a translator’s doctrinal beliefs. A translator’s doctrinal persuasion influences his translation of the Scriptures. Every translator thinks he is the ideal Bible translator who has no prejudices that 42.1 Lard is good slant his translation toward for your health! his own doctrinal beliefs, but doctrinal persuasion influences every translator. We must accept this fact as a part of Bible translation and work against it by having our own translation work checked for accuracy by someone other than ourselves. This will allow someone to examine our translation from a more open-minded position and correct it where needed. Doctrinal belief has always influenced Bible translations. Many Bible translators have translated the Greek word βαπτισμα (baptism) as “sprinkle” or “pour.” The mode

used in the New Testament was immersion into water. However, Roman Catholics and Lutherans routinely translate water baptism as “sprinkle.” Some translators, rather than have their translations rejected by Roman Catholics and Lutherans, have accepted the translation of βαπτισμα as “sprinkle” and translated it accordingly.

Some examples of doctrinal persuasion

In my own personal experience, I know of one Bible translator, who in his desire to have his translation accepted by Roman Catholics, told me that he left out the second commandment that says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (Exodus 20:4). He justified this by saying that some of the fifteenth-century Reformers had translated Exodus 20:1–17 in this same way. In another country, missionaries hired native speakers as translation helpers who were modernistic in their theology. Their modernistic beliefs influenced the translation they produced. Consequently, the native Baptist pastors in the area rejected this New Testament. Instead, they appointed their own group of pastors who retranslated and paid for the printing of a New Testament in their language that was free from slanted modernistic beliefs.


272 In another country, the translation of the New Testament into a native language was unacceptable to Baptist missionaries in the area because the translator had slanted it toward Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism. In this same country, a national language New Testament, translated predominately by Lutherans and Catholics, was unacceptable to independent Baptist missionaries. They spent many years retranslating this New Testament without the prejudices of Lutherans and Catholics. The first edition of the Gospel of Mark in a certain trade language had a picture of John the Baptist sprinkling water over the head of Jesus at His baptism. This picture made it evident how the word baptism would be translated in that translation. A certain Native American New Testament is another case in point. The Native American Baptist church rejected a certain New Testament because the translators of it had hired modernistic translation helpers to translate it. They bent the translation toward their modernistic views. This made the translation unacceptable to the Native American Baptist pastors who refused to use it even though it was in their own language. All of the above illustrations point out the need for Baptist missionaries to take up the work of Bible translation. We, as Baptists, claim to love the Bible and depend on it to teach us what to believe and practice. However, we are inconsistent with this belief. Independent Baptists have, for the most part, neglected Bible translation work or depended on the so-called experts to do it for them. In far too many instances, the Bible translations produced for Baptists by the “experts” promoted doctrines that were inconsistent with faithful Bible doctrine. Many Baptist people have unsuspectingly paid for and supported Bible translations that contain biased doctrinal opinions that are opposed to what they believe. They have also supported the translations of New

Chapter 42 Testaments that missionaries translated from the modernistic Critical Text. The translations made from such texts leave out many verses and phrases that are part of the Word of God. Baptists would not support such work if they knew translators were doing such things. Due to their lack of knowledge about translation work, many Baptist pastors are uninformed about the situation and continue to rely on the “experts” to do translations for their missionaries. Our situation as Baptists is similar to the one mentioned in Isaiah 36:6, which reads, “Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it.”

Is the King James Version inspired and inerrant?

By listing translation problems in the King James Bible, I am not attacking the King James Version. I am motivated by more than 50 years of trying to help missionaries with translation problems. This same motivation is behind all that I write in this book. I reverently believe the King James Version to be the best translation of the Hebrew and Greek received texts in the English language. Furthermore, I believe the King James Version accurately translates 99.7% of the words in the copies of God’s inspired and inerrant Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament autographs. Because the King James Version accurately translates 99.7% of the words in the copies of the inspired and inerrant autographs, this percentage of accuracy is high enough for any reasonable person to accept the King James Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God! To this the King James translators would agree for they said, “As the King’s speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted [translated] by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase,


The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion nor so expressly for sense, everywhere.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 427) This principle is true of the King James Version. Even though there are translation problems in the King James Version, it is still the words of King Jesus! The 99.7% accuracy of the translation in the King James Bible preserves 99.7% of the words found in the copies of the original Hebrew and Greek autographs. The small percentage of the King James Version that has some translation problems does not warrant the judgment that the King James Version has errors in it and is therefore not inspired and inerrant. The percentage of problem verses in the King James Version is small, and the translation problems in it can be solved by revision and correction. The King James translators themselves said, “If anything [in their translation] be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the original, the same may be corrected, and the truth set in place” (The Translators to the Reader, Appendix 2, page 426). Therefore, we do not need to throw the baby out with the bath water. We can praise God that the King James Version is purer than the water we drink and is based on the copies of the autographs that are 99.9% pure. For these reasons, it is legitimate to consider the King James Bible the inspired, inerrant Word of God because it preserves such a high percentage of the meaning of words in the copies of the autographs. For all practical purposes, we can be confidant that when we read the King James Bible, we are reading the inspired and inerrant words of God. The King James Version is inspired and inerrant, but not in the same way the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament autographs were inspired and inerrant. The inspiration and inerrancy of the King James Version is a derived inspiration and inerrancy. It derives its inspiration and inerrancy from the fact that it is 99.7% faithful to the copies of the Hebrew

273 and Greek autographs. The King James Version obtains its inspiration and inerrancy from the fact that the translators translated strictly from the Hebrew and Greek received texts and did so with 99.7% accuracy. At a few places in the text of the King James Version, the translators failed to preserve the inspiration and inerrancy of the copies of the autographs, but these places are few and can be solved by revision and correction. The minor translation problems in the King James Version do not come anywhere near undermining the confidence that we rightfully have in the King James Version. The words from the inspired and inerrant King James Bible brought me to repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you insist on misinterpreting my motivation as an attack on the King James Version, I want to say, as strongly as I possibly can, that I honestly, without any reservation, have no such motivation for writing about the translation problems in the King James Version. They are translation problems. They are not errors. In all of this, my motivation is to help Bible translators understand the need for using the Received Hebrew and Greek texts, along with the King James Version, as the only authority for translating the Bible into other languages. I also want them to realize that the only absolute authority for translating the Scriptures must remain finally and forever with the faithful copies of the received Hebrew and Greek texts, not with the King James Version or any other English version.

The problem of Anglicanism

Related to the problem of doctrinal persuasion is the problem of words in the Bible that are the result of Anglican doctrinal persuasion. My motivation for writing about this problem comes from my desire to help other Bible translators do the best possible Bible translating they can do. All Bible translators need to know about the problem of Anglicanism


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Chapter 42

42.2 A female Anglican bishop is ordained

in the King James Version. They also need to know how to solve this problem. Some of the translation problems in the King James Version come from the Anglican Bishop who was in charge of overseeing the work of the King James Version translators. This man was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft.

42.3 Richard Bancroft became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604.

There are multiple witnesses to this man’s pressure on the King James Version translators to conform their translation to his will. Among these witnesses are the following men. Lord Clarendon, writing about Bancroft, expressed the opinion that “If Bancroft had lived; he would quickly have extinguished all the fire of the reformation in England.” In the book, In the Beginning, the Story of the King James Bible, the author, Alister McGrath, wrote the following statement on page 152: “Richard Bancroft was one of the most relentless opponents of Puritanism in England. In a famous sermon, preached by Bishop Bancroft at St. Paul’s Cross, London, in 1589, he declared that the Puritans were ‘false prophets’ who were threatening to destroy the fabric of the Church

and nation. For Bancroft, the facts of the matter were simple. God meant the Church of England to be governed by a monarch and bishops, and that was the end of the matter.” In the book, God’s Secretaries, the Making of the King James Bible, on page 46, Adam Nicolson wrote that Bishop Bancroft was the “scourge of puritans.” He said that Bancroft “had become a severe, ruthless sleuth after Puritan error,” and was “ruthless with any opposition.” On page 65, Nicolson said that Bishop Bancroft was “a ferocious defender of the Church of England.” On page 86 of the same book Nicolson wrote, “Separatists puritans, who considered each congregation a self-sufficient church of Christ, became the target of a campaign led by Richard Bancroft.” On page 124, Nicolson says that King James and Bancroft “expelled those eighty or so Puritans [pastors] from the church between 1604 and 1606.” Archbishop Bancroft was not only the general overseer of the King James Version translation project, but as Archbishop of Canterbury, he also ruled the High Commission Court with an iron fist. The High Commission Court was a kind of British Inquisition against Puritans, Anabaptists and all others who did not submit to the Church of England. Bancroft used the High Commission Court to enforce the Canon Laws of the State Church and to suppress the civil and religious liberties of non-conformists such as Puritans and Anabaptists. Bancroft, himself, wrote these Canon Laws and he doggedly enforced them. In 1600, the Archbishop was almost on the same level as the Roman Pope. The only difference being that Bancroft was to all intents and purposes a Protestant Pope. In 1858 Alexander McClure wrote of Bancroft, “On the death of Whitgift, in 1604, he [Bancroft] succeeded to the archbishopric of Canterbury. In one year thereafter, such was his fury in pressing conformity, that not less than three hundred ministers were suspended, deprived, excommunicated, imprisoned, or


The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion forced to leave the country. He was indeed a terrible churchman, of a harsh and stern temper.” –Translators Revived: Biographical Notes on the King James Version Translators, by Alexander McClure. Concerning Bancroft, Adam Nicolson wrote, “By the spring of 1611, a final text had emerged, ready for the printer. After the revising committee had done with it, to the annoyance of the Cambridge Puritans, Richard Bancroft is said to have altered a few words emphasizing the role of bishops in the early church.” –God’s Secretaries, the Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson, page 216. Gustavus S. Paine wrote that Miles Smith and Thomas Bilson, the final editors of the King James Version “protested that after they had finished minor changes to the King James Version, Bishop Bancroft made fourteen more changes.” This quote comes from the book The Men Behind the King James Version by Gustavus S. Paine, page 128. Even though Bancroft had a strong influence and authority over the translation, the finished work of the King James Version translators did not satisfy him. This domineering Archbishop had to make fourteen changes in the text of the translation just before it was printed. This was due to Bishop Bancroft’s belief that the Anglican Church of England had divine authority to “take the initiative and mold the new Bible to its own purposes.” This last quote comes from page 65 of Nicolson’s book, God’s Secretaries, the Making of the King James Bible. In 1858, Alexander McClure wrote, “It is said that Bancroft altered fourteen places, so as to make them speak in phrase to suit him. Dr. Miles Smith, who had so much to do with the work in all its stages, is reported to have complained of the Archbishop’s alterations. To have the glorious word bishopric occur at least once in the volume, the office is conferred, in the first chapter of Acts, on Judas Iscariot! Many of the Puritans

