Archive for the 'Translations' Category

Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in Scripture?

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

By Spencer D Gear

Bible Open To Psalm 118

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If you want to get into an animated discussion in some churches, raise the possibility that Mark 16:9-20 is not in the earliest manuscripts and should not be included in the Bible. I encountered this when a person complained to me about the verses that had been left out of the New International Version (NIV), so he will not read the NIV.  I said that it was probably the other way around: Those verses excluded from the NIV were those that had been added to the KJV. Now that did get the theological juices boiling for both of us. Let’s take a read of theses verses in the KJV:

Mark 16:9-20 (King James Version)

9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

12After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

13And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Those who support the King James Version of the Bible tend to prefer the long ending of Mark 16 because it is located in that translation. They include vv. 9-20 in Scripture, but most modern translations indicate somehow that there are doubts that these verses should by in Scripture. For example, the English Standard Version places Mark 16:9-20 in double square brackets with the note at the end of v. 8, ‘Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20’. The New International Version (2011 edition) has this note before v. 9, ’The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20’.

Here are some statements by supporters of the long ending of Mark 16:

  • ‘Does not Mark end funny in the texts you’re relying on[ending with 16:8]? Is it not apparent that something is missing?’ (Christian Forums #204).
  • ‘Would you care to show us how the ending of mark is a corruption from mankind? Please use scripture [this is from a supporter of the longer ending]’ (Christian Forums #217).
  • ‘Is there anything in any passage here [Mark 16:9-20] that is false, that can be proven to be false by the body of scripture we have? If so, point it out’ (Christian Forums #230).
  • ‘The case of Mark 16:9-20 allows us the opportunity to demonstrate first-hand the spuriousness of the Westcott-Hortian paradigm as it is applied to textual criticism. Based upon the evidence of a small, corrupted handful of Greek manuscripts and little else, modern textual critics remove the verse even despite the overwhelming amount of evidence in its favour’ (Why Mark 16:9-20 belongs in the Bible).
  • ‘Do verses 9-20 belong in Mark 16? I don’t see how anyone could reasonably say they don’t. The rest of the Scripture supports them. The words of Jesus clearly support them. I think it’s clear that they belong there. Beware of those who try to tell you otherwise ‘ (‘Does Mark 16:9-20 belong in the Bible?’ Scott Morris).

Some of the issues

Let’s examine some of the matters relating to whether Mark 16:9-20 should in the Bible or have been added.

I could go into further detail as to why I reject vv. 9-20 as part of the New Testament. However, I consider that Kelly Iverson has summarised the material extremely well and to my exegetical and textual satisfaction in the article, “Irony in the end: A textual and literary analysis of Mark 16:8“. Iverson presents this material in footnote 6, based on the internal evidence that includes this examination of the long ending of Mark 16 (I have transliterated the Greek characters in the article to make it more accessible for the general reader):

The longer ending (vv 9-20) is clearly the most attested reading. It is validated by almost all of the extant Greek manuscripts, a significant number of minuscules, numerous versions, and scores of church Fathers. Geographically it is represented by the Byzantine, Alexandrian, and Western text types. However, one should be careful not to reduce textual criticism into an exercise of manuscript counting. Though the longer ending is widely attested, the vast bulk of manuscripts are from the generally inferior, Byzantine text type dating from the 8th to the 13th centuries (except Codex A which is a 5th century document). Due to the solidarity of the Byzantine text type we may assume that this represents at least a fourth century reading (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd ed. [New York: Oxford University, 1992], 293).

The abrupt ending (1) is found in the two oldest Greek manuscripts. These Alexandrian uncials a B, both 4th century manuscripts, are supported by the Sinaitic Syriac manuscripts, approximately one hundred Armenian texts and two Georgian manuscripts from the 9th and 10th centuries, and several church Fathers including Clement of Alexandria and Origen. That this reading was more prominent is supported by Eusebius and Jerome who claimed that vv 9-20 were absent from almost all known manuscripts (ibid., 226). It is also significant that Codex Bobiensis (k) omits the longer ending as this is deemed the “most important witness to the Old African Latin” Bible (ibid., 73). The genealogical solidarity of the two primary Alexandrian witnesses suggest that this reading can be dated to the 2nd century (Metzger, Text of the New Testament, 215-216).

To say the least, the evidence is conflicting. One should be careful not to make a firm decision one way or the other regarding Mark’s ending based on the external data alone. Though the majority of New Testament scholars believe that vv 9-20 are not original, virtually none come to this conclusion based purely on the external evidence. Even Farmer must confess that, “while a study of the external evidence is rewarding in itself and can be very illuminating in many ways . . . it does not produce the evidential grounds for a definitive solution to the problem. A study of the history of the text, by itself, has not proven sufficient, since the evidence is divided” (Farmer, Last Twelve Verses of Mark, 74).

Most text-critics appeal to the internal evidence in order to demonstrate that vv 9-20 are non-Marcan. One is immediately struck with the awkward transition between vv 8 and 9. In v 8, the subject, “they” referring to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (16:1) is implicit within the third, plural verb, ephobounto. But in v 9 the subject changes to “He” (from the third, singular verb ephan?). The transition is striking because the subject is unexpressed. Furthermore, in v 9 Mary Magdalene is introduced as though she were a new character even though her presence has already been established in the immediate context (15:47; 16:1) while Mary the mother of James and Salome disappear from the entire narrative. This awkward transition coupled with numerous words and phrases that are foreign to Mark, suggest the decidedly inauthentic nature of this ending.

Several examples should prove the point. In 16:9 we find the only occurrence of the verb phainw in the New Testament with respect to the resurrection (though the same verb is used in Luke 9:8 to describe Elijah’s re-appearance). Equally as unusual is the construction par hes ekbeblekei , which is a grammatical hapax. In v 10, the verb poreuvomai which is found 29 times in Matthew and 51 times in Luke is not found in Mark 1:1-16:8, but repeatedly in the longer ending (vv 10, 12, 15). In v 11, The verb theaomai which occurs in Matthew (6:1; 11:7; 22:11; 23:5) and Luke (7:24; 23:55) finds no parallel in Mark except for its multiple occurrence in the longer ending (16:11, 14). In v 12, the expression meta tauta which occurs frequently in Luke (1:24; 5:27; 10:1; 12:4; 17:8; 18:4) and John (2:12; 3:22; 5:1, 14; 6:1; 7:1; 11:7, 11; 13:7; 19:28, 38; 21:1) has no precedence in Mark. phanerow which neither Matthew or Luke use to describe resurrection appearances is found in vv 12 and 14 (J. K. Elliott, “The Text and Language of the endings of Mark’s Gospel,” TZ 27 [1971]: 258). The phrase heteros morph? is also unique to Marcan vocabulary. Neither heteros nor morph? occur elsewhere in Mark and morph? only appears in Paul’s description of the kenosis (Phil 2:6, 7). In v 14, husteros, although used by the other evangelists, is a decidedly non-Marcan term having no precedence in 1:1-16:8. Mark seems to prefer eschatos over husteros as evidenced by several parallel passages in which Mark opts for the former over the later term found in Matthew (cf. Matt 21:37Mark 12:6; Matt 22:27Mark 12:22). In v 18, aside from other lexical and syntactical phenomenon one is struck by the unusual exegetical hapax. No other text in Scripture provides a promise for the handling of snakes and imbibing deadly poison without adverse repercussions. In v 19, though Mark sparingly uses the conjunction ?u, the phrase men ou is not found in 1:1-16:8. The longer ending concludes in v 20 with a litany of non-Marcan vocabulary: sunergeww is not found in Mark or the Gospels and appears to be a Pauline term (Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 16:16; 2 Cor 6:1) but it is never used with Jesus as the subject, and bebaiow along with epakolouthew are also foreign to the Synoptic Gospels.

As is somewhat evident, the internal evidence raises significant problems with Mark 16:9-20. The awkward transition between vv 8 and 9 and the non-Marcan vocabulary has led the vast majority of New Testament scholars to conclude that the longer ending is inauthentic. In fact, even Farmer (Last Twelve Verses of Mark, 103), the leading proponent for the authenticity of the last twelve verses, must confess that some of the evidence warrants this conclusion.

Iverson’s article provides an overall analysis of some of the major issues in the short vs. long ending of Mark 16. I highly recommend it.

Yes, there is false teaching in this ‘Scripture’

Is there any teaching within Mark 16:9-20 that would be questionable when compared with the rest of Scripture? There most certainly is teaching in this passage that is false when judged by other Scriptures. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Take Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”. This promotes the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration that a person needs to be baptised to be saved. What does the rest of the Bible teach?

  • ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12 ESV).
  • “’And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” ‘(Acts 16:31).
  • ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ (Eph 2:8-9).
  • ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1).
  • ‘and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith’ (Phil 3:9).

These Scriptures are very clear that no works (e.g. baptism) are required to become children of God and obtain salvation. It is all by grace through faith. Therefore, to teach that “Whoever believes AND is baptized” is saved, is teaching false doctrine. Baptism is not a means to salvation. Baptismal regeneration, as taught in Mark 16:16, is contrary to Scripture. See John Piper’s article, ‘What is baptism and does it save?’ See also, ‘Twisting Acts 2:38 – The question of baptism by water for salvation’ by Watchman Fellowship; and Robin Brace, ‘Baptismal regeneration refuted’.

Let’s get it clear with the teaching of Acts 2:38. Those who teach baptismal regeneration love to use this verse for support.

Acts 2:38 in the ESV reads, ‘And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”’.

This verse has been used regularly by those who support baptismal regeneration (i.e. baptism is necessary for salvation) as they indicate from this verse ‘baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’.

The Greek grammar helps us to understand that this is not supporting baptism for the remission of sins. The command to repent is to ‘you’ plural, second person. The command to be baptised is given in singular number and third person. Therefore, it is not correct to identify ‘forgiveness of your sins’ with baptism otherwise it would mean that each person was baptised for the forgiveness of sins of all those who were present.