275 were stiffly opposed to bestowing the name church, which they regarded as appropriate only to the company of spiritual worshippers, on any mass of masonry and carpentry. However, Bancroft, that he might for once stick the name to a material building, would have it applied, in the nineteenth chapter of Acts, to the idols’ temples! ‘Robbers of churches’ are strictly, according to the word in the original, templerobbers; and particularly, in this case, such as might have plundered the great temple of Diana at Ephesus. Let us be thankful that the dictatorial prelate tried his hand no farther at emending the sacred text.” This quote comes from the book, Translators Revived: Biographical Notes on the King James Version Translators, by Alexander McClure, page 221. In 1642, Henry Jessey, a Baptist pastor, complained that the King James Version was bent towards favoring episcopacy (Church of England traditions). Pastor Jessey wrote, “Bancroft, who was supervisor of the present translation, altered it in fourteen places to make it speak the language of the Bishops.” This quote comes from the preface of The Common English Version: an Argument Containing the Common English Version of the Bible, by Williams, page 53. Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics wrote, “Finally, the finishing touches would be applied to the King James Version by the bishops of Winchester and Gloucester. Though Bancroft appears to have drawn no attention to the fact, he had reserved for himself the privilege of making revisions to what all had hitherto thought of as the final draft.” –In The Beginning, the Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, by Alister McGrath, page 178. McGrath said that the changes were certainly made to support Episcopalian church government. The changes were also in violation


276 of some of the translation rules for the King James Version translation procedure. Bancroft, as the Archbishop, wrote these rules, but he must have considered himself above these rules. In addition, the expressed opposition by some of the King James Version translators to these changes, indicate that they viewed Bancroft’s changes to be wrong. However, the facts indicate that Bancroft personally did ensure that the words bishop and bishopric were placed in the King James Version where they are now. McGrath also wrote, “Having completed their recommendations for revision, the text was passed on to Miles Smith and Thomas Bilson, who were charged with adding the final changes. It is not clear whether their role was to review the overall text of the translation, or simply to comment on the specific changes proposed by the editorial committee that had met at Stationers’ Hall. Then, in an apparently unscripted development, Archbishop Richard Bancroft reviewed what had been hitherto regarded as the final version of the text. Smith complained loudly to anyone who would listen that Bancroft had introduced fourteen changes in the final text without any consultation.” This quote comes from the book In the Beginning, the Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, by Alister McGrath, page 188. Another important witness of Bishop Bancroft’s dictatorial ways is Alfred Pollard. Alfred Pollard was an English language bibliographer, the keeper of printed books in the British Museum from 1883 until 1924 and professor of English bibliography at Oxford University, London, England. He compiled a book entitled, Records of the English Bible: The Documents Relating to the Translation and Publication of the Bible in English, 1525-1611. In this book, on page fifty eight, Pollard wrote, “From the Report of the Synod of Dort (November 16,

Chapter 42 1618), we learn that the final touches to the translation were given by Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, and Miles Smith, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester. Bishop Bilson was not a member of any of the boards of revisers, but that the work of the revisers should subsequently be ‘reviewed by the Bishops and the chief learned of the Church’ was part of the scheme which the King had sketched out at the Hampton Court Conference, and another Bishop, Richard Bancroft of London, is said to have insisted on fourteen alterations.” These multiple sources establish the fact that Archbishop Bancroft made fourteen changes to the King James Version only hours before it went to the printer. However, what were the changes that he made? We cannot be certain what the fourteen changes were, but there are good reasons to believe that the fourteen places in Scripture changed by Bancroft were those places that he considered violations of the rules which he wrote to direct the translators. For example, we know that several people have noted Bancroft’s zeal to be sure the word bishop was included in the King James Version. We also know that one of the rules written by Bancroft to direct the King James translators was that the translators were to retain the old ecclesiastical terms of the Bishops Bible. This would include such words as bishop, Easter, saint, divine, and other Church of England ecclesiastical terminology. In The Rules to be observed in the Translation of the Bible, written by Bishop Bancroft, the first rule was: “The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops Bible, is to be followed, and as little altered as the Truth of the original will permit.” The third rule was: “The old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept, viz. the Word Church not to be translated Congregation &c.”


The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion These two rules alone give us some help for understanding why Bancroft believed he was obligated to make fourteen changes in the final draft of the King James Bible. We know that he would believe it his duty as Archbishop to make sure the word bishop was in the King James Bible. We also know that he would believe it his duty to make sure the word church was in the translation instead of the word congregation. These two words bishop and church account for at least ten of the changes he made. For example, the word bishop refers to Judas in Acts 1:20 “…his bishopric let another take.” This verse in Acts comes from Psalm 109:8 “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” The Greek word episkophn in this verse designates having the oversight of anything, and as applied to the office of pastor in the New Testament, it denotes pastoral management of the affairs of a congregation, without specifying the nature or the extent of their jurisdiction. So why was this general meaning ignored and replaced by the specific word bishopric? Most likely, it was because Bishop Bancroft believed that he was duty bound to mold the King James Version to fit the Episcopal Church of England form of government. For this reason, he would believe it his duty to change the word pastor in First Timothy 3:1 to read, “If a man desire the office of a bishop” and in verse 2 to read, “A bishop then must be blameless….” He would also believe it his duty to change Philippians 1:1 to read, “...with the bishops and deacons” instead of “with the pastors and deacons.” The same would apply to Titus 1:7 where it reads, “For a bishop must be blameless.” These changes alone account for five changes that Bancroft, as Archbishop, may have believed he was duty bound to make. We also know that Bancroft was determined to use the word church instead of the word congregation. For this reason we have the unusual

277 translation made in Acts 19:37 “robbers of churches” when the Greek word ‘ierosulous (temples) clearly means “robbers of temples” (heathen temples). In Acts 7:38 it reads, “That is he, that was in the church in the wilderness…” This unusual use of the word church in this verse is likely due to Bancroft’s conviction about avoiding the word congregation. In addition to this, Bancroft’s rule that the translators must follow the Bishops Bible would also need to be enforced at this verse. The Bishops Bible uses the word church in this verse. The hated Geneva Bible uses the word congregation in this verse. Bancroft would certainly not want his Bible to agree with the Geneva Bible! However, by avoiding the use of the word congregation it causes the unusual translation “a church in the wilderness” in the Old Testament. Such a translation introduces an anachronism into the Old Testament. In Hebrews 2:12 it reads, “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 22:22: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (emphasis mine). Clearly, the translators should have followed the Old Testament that used the word congregation instead of the word church. These changes bring the number to nine when only two words bishop and church are considered. One could add to this list the word Easter in Acts 12:4. Rule number one and rule number three would dictate that the translators must follow the Bishops Bible. The Bishops Bible translated the Greek word pasca with the word Easter. This would be in opposition to the Geneva Bible (that King James and Bishop Bancroft hated) which translated Acts 12:4 using the word Passover.


278 Related to this is the title of the Book of Revelation, which contains two words highly prized by the Church of England. Those two words are saint and divine. There is nothing wrong with using the word αγιον (saint) in the right context, but naming the gospel writers as “Saint” Matthew, “Saint” Mark, “Saint” Luke, and “Saint” John is not the right context. The word saint legitimately occurs only once in Philippians 4:21 where it refers to persons who are “…in Christ Jesus.” The word divine occurs only three times in the New Testament and they all refer to God. The Church of England uses both of these words in the wrong contexts. Clearly such words as “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew,” “The Gospel According to Saint Mark,” “The Gospel According to Saint Luke,” “The Gospel According to Saint John” and “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine” are of Anglican origin. They certainly do not come from the copies of the New Testament Greek autographs. The word divine is a word used by the Church of England to mean a clergyman or a theologian, neither meaning of which fits as a title for John the writer of the Book of Revelation. This brings the total of possible changes made by Bancroft to fourteen. Could these be the changes made by Archbishop Bancroft? The previous evidence cited enforces the possibility that they very well could be. Another possible Anglican doctrinal influence is in Romans 6:3 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Is it sound doctrine to believe that when we were baptized, our baptism united us to Christ? No, it is not. It is impossible for any anyone to baptize people into Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do that and He only does it in response to people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Robertson says on page 361 of his book, Word Pictures in the New Testament, “The translation

Chapter 42 ‘into’ makes Paul say that the union with Christ was brought to pass by means of water baptism, which is not his idea, for Paul was not a Sacramentarian.” A person who believes in the power of water baptism to wash away his sins is a Sacramentarian. He is trusting in the so-called “sacrament” to wash away his sins. Sound doctrine, as taught in the New Testament, denies all sacraments of any kind. Baptism is the public proclamation of one’s inward spiritual union with Christ that is the result of faith in Christ before water baptism. Even though water baptism portrays our being united with Christ, it in no wise brings about that union. Pastors and missionaries have baptized multitudes of people, but many of these baptized people show no evidence of a genuine relationship with Christ. This alone should make it obvious that water baptism does not cause a sinner to be regenerated. The strength of Anglican doctrinal persuasion can also be seen in the fact that when the Book of Common Prayer was delivered to the printer, it came in a sealed container so that no one could tamper with the words in it. Alfred Pollard, in his Later History of the Bible of 1611 on page 53 says, “It must be remembered that no copy of the version of 1611 had been ‘sealed’ as a standard, as was done in the case of the Prayer-book.” Unfortunately, when the King James Version was delivered to the printer, it was not in a sealed container and so was open for someone to tamper with its words. As we have seen, Archbishop Bancroft made fourteen unauthorized changes just before the printer received the copy of the King James Version. The bishops sealed the Book of Common Prayer before turning it over to the printer, but the King James Bible was not sealed before turning it over to the printer. This makes it obvious that the Book of Common Prayer was more important to Anglican bishops than was the Bible!