If we were to take baptism as that which is linked to (causes) the forgiveness of sins, the text would say something like this: ‘Let him be baptised for the remission of all your sins’, and “let him (another) be baptised for the forgiveness of all your sins’, and “let him (yet another person) be baptised for the forgiveness of all your sins’, and on and on for each person in the group.

Therefore, each person would be baptised for the forgiveness of the sins of all the people in the group.

This is not what the verse teaches. Baptism is not linked to the forgiveness of sins in Acts 2:38.

Simon J. Kistemaker in his commentary on the Book of Acts (Baker Academic 1990, p. 105) confirms this position that Acts 2:38 does not teach baptismal regeneration:

In Greek, the imperative verb repent is in the plural; Peter addresses all the people whose consciences drive them to repentance. But the verb, be baptized, is in the singular to stress the individual nature of baptism. A Christian should be baptized to be a follower of Jesus Christ, for baptism is the sign indicating that a person belongs to the company of God’s people.

Craig A Evans, an evangelical historical Jesus’ scholar, states:

The last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16:9-20) are not the original ending; they were added at least two centuries after Mark first began to circulate. These passages – one from Mark, one from Luke, one from John – represent the only major textual problems in the Gospels, no important teaching hangs on any one of them (unless you belong to a snake-handling cult; see Mk 16:18 (2007. Fabricating Jesus. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, p. 30).

This is a sample of Bruce Metzger’s assessment of the long vs. short ending of Mark 16:

Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, 1971), pages 122-126.

Mark 16:9-20   The Ending(s) of Mark.

Four endings of the Gospel according to Mark are current in the manuscripts. (1) The last twelve verses of the commonly received text of Mark are absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph[1] and B), from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis (it k), the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written A.D. 897 and A.D. 913). Clement of Alexandria and Origen show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. The original form of the Eusebian sections (drawn up by Ammonius) makes no provision for numbering sections of the text after 16:8. Not a few manuscripts which contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document.

(2) Several witnesses, including four uncial Greek manuscripts of the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries (L Psi[2] 099 0112), as well as Old Latin k, the margin of the Harelean Syriac, several Sahidic and Bohairic manuscripts, and not a few Ethiopic manuscripts, continue after verse 8 as follows (with trifling variations): “But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” All of these witnesses except it k also continue with verses 9-20.

(3) The traditional ending of Mark, so familiar through the AV and other translations of the Textus Receptus, is present in the vast number of witnesses, including A C D K W X Delta Thi Pi Psi[3] 099 0112 f13 28 33 al. The earliest patristic witnesses to part or all of the long ending are Irenaeus and the Diatessaron. It is not certain whether Justin Martyr was acquainted with the passage; in his Apology (i.45) he includes five words that occur, in a different sequence, in ver. 20. (tou logou tou ischurou hon apo Ierousalem hoi apostoloi autou exelthontes pantachou ekeruxan).[4]

(4) In the fourth century the traditional ending also circulated, according to testimony preserved by Jerome, in an expanded form, preserved today in one Greek manuscript. Codex Washingtonianus includes the following after ver. 14: “And they excused themselves, saying, ‘This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits [or, does not allow what lies under the unclean spirits to understand the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal thy righteousness now — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, in order that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.’ ”

How should the evidence of each of these endings be evaluated? It is obvious that the expanded form of the long ending (4) has no claim to be original. Not only is the external evidence extremely limited, but the expansion contains several non-Markan words and expressions (including ho aiwn houtos, hamartanw, apologew, alethinos, hapostrephw[5]) as well as several that occur nowhere else in the New Testament (deinos, apos, proslegw[6]). The whole expansion has about it an unmistakable apocryphal flavor. It probably is the work of a second or third century scribe who wished to soften the severe condemnation of the Eleven in 16.14.

The longer ending (3), though current in a variety of witnesses, some of them ancient, must also be judged by internal evidence to be secondary. (a) The vocabulary and style of verses 9-20 are non-Markan. (e.g. apistew, blaptw, bebaiow, epakolouthew, theaomai, meta tauta, poreuomai, sunergew, usteron[7] are found nowhere else in Mark; and thanasimon[8] and tois met autou genomenois[9], as designations of the disciples, occur only here in the New Testament). (b) The connection between ver. 8 and verses 9-20 is so awkward that it is difficult to believe that the evangelist intended the section to be a continuation of the Gospel. Thus, the subject of ver. 8 is the women, whereas Jesus is the presumed subject in ver. 9; in ver. 9 Mary Magdalene is identified even though she has been mentioned only a few lines before (15.47 and 16.1); the other women of verses 1-8 are now forgotten; the use of anastas de[10] and the position of prwton[11] are appropriate at the beginning of a comprehensive narrative, but they are ill-suited in a continuation of verses 1-8. In short, all these features indicate that the section was added by someone who knew a form of Mark that ended abruptly with ver. 8 and who wished to supply a more appropriate conclusion. In view of the inconcinnities[12] between verses 1-8 and 9-20, it is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill up an obvious gap; it is more likely that the section was excerpted from another document, dating perhaps from the first half of the second century.

The internal evidence for the shorter ending (2) is decidedly against its being genuine. Besides containing a high percentage of non-Markan words, its rhetorical tone differs totally from the simple style of Mark’s Gospel.

Finally it should be observed that the external evidence for the shorter ending (2) resolves itself into additional testimony supporting the omission of verses 9-20. No one who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in interesting material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a colorless and generalized summary. Therefore, the documentary evidence supporting (2) should be added to that supporting (1). Thus, on the basis of good external evidence and strong internal considerations it appears that the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16.8. At the same time, however out of deference to the evident antiquity of the longer ending and its importance in the textual tradition of the Gospel, the Committee decided to include verses 9-20 as part of the text, but to enclose them within double square brackets to indicate that they are the work of an author other than the evangelist.

Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 269-270:

… we may find it instructive to consider the attitude of Church Fathers toward variant readings in the text of the New Testament. On the one hand, as far as certain readings involve sensitive points of doctrine, the Fathers customarily alleged that heretics had tampered with the accuracy of the text. On the other hand, however, the question of the canonicity of a document apparently did not arise in connection with discussion of such variant readings, even though they might involve quite considerable sections of text. Today we know that the last twelve verses of the Gospel according to Mark (xvi. 9-20) are absent from the oldest Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian manuscripts, and that in other manuscripts asterisks or obeli mark the verses as doubtful or spurious. Eusebius and Jerome, well aware of such variation in the witnesses, discussed which form of text was to be preferred. It is noteworthy, however, that neither Father suggested that one form was canonical and the other was not. Furthermore, the perception that the canon was basically closed did not lead to a slavish fixing of the text of the canonical books. Thus, the category of ‘canonical’ appears to have been broad enough to include all variant readings (as well as variant renderings in early versions) that emerged during the course of the transmission of the New Testament documents while apostolic tradition was still a living entity, with an intermingling of written and oral forms of that tradition. Already in the second century, for example, the so-called long ending of Mark was known to Justin Martyr and to Tatian, who incorporated it into his Diatesseron. There seems to be good reason, therefore, to conclude that, though external and internal evidence is conclusive against the authenticity of the last twelve verses as coming from the same pen as the rest of the Gospel, the passage ought to be accepted as part of the canonical text of Mark.

Conclusion

See, ‘the ending of Mark’ in Bible Research. Overall, the problems raised above suggest that Mark 16:9-20 is an addition to the biblical text. In Craig Evans’ view, the longer ending was not added until 2 centuries after the Gospel of Mark was written.

However, taking this view should not separate us from Christian fellowship with those who accept the longer view of Mark 16.

Notes:


[1] The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used and I have transliterated the letter.

[2] Capital Greek letter was used.

[3] Greek characters were used for these Greek capital letters.

[4] Bruce Metzger’s commentary used the Greek characters but my homepage will not accept Greek characters so I have transliterated the Greek.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Inconcinnity’ means ‘lack of proportion and congruity; inelegance’ [dictionary.com, available at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inconcinnities (Accessed 11 January 2012)].

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date:  7 October 2015.

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Noses out of joint over Bible translations

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Cross Bible Globe

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

If you want to get a picture of how Christians can disagree over various Bible translations, I recommend a visit to one of the Internet Christian forums. I participate in a rather large one.[1]

Part of what one person wrote was:

The Bible needs to be translated every 100 years or so, or else it would be lost in understanding to the next generation. If you educate people on how to translate KJV but make no translations one day all you are left with is a few people who truly understand it, and that is not preaching God’s word throughout the world.[2]

Narrow thinking on English Bible translations

I think we are thinking too narrowly.[3] I suggest that we consider the rest of the world before investing one more cent in another English translation.

The task of Bible translation is an enormous one and here we are arguing over the KJV vs ESV, NLT, NIV, etc. These are some of the language and translation challenges in our world.

The British Council provides this information about English speakers:

How many people speak English? clip_image001

clip_image003 ‘English has official or special status in at least seventy five countries with a total population of over two billion’;
clip_image003[1] ‘English is spoken as a first language by around 375 million and as a second language by around 375 million speakers in the world’;
clip_image003[2] ‘speakers of English as a second language probably outnumber those who speak it as a first language’;
clip_image003[3] ‘around 750 million people are believed to speak English as a foreign language’;
clip_image003[4] ‘one out of four of the world’s population speak English to some level of competence; demand from the other three-quarters is increasing’.

English as first language

However, of the 375 million people who use English as their first language, what percentage is that of the world’s population? The world population clock, which I checked online as I was writing this article, says that the world’s population is 7.222 billion people (29 March 2014).
Therefore, 5.357% of the people of the world speak English as their first language. And here we are arguing about an archaic vs contemporary English translations.

Languages still needing to be put into writing

According to Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) of Wycliffe Bible Translators, ‘Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 875 million illiterate people are women’ (SIL);

Wycliffe

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators,

The Worldwide Status of Bible Translation (2013) was:

clip_image0056,900+ … the number of languages spoken in the world today.
clip_image005[1]1,999+ …the number of languages without any of the Bible, but with a possible need of a Bible translation to begin.
clip_image005[2]2,167 …the total number of current translation programs around the world, on behalf of 1.9 billion people.