The Problem of Doctrinal Persuasion

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42.4 The Book of Common Prayer


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Chapter 43

A sign in an Austrian hotel catering to skiers said, “Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.”

Chapter 43

The Problem of Kinship Terms and Loan Words

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riters of the New Testament use some kinship terms in a non-literal sense. For example, Paul often speaks of “the brethren.” This is a figurative use of the word brethren that normally means “a male born of the same mother.” However, the extended meaning of the kinship term “the brethren” has reference to those men who by believing in Christ have become members of the same household of faith (see Galatians 6:10). John 8:39 reads, “If ye were Abraham’s children,” meaning, “If you were Abraham’s spiritual descendants.” Mark 2:5 reads, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” In this verse, the word son does not mean the offspring of Jesus. The word son is a term of endearment used by the Lord to indicate the compassion He felt for this man. John 13:33 reads, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.” “Little children” is a term of endearment used by Jesus to speak to His disciples. This may be difficult to translate into another language unless the people who speak the other language also use the word children in a figurative way in their language. For example, a Sinasina politician, seeking votes in an election, will refer to people as “his children.” He means that they are his supporters who will vote for him. John 8:44 reads, “For he is a liar, and the father of it.” In Sinasina culture, the equivalent

of the word father in this verse is the word mother. The Sinasina people speak of “the father of the land,” meaning “the owner of the land,” but they speak of Satan as “the mother of lies.” “The mother of lies” does not mean that the Sinasina people think of Satan as a female. Satan as “the mother of lies” means that Satan is the source of lies. Acts 3:25 reads, “Ye are the children of the prophets.” This means, “You are the ones who follow the teaching of the prophets.” In Matthew 9:15, Jesus speaks of “the children of the bridechamber.” This means they are the friends of the bridegroom. John 17:12 reads, “the son of perdition,” meaning “a person who will suffer perdition.” The writers of Scripture use all these kinship terms in a figurative sense so it may be necessary for the translator to translate in a way that indicates the non-literal meaning of these words. If an ethnic language does not use kinship terms in a figurative sense, it may be necessary to translate the meaning of such terms directly. For example, one may translate the term “Son of David” as “Descendant of David.” One may translate “son of perdition” as “the one who will suffer perdition.” For the words “He is a liar, and the father of it,” one may say, “He is a liar, and the source of lies.”


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The problem of loan words

Loan words are those words adopted by a language from other languages such as Spanish, English, German, or some other language. Luke 15:22 reads, “And put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.” Sometimes the ethnic language may not have words for rings and shoes, but very often, the native people adopt these words from the national language. If the ethnic people correctly understand such adopted words, they soon become their own words, and they forget that the words came from another language. The Sinasina people use a term that is part English and part Sinasina to express the meaning of a car stuck in the mud. They say, “Kare stak elmue.” This is literally translated as “The car is doing a stuck,” meaning, “The car is stuck.” The word stak is now a valid Sinasina word. The people adopted it from English. The Sinasina people often use loan words in combinations with Sinasina words. For example, kame-kilwa bret means “bananamush bread.” In Matthew 26:2, the word Passover could be translated as “the holiday to remember the Jewish people’s deliverance from Egypt” or “the holiday to remember the time when the angel spared the first born sons of the Jews.” This can get long and involved, so it may be better to say, “A Jewish holiday called Passover” or simply transliterate it as “Pasova.” One could explain in teaching sessions what Pasova means. However, a translator should be careful to check out any newly transliterated words. When Danny Leahy, the first white man to walk through the Sinasina valley, met the Sinasina people, they greeted him saying, “Deniye! Deniye!” Because his name was Danny, he thought they were saying his name, but he knew this was impossible. What the people were saying was “Den” (your excrement) “niye” (I eat). This is a term used by the Sinasina

43.1 In 1935, Danny Leahy met the first Sinasina men who had not seen a white man before. They greeted him saying, “Deniye! Deniye!”

people to say, “You are wonderful! You are wonderful!” This also works the other way. Sometimes an English word, when pronounced by a Sinasina person, would sound like a word in his own language. When a Sinasina person says the word Passover it sounds similar to the Sinasina word basuwa, which means, “She kills the moon.” This is the way Sinasina people say, “She has a menstruation period.” The word Passover could be mistaken for the word basuwa, which would be embarrassing. When missionaries first began working with the Simbari people in Papua New Guinea, they transliterated the word Jehovah as “Tšihowa.” It just happened that the word Tšihowa sounded like the Simbari word meaning “cucumber.” For a time, the people thought the missionaries were talking about a cucumber when they spoke about Jehovah. For more information on loan words, read pages 139–146 in Bible Translating by Eugene Nida.

The problem of obligatory grammatical structures

Some languages have words that include meanings that must be expressed whether one wants to express them or not. Such words have


282 obligatory affixes that are part of the word structure of the language. If one omits these affixes, it will violate the word structure of the language. For example, some languages make a distinction between older or younger brother when the speaker is referring to his male siblings. Therefore, in verses like Acts 12:2, which says, “James the brother of John,” the translator will have to indicate in his translation whether James was the older or younger brother of John. Other languages make a distinction between inclusive or exclusive in the first person plural we. Whenever the word we occurs, a translator must decide whether to translate it by using a word that means “we” (the speaker including those addressed), or to translate it by using another word that means “we” (the speaker, but not including those addressed). Some languages have two obligatory suffixes that must go on all verbs to indicate the involvement of the speaker in the account he is relating. They use the one obligatory suffix to indicate that the speaker is an eyewitness of what he is relating. They use the other obligatory suffix to indicate that the speaker is relating something that someone told him. Other languages have obligatory verbal forms that indicate the speaker’s spatial relationship to the person or things spoken about. In the Yagaria language of Papua New Guinea, there are three obligatory verb forms for the verb “to go.” One does not simply “go.” One “goes” in relation to the amount of elevation involved, such as going-on-the-level, going-up, or goingdown. To the Yagaria, who live in a mountainous environment, this kind of information is important. When such grammatical affixes are obligatory to the verb structure, one cannot leave them out of the translation.

The problem of verb tenses

It may be necessary to reflect the tense and the kind of action signaled by the Hebrew and

Chapter 43 Greek verbs in the Bible. Hebrews 10:26 reads, “If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” This verse appears to say that if we willfully sin one time, we are lost. However, the word sin in the Greek New Testament is a present active participle and has the meaning “if we habitually continue sinning.” First John 3:8 reads, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” This verse seems to say that if you sin one time, you are of the devil. The Elizabethan English translation to some extent does indicate the Greek meaning of the present active participle. The suffix -eth in the word committeth is the Elizabethan English way of indicating continued action in present time. This Greek verb has the meaning, “he that habitually continues sinning.” One could possibly over do such expansions of Greek New Testament verbs to the point that they sound like a Greek grammar book. One should avoid this. However, if the readers, without the expansion of the verbal meaning, continually and consistently misunderstand the verse, a translation of the grammatical information in the verb may be allowed occasionally.

The problem of transitions

The way in which one verse leads into another verse is often very important. For example, Mark 1:4 reads, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” This verse is a transition from the previous two verses. Mark 1:2–3 quotes two Old Testament prophesies. Verse 4 is a fulfillment of the two Old Testament prophecies mentioned in verses two and three. To indicate that verse four is a transition from verses two and three, it may be necessary to show this by saying, “In fulfillment of these prophecies, John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching…”


The Problem of Kinship Terms and Loan Words First John 3:12–13 reads, “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” There appears to be no relation between verse 12 and verse 13. However, verse 12 is the example of Cain who killed his brother. Verse 13 is an application of the example given in verse 12. The translator could indicate this transition from example to application by the sentence, “Because Cain obeyed the wicked one, hated Abel and killed him, do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you as well.”

The problem of names

One can translate the name Decapolis in the New Testament by saying, “a place named Decapolis, which means ‘Ten Cities.’” The words “My name is Legion” may become “My name is Very Many.” “Simon the Zealot” may become “Simon, the one who tried to overthrow the Roman government.” The name Jesus, as used in Matthew 1:21 may become “Call His name Jesus because the meaning of the name Jesus is ‘He shall save His people from their sins.’”

The problem of numbers

Sometimes the translator will need to make adjustments with numbers. For example, Matthew 14:21 reads, “And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.” This could be stated as “Jesus fed very many men—five thousand and many women and children also.” Because many ethnic groups are not technologically oriented, they may not comprehend what the number five thousand means. There may not be a practical way to express such a number in the ethnic language even though it is possible to say, “two hundred and fifty men’s hands and feet,” meaning “five thousand men.”

283 The results of the parable of the sowing of seed in Matthew 13:8 may read, “and brought forth fruit, some very much—one hundred, some brought forth fruit much—sixty, some brought forth fruit a little—thirty.”

The problem of proofreading

Bible translators have not only translated verses inadequately, but the careless proofreading of Bible translations has also caused many mistakes to occur in the printing of Bibles. This proofreading problem applies to the proofreading of the translation by the translator or translators who fail to carefully proofread their work before sending it to the printer. The proofreading problem also applies to the printers who do not carefully proofread the typeset copy of a translation. It is one thing to translate verses correctly but it is another thing to transmit verses correctly into print. For example, in the Sinasina New Testament the words in Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” contained a typographical error of one letter. The original copy had the correct letter in the text, but proof readings failed to miss the typographical mistake of one letter in the above verse. This one letter changed the Sinasina word from kure to kura and by so doing caused the meaning to change from “meeting together” to “fighting together.” In another case, those who typed the Sinasina New Testament accidentally left the last verse of a chapter out of the text. The original text had included the verse, but the eyes of the proofreaders failed to see this deleted verse in the typeset copy.

The problem of printing mistakes

The following is a list of mistakes proofreaders made in the early printed editions of the King James Version:


284 In Psalm 119:161 it reads, “Princes have persecuted me without a cause,” but due to careless proofreading, one edition of the King James Version said, “Printers have persecuted me without a cause.” This phrase “Printers have persecuted me” unintentionally turned out to be prophetic. Printers did indeed “persecute” the printed editions of the King James Version during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Printing technology and proofreading practices used by printers in the sixteenth century were faulty at best. For one thing, printers had a limited amount of metal type. It was a common practice to use the metal type for a set of four or eight pages and after printing the pages, the printer took the type from the previous pages and dispersed it for printing the next pages. This put pressure on the proofreader to have corrections made by the time the printer needed the type for the next set of four or eight pages. Consequently, proofreaders worked at a fast pace. It often happened that while the proofreader was proofreading the first sheet, the printer was printing further sheets without any proofing at all. Usually, proofreading and printing went on at the same time. The proofreader might notice an error, the press stopped and corrections made to the type, and then printing would go on. If the printer thought the mistake was less than “earth shaking,” since paper was too expensive to waste, the uncorrected mistake was allowed to stand in the finished book. The printers duplicated these printing press mistakes in new printed editions, which also introduced new mistakes of their own into the next printed edition of the King James Version text. The Cambridge History of the Bible says about hasty proofreading, “The result was a proliferation of errors and variants, from printing to printing, and a steady debasing

Chapter 43 of the text. It was calculated that there were 24,000 variations between the current editions when they were compared with each other and with the original 1611 edition.” This quote come from page 414, and page 459 in Volume 3 of The Cambridge History of the Bible, by S. L. Greenslade. Adam Nicolson in his book, God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible on page 226 says, “When Dr. Scrivener attempted to collate all the editions of the King James Bible then in circulation, he found more than 24,000 variations between them.” Dr. Benjamin Blayney of Oxford University corrected most of these printing mistakes. He completed a thorough revision of printing mistakes in the 1769 edition of the King James Version. The majority of the changes made by Dr. Blayney were simply modernizations of spelling and punctuation marks. However, Dr. Blayney made 136 changes that significantly changed the meaning of verses. This 1769 edition, corrected by Dr. Blayney, is the edition that we commonly refer to today as the King James Version of 1611, but in fact, it is not the 1611 edition. It is the 1769 edition as corrected by Dr. Blayney. If you doubt these facts, Dr. Waite confirms them in his book, The Authorized Version of 1611 Compared to Today’s King James Version on page 4, where Dr. Waite lists 136 substantial changes that were made in the 1769 edition of the King James Version. Printing problems were noticed very early on when a bishop who, having been invited to preach in 1675 on a certain biblical text in St. Paul’s Cathedral, went into a nearby London stationary store to buy a London-printed Bible so he could study the text. On turning to the appropriate page, he found that the verse he wanted to preach on was missing entirely from the text. This information comes from The Cambridge History of the Bible, Volume 3, on page 460.


The Problem of Kinship Terms and Loan Words Other printing mistakes occurred in the first printing of the 1611 King James Bible. It contained a mistake at Exodus 14:10 where the printers incorrectly repeated three lines of the text. The verse reads, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lift up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel lift up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them, and they were sore afraid; and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.” Three lines of the text were incorrectly repeated.

The “he” and “she” Bibles (1611)

A printing mistake in the first printing of the 1611 King James Version resulted in it being called the “he-Bible.” The second printing of the 1611 King James Version corrected this printing mistake and this resulted in it being called the “she-Bible.” The first printing of the 1611 King James Bible at Ruth 3:15 reads, “…and he went into the citie.” This printing mistake was corrected in the second printing of the King James Bible to agree with the Hebrew text that says, “…and she went into the citie.” For this reason, these Bibles were called the “he” and “she” Bibles.

43.2 The Wicked Bible

285 The Adulterer’s Bible (1631)

The 1631 edition of the King James Version said in Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” It should have read, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Because of this mistake, people began calling this edition of the Bible “The Wicked Bible.” There is a possibility that a proofreader, unhappy with his wages, deliberately sabotaged this Bible by deleting the word not.

The unrighteous Bible (1653)

First Corinthians 6:9 reads, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God.” It should read, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”

The vinegar Bible

In the 1682 edition of the King James Bible, there was a reference to the “Parable of the Vinegar” instead of the “Parable of the Vineyard.”

The wife hater’s Bible

One edition of the King James Version at Luke 14:26 said, “If any man hate not his father... and his own wife also....” It should have been “and his own life also.

The basketful of errors Bible

Even after the 1638 printed editions of the King James Version, printing mistakes continued. The London market was flooded with incorrect editions that were printed by hasty printers in Holland. In 1716 the English printer John Baskett, knowing that the demand for Bibles was great, thought that he could make a lot of money by printing Bibles to meet the demand. In his haste to meet this demand, he produced a 1716 edition of the King James Version that became known as the “Basketful of Errors Bible.” The name was a play on the printer’s name, Baskett, who made a “basketful”


286 of printing mistakes in his hastily printed 1716 edition of the King James Version.

Well-known printing mistakes

Some other well-known printing mistakes are as follows: Matthew 5:9 was printed as, “Blessed are the placemakers.” It should have read, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” John 8:11 was printed as, “Go and sin on more.” It should have read, “Go, and sin no more.” Psalm 14:1 was printed as, “The fool hath said in his heart there is a God.” It should have been, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” Mark 7:27 was printed as, “Let the children first be killed.” It should have been, “Let the children first be filled.” Numbers 25:18 was printed as, “The murderer shall surely be put together.” It should have been, “The murderer shall surely be put to death.” First Timothy 2:9 was printed as, “I will that women adorn themselves in modern apparel.” It should have been, “I will that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.” The original 1611 translation of Mark 10:18 read, “There is no man good, but one, that is, God.” Because this translation said, “There is no man good,” the translators thought that this could imply that God was a human being. Therefore, the 1638 edition avoided this implication by changing it to read, “There is none good but one, that is, God.” This was not a printing problem. It was a translation problem.

Recording adjustments

A translator may not be able to find a solution for a particular translation problem he is trying to solve. Eventually, a translator will have to decide if an adjustment in the wording of the text is necessary or not. If he decides

Chapter 43 that an adjustment in the wording of the text is necessary, he should keep a record of any adjustments he decided to make in the wording of the text. The record should indicate what the particular adjustment was, the verse in which it occurred, and what the problem was that made the adjustment necessary. This will be of help later when explaining to a Bible translation consultant why one made his decision to adjust the wording of certain biblical texts. Keeping a record of adjustments made and why they were necessary will create a list of problem verses and the solutions chosen to solve these problems. Such information can be very helpful to other translators who will most likely face similar problems.

43.3 Mary Tudor was the first queen of England, ruling from 1553 to 1558. She was a ruthless ruler known as “Bloody Mary.” She burned or beheaded 300 or more religious nonconformists. She did so because she wanted to re-establish Roman Catholicism as the State Church of England.


The Problem of Text Mismatch

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“As nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, and the later thoughts are thought to be the wiser: so, if we building upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen [helped] by their labours, do endeavor to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us.” –The Translators to the Reader (Appendix 2, page 426)

Chapter 44

The Problem of Text Mismatch

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he King James Version is 99.7% correctly translated. This means that the translators who translated the King James Version preserved the original inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture 99.7% correctly. Therefore, we may reasonably declare the King James Version to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God. This should be acceptable to any reasonable person.

However, what does the translator do about the small percentage of words in the English text that have no equivalent in the Hebrew or Greek text? Translators must solve these minor problems by reconciling the English text to the original Hebrew and Greek Received texts. As a preacher, one may choose to ignore these problem words because they may have little or no bearing on the topic of his sermon,

but a Bible translator cannot ignore problem words in his translating! The faithful Bible translator believes strongly in his responsibility to produce a translation of the Scriptures that accounts for every word in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. He also believes that he should have support for any words in his translation that do not occur in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Happily, printing mistakes, inadequate translations, and translations that do not match the Greek and Hebrew texts make up a very small percentage of the entire biblical text. These minor problems do not abolish the doctrine of the inspiration and inerrancy of the King James Version. These minor problems do not change any doctrine of the Bible. Also one should keep in mind that these problems are not involved in 99.9 percent of the Received Hebrew and Greek texts. The Hebrew and Greek texts remain 99.9 percent correct regardless of whether or not the English translators translated the English texts equivalently to the Hebrew and Greek texts. Translation problems may appear to be mistakes, but one can solve such problems adequately by using sound principles of biblical interpretation. The following paragraphs list some problem verses in the King James Version. They are problems because they do not match the Greek and Hebrew texts.


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Problem verses

Does the Greek text say “gifts of healing” or “gifts of healings”? First Corinthians 12:9, 12:28, and 12:30 all use the same Greek words “carismata iamatwn” that mean “gifts of healings.” However, in First Corinthians 12:30 the same words are translated as “gifts of healing.” Verses 12:9 and 12:30 agree with each other. However, in First Corinthians 12:28 these very same two Greek words are translated as “gifts of healings.” Actually, all of these verses should read, “gifts [plural] of healings [plural].” The Greek word carismata is nominative plural, and the word iamatwn is genitive plural. Both words should be plural in all three verses, but verses 12:9 and 12:30 do not pluralize the word healing. The problem is in the King James Version translation of the two plural Greek words, gifts and healings. These two Greek words are translated twice as “gifts [plural] of healing [singular]” in verse 9 and verse 30. The answer to this problem seems to be that the printer did not proofread the printed English translation carefully enough to correct this typesetting mistake. Most likely the translators had written their translation using plural words to translate both of these words, but in the typesetting and proofreading someone failed to include the letter s in First Corinthians 12:9 and First Corinthians 12:30. The problem here is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text. The Textus Receptus Greek text has the very same two plural words in all three verses. The problem is with the English translation that does not match all the plural words in the Greek text. Does the Greek text say “churches” or “temples”? Acts 19:37 says, “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.” The words “robbers of churches” are not an equivalent translation of the Greek word ierosulous. This word is a compound word made up of the word ιερος that means “temple”

Chapter 44 and the word συλαω that means, “to rob.” The Greek word ierosulous means “robbers of temples,” specifically, heathen temples. Heathen temples contained idols made of gold or silver and these “gods” were often stolen because of their value. If Paul had been robbing churches, it would have been no problem to the local people because they did not worship in a church. They worshiped in the heathen temple of Diana. The second part of the Acts 19:37 reads “nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.” The second part of the verse is the context that dictates that the first part of the verse should read “robbers of temples,” not “robbers of churches.” Paul had not stolen idols or treasures from the temple of Diana. It is a mistake to translate the word ‘ierosulous as “robbers of churches.” The words “robbers of churches” do not fit the fact that at the time Paul was in the city of Ephesus, there were no Christian churches. This would rule out the possibility of translating ierosulous as “robbers of churches” because there were no churches in Ephesus to rob. Again, the problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text. The Greek text clearly reads “robbers of temples.” The problem is with the English translation that does not match the Greek text. Does the Greek text say “Separate” or “Separate immediately”? Acts 13:2 says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” There is a two-letter word in the Greek text that is unaccounted for in the English translation. The two-letter Greek word is the word dh that means “immediately.” The word dh occurs following the word αforisate that means “to separate from.” This word separate is a Greek verb in the Aorist imperative. It would mean “Separate!” The word dh that follows the word separate is a shortened form of the full word hdh. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that when dh is joined to verbs in the imperative