The detailed statistics  from Wycliffe were:

The Worldwide Status of Bible Translation (2013)

6,900+ …the number of languages spoken in the world today.
1,900+ …the number of languages without any of the Bible, but with a possible need of a Bible translation to begin.
2,167 …the total number of current translation programs around the world*, on behalf of 1.9 billion people.
1,707 …the number of those current translation programs that are being facilitated by Wycliffe, SIL, or other partner organizations.
1,294 …the number of language groups that have access to the New Testament in their heart language, representing 598 million people.
513 …the number of language groups that have access to the entire Bible in the language they understand best.
1,010 …the number of languages that have some portions of Scripture available in their language (one or more books)
Over 7 billion
…the population of the world.
180 million …the number of people who speak the more than 1,900 languages where translation projects have not yet begun.

Although Bible translation is progressing at a more rapid rate today than ever before, an overwhelming amount of work is yet to be done.

 

So there are still 1900+ languages in the world today that don’t have any Bible translation available. And of the 7 billion people in the world there are 875 million who are illiterate. This means that when Wycliffe and associate organisations develop a language in print and translate the Bible, they have to teach the people to read and write. This is a massive task.

Notes:


[1] Here the topic was, ‘Understanding the KJV’, Christian Forums, Baptists, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7809418-4/#post65286019 (Accessed 29 March 2014).

[2] Ibid., Bluelion #12, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7809418-2/ (Accessed 29 March 2014).

[3] This is my post at as OzSpen #40 at ibid., http://www.christianforums.com/t7809418-4/#post65286019 (Accessed 29 March 2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 November 2015.

Excuses people make for promoting the King James Version of the Bible

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Closed Bible by Anonymous - Clipart of a closed Bible by Aaron Johnson
Openclipart

By Spencer D Gear

There are any number of reasons (or excuses) people make for promoting the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and rejecting modern translations. Here is one that I recently came across:

I just looked at all the missing verses in the NIV bible! I am shocked, they even removed part of Psalms 12:6-7 where God said he would preserve his word!
I think I’ll stick with the KJV and NKJV now![1]

How does one respond to such a view? The following is my first and brief response: ‘Why are you not saying that the KJV and NKJV added these words?
You seem to be making the NIV an ogre of Bible translations’.[2]

How would the KJV promoter respond?

The title page's central text is:"THE HOLY BIBLE,Conteyning the Old Testament,AND THE NEW:Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement.Appointed to be read in Churches.Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie.ANNO DOM. 1611 ."At bottom is:"C. Boel fecit in Richmont.".

Wikipedia

This was his rejoinder:

The KJV did not add these words, even the NWT has these words:
6 The sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings,+
As silver refined in a smelting furnace* of earth, clarified seven times.
7 You yourself, O Jehovah, will guard them;+
You will preserve each one from this generation to time indefinite.(NWT)
6 And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold[a] refined seven times.
7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,(NIV)[3]

How should I, a supporter of modern translations, reply? [4]

Slimline Center Column Reference Bible NLT, TuTone
Tyndale House Publishers

It beats me that this person would be using the NWT of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to compare with any committee translation of the Bible. Is he a supporter of the JWs?

These are some different renditions of Psalm 12:6-7. Why are the KJV and NKJV correct and the others wrong?

Psalm 12:6-7

King James Version (KJV)

6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

3d-red-star-small3d-red-star-small3d-red-star-small

Psalm 12:6-7

New King James Version (NKJV)

6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
7 You shall keep them, O Lord,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

3d-red-star-small3d-red-star-small3d-red-star-small

Psalm 12:6-7

New International Version (NIV)

6 And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold[a] refined seven times.

7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 12:6 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text earth

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Psalm 12:6-7

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us[a] from this generation for ever.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 12:7 Or guard him

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Psalm 12:6-7

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

6 The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7 You, O Lord, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation for ever.

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Evangelical commentator on the book of Psalms, H C Leupold, in Exposition of Psalms  wrote of Psalm 12:6-7,

    6. David reassures himself that this will take place by recalling the general nature of God’s words as he and all of God’s saints know them: they are “pure words,” which expression removes the alloy of undependability. Many may often intend to do well and may promise help but may fall short of keeping his promise because of human frailty. Not so God. Therefore His promises may be likened to “silver defined in a smelter in the ground, purified seven times,” the very purest of the precious metal.
7. Since God may rightly be described in reference to His words as just indicated, the psalmist draws proper conclusions with regard to the situation in which he and other godly men like him find themselves. Addressing God in prayer, he expresses the confidence that God will keep His watchful eye on those that have suffered oppression (“Thou wilt regard”) and will go farther in that He will keep His protecting hand over them. The psalm here takes on a note of the more personal feelings in that the writer includes himself (“Thou wilt guard us“). This protection is offered in the face of this wicked class of oppressors above described (in this sense the word “generation” is here used), and this protection of God will be exercised for all times to come (Leupold 1959:132-133, emphasis in original).

Here we have Leupold writing his commentary in 1959, long before the translations of the NIV, ESV and NRSV, but his understanding of the Hebrew text is the same as from these translations and not the KJV and NKJV.

Interesting!

Another supporter of the KJV

This KJV promoter wrote:

What Bible did the Pilgrams (sic) bring over on the Mayflower?
What Bible has historically been used by Baptists since before America was a country?
The KJV has proven itself reliable for over 400 years.
Sure the language is antiquated, sure its out of date, sure it uses words like “ye” and “thy” but is that so hard to understand that it needs serious updating?
I wonder what people would say if William Shakespere’s (sic) works were updated into todays (sic) English?
From Romeo and Juliet:
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
Shakesphere (sic), Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2
Would be changed to:
“Romeo, Yo! Where you be!”[5]

I provided these responses:

Do you mean to say that you know the KJV meaning of ‘superfluity of naughtiness’ (James 1:21) without consulting a commentary or another translation?…

That’s using a straw man logical fallacy as we are talking about a translation (the KJV) and not the original languages (Hebrew & Greek).[6]

A trend among these KJV supporters:

To justify support for an archaic English translation of the Bible, these promoters used these tactics:

clip_image002 The modern translations are the culprits. They delete verses from the KJV. It’s not that the original languages (earliest editions) have less words and the KJV has added to the originals.

clip_image002[1] Even a cult Bible, the New World Translation of the JWs, has the KJV verses, so the KJV verses are the accurate ones.

clip_image002[2] The KJV translation of Psalm 12:7 is the accurate translation and the modern versions (e.g. NIV) are to blame for changing the KJV.

clip_image002[3] The false claim that the Pilgrim Fathers took the KJV with them from England to the New World when it was the Geneva Bible that they used.

clip_image002[4] The false claim that translating Shakespeare’s works would be parallel to what has been done by the NIV translators to the KJV translation.

clip_image002[5] The superiority of a 1611/1769 KJV translation, based on late Greek New Testament manuscripts (the Textus Receptus), rather than modern translations that are based on, say, the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament that uses manuscripts that are much older and closer to the original manuscripts.

clip_image002[6] The KJV supporters seem to have a presuppositional bias towards the KJV, without examining the manuscript evidence for the newer translations.

References

Leupold, H C 1959. Exposition of Psalms. London: Evangelical Press 1959 – reprinted by Baker Book House in 1969.

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘I’ve started to become attached to the KJV, is there any proof that its’, yogosans14#13, 25 April 2013, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7740683-2/ (Accessed 25 April 2013).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#14.

[3] Ibid., yogosans14#15.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#21.

[5] Ibid., DeaconDean#10.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#22.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.
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Whytehouse Graphics

What’s wrong with the NRSV translation of John 3:16?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Courtesy NRSV

By Spencer D Gear

This verse in the New Revised Standard Version states, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NRSV).

Some other translations of the verse are:

arrow-smallRevised Standard Version: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 RSV)

arrow-smallEnglish Standard Version: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 ESV)

arrow-smallNew American Standard Bible: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NASB).

arrow-smallNew International Version: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV).

arrow-smallNew Living Translation: ‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NLT).

arrow-smallNET Bible: ‘For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NET).

Translation of the verbs makes the difference

Notice the contrast in translation of the verbs in these three translations: RSV, NRSV and ESV. The NRSV and ESV are based on the RSV, but notice the differences in verbal translations in the second half of the verse:

RSV: ‘whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’;

ESV: ‘whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’;

NRSV: ‘everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’;

 

What are the meanings of the NT Greek verbs in John 3:16b?

The Elements of New Testament Greek        https://i0.wp.com/vig-fp.prenhall.com/bigcovers/013184234X.jpg?resize=167%2C270

Cambridge University Press               Pearson

1. NRSV, ‘believes’ = Greek pisteuwn = masculine, nominative, singular, present participle of pisteuw. Because it is the present tense of the verb it is accurately translated as ‘believes’ or ‘continues to believe’. The latter translation emphasizes the continuous action of the present tense of the verb. So, all of the above translations, including the RSV, ESV and NRSV, are accurate in their translation of this verb as ‘believes’.

2. NRSV, ‘may not perish’ (me[1], meaning not, is the negative accompanying the verb). The Greek verb is apole[2]tai = third person, singular, 2nd aorist tense, subjunctive mood of the verb, apollumi = may not perish (with the negative) as this is the function of the subjunctive mood. This verb is contained in a purpose clause beginning with hina. The Greek aorist tense means point action; Then the negative, me, is used with the aorist subjunctive, it ‘generally denotes a command not to begin an action…. Commands and exhortations (whether expressed by Subjunctive or Imperative) have an element of doubt, since they refer to the future and they may or may not be followed’ (Wenham 1965:166, emphasis in original). In English, ‘the subjunctive expresses thought or wish rather than an actual fact’ (Wenham 1965:12). Therefore, the NRSV translation, ‘may not perish’ and the ESV and RSV translations of ‘should not perish’ are both acceptable as translations with the negative.