The Problem of Text Mismatch it signifies that the thing commanded must be done forthwith, at once, or immediately. Wesley Perschbacher in his Analytical Greek Lexicon says that dh is a particle that adds intensity or earnestness to a call or command and lists Acts 13:2 as an example of where the word dh occurs. This small but important word is unaccounted for in the English translation. It should have been included in the English translation to read, “Separate immediately Barnabas and Saul unto me for the work whereunto I have called them!” Again, this is not a problem with the Greek text, which contains the word dh. The translators should have included the meaning of the word, dh in the English translation, but for some reason they did not. Failure to do this causes a mismatch between the Greek text and the English text. Does the Greek text say “worship me,” or “kneel down and worship before me”? In Luke 4:7 the devil says to Jesus, “If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” The Greek in this text contains two words proskunhshs and enwpion. These two words occur in the order of the verb proskunhshs followed by an adverb enwpion. The first word, proskunhshs, means “to kneel down and worship.” The second word, enwpion, means “before.” The verb proskunhshs, meaning, “to kneel down and worship,” is an aorist subjunctive, which makes the verb mean “if you would kneel down and worship me.” The word enwpion follows the verb as an adverb and adds the meaning “before” to the verb. The verb proskunhshs and the adverb enwpion together express the meaning “if you would kneel down and worship before me.” Although this verse is correct in what it says, it is undertranslated. The translators failed to account for the word enwpion, meaning “before.” Again, the problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text. The problem is with the English translation that failed to account for all of the words in the original Greek text.

289 Does the Greek text say “catch men” or “catch men alive?” Luke 5:10 reads, “And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” The word catch in this verse is interpreted from the Greek word zwgrwn. This word is composed of two parts, zwos, meaning “alive,” and “agreuw,” meaning “to catch.” The two parts of the word zwgrwn mean “to catch alive.” The object of this verb “to catch alive” is the word anqrwpous meaning “man” or “human beings.” This word is translated as men in the English text. The problem in this verse is the fact that the meaning “to catch” is accounted for in the English text, but the other part of the verb, zwos, meaning “alive,” is not accounted for in the verse. The verb zwgrwn means “to catch alive.” Jesus is saying that Peter will be a catcher of live human beings. This is in contrast to Peter’s former occupation of catching live fish that die. Now he will catch people dead in trespasses and sins and make them alive to God. Jesus wants Peter to become someone who goes fishing for live people instead of someone who fishes for live fish that die. Again, the problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text that clearly contains a word that has a two-part meaning “catch,” and “alive.” Does the Greek text say “God forbid” or “May it not happen”? In Romans 6:1–2 it says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” The English words “God forbid” are a dynamic equivalent translation of the Greek words “mh genoito.” The first word mh is a form of the negative used with verbs that are in the subjunctive and optative moods and it means “not.” The word genoito comes from the verb ginomai that means “to be” or “to happen.” The word genoito is in the aorist tense, the optative mood, and it is the third person singular of ginomai. Together the two words, mh and genoito mean, “May it not happen!”


290 The optative mood expresses the meaning that the writer is strongly opposed to a certain action happening. The words “mh genoito” are used by Paul to express a strong opposition to such an action happening again. The problem in the English translation of this verse is that the translators chose to use two words that are not in the Greek text. There is no word for God in the Greek text and there is no word for forbid. Translators should strive to translate in such a way as to reflect as much as possible the words that are in the Hebrew and Greek texts. In this case, the English translation does not reflect what the words are in the Greek text. The Greek words should be translated as “May it not happen!” The problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text. The problem is with the English translation that does not translate the words “mh genoito” as “May it not happen!” Instead, the translators used a dynamic equivalent English expression that has no equivalent meaning in the words of the Greek the text. Does the Greek text say “the body is dead” or “the body is indeed dead”? Romans 8:10 says, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” The Greek word men meaning “indeed,” or “truly,” has been omitted in the English translation of this verse. The King James translators chose to translate the Greek word men in Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance.” However, the translators did not translate the word men in Romans 8:10 where it says, “The body is indeed dead….” Did they simply overlook this word? I do not know why they omitted it, but it should have been included in the translation of Romans 8:10 just as it was included in the translation of Matthew 3:11. Again, the problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text.

Chapter 44 Does the Greek text say “who is over all, God blessed for ever,” or “who is God over all, blessed for ever”? Romans 9:5 says, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen “Who is over all” is a title that belongs only to the true God. It implies supreme divinity and is proof that the Lord Jesus Christ is deity. Many scholars have spent much effort to prove that this is not the correct meaning of this verse, but without success. There are no other alternative readings in the Greek manuscripts. This verse is a statement of fact: Christ is of the Israelite nation “as concerning the flesh,” but He is, in another respect, “God over all.” The context of this verse requires this translation because Paul was speaking of Christ, not God the Father. It would be very unnatural for him to suddenly change from speaking of Christ, and begin speaking about God the Father. Christ, according to the flesh, was an Israelite, but according to his higher nature, He is the supreme God. Paul’s purpose in writing these words was to exalt Christ. By doing so, he also secondarily gave high honor to the Jewish people because they, “as concerning the flesh,” gave Christ to the world. However, it was only as to the flesh that Christ came as descended from the patriarchs of Israel; as to his higher nature, he is the supreme God, blessed forever. Therefore, one cannot consider this verse a statement about God the Father, and translate it as “God blessed forever.” It is a declaration that, “Christ who came as an Israelite, is God over all, blessed for ever.” The sense allowed by this common interpretation is scriptural, and in perfect accordance with other declarations of Paul, such as Titus 1:3 where he writes, “According to the commandment of God our Saviour” which makes the Saviour equivalent to God.


The Problem of Text Mismatch The words “over all” in Romans 9:5 are equivalent to a description of the most high God. The same words occur in Ephesians 4:6, which read, “One God, who is above all.” This passage, therefore, shows that Christ is God in the highest sense of the word. Here in Romans 9:5 the apostle distinctly points out the twofold nature of Jesus, his humanity and his Divinity. The problem in this verse is not with the Textus Receptus Greek text. The problem is with the English translation that removes a strong confirmation of the deity of Christ. Does the Greek text say “elder” or “elders”? First Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” The problem in this verse is that the translators translated the plural Greek word πρεσβυτεροις as “elder” when they should have translated this plural word as “elders.” A Bible translator must translate a plural Greek word with a plural English word. In the context of this verse, Peter referred to those who were elders or pastors: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder.” The word younger (newteroi) in First Peter 5:5 means “those who are inexperienced” or “those not in pastoral office.” It refers to people at large who are required to obey them that have the rule over them. Titus 1:5 says, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” One can prove from New Testament usage that the words pastors and elders always occurs in the plural except when speaking about the office of pastor. When speaking of the office of pastor, the generic word pastor is used. This would mean that church leadership should be a council of elders or pastors rather than a single individual elder or pastor. See Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1, and First Timothy 5:17. The first three Christian churches all had a plurality of elders. The Jerusalem church had three elders, Peter, James and John. The

291 church at Antioch had five elders, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Paul. The church at Ephesus is also said to have elders in Acts 20:17. If the first three Christian churches had elders (plural), that should be an example for us to follow today. Peter, having admonished the elders in chapter five verse one, now turns to the flock, and his words recall the exhortations, which he had given several times before. In First Peter 2:13 he taught Christians the duty of submission, even should it be their lot to submit to heathen rulers. A few verses further on in the same chapter, he repeated this teaching to Christian slaves who were to submit to heathen masters, and the third chapter opens with similar advice to wives who were to submit to heathen husbands. Now once more, he opens his counsel to the churches on their duty to the elders who are set over them. He exhorts them to accept the duly appointed elders or pastors as powers ordained by God. He exhorts them to accept the elders rule and guidance by submitting to it. Peter wants the younger ones to submit to the elders (church leaders) on principle, instead of seeking their own will and new ideas that are so natural to youth. The submission called for in First Peter 5:5 involves submitting to elders because of their office in the church. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them [plural] that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they [plural] watch for your souls, as they [plural] that must give account, that they [plural] may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Submission to elders or pastors is done by heeding the word preached by them and receiving it, as far as it agrees with the Scriptures. The believer is to be subject to the laws of Christ as put in execution by the elders, and by heeding their counsel and advice. Again, the problem in this verse is not a problem of the Greek text. The Greek text clearly has the plural


292 word elders. The problem is that the translators translated a plural word as singular. The English text does not match the Greek text. Does the Greek text say “bishop” or “pastor”? The word bishop is a Church of England term that means “a high-ranking Christian clergyman who has authority over other clergymen and who is a supervisor of churches in a particular church district.” This meaning certainly is not the meaning of any Greek word in the Greek New Testament. In the Greek New Testament the Greek word, επισκοπης is translated in the King James Version as “bishop.” The word πρεσβυτερoi is translated in the King James Version as “elders.” The word ποιμην is translated in the King James Version as “shepherd.” The word πρεσβυτεριου is translated in the King James Versions as “presbytery.” The word ποιμενας is translated in the King James Version as “pastors.” However, all of these Greek words refer to the same office: the office of pastor. There is no such concept, as used by the Church of England, of a bishop or archbishop in the Greek New Testament. Again, this is not a problem with the Greek text. The problem exists because the translators translated the word for the office of pastor as “bishop.” The word bishop is an Anglican word, not a New Testament Greek word. The New Testament word is pastor. Does the Greek text say “wealth” or “wellbeing”? First Corinthians 10:24 says, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” At first glance, this sounds like Christian robbery. The word wealth does not occur in the New Testament Greek text. For that reason, the word wealth was printed in italic type. The Greek text should be translated as, “Let no man seek his own, but instead, let him seek the wellbeing of others.” This word wellbeing refers to anything and everything that pertains to the

Chapter 44 other person’s comfort, usefulness, happiness, or salvation. The meaning is, “Let no man seek only his own well being. Let every man have regard to the wellbeing of others.” In all things, we should not act in exclusive regard to our own interests. Self should not be the object of our actions. Another person’s wealth has reference to another person’s weal, which in Elizabethan English meant “wellbeing.” This verse is telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This agrees with Philippians 2:4: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Again, the Greek text is not the problem. The problem is how the translators translated the Greek text into Elizabethan English that has now changed in meaning. Does the Greek text say “Easter” or “Passover”? See the discussion of this problem on pages 265–268. You should note again in the case of the word Easter that this is not a problem with the Greek text. The Greek text uses the word, pasca (paska) that means “Passover.” The translators created the problem by giving the word Passover the meaning “Easter” when the word Easter has no morphological or semantic similarity to the Greek word pasca, which means “Passover.” Does the Hebrew text say “he” or “ye”? The Cambridge edition of the King James Version at Jeremiah 34:16 says, “whom ye had set at liberty.” The Oxford edition of the King James Version at Jeremiah 34:16 says, “whom he had set at liberty.” The Oxford edition of the King James Version is the correct one because it follows the Masoretic Hebrew text which reads “‫ ”שלחתם‬that means, “He had set them at liberty.” This Hebrew word is in the perfect tense, it is a singular, third person, masculine form of the verb ‫ שלח‬meaning “to set free.” Because the verb is third person, it would mean, “He had set them at liberty.” The pronoun He is a reference to God who had decreed that the Jews must not


The Problem of Text Mismatch enslave their fellow Jews indefinitely. The reason given for this is that God had set the Jews free. The Jews had disobeyed God’s decree of liberty for slaves and now because of this, God sent the Babylonian king to punish the Jewish nation. The problem is not with the Hebrew text but with the translation of the Hebrew text in the Cambridge edition of the King James Version. Does the Hebrew text say “gods” or “God”? Exodus 22:28 reads, “Thou shalt not revile the gods...” If this verse is translated as, “Thou shalt not revile the gods,” it would be contrary to Deuteronomy 12:2-3, which says, “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” The Hebrew word in Exodus 22:28 is ‫אהים‬, “Elohim,” which is plural, but should not be translated as “gods.” It should be translated as in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God [Elohim] created....” Does the Hebrew text say “groves” or “Asherim” [wooden idols of the Canaanite goddess Asher]? Exodus 34:13 says, “...and cut down their groves.” The word translated as “groves” is the Hebrew word ‫אשׁיו‬  (Asherai). It is the plural form of Asherah, and it means wooden idols of the goddess named Asherah. According to the Hebrew text, this verse should read, “and cut down their wooden idols of Asherah.” Does the Hebrew text say “borrow” or “ask for”? Exodus 3:22 says, “But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor....” The word translated as “borrow” is the Hebrew word ‫שּׁאל‬  that means “to ask for” or “request.” The word has no implication that the item asked for would be returned. Therefore, the Hebrew word ‫שּׁאל‬  does

293 not mean “borrow.” It means “to ask for.” If this  is translated as “borrow,” it Hebrew word ‫שּׁאל‬ gives the wrong impression that the Israelites would return what they borrowed. This meaning cannot be rightfully translated from the He . brew word ‫שּׁאל‬ Does the Greek text say “if” or “because”? Philippians 2:1–2 says, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” The problem in this verse is the fact that this sentence in the Greek New Testament is a first class conditional sentence. This means that the sentence is not stating a condition but asserting a fact. As a fact, one must translate this verse as, “Because there is consolation in Christ and comfort of love and fellowship of the Spirit and bowels of mercies, therefore, fulfil ye my joy that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Does the Greek text say “unknown tongue” or “tongue”? First Corinthians 14:2 reads, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God.” The word unknown is in italics in the English text to show that it does not occur in the Greek text. However, it should not have been added to the English text either because there is no such thing as an “unknown” tongue (language). Every language is intelligible to the people who use it. Speaking in tongues of any kind is forbidden in First Corinthians chapter fourteen unless there is a person present who can tell the congregation what the person speaking in a tongue is saying. Therefore, the word unknown should not occur in the English text. Does the Greek text say “the faith of God” or “the faithfulness of God”? Romans 3:3 reads, “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith


294 of God without effect?” God does not need to exercise faith. The words “the faith of God” should be translated as “the faithfulness of God.” Does the Greek text say “unto” or “until”? Acts 1:8 reads, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The word translated “unto” in the phrase “and unto the uttermost part of the earth” is the Greek word ewς, which means until. An example of the word ewς is found in Matthew 2:9: “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till [ewς] it came and stood over where the young child was.” In Acts 1:8, ewς should also be translated as “till” or “until.” Does the Greek text say “believe” or “obey”? John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” In John 3:36 the word believeth occurs two times. In the English translation, there is no indication that these two words are not the same. The first occurrence of the word believeth is pisteuw and the second occurrence of the word believeth is apeiqew. The first occurrence of the word believeth means “believeth,” but the second occurrence of the words “believeth not” mean “obey not.” The translators should have made this distinction in the translation of the English text. Does the Greek text say “the great God and our Saviour,” or “the great God our Saviour”? Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Granville Sharpe’s Rule of Greek Grammar says that when two nouns of the same case are joined by the word kai (and) with an article on the first noun,

Chapter 44 but no article on the second noun, the two nouns relate to the same person. Therefore, Titus 2:13 does not mean, “The glorious appearing of the great God and also our Saviour Jesus Christ.” This verse means, “The glorious appearing of the great God our Saviour Jesus Christ.” One’s translation of this verse should not remove this strong statement of the deity of Christ. Does the Greek text say “does not sin” or “is not sinning”? First John 5:18 says, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” People often take the words “He that is born of God sinneth not” to mean that a Christian does not sin. The meaning is “He that is born of God does not continually live a life of sinning.” The Greek present tense (continuative) of the verb “sinneth not” expresses this meaning. Does the Greek text say “I have fought a good fight” or “I have fought the good fight”? Does the same Greek text say “I have finished my course” or “I have finished the course”? Second Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” In this verse the Greek article kai (the) occurs both with “I have fought a good fight” and “I have finished my course.” In Greek grammar, the function of the article τον (the) is to point out an object or to draw attention to it. By putting an article with a word, it makes that word stand out distinctly. Whenever the article occurs with an object, the object is certainly definite. The English translation should read, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” The problem is not with the Greek text. The problem is with the translators who translated it as, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.”


The Problem of Text Mismatch Does the Greek text say “If they shall enter” or “They shall not enter”? This phrase “If they shall enter into my rest” is found in Hebrews 4:3 that reads, “For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest….” Hebrews 4:3 contains a quote from Psalm 95:11 which says, “Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” The words of Hebrews 4:3 “If they shall enter into my rest” is a Hebrew idiom that the translators chose to translate literally into Greek, but the Hebrew idiom means, “They shall not enter into my rest.” The Hebrew word ‫אס‬, meaning “if,” has an emphatic negative meaning when used in the oath, “They shall not enter into my rest.” The problem resulted from trying to translate the Hebrew idiom “if” literally. In fact the meaning of the Hebrew idiom is emphatic negative, not a conditional if. See Brown-DriverBriggs Hebrew Lexicon, page 50. Does the Greek text say “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” or “All scripture is from the Spirit of God”? Second Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Latin Vulgate most likely influenced the English translation of this verse. Second Timothy 3:16 in the Latin Vulgate reads, omnis scriptura divinitus inspirata All scripture [is] divinely inbreathed.

The New Testament Greek reads, πασα γραφη θεοπνευστος All scripture [is from] God’s Spirit

The New Testament Greek text does not use the word inspired which means “to breathe in.” The Greek New Testament uses a compound word constructed of two words θεο (God) and πνευστος (Spirit) which literally means God’s Spirit. The word γραφη is in the dative case. According to the book New Testament

295 Greek for Beginners by Dr. Gresham Machen at paragraph 115 on page 60, the dative case expresses “means” or “instrument.” Therefore, the compound word God plus the word Spirit is stating the means by which all Scripture came into existence. It is the Greek way of saying, “The source of all Scripture is God’s Spirit,” or “All Scripture is by God’s Spirit.” The Spirit of God is the source of all Scripture. The Spirit of God is the Person who controlled the writers of all Scripture so that their words became the words of God. This meaning agrees with Second Peter 1:21 that reads, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved [carried along or controlled] by the Holy Ghost.

A few other problem words

I should mention a few other words that present a Bible translator with problems. The Oxford edition of the King James Version does not capitalize the word Spirit in some places, but the Cambridge edition does. See Matthew 4:1 where the Oxford edition uses the word spirit instead of the word Spirit as used in the Cambridge edition. The Spirit of God is often referred to in the King James Version by using the neuter pronoun it. For example, Romans 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit....” Even though the Greek language uses the neuter gender to refer to the Spirit of God, that does not mean that one should refer to the Spirit of God in the neuter gender as if He were an it, a thing, an influence, or some kind of an inanimate power. The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” He is a person who is himself God. He should not be spoken of as an inanimate “it.” In Mark 7:19 the word meats occurs. The word meats is an Elizabethan English word that means foods.