3. NRSV, ‘may have’ = Greek eche[3] = third person, singular, present, subjunctive verb, of echw. Greek grammarian, A. T. Robertson, stated that the subjunctive mood ‘is the mood of doubt, of hesitation, of proposal, of prohibition, of anticipation, of expectation, of brooding hope, of imperious will’ (1934:928). However Robertson also admits, after his survey of Greek grammarians and their views of the subjunctive, that ‘the grammarians lead us [on] a merry dance with the subjunctive’ (1934:927). Here’s the problem with the NRSV’s translation of the present tense, subjunctive mood:

4. Machen (1923:128, 131), a Greek grammarian, has stated that while aorist and present are the only tenses used with the subjunctive mood, ‘the present subjunctive does not necessarily refer to present time…. [but] refers to it as continuing or as being repeated’. However, when associated with the conjunction, hina, meaning ‘in order that’ (as in John 3:16), ‘ordinarily it is impossible to bring out the difference in an English translation’ (Machen 1923:131). In John 3:16, the literal meaning would be ‘they may have eternal life’, but this is NOT a good translation as it is impossible to translate as such. Therefore, it seems strange that the NRSV has translated as ‘may have eternal life’ instead of the expected ‘have eternal life’. Any translator wanting to convey the continuous action of present tense, surely would not use ‘may have’ as a translation that accurately gives the understanding from the Greek.

5. The meaning of John 3:16 is conveyed later in that same chapter, in John 3:36, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him’ (ESV). In 1 John 5:12, we have a parallel meaning by the same author, John: ‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (ESV).

Conclusion

The main difference in John 3:16b between the NRSV’s translation of the last verb and the other translations cited above, is that the NRSV does not accurately convey the present tense meaning of eche[4], the present subjunctive of the verb.

With the NRSV’s kind of translation, using the subjunctive mood, it indicates that eternal life is not being experienced in a continuous action. It is only potential with the NRSV translation.

This is a serious theological issue. Can Christians experience eternal life as a continuing reality when they experience it in the future? The common teaching of biblical Christianity is that the Christian life is experienced in the NOW and continues through death as it refers to eternal life that never ends (unless there is apostasy) – but that’s another topic. For discussion of that latter topic, see my article, ‘Once saved, always saved or once saved, lost again: An exposition of Hebrews 6:4-8‘.

Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research

Logos Bible Software

References

Machen, J G 1923. New Testament Greek for beginners. Toronto, Ontario: The Macmillan Company.

Robertson, A T 1934. A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Wenham, J W 1965. The elements of New Testament Greek. London: Cambridge University Press.

Notes:


[1] This ‘e’ is the transliteration of the Greek letter of the alphabet, eta. Since this html page will not accept the usual transliteration of eta, I have resorted to the use of e, which is the normal transliteration of the Greek letter epsilon.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. However, eche has the iota subscript to go with the eta. Therefore the parsing is third person, singular, present subjunctive.

[4] Ibid.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 February 2017.

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An explanation of the ESV translation of 2 Corinthians 12:16

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

ESV Global Study Bible

(image courtesy Crossway Bibles)

By Spencer D Gear

Verses in the OT and NT cannot be translated in isolation from the context if we are to gain the correct meaning of a verse. After all, verse numbering came as later additions to the Scriptures. They were not there in the originals.

How is it possible to justify these words in the ESV translation of this verse, ‘I was crafty, you say’, when ‘you say’ does not appear in the original Greek?

I had some back and forth with a person on Christian Forums who did not like the ESV translation of 2 Cor. 12:16.

This person stated, ‘I do not accept Paul nor his writings’.[1] Part of my response to him was, ‘How come you are able to excise Paul’s writings from the NT? What gives you that authority? How do you know about justification by faith without Paul’s teaching in his epistles?’[2] Part of his response was, ‘I don’t believe that we are justified by faith alone. Brother, have you considered that the rest of Scripture points to justification by trust, repentance, and obedience, and not simply faith alone?’[3]

My response was:

We do not have the responsibility to test what is in the Scriptures. By the way, Deut 13:1-5 applied to the theocratic nation of Israel as v. 5 makes clear: ‘…. your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery’ (ESV).

And what was the penalty for a false prophet for Israel? Deut. 13:5 says that prophet “shall be put to death”. Are you advocating that false prophets in this NT era should be put to death?

By the way, what makes Paul a false prophet so that you cut out his writings from the NT?

With respect, you have stated that we are justified by trust, repentance and obedience. I note that you gave me not one reference so that I could check you out. By the way, trust is associated with faith.[4]

As the conversation progressed, he stated:

I cannot follow a man who admitted that he engaged in deception in his ministry:
2 Cor 12:16 Greek text – But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with dolos/deception/guile. (cf 1Cor 9:19-23)[5]

Part of my response was:

Why do you twist what 2 Cor 12:16 in context states:

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not bound to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? (2 Cor. 12:14-16 ESV)

Literally, it says, ‘being crafty with guile you’. The Corinthians were saying Paul was crafty and with guile. That was not Paul speaking.[6]

His challenge to this understanding was:

Sorry, but actually the ESV is twisting that verse here. There is absolutely no “you say” found in the Greek. The ESV translators added that, perhaps to save Paul.[7]

Is this person correct? Is the ESV twisting the meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:16? The following is an attempted explanation

Three English translations & the Greek version of 2 Cor. 12:16

blue-satin-arrow-small The English Standard Version, using formal equivalence translation methodology, reads, ‘But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit’ (2 Cor. 12:16 ESV).

blue-satin-arrow-small The New Living Translation, using dynamic equivalence as a translation methodology, reads, ‘Some of you admit I was not a burden to you. But others still think I was sneaky and took advantage of you by trickery’ (2 Cor. 12:16 NLT).

blue-satin-arrow-small The New International Version, using dynamic equivalence, reads: ‘Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery!’ (2 Cor. 12:16 NIV).

blue-satin-arrow-smallHow is it possible to justify any of these translations from the Greek of 2 Cor. 12:16 (Westcott & Hort Greek text)?

To obtain an understanding of how the

  • ESV translates as, ‘I was crafty, you say’;
  • NLT translates as, ‘But others still think I was sneaky’;
  • NIV translation, ‘Yet, crafty fellow that I am’,

we turn to Simon Kistemaker’s explanation of the context.

Simon J. Kistemaker’s commentary on 2 Cor. 12:16[8]

2 Corinthians

Courtesy Best Commentaries

e.  Scurrilous Slander (12:16-18)

‘We surmise that Paul has received an oral report from a person who has recently come from Corinth and has informed the apostle about comments made by his adversaries in the church. Paul has now come to the point of directing a few remarks to the people who are slandering him in his absence.

16. Very well! [You say] that I have not been a burden to you. But [you say] I, as a crafty fellow, took you in by deceit.

‘Gentleness has now changed to candor. The apostle must address slander that can be counteracted only by confrontation. He alludes to the words spoken by his opponents and which are believed by some members of the church. He realizes that slander can change the relationship between him and the Corinthian church. Therefore, he must deal forthrightly with this evil and eradicate it.

‘Paul knows that an unwholesome sentiment exists in the church. He himself has received no money at all from the Corinthians, and they admit that he has not been a financial burden to them. And that is to his credit. Thus he writes the first words, “Very well!”

‘The next comment, introduced by the adversative but, exposes the sting of slander. The saying that Paul cannot be trusted has been circulating openly in Corinth. The background is that Paul, who refused to accept money for his services, has sent Titus to them with a request for a collection. The slanderers spread the rumor that under the guise of helping the poverty-stricken saints in Jerusalem, Paul and Titus are working to fill their own pockets. These doubters suspect that the money will not go to the poor but will remain with the apostle.

‘Paul uses the Greek term panourgos, which I have translated “crafty fellow.” It conveys the idea of a person who is “ready to do anything” to achieve his purpose.[9] This odious expression originates not with Paul but with his opponents. They use a word that is a cognate of the one the apostle writes to describe the “craftiness” of the serpent deceiving Eve (11:3). Further, they accuse Paul of deceitfully taking in Corinthians who have put their trust in him.

17. Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent to you?…’

Notes:


[1] Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, Bibliology & Hermeneutics, ‘Anyone else here reads from the American Standard Version?’, netzarim (non-Pauline Messianic) #7, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7691817/ (Accessed 7 October 2012).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen #8.

[3] Ibid., netzarim #9.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen #10.

[5] Ibid., netzarim #36.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen #37.

[7] Ibid., netzarim #38.

[8] Simon J Kistemaker 1997. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, pp. 430-431.

[9] The footnote at this point was Bauer, p. 608 (Kistemaker 1997:431, n. 64). This is a reference to the Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich Greek lexicon. In my edition of BAG, it is on p. 613 [William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House)]. Arndt & Gingrich’s actual words for the translation of panourgos were ‘in our lit. never without an unfavorable connotation clever, crafty, sly lit. “ready to do anything” (1957:613).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 20 May 2016.

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John 3:16 and ‘only begotten’

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Ticket to Heaven

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

It is not unusual for those who support the KJV translation of the Bible to oppose some of the more modern translations. I encountered this in an objection to the NIV, “one and only Son” instead of “only begotten Son” in John 3:16. In a post of Christian Forums, there was this comment:

Oh, and look at the famous John 3:16 verse from the NIV Version: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. NIV removed the word “begotten”….[1]

Begotten is used because it implies Jesus Christ is fully man as well as fully God. He is the literal only begotten of God.

As far as these other irrelevant arguments involving original greek, that’s useless. If you are an average Bible reader, you will not have original script to compare translations. That is essentially the Bible’s printer’s job. An average Bible reader should have a completely fufilling Bible without need for a study guide or accompanying texts. The King James Version of the Bible being the best translation.[2]

[3]The issue in John 3:16 is over the translation of the Greek word, monogenes,[4] which the KJV translates as “only begotten” and the NIV translates as “one and only”. What is the meaning of this Greek word? It is derived from ginomai (I come to be, become, originate – Arndt & Gingrich) and NOT gennaw (I beget – Arndt & Gingrich). So, monogenes is not connected with begetting.

The Greek word means nothing more than “only” or “unique”. It is used of the widow of Nain’s “only” son (Luke 7:12, cf. Luke 9:38); Jairus’s “only” daughter (Luke 8:42). What is particularly instructive is that the word is used in referring to Isaac (Heb. 11:17), because Isaac was not Abraham’s only son, but he was “unique”. He was God’s promised son to Abraham.

So when monogenes is used in John 3:16, it is indicating that Jesus is God’s Son in a unique way. There is no other son who can be God’s Son like Jesus is in this unique way. There is a unique relationship between the Father and the Son, which is one of the special themes of John’s Gospel.

Therefore, the song and dance that has been made in this thread about “only begotten” of the KJV being “one and only” in the NIV is a non-issue. Because the word monogenes is NOT derived from begetting but is referring to the only, unique Son. Therefore, the NIV translation is a good one. In fact, when one understands the etymology of monogenes, the KJV translation gives a meaning that is not based on the origin of the word, monogenes. The etymology of a word is important.

So whether in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, German or Icelandic, the issue in translating monogenes is: How do we best translate it to mean only or unique?

Somebody came back to me with this response:

Monogenes is a two part word in which mono means ‘only’ or ‘one’ and genes means ‘begotten’, ‘born’, ‘come forth’.
Buchsel, in his definitive treastise on the meaning of the word ‘monogenes‘ said:
It means only-begotten (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. iv, p. 739).[5]

[6]It is too bad that you didn’t read on further to p. 741 of Buchsel’s Greek exposition of monogenes in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 4 (Eerdmans 1967) where Buchsel’s word study is not as assured as you are making it out to be. He wrote:

“It is not wholly clear whether monogenes in John denotes also the birth or begetting from God; it probably does, John calls Jesus ho gennetheis ek tou theou [the one born of God], 1 John 5:18. Though many will not accept this, he here understands the concept of sonship in terms of begetting. For him to be the Son of God is not just to be the recipient of God’s love. It is to be begotten of God. This is true both of believers and also of Jesus.[7] For this reason monogenes probably includes also begetting of God (p. 741).

In his footnote at this point, he states,

One should not refer the monogenes to the virgin birth of Jesus…, for the pre-existent as well as the historical Jesus is the son of God (p. 741, n 20).

While Buchel does prefer the translation of monogenes as referring to the begetting from God, he tempers it with, “It is not wholly clear”.

Arndt & Gingrich in their Greek lexicon also are not as sure as you want it to be. They state that the meaning of monogenes is of an only son or daughter (Heb 11:17; Luke 8:42) – also unique in kind.

“In the Johannine literature monogenes is used only of Jesus. The meanings only, unique may be quite adequate for all its occurrences here…. But some … prefer to regard monogenes as somewhat heightened in meaning in John and 1 John to only-begotten or begotten of the Only One, in view of the emphasis on gennasthai ek theou [born of God] (John 1:13 etc)” (p. 529).

On the basis of the study of these Greek exegetes, it is NOT definitive that monogenes should be translated as “only begotten” and for someone to say that the NIV’s translation of “one and only” Son in John 3:16 is wrong, does not line up with what the exegetes are concluding.

If Buchel can conclude that it is “not wholly clear” and Arndt & Gingrich say that in the Johannine writings, the meanings of “only, unique may be quite adequate for all its occurrences here”, but “some prefer” the “somewhat heightened” meaning in John’s writings of “only-begotten or begotten of the Only One”, indicate that those intensely involved in Greek exegesis are not absolutely convinced that the one and only meaning of monogenes in John 3:16 is “only begotten”.

Notes:


[1] Christian Forums, Christian Communities, Baptists, ‘The New International Version (NIV) Bible completely removes the word Godhead’, Proverb2717 #1, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7669527/ (Accessed 8 July 2012).

[2] Proverbs2717#7, ibid.

[3] This is my response as OzSpen, ibid., #77.

[4] Most of this information was gleaned from Leon Morris’s commentary: Leon Morris 1971. The Gospel according to John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., p. 105. Morris in his comments on John 3:16 (1971:230) referred back to this explanation of monogenes in John 1:14.

[5] Christian Forums, Limikin#84, ibid.

[6] The following is my, OzSpen, response at #85, ibid.

[7] My emphasis in bold.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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The Greek Text, the KJV, and English translations

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

                               

Alexandrian text-type (image courtesy Wikipedia) King James (Authorised) Version, (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

A fellow wrote on an Internet forum, ‘If your bible is not translated from the Textus Receptus, then you have only and imitation bible, not authentic’.[1] This was the response:

I’m not sure you know what the TR [Textus Receptus] even is.

The term “Textus Receptus” is mostly an anachronism. A term applied to a textual lineage that influenced the translations of the Reformation and post-Reformation period during the 16th and 17th centuries.

But there did not exist a “Textus Receptus” as a singular, uniform textual edition until later. Rather, the TR is a composite of numerous critical editions of the Greek New Testament that includes several editions from Erasmus alone, in addition to critical editions produced by Stephanus and Beza. None of these critical editions agreed entirely with one another, and even throughout Erasmus’ scholarly career his critical edition went through numerous edits and changes.

The Authorized Version of King James I of England was a translation from these many Greek texts, with the various scholars working and choosing which variants were preferable and in some cases lifting entire portions piecemeal from previous English translations such as Tyndale’s Version. Beyond these, the translators relied upon traditional readings taken from the Vulgate (such can be seen in the KJV translation of Isaiah 14:12 which retains the Vulgate’s “lucifer”). Even after the 1611 edition, it went through numerous re-edits until the situation with the Authorized Version had become a total mess, and a standardized text was put forth in 1769, which is the “King James Version” we all know today.

Why should we limit translations to an arbitrary set of competing and conflicting–and outdated–critical editions of the Greek text (i.e. the Textus Receptus) when we have a far larger library of textual manuscripts available, far superior critical editions at our disposal, and nearly five hundred years of adept scholarship at our collective fingertips in order to present far superior translations of Holy Scripture for our benefit and edification?[2]

Bruce Metzger’s assessment of Greek New Testaments

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

[3]I recommend one of the outstanding textual critics of the 20th century, the late Dr. Bruce Metzger. In The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (Metzger 1992), you will learn:

1. ‘In 1514 the first printed Greek New Testament came from the press, as part of the Polyglot Bible’ (1992:96);

2. ‘Though the Complutensian text was the first Greek New Testament to be printed, the first Greek New Testament to be published (that is, put on the market) was the edition prepared by the famous Dutch scholar and humanist Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469-1536). It cannot be determined exactly when Erasmus first decided to prepare an edition of the Greek Testament, but on a visit to Basle in August 1514 he discussed (probably not for the first time) the possibility of such a volume with the well-known publisher Johann Froben…. The printing began on 2 October 1515, and in a remarkably short time (1 March 1516) the entire edition was finished, a large folio volume of about 1,000 pages which, as Erasmus himself declared later, was “precipitated rather than edited” (praecipitatum verius quam editum). Owing to the haste in production, the volume contains hundreds of typographical errors; in fact, Scrivener once declared, “[It] is in that respect the most faulty book I know.’ (1992:98, 99).

3. ‘Here and there in Erasmus’ self-made Greek text are readings which have never been found in any known Greek manuscript–but which are still perpetuated today in printings of the so-called Textus Receptus of the Greek New Testament. Even in parts of the New Testament Erasmus occasionally introduced into his Greek text material taken from the Latin Vulgate. Thus in Acts ix. 6…. This … became part of the Textus Receptus, from which the King James version was made in 1611′ (1992:100).

4. ‘The second edition [of Erasmus’ Greek text] became the basis of Luther’s German translation…. It has often been debated how far Luther’s translation rests on the Greek text’ (1991:100; 100 n. 2).

5. ‘Subsequently Erasmus issued a fourth and definitive edition (1527), which contains the text of the New Testament in three parallel columns, the Greek, the Latin Vulgate, and Erasmus’ own Latin version’ (1992:102).

6. ‘Thus the text of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament rests upon a half dozen minuscule [i.e. running writing] manuscripts’ (1992:102).

7. ‘Subsequent editors, though making a number of alterations in Erasmus’ text, essentially reproduced this debased form of the Greek Testament. Having secured an undeserved pre-eminence, what came to be called the Textus Receptus of the New Testament resisted for 400 years all scholarly efforts to displace it in favour of an earlier and more accurate text’ (1992:103).

8. “The first edition of the whole Bible in Greek was published in three parts in February 1518 at Venice by the celebrated Aldine press. The New Testament, which is dedicated to Erasmus, follows the first edition of Erasmus so closely as to reproduce many typographical errors–even those which Erasmus had corrected in the list of errata’ (1992:103).

9. ‘Theodore de Beze (Beza, 1519-1605), a friend and successor of Calvin at Geneva and an eminent classical and Biblical scholar, published no fewer than nine editions of the Greek Testament between 1565 and 1604, and a tenth edition appeared posthumously in 1611….The importance of Beza’s work lies in the extent to which his editions tended to popularize and to stereotype the Textus Receptus. The King James translators of 1611 made large use of Beza’s editions of 1588-9 and 1698’ (1992:105).

10. ‘The next stage in the history of New Testament textual criticism is characterized by assiduous efforts to assemble variant readings from Greek manuscripts, versions, and Fathers. For almost two centuries scholars ransacked libraries and museums, in Europe as well as the Near East, for witnesses to the text of the New Testament. But almost all of the editors of the New Testament during this period were content to reprint the time-honoured but corrupt Textus Receptus, relegating the evidence for the earlier readings to the apparatus. An occasional brave soul who ventured to print a different form of Greek text was either condemned or ignored’ (1992:106).

Is the New Living Translation a paraphrase or dynamic equivalence?