296 Acts 3:17 reads, ” And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it.” The words “I wot” are Elizabethan English words that mean, “I know.” The title of the book of Revelation, “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine” is inaccurate Church of England terminology. No person anywhere else in the New Testament refers to a person using the ecclesiastical words saint and divine. This title for the book of Revelation is not appropriate. The words eternal and everlasting come from the same Greek word aiwnion. There is no justification for translating this one word in two different ways as “eternal” and “everlasting.” Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” The phrase “shall be called the children of God” should be “shall be called the sons of God” because the Greek word in this verse is uioi that means “sons,” not “children.” First Corinthians 15:51 says, “Behold, I shew you a mystery.” The words “I shew you” should be “I tell you.” The word translated as shew (show) in this verse is the Greek word legw that means, “I say to you” or “I tell you.” First Thessalonians 4:15 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” The word prevent means “precede.” In this case, the translation is correct but the English word prevent no longer means “precede.” It means “not stop them which are asleep.” This would indicate a wrong meaning. Philippians 1:27 says, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” Here the word conversation does not mean two people having a conversation. It means, “Only let your behavior be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”

Chapter 44 In Philemon verse 7 it says, “the bowels of the saints are refreshed.” The Greek word in this verse is splagcna that means “intestines” or “bowels,” but the problem results because of the fact that the Greeks thought of the bowels as the source of emotions, but English speakers think of the heart as the source of emotions. The word bowels is correct, but not appropriate for present day English speaking readers. Matthew 12:40 says, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” Jonah 1:17 says, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” Most likely, the translation of the Greek word khtos as “whale” is too specific. The Hebrew words in Jonah 1:17, ‫דּג גּךול‬, meaning “a large fish,” would be a more accurate translation of the Greek word khtos. In Matthew 6:9 it says, “Our Father which art in heaven [singular]. The Greek text actually says, “Our Father, the one who is in the heavens [plural].” “The one in the heavens” means “The one who is ruler over the entire universe.” Psalm 103:19 refers to this: “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The word heaven in Hebrew is ‫השמים‬, which is plural. Because it is plural, a Bible translator should translate it as “heavens.” The English singular heaven does not match the Hebrew plural heavens. In Genesis 2:1, the very same Hebrew word ‫ השמים‬is translated correctly as “heavens.” If it is correct to translate ‫ השמים‬as “heavens” in Genesis 2:1, it would also be correct to translate ‫ השמים‬as “heavens” in Genesis 1:1. The above-mentioned text mismatches should convince anyone that Bible translators should not depend absolutely on any English translation to give them the words of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. In the final analysis, a Bible translator must go to the


The Problem of Text Mismatch Hebrew and Greek Scriptures to find the correct words that should go into his Bible translation. One could list other verses to prove the point that the textual mismatch problem is not with the Hebrew and Greek texts. However, we must always remember that Jesus told us that his words would not pass away. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.� For any person who has faith in the words of Jesus, it is reasonable to take in his hands the Masoretic Hebrew text and the Textus Receptus Greek text, and honestly claim to have the inspired and inerrant Word of God in his hands. The reason for this is that the original Hebrew and Greek texts are 99.9% the same as the words written by the original authors. Likewise, the percentage of problem words in the King James Version amounts to only

297 three tenths of one percent of the Old and New Testament texts. None of these mismatch text problems destroys the inspiration and inerrancy of the Hebrew and Greek texts and neither do they destroy the inspiration and inerrancy of the King James Version. Therefore, a person who has faith in the words of Jesus can take the King James Version Bible in his hands and honestly claim to have the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God. This is true because 99.7% of the King James Version has been translated using the exact words and meanings found in the copies of the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments. A translator can solve the text mismatch problem by checking the copies of the Hebrew and Greek texts and adjusting the English text accordingly.


298

Chapter 45

A sign in the offices of a loan company said, “Ask about our plans for owning your home.�

Chapter 45

Word Hunting: Part 1

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here are many words in the Bible for which a formal equivalent meaning in the receiver language will be difficult to find. In fact, some of the vocabulary used in the Bible will not have 100 percent equivalents in the ethnic language. However, this does not mean that the speakers of that language cannot find ways to express equivalents of Bible words. A Bible translator, working with the ethnic people, will have to develop such words over time. The contextual conditioning of receiver-language words over time can develop words that are the nearest formal equivalent in meaning to Bible words.

45.1 Got words?

Language focus

The lack of Bible equivalent words in ethnic languages is partly due to language focus. All people have cultural situations that are

important to them. Therefore, people develop a wealth of words in the areas of meaning that are important to their survival, but they will be poor in expressions about matters that do not directly relate to the most pressing needs they have. For example, some Arabic-speaking groups have 600 terms to do with camels and the equipment involved in using the camel as a beast of burden. South Pacific islanders, in contrast, have no vocabulary to do with camels, but they have hundreds of words pertaining to the coconut palm tree. The palm tree is practically a supermarket and hardware store for them. Therefore, they have a welldeveloped vocabulary relating to all the parts of the coconut palm tree. People in the western world have thousands of words related to the automobile. A car is important to them, so they have an extensive vocabulary in this area. Cultures that have never focused on Christian beliefs will not have a well-developed vocabulary dealing with that area. They have not experienced Christian beliefs, so they will not be able to express something they have not experienced. Their focus in this area of vocabulary is lacking and needs to be developed. God has given all people the


Word Hunting: Part 1 ability to adjust to other people’s way of life by creating vocabulary to describe their new experiences. In fact, English has borrowed many words from other languages, and other languages have borrowed words from English. However, not only do people borrow words from one language to another, they also borrow cultural concepts as well. Usually one can express the meaning of an experience learned in a foreign culture by using one’s own language to describe that experience. All people have the ability to express, in their own language, the meaning of an experience that was not originally a part of their culture. For example, a person who has never seen or heard about an airplane has the ability to speak about that experience as soon as he sees one for the first time. Upon seeing an airplane, he immediately coins words or phrases that will signal to him the meaning of that experience. The Sinasina people’s reaction to seeing seashell beads for the first time was to say, “Silatal?” which means, “What something is it?” Thereafter, the word silatal (What something is it?) became the name for seashell beads. All people have the ability to express new experiences in their language. By doing so, they widen the focus of their language. This expanding of the focus of language makes it possible for the missionary to develop the vocabulary he needs to express New Testament concepts.

Vocabulary development

The struggle of developing vocabulary to translate a New Testament should begin the first day one arrives among the ethnic people. In fact, the process is impossible to delay to a more convenient time. One has no choice but to begin communicating a message of some kind to the people. People do not interact with other people and wait until later to make a

299 judgment about the experience. They place a meaning on every encounter with other people, and they place this meaning on that encounter simultaneously with its occurrence. The missionary who begins working with an ethnic group cannot take a neutral position and wait until later, when he is fluent in the language, to begin communicating his message. All that he is, does, and has will be communicating messages to the people. They will place an interpretation on the missionary’s presence that they believe to be the right one no matter what the missionary does or says. Everything that he does, and brings with him, will communicate volumes of information to the people. However, this does not mean that the people will understand one’s entrance among them correctly. In the beginning, they will not understand the missionaries message in the way he intends for them to understand it. The missionary must begin on the first day trying to explain to the people who he is, and what his message is. Moving in among an ethnic group is like falling into a river before one has learned to swim. One has no choice but to begin struggling to stay above water. Similarly, the missionary has no choice but to begin the struggle to make people understand his message. Since he is communicating a message whether he wants to or not, he may as well begin trying to make his message understood in the way he intends it to be understood. The process of developing communication between the missionary and the people may as well begin early rather than later because the translator cannot avoid the problem of misunderstandings in any case. One could argue that if one tries to make people understand his words from the beginning, he will make many mistakes and do irreversible damage to his relationship with the people. It is true that he will make


300 mistakes, but he can correct mistakes. Most people accept others from the outside into their culture. They realize the newcomer does not know their language and cultural cues. They expect him to blunder, and they make allowances for such mistakes. Most people are very forgiving of mistakes when they know they are due to inexperience. However, this will change with time. After one has lived among the people for a length of time, they will take it for granted that he has learned their ways and will hold him responsible for his communications. Certainly, the missionary will make some mistakes, but it is much better to make them early when the people are much more indulgent of mistakes than to make them later when the people are not as tolerant of cultural and linguistic blunders. During the process of developing the vocabulary needed to communicate with people, mistakes are unavoidable. In fact, there is no choice but to learn by one’s mistakes, for the most basic method of learning is through trial and error. A baby learns the meaning of the word hot by making the mistake of touching something that mother said was hot. In a similar way, one wants to develop Christian words for the vocabulary of the New Testament without making mistakes, but it is unrealistic to think this way. It is unrealistic because it is denying the most basic principle of all learning, namely, learning by trial and error. One must be willing to make mistakes and have people misunderstand him. This does not mean that one is careless and does not make every effort to avoid mistakes. However, after taking every precaution, he still must jump into the muddy river of language and culture learning and thrash around until he learns to swim in the turbulent waters of communication.

Chapter 45

Beginning early

The advantages of beginning the communication process early are several. For one thing, people expect cultural and linguistic blunders from other people who are beginning to live in their culture. If one waits until later, the people are much less forgiving of cultural blunders. They expect that after you have been there for a while you would know their cultural cues and not be making embarrassing mistakes. They are also less likely to correct you after you have been there for a length of time. By this time, they are bored with constantly correcting you. In addition to this, people who wait two years before they begin teaching the gospel still make mistakes. They only succeed in postponing the mistakes until two years later when they will still make mistakes but the people will be much less likely to correct these mistakes. Another advantage of beginning early is the matter of bonding. It is beyond dispute that the early stage of life is the most productive for learning. A baby begins learning behavioral patterns immediately after birth. As soon as the baby sees or hears behavioral patterns, he begins bonding to them. New things are most easily learned when one is first exposed to them. After a while, the impact of new experiences becomes so familiar that the power to learn from them almost completely disappears. I have observed that the missionaries who do not take full advantage of language and culture learning experiences during their first two years among the ethnic people are the missionaries who do not learn the language and culture of the people well enough to become effective communicators. They will become second-rate communicators, or they will leave the field discouraged. The first two years are critical. If a missionary fails to learn a great


Word Hunting: Part 1 deal of the language and culture during the early years when he is most impressionable, he will likely fail to learn the language and culture. Another reason for beginning early is that a translator will have to develop an ethnic language vocabulary that is in agreement with the concepts of the New Testament. The translator will have to develop this vocabulary over an extended period. Language focus makes this process of development necessary. No language in the world will have a tailor made vocabulary just waiting for one to discover it. While it is true that a great deal of vocabulary can be discovered in the text material of the ethnic language, there will still be Bible vocabulary words that do not exist in the language.

Word development

For example, the Hebrew word ‫( שׁ‬qadosh) means “holy,” but originally it was a heathen word that meant “prostitute” (qadesh). How is it possible that a word meaning “prostitute” (qadesh) could develop to the point that it means “holy?” In the Canaanite religion, a person who was a ‫( שׁ‬qadesh) was a female set apart from the normal duties of life to be a prostitute in the sexual fertility rites of the Canaanite god Baal. The essential meaning of the Hebrew word ‫( שׁ‬qadosh) is “to set apart from ordinary use for a special purpose.” The ‫( שׁ‬qadesh) was set apart especially for the sexual rites performed in the temple of Baal. It was a matter of to whom one is set apart that determined the meaning of the word. The Canaanites set women apart to serve the god Baal as prostitutes (qadesh), but the Jews set the Levites apart to serve God as priests. By associating the Hebrew word ‫( שׁ‬qadosh) with the holy God, the word that originally meant “prostitute” (qadesh) came to mean “holy” (qadosh).