A fellow on the Forum wrote: ‘the NLT is a paraphrase’.[4] I had stated that the NIV and NLT used dynamic equivalence. To check out which philosophy of translation the NLT uses, I looked up my hard copy of the NLT and the NLT website. This is what I found:

(image courtesy NLT)

INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW LIVING TRANSLATION

Translation Philosophy and Methodology

English Bible translations tend to be governed by one of two general translation theories. The first theory has been called “formal-equivalence,” “literal,” or “word-for-word” translation. According to this theory, the translator attempts to render each word of the original language into English and seeks to preserve the original syntax and sentence structure as much as possible in translation. The second theory has been called “dynamic-equivalence,” “functional-equivalence,” or “thought-for-thought” translation. The goal of this translation theory is to produce in English the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original-language text, both in meaning and in style.

Both of these translation theories have their strengths. A formal-equivalence translation preserves aspects of the original text—including ancient idioms, term consistency, and original-language syntax—that are valuable for scholars and professional study. It allows a reader to trace formal elements of the original-language text through the English translation. A dynamic-equivalence translation, on the other hand, focuses on translating the message of the original-language text. It ensures that the meaning of the text is readily apparent to the contemporary reader. This allows the message to come through with immediacy, without requiring the reader to struggle with foreign idioms and awkward syntax. It also facilitates serious study of the text’s message and clarity in both devotional and public reading.

The pure application of either of these translation philosophies would create translations at opposite ends of the translation spectrum. But in reality, all translations contain a mixture of these two philosophies. A purely formal-equivalence translation would be unintelligible in English, and a purely dynamic-equivalence translation would risk being unfaithful to the original. That is why translations shaped by dynamic-equivalence theory are usually quite literal when the original text is relatively clear, and the translations shaped by formal-equivalence theory are sometimes quite dynamic when the original text is obscure.

The translators of the New Living Translation set out to render the message of the original texts of Scripture into clear, contemporary English. As they did so, they kept the concerns of both formal-equivalence and dynamic-equivalence in mind. On the one hand, they translated as simply and literally as possible when that approach yielded an accurate, clear, and natural English text. Many words and phrases were rendered literally and consistently into English, preserving essential literary and rhetorical devices, ancient metaphors, and word choices that give structure to the text and provide echoes of meaning from one passage to the next.

On the other hand, the translators rendered the message more dynamically when the literal rendering was hard to understand, was misleading, or yielded archaic or foreign wording. They clarified difficult metaphors and terms to aid in the reader’s understanding. The translators first struggled with the meaning of the words and phrases in the ancient context; then they rendered the message into clear, natural English. Their goal was to be both faithful to the ancient texts and eminently readable. The result is a translation that is both exegetically accurate and idiomatically powerful.[5]

What is dynamic equivalence?

Wycliffe Bible Translators (and SIL) are experts in translating the Bible into languages for which there has been no Bible in print. These are their definitions of ‘formal equivalence’ and ‘dynamic equivalence’ for translations.

It was linguist, Dr. Eugene Nida, who introduced the concept of dynamic equivalence. Wycliffe Bible Translators website explains:

Throughout his travels as a consultant, Dr. Nida urged translators to learn the culture as well as the language of the people they served. He was also concerned that they understand the culture of the Bible so they could translate the meaning of the text from one culture to another, rather than attempt a literal word-for-word translation. This led him to write several landmark books on what is now termed “functional equivalence” or “dynamic equivalence.” While there is debate about “literal” versus “functional equivalence” translation methods, there is little doubt that Nida’s influence has allowed millions of people around the world to read the Word of God in a language that speaks to their hearts.[6]

Nida explained the meaning of ‘dynamic equivalence’:

In such a translation one is not so concerned with matching the receptor-language message with the source-language message, but with the dynamic relationship…, that the relationship between receptor and message should be substantially the same as that which existed between the original receptors and the message.

A translation of dynamic equivalence aims at complete naturalness of expression, and tries to relate the receptor to modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture; it does not insist that he understand the cultural patterns of the source-language context in order to comprehend the message. (Nida 1964:159)

Stated as a kind of formula, we may say that for the type of message contained in the New Testament, we are concerned with a relationship such as can be expressed in the following equation:

clip_image002

That is to say, the receptor in the circle culture should be able, within his own culture, to respond to the message as given in his language, in substantially the same manner as the receptor in the triangle culture responded, within the context of his own culture, to the message as communicated to him in his own language. (Nida 1964:148-149)[7]

For an exposé on dynamic equivalence, see the article by Robert L. Thomas, ‘Dynamic equivalence: A method of translation or a system of hermeneutics’. See also D A Carson, ‘The limits of dynamic equivalence in Bible translation’.

Conclusion

The Erasmus Greek text that became the Textus Receptus and had so much influence on the text used for the translation of the KJV New Testament is based on a ‘debased form of the Greek Testament’ (Metzger’s words).

Better Greek manuscripts are available in the twenty-first century and most of the new translations are based on these texts. The Greek text gathered by Erasmus that became the Textus Receptus is not the most reliable Greek text available for NT translation. The manuscripts found since the time of Erasmus and the eclectic Greek text of Nestle-Aland 26, which is used in the United Bible Societies Greek NT (edition 27 is now available), provide a more reliable Greek text from which to translate. The latter Greek text is used in such English Bible translations as the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NET, NIV, NASB and NLT.

However, there is no point in trying to convince a dogmatic KJV-only supporter of these details.

Works consulted

Metzger, B 1992. The text of the New Testament: Its transmission, corruption and restoration. New York / Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nida, E A 1964. Toward a science of translating. Leiden: E J Brill.

Notes:


[1] Christian 12#93, Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, ‘King James Version why the best?’, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7656653-9/ (Accessed 21 July 2012).

[2] Ibid, CryptoLutheran#106.

[3] I posted this in ibid., OzSpen#127.

[4] Ibid., Michaelrh1325#126. Part of my response to him was that he needed to know what he was talking about.

[5] New Living Translation website, available at: http://www.newlivingtranslation.com/05discoverthenlt/nltintro.asp (Accessed 21 July 2012).

[6] ‘Eugene Nida’, Wycliffe, available at: http://www.wycliffe.org/Go/careers/typesofwork/languagework/translation.aspx?CaseStudyId=94&ModuleID=831&printerfriendly=yes (Accessed 21 July 2012).

[7] Glenn J. Kerr 2011. Dynamic equivalence and its daughters: Placing Bible translation theories in their historical context. Journal of Translation 7(1). SIL. Available at: http://www.sil.org/system/files/reapdata/77/94/02/77940241319795795123525485356849279212/siljot2011_1_01.pdf (Accessed 1 June 2016).

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 June 2016.

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The meaning of Revelation 22:18-19

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Laodicea

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

It is a common ploy to make these two verses apply to the entire Bible. Here is an example that I met on Christian Forums:

All the newer bibles are garbage that have been changed by Satans children to subtlety change Gods messages , not unlike what Satan did in the garden of Eden when speaking with eve[1]…. I have only spoken the truth showing thru scripture what happens when one changes the word of God, I would think one would be able to make an informed view that the newer bibles are in direct conflict with Gods warning in revelation 22 [verse 19][2]…. He changed Gods word and for this his name was taken away from the bible just as God promised in revelation 22:19.[3]

Revelation 22:18-19 states:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (ESV).

It speaks of “the book of this prophecy”. Which prophecy? The Book of Revelation.

We know this because the Book of Revelation was a prophecy given by “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (Rev. 1:4). What was to be done with this prophetic Book of Revelation when it was first written?

“Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Rev. 1:11 ESV).

So this Book of Revelation (not the entire NT) – only this one book – was sent to the 7 churches of Asia [we now know that these churches are in what we call Asia Minor]. So, what was written in Rev. 22:19, if it were to have any meaning to the people in the 7 churches of Asia Minor COULD NOT have been referring to the entire Bible as it is one book, the Book of Revelation, that was in “the words of the prophecy of this book” and “in a book” and this one book was sent. It would have been strange to have the warning of Revelation 22:18-19 to apply to the whole of the OT and the NT for the “seven churches” of Asia Minor when only one book was sent to them to hear.

Therefore, the only meaning of this warning is to the prophecy of the Book of Revelation. The seven churches of Asia would know that, but people in the twenty-first century want to change that to give it a meaning that was not possible for the churches of Asia Minor to have understood.

Why don’t these people understand the intent of the writing of this book that had only one meaning to the people who first read it in Asia Minor – they had only one book, the Book of Revelation, and the warning against adding to the prophecy of this book could have only one meaning to them? It referred ONLY to the one book they heard or read in Asia Minor– the Book of Revelation.

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Baptists, ‘The New International Version (NIV) Bible completely removes the word ‘Godhead’, Azadok2day#22, 5 July 2012. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7669527-3/ (Accessed 7 July 2012).

[2] Ibid., #49, 6 July 2012.

[3] Ibid., #53, 6 July 2012.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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Is the New Living Translation gender-inclusive in its translation?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Tyndale House Publishers

By Spencer D Gear

Gender-inclusive language is where there is an attempt not to be specific about gender, whether male or female. It is meant to have a neutral meaning. This is found in certain more recent Bible translations. Consider James 1:2:

KJV: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

NKJV: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials;

NASB: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials;

ESV: Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds.

[the footnote for the ESV,[a] , states: “James 1:2 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 16, 19″]’

NRSV: My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy;

NIV (1984): Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds;

NIV (2011): Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds [The footnote, [a] , states:”James 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 16 and 19; and in 2:1, 5, 14; 3:10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19];

NLT:: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

Of all of these translations, only the NRSV, NIV (2011) and NLT are gender neutral, by translating the Greek, adelphoi, as “brothers and sisters”. This is the meaning in Greek when it is referring to siblings (brothers and sisters) in the body of Christ. Why don’t you trace the use of the Greek, adelphos (nominative case, singular) and anthropos (nominative case, singular in the NT Greek? Do you have access to an interlinear NT (English translation under the Greek) where you could do that?

Differences with translations of gender

Notice the difference between the use of the Greek, anthropos [man, mankind, people) in the ESV versus the NLT:

James 1:12 ESV: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 NLT: God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

The NLT is accurately gender-inclusive in its translation in certain areas. This is what the “Introduction to the New Living Translation” states:

Gender-Inclusive Language
The English language changes constantly.  An obvious recent change is in the area of gender-inclusive language.  This creates problems for modern translators of the ancient biblical text, which was originally written in a male oriented culture.  The translator must respect the nature of the ancient context while also accounting for the concerns of the modern audience.  Often the original language itself allows a rendering that is gender inclusive.  For example, the Greek word anthropos, traditionally rendered “man,” really means “human being” or “person.”  A different Greek word, aner, specifically means a male.”

There are other occasions where the original language is male-oriented, but not intentionally so.  For example, in the Pentateuch most of the laws are stated in language that is replete with masculine pronouns.  But since it is clear in many cases that the recipients of these laws were both male and female, we have used gender-neutral language where appropriate.  Another example is found in the New Testament epistles, where the believers are called “brothers” (adelphoi).  Yet it is clear that these epistles were addressed to all the believers- male and female.  Thus, we have usually translated this Greek word “brothers and sisters” or “Christian friends” in order to represent the historical situation more accurately.

Finally, we have attempted to use a gender-neutral rendering where the text applies generally to human beings or to the human condition.  For example, a traditional rendering of Luke 9:62 reads:  “No man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  We have translated it:  “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”  In many instances we have used plural pronouns (they, them) in place of the gender-specific singular (he, him).  For example, a traditional rendering of Proverbs 22:6 is:  “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  We have rendered it:  “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it (1996. Holy Spirit Encounter Bible, New Living Translation. Orlando, FL: Creation House, p. xlii).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.

The SIL controversy: Are Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL being subversive?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

clip_image002(Images courtesy Wycliffe.org.au)

By Spencer D Gear

In January–February 2012, there was an eruption in certain quarters about the translations of Father, Son and Son of God, that Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) and Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) are using for translations in countries that are mostly Muslim. I was alerted to this issue by a retired pastor friend who sent a group email to others and me  and he stated that this new Bible translation is “ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!” (his emphasis)

He asked who had the right to change a biblical text for political correctness. He gave Revelation 22:18-19 for support (See Appendix A, below, for an interpretation that these verses do not apply to the entire Bible, but only to the Book of Revelation). These verses state:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (ESV).

My pastor friend who wanted to apply these verses to all of Scripture, also used Psalm 12:1, 6-7 to support his claims of what happens when Scripture is changed, as SIL is alleged to be doing. He wanted to challenge SIL and stated that what it was doing was ‘blasphemous’ and he hopes that there is sufficient protest to cause the publishers to cease publication.

Why the kafuffle?

This pastor friend sent me a link to the article by Jihad Watch, 29 January 2012: ‘Report: American Bible translators bowdlerize scriptures to avoid offending Muslims: no “Father” and “Son”‘.

What are the issues? It was over WBT, SIL, and Frontiers for allegedly removing the words, Father, Son and Son of God, and replacing with different words in a translation for the Muslim world. Jihad Watch quoted an article from Yahoo! Contributor Network, ‘“Father” and “Son” ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations‘. This article claimed that

Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.

Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.

The Petition

Based on the reactionary statements by my pastor friend, ‘absolutely shocking’ and ‘blasphemous’, I read no further and proceeded to sign my name to this public petition sponsored by Horizons International, Colorado, USA on its homepage.[1] Based on my further research, I emailed Horizons International and asked them to remove my name and address from the Petition as I am not convinced that the Horizons’ Petition is what I want to support, as I explain below.

Within 24-hours of asking for my name to be removed from the Petition, I have received 4 different email responses from around the world, from those associated with Horizons International and Biblical Missiology, including one from a pastor in the Arabic-speaking world. All of them opposed the WBT and SIL translations regarding God, Son, and Son of God in Muslim countries. These were some of their emphases:

  1. Native believers in Turkey and the Arab world ‘completely disagree’ with the Wycliffe translations.
  2. Former Muslims want the literal translation of Father and Son of God.
  3. ‘Wycliffe consistently refuses to address’ this issue.
  4. The claim that the NT Greek, huios (Son), should not be translated as ibn Allah (son of God), is ‘strange’ and is certainly not based on linguistics.
  5. All Christians want to communicate the clear meaning of the Bible, but what concerns us is the removing the words Son and Father from the biblical text as these are critical words to describe the nature of God and Christ.
  6. There should be no replacement words for Father and Son, such as Messiah, the one and only, the beloved of God, etc., that SIL is using.
  7. ‘The whole plan of salvation is at stake’ with the SIL translations.[2]
  8. God as Father is a most attractive attribute of God for Muslims.
  9. I have evidence of hundreds of Muslims who have become Christians, who have been attracted to the Fatherhood of God, rather than the stern image of Allah from Islam.
  10. The humble God who loves people enough to sacrifice his only Son drew many Muslims to Christ.
  11. One survey of 100 Muslim converts to Christ found that 85% said that the fatherhood of God drew them to Christ.
  12. No commentaries can explain adequately the nature of the Trinity and the Father-Son relationship. The matter is spiritual and has to be revealed to people.[3]
  13. Please don’t deny Muslims the translation of the intimate attributes of God and Jesus.
  14. Please do not be fooled by the words WBT-SIL has claimed.
  15. WBT state they are committed to accuracy, but then they remove Father and Son from the Middle Eastern Bible. This brings confusion. National churches are angry about what WBT are doing.
  16. It is a ‘shame’ that American Christianity is giving up on this doctrine of the Father and the Son.
  17. We, Horizons International/Biblical Missiology, are ‘legitimate’ and have found ‘many unfaithful translations’.[4]
  18. They want the Petition against WBT’s translations of Father and Son to cause WBT to think twice before eliminating Father and Son from translations.
  19. The issues are complex and translations shouldn’t be a commentary. In their view, they consider that Father should still be Father and Son to be Son as all cultures understand the Father-Son relationship.
  20. They can give further explanations in footnotes.
  21. The Pakistan Bible Society has severed relationships with WBT/SIL. The Presbyterian Church of Pakistan has objected to what WBT is doing.
  22. Before SIL makes changes to the current Bible translation it should ‘take into confidence all major Christian denominations and church leaders’.
  23. Church leaders in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey and Malaysia have called for an end to the WBT translations of Father and Son, ‘but to no avail’.
  24. Those who speak Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, Bengali and other majority-Muslim languages reject the Wycliffe rationale for removing and redefining Father, Son, and Son of God.
  25. If the Holy Spirit does not apply the message to the person, passion for lexical work and exegesis will come to naught.[5]
  26. An underlying presupposition in this debate is that the problem with Muslims is ‘informational’, that by ‘massaging’ the message going to them, they will be more ready to come to the Lord. Historically, this involved the great divide between Augustine and Pelagius. This person wanted to place the blame with the assumption that a human being has an ability of choose Christ and correct information will help to guarantee that kind of result.[6]
  27. As for dynamic equivalence vs formal equivalence (literal), that is found in above-ground structures, but the stuff below the ground involves the doctrines of ability or inability (of a person to choose salvation or not to choose salvation in Christ). This person stated that it is always good to examine the foundation.[7]
  28. WBT dismisses the view that the disagreement is based on WBT presuppositions.[8]
  29. I, a person living in the Arabic world, have no problem using Allah for the God of the OT and NT as it is not disputed by Arabic Christians because Allah was used for God before Islam commenced.
  30. There is a long list of Turkish pastors (former Muslims) who have spoken out against the WBT-SIL translation into Turkish. There is no need to change it in 2012.
  31. What do you think Muslims could say when they note that Bible translations Christians have used for centuries with Son of God and Father are suddenly being changed?[9]

There are certainly some valid concerns expressed here

These include:

1. Since God, Son, and Son of God have been used in Arabic and other Middle Eastern translations for centuries, why change to dynamic equivalence now?

2. Since Allah was used for God before the entrance of Islam, it is valid to continue such use in modern translations.

3. The Father and Son relationship in the Trinity and its familial relationship, attract Muslims to Christianity when compared with the strict kind of monotheism of the Allah of Islam.

4. There is a mystery in the nature of the Trinity.

5. The Petition against the WBT-SIL translation of God, Son, and Son of God, has gotten a response from WBT-SIL and they have put a moratorium on all such translations which some linguistic experts examine the issue.

6. How does one determine if a translation is correct or incorrect?

7. Presuppositions are important in any kind of writing or translating.

8. When Christians change translations that are centuries old, Muslims could be suspicious about what they are doing.

In this article, I examine some of these matters.

Here is another opposing article against the WBT position, ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators accused of downgrading Jesus “for Muslim sensitivities”‘, which states: ‘There is absolutely no question of Wycliffe Bible Translators being engaged in some subversive activity to undermine the Christian faith in order to make Scripture somehow more palatable to Muslims’.

Subversive? Questionable, maybe! But this evangelical organisation (Wycliffe/SIL) that works closely with local churches when engaging in Bible translation in a new language group, could not be charged with being subversive as, to my knowledge, they are openly discussing translational issues with local churches. However, where these SIL translators are working is, and should remain, a secret for their own security.

After investigation, my conclusions are that WBT and SIL are not being subversive, undermining the Christian faith and being blasphemous, to make the Bible palatable for Muslims. What then are the issues?

My response

The main issues in this controversy seem to be:

(1) Are Wycliffe and SIL orthodox mission organisations? And

(2) How does a translator communicate the meaning of “son of God” in a new culture, especially a Muslim culture, where “son of God” would have a meaning quite different to what the Greek text states?

(3) Explaining to people in the receptor language that it is not the translation that is inspired of God, but the original documents.