301 Likewise, this is true of the New Testament word ilasmoς. This word is translated as “propitiation.” It means “to reconcile people to God by sacrifice.” Originally, this word was a Greek word that referred to the sacrifices made to appease heathen gods, but the translators of the Greek Old Testament adopted this term to mean, “to reconcile people to God by sacrifice.” Early Christians also adopted this word from the Greek Old Testament to mean, “to reconcile people to God by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.” Similarly, the people of Rome originally used the Greek word kurioς (Lord) to refer only to Caesar. They considered him a god and called him kurioς. In the process of time, Christians began to use this same word to refer to the Lord Jesus whom they considered the only true kurioς. Another example of early Christian vocabulary development is the Greek word sunagwgh This word means “synagogue” or “a gathering together.” James used this word in James 2:2 to describe the congregating of early Christians whose experience of meeting together had been in the synagogue. It was only natural that they should refer to their meeting together as a sunagwgh meaning “synagogue.” However, Christians soon stopped using this word because of its close association with Judaism, out of which they had come. Gradually, the Christians began to refer to their gathering together as the ekklhsia, which means “those called out from usual activities to gather together for the purpose of serving God.” One can understand this meaning of the word ekklhsia by the way it was used in the context of Acts 19:32. There we read, “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (ekklhsia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.” In this verse, Luke used


302 the word ekklhsia to refer to heathen people who were called out from their daily activities to gather together in order to preserve the worship of Diana. The silversmiths made their living making silver shrines for the worship of the goddess Diana, so they wanted to gather the people together to preserve the worship of Diana. This is the secular meaning of the word ekklhsia. It was only natural for the Christians to begin using the same word ekklhsia in reference to Christ who had called them out

Chapter 45 from their daily activities to gather together to preserve the worship of the true and live God. The vocabulary of the New Testament did not develop instantly. It came into existence through a slow process of development. One can imagine that some Jewish Christians would particularly object to using such a heathen term as kurioς to refer to the Lord Jesus. However, in the process of developing New Testament vocabulary, early Christians accepted this word as rightfully belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Homework 1. Why is it important to begin learning to communicate the Gospel to the ethnic people from the first day one takes up residence among them?

2. What does the word bonding mean, and what application does it have to language and culture learning?


Word Hunting: Part 2

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A sign in a clothing store said, “Wonderful bargains for men with 16 and 17 necks.”

Chapter 46

Word Hunting: Part 2

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ords are adaptable. Contextual conditioning can modify the meaning of a word. If I were to arbitrarily make up a word and give it the word symbol ku, what would this symbol mean to you? It would mean nothing to you. If I were to say, “He has a broken ku,” you would still not know what I mean, but you now have some idea about the meaning. Then you see that the broken “ku” referred to is a bone protruding through the skin. You guess that ku probably means “bone.” That would be correct. After that, you might hear me say, “He hits big ku.” You think I mean that someone is hitting a big bone. It does not make much sense to you. If you could hear the word ku in the Sinasina area after some men come back from a fight and they say, “We were almost overrun by the enemy, but our leader hit big ku, and we rallied to defeat them.” Now you begin to think the word ku means “bravery.” That would also be correct. Later when we are outside a Sinasina church, an old woman walks slowly up the hill toward the church. Someone seeing her coming says, “She bakes ku and comes to church every Sunday.” At first, you wonder what the baking of bone has to do with coming to church. You would soon realize that the phrase “She bakes ku and comes to church” has the meaning “She faithfully comes to church.” You begin to realize that the word ku can mean “bone,” “bravery,” and “faithful.” The context around the word ku conditions it to

mean different things. One can give a meaning to even an arbitrary symbol by surrounding it with context.

Choosing a word for “God”

There are three ways to approach the task of finding a word to express the concept of the God of the Bible. 1. A person can choose a local language word that means “god.” This choice has the problem of misunderstanding built in. It is very unlikely that a local language word will be equivalent in meaning to the God of the Bible. In fact, the word will most likely have some very unbiblical concepts associated with the meaning of the word. This is probably the most uncertain choice of the three possibilities. 2. One can choose a less specific local word that means “a very powerful person.” This choice is a little less likely to be misunderstood. For example, Spanish speakers use the word Señor to address another person as “Sir,” and then they bow their heads in prayer and address God as “Señor.” In the Sinasina language, a person who is a yobal kun is a person of wealth and power. The Sinasina people also use the word Kun to refer to God who is the greatest person of wealth and power. Sinasina people say “Abo Kun,” meaning “Father God.” They say, “Kun Yesu,” meaning “God Jesus” and they say, “Kun Sugugilamie,” meaning “God Spirit.”


304 3. One can choose a word that has almost no meaning at all in the local language. In the Yagaria language of Papua New Guinea, the missionaries simply used the English word God. However, the Yagaria phonemic structure does not allow the word God to end with a voiced consonant. Therefore God becomes Got. But Yagaria phonemic structure also does not allow the word Got to end in a voiceless consonant. It must end with a vowel. So the word God became Got, which became Goti. Naturally, the word Goti did not mean much the first time the Yagaria people heard it, but because they heard about Goti through many years of Bible teaching, the word Goti is now equivalent in meaning to “the God of the Bible.” The word Goti became the nearest formal equivalent of the word God by the contextual conditioning of that word in many experiences— some of which were real life experiences, and others were those recorded in Scripture. This is probably the safest approach to choosing a word for God. One can choose a word with little or no meaning in the local language but fill it full of biblical meaning by using it in oral Bible teaching and in the translation of the Bible. It is usually easier to teach the biblical meaning of a word that has little or no meaning in the local language than it is to take a local language word for God and try to rid it of wrong meanings. One can do this, but the process of arriving at the desired biblical meaning will probably take a longer time. In the book, Synonyms of the Old Testament, on page 27, Robert Girdlestone wrote, “The truth about God is gathered not so much from the Name as from what is taught concerning Him who bears it. The knowledge of the nature and character of God is gradually acquired through the study of the Scriptures.” Suppose the Yagaria missionaries had chosen to use some other name for God. Suppose they chose the name of a tribal god. For the sake of illustration, let us say they chose a god whose name was Bo. The missionaries realize that Bo is

Chapter 46 in some ways like God, but in other ways, he is not. Nevertheless, by means of careful contextual conditioning the missionaries delimit the wrong meanings about Bo and gradually build into the word all the attributes of the God of the Bible. Admittedly, using the name for a native god is somewhat uncertain, but one can do it with care and sensitivity to both the biblical attributes of God and the understanding of the people. If the ethnic people mostly ignored Bo and in general thought of him as a creator of the world, the delimiting of wrong meanings about Bo would be minimal. However, if Bo is an important part of native fertility rites and has many characteristics of evil spirits, then it may be more difficult to delimit these meanings. As one teaches Bible truth, one can delimit the wrong meanings in the minds of the people and reinforce the right meanings. Such contextual conditioning may come about like this. The missionary may say to the people, “You thought Bo was not interested in anything but the fertility of your gardens and pigs. The Bible says that Bo is not like that. The Bible says that Bo is like this….” From then on, the missionary teaches them what Bo is like by contextually conditioning the word Bo with biblical contexts. The missionaries’ teaching about Bo in many biblical contexts begins to delimit wrong meanings about Bo and expands the right meanings until Bo becomes the nearest formal equivalent of the God of the Bible.

Conditioning of Bible words

One can follow this same process with any word in the Bible. For example, the word holy may have as its nearest equivalent in the ethnic language a concept that means “forbidden.” This is a possible starting point and one may use it gradually to expand the meaning of the word to include moral holiness, aversion to sin, purity, and righteousness. One may begin using the word forbidden for the concept of holy, but as the language helper


Word Hunting: Part 2 begins to understand the concept, he may volunteer a different word in his language that comes closer to the desired meaning. In this case, the translator may abandon the old word and use the new word that is a closer biblical equivalent to the word holy. In any case, one should not wait until he finds the perfect word to express a desired biblical meaning. One can choose a word from several words, and test it to see if it is communicating the desired meaning. If it does not, one can choose another word and keep trying until one finds the right word. It is better to try some word than no word at all. You can choose more than one word and test each word to find the boundaries of its meanings. Then you can choose the word that expresses the meaning that is closest to the biblical meaning. By using that word in many biblical contexts, it will gradually take on the meaning that is equivalent to the meaning in the Bible.

Coining new words

Another possibility for developing New Testament vocabulary is to make up a word or phrase that carries at least some of the intended meaning. William Tyndale, the translator of the first complete Bible into English, made up new English words because he did not know of any words that covered the areas of meaning he wanted. He made up such words as atonement (at-onement), intercede (inter-cede), intercession (intercession), and Passover (pass-over). After using these words for many years, we no longer know them as made up words. We think they were always a part of our language. After making up a new word, one can elaborate on what the word means. The people may suggest a way to modify the word to make it more like the meaning in the Bible, or they may suggest a new word altogether. They may just accept the newly coined word and learn the meaning of it through teaching.

305 For example, it is possible to say “born again” in any language if one knows how to say “to be born” and “again.” After coining the word, one should find out what meaning it signals in the mind of the people. At first, the term may not mean very much to them. It might mean something strange, the way it did to Nicodemus in John 3:3. The translator must find some point of reference in the people’s own experience that is similar to the concept of being born again. Of course, all people know what birth is, and they know how to say “to be born again.” Their knowledge of physical birth can be a point of reference to begin talking about what they know, and then proceed to explain what is meant by a spiritual birth. This explanation should proceed by single, easy, and logical steps, using what the people already know to explain the new meaning to them. After the people realize what you mean by the new word, they may suggest adding a word or two to modify the newly coined term, or they may begin to use the term but understand it in a new way. This approach to developing biblical vocabulary assumes that the missionary is involved in a ministry of teaching, for it is impossible to give ethnic words new meanings unless one explains what Bible words mean in terms of the ethnic language and culture contexts. The developing of vocabulary must go on simultaneously with language learning, culture learning, and teaching the concepts of the Bible. If one is to use what the people know as a basis for explaining what they do not know, one must first find out what the people mean by the words they use. As a translator learns the meaning of ethnic words, he can use those words that are close equivalents to biblical concepts to explain the Gospel message. He can use the words they know as a basis for making up new words that will explain new concepts