Let’s be fair in our analysis of what is happening, by looking at these three issues:

(1) We know that WBT and SIL are orthodox evangelical organisations and from their statement of belief, they are clearly Trinitarian, stating in, Our Doctrine, that ‘we believe in one God, who exists eternally in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Also, their view of Jesus, the Son, is orthodox as this statement from ‘Our Doctrine’ indicates:

We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, is fully God and fully human; He demonstrated God’s love for sinners by suffering the penalty of death in their place, rose bodily from the dead and ascended to heaven where He intercedes for His people.

(2) When translators translate for a new culture, they want to convey the meaning, say, from the Greek NT to the new culture. This is a translational issue. ‘Son of God’ (huios tou theou) for the Muslims has a different understanding to what I understand, as I have been raised in orthodox, evangelical Christianity.  Since I’m an expository preacher, when a term such as Father, Son or Son of God appears in a text, I expound what it means after I’ve obtained the meaning from my Greek exegesis (grammar) and use of using Arndt & Gingrich Greek lexicon (1957) and the word studies of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols, Kittel & Friedrich 1964-1976), Colin Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 vols, 1975-1978).

Bible translators don’t have the luxury of using more detailed exposition when translating. How do they communicate that message in a translation? Many of them translate meaning-for-meaning as is done in the NIV and NLT (New Living Translation). This type of linguistic translation makes sense to me in a new culture. In fact, I’m finding that new and older Christians love the NLT because it explains the meaning so simply.

I was experiencing this kind of translational problem in writing my PhD dissertation the day prior to writing this article, when I came across the German word, Sachkritik, that was used in an English volume (Thiselton 1980:266). I knew that it meant content-criticism but I was unsure what that meant exactly, so I went searching for its fuller meaning in order to better understand the dimensions of this word’s meaning. I found this, thanks to Tom (N T) Wright’s excellent work on the historical Jesus. Here is what I discovered:

Sachkritik is the criticism of a writer by an interpreter, using the inner logic of the interpreter’s own ideas. Wright (1992:56 n 21) explained that an example would be when Bultmann relativised Romans 9-11 based on the assessment that if Paul had thought through his ideas properly he would not have stated it that way. Others accused Bultmann of not following his own Sachkritik to its logical conclusions by still holding onto belief in the historicity of the cross when Bultmann maintained that most of the Gospels had to be demythologised and could not be trusted. In Sachkritik, the critic understands the thoughts of an author better than the author himself or herself (Wright 1992:101 n 35).

It is obligatory that interpreters of ancient texts allow the texts to speak for themselves, even if the interpreter is in disagreement with the texts’ statements. Sound methodology does not presume that a contemporary writer has a better understanding than the ancient author or another contemporary author, on what that author wanted to state.

Now, try putting that information into a small sentence to communicate with the people in the pew in Australia! It would be difficult enough for Aussies. Imagine how to do that for people in Syria or Rwanda. Because I read and have taught NT Greek, I know the difficulties of translating from one language to another.

I think that this is the kind of issue that SIL translators run into when trying to translate the Greek NT into a native language, wherever that might be in the world. How would I explain to an English speaker the meaning of Sachkritik with the simple translation of “content-criticism”. That’s not good enough in explaining what it really means. A simple explanation could be something like, “imposing the interpreter’s ideas on the text”. Since I’m examining J. D. Crossan’s historical Jesus in my dissertation, this is exactly what he does in rejecting physical miracles in the Gospels. He claimed that ‘miracles are not changes in the physical world so much as changes in the social world, and it is society that dictates, in any case, how we see, use, and explain that physical world’ (1994:82).

He’s saying that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could not get it correct, but he can in his late twentieth-century publications by imposing his postmodern interpretation on the text.

(3) In considering the issue of dynamic equivalence translations of Father, Son, and Son of God, especially when sharing Christ with groups such as Muslims, I’m of the view that this issue of accuracy of meaning relates to what exactly is the meaning of ‘all Scripture’ in the verse, ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV). In context, ‘all Scripture’ here refers to the OT, as the NT had not yet been compiled.

Is it a translation that is “breathed out by God” or is it the original biblical writing? Too many preachers and Christians make it refer to translations when in reality, only the original documents (known as the autographa), whether in Hebrew or Greek, are God-breathed. (See Greg Bahnsen’s article, ‘The inerrancy of the autographa’.)

It is not in any translation, but it is in the original Greek of the NT and the Hebrew of the OT, from which there are translational issues in whatever language one uses. We should not have to argue that a translation is the inerrant Scripture that is ‘breathed out by God’. It is not.

A brother in Christ who is in an Arabic-speaking nation witnessing to Muslims shared with me what is happening to him when he is witnessing for Christ on the streets with Muslims. He is concerned when Muslims compare translation with translation of the Bible in Arabic and say to him that the ‘the Bible is corrupted’. They use the SIL change of Father, Son, and Son of God to demonstrate to him that the Bible has changed and they have proof.  My brother in Christ said that these Muslims are correct when they compare a literal Arabic translation with a dynamic equivalence translation. They see two different meanings for a word or concept.

He wrote of a situation where he was in a situation among a group of Muslims and was trying to defend the Scriptures when the Muslims claimed a ‘corrupted’ Bible comparing literal versus dynamic equivalence Arabic translations. The Muslims were showing him verses from another translation that contradicted what he was preaching. He concluded that the Muslims were correct because Western translators had changed the scriptures in a well-meaning attempt to contextualise. His conclusion was that these translators had sinned against Muslims by damaging the reputation of the Word of God and that they should be ashamed for doing it.

But wait a minute! Is this brother being accurate with what he is saying to the Muslims about different Arabic translations? I don’t think he is, as the objections by the Muslims should lead to a discussion about translational models, especially dynamic equivalence and formal (literal) equivalence. Also, as I’ve indicated above, it is not the translation that is ‘breathed out by God’. That only applies to the original documents.

As an example, I face a similar problem with the New International Version’s translation of the Greek, hilasmos, in places like 1 John 2:2; 4:10, as ‘atoning sacrifice’ for our sins, when I understand that it means ‘propitiation’ (see ESV). The New Living Translation uses “the sacrifice that atones“, but this is inadequate if it means ‘appeasing the wrath of God’.[10] In commenting on 1 John 2:2 and noting the different translations of hilasmos as ‘propitiation’ (KJV, NKJV, RV, ASV, NASB, Moffatt), ‘expiation’ (RSV[11]), ‘atoning sacrifice’ (MLB, NIV), and ‘remedy for the defilement of our sins’ (NEB), Simon Kistemaker (1986:252-255) notes that

God initiated his love to a sinful world by giving his Son to cover sin and remove guilt…. With his atoning sacrifice, Christ removes sin and guilt…. Hilasmos … describes an action performed by Jesus Christ that appeases God the Father. A noun with a –mos ending denotes action; a noun with a –ma ending indicates the result of that action.

However, another evangelical, exegetical commentators, such as R. C. H. Lenski (1966:399-401), prefer the translation of ‘expiation’ to ‘propitiation’, particularly when compared with the only other NT appearance is in 1 John 4:10.[12] The Link & Brown (1978:162-163) word study states that

words of the hilaskomai word-ground fit in naturally with the terminology of blood, cleansing, and sin (1 Jn. 1:7ff) and come naturally to anyone familiar with this area of the thought-world of the LXX…. Atonement is not regarded as something that man does to God, but rather as the expression of God’s love to men (1 Jn. 4:10).

So, it is not clear whether an expiation or propitiation meaning should be used in 1 John 2:2; 4:10. If I were preaching on this, I would give the issues for either translation and if I were uncertain (as I now am) I would tell the people this conclusion.

I am of the view that the fuller explanation of what the word means should not be left to translators, as they require the use of minimal words. It should be done by biblical expositors (preachers) of whom there are not many in my part of the world. I find few pastors locally who have a fair understanding of NT Greek or OT Hebrew. My local pastor does know his Greek reasonably well.

From this brother in a Arabic-speaking country who is witnessing for Christ to Muslims who are saying that “the Bible is corrupted”, I am persuaded that any pastor, evangelist or translator must get back to saying something like, ‘It is the Bible in the original documents that is inspired Scripture and not any Arabic/English translation. Let’s see what that word means in the Hebrew or Greek’. However, when on the streets it is not possible to engage in the kind of discussion needed to understand the nuances of a Greek or Hebrew word.

Equivalence translations

I’ve given this extensive explanation as it is what I’ve been working on in my dissertation and it is relevant to the Wycliffe and SIL controversy. I have deep sympathies for what the SIL translators want to do to convey accurate meaning in the Muslim world. A word-for-word translation of, for example, “Son of God”, doesn’t communicate the meaning of the Greek text to Muslims. By using a different kind of translation to convey this meaning, is not engaging in compromise, but is engaging in necessary dynamic equivalence translation principles. A more literal, word-for-word, translation is known as formal equivalence.

The Simply Bible website explains dynamic equivalence:

Translation is not accomplished by merely substituting words in a word-for-word equivalence. More often than not, this will not produce the force (or dynamic) of meaning. The translator will therefore modify the form of words so as to achieve the same force of meaning. The jargon for “the same force of meaning” is “dynamic equivalence”.

Strict formal equivalence means

translates word-by-word, matching each Hebrew or Greek word with one or more English words. Strict formal equivalence would produce very difficult English.

For an explanation of the differences between formal and dynamic equivalence, see the article by Vanessa Leonardi.

This is how a literal, Greek-to-English translation of John 3:16 reads in English, “Thus for he loved the God the world so that the son the only begotten he gave that all the believing into him not he/she may not perish but he may have life eternal”. That is word-for-word and in English that would not be acceptable as a translation. It does not make grammatical sense in my native language of English.

This is how the dynamic equivalence of the New International Version translates it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This is how the dynamic equivalence of the New Living Translation translates it: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Even though these two translations do not give literal word-for-word as I gave with my unintelligible literal translation from Greek to English of John 3:16, the NIV and NLT do not violate translational, linguistic requirements for a meaning-for-meaning translation. Surely you want your Egyptian people to understand the meaning of the OT and NT. Dynamic equivalence is a linguistic valid means of accomplishing that. I do it when I preach an expository sermon. Why should not an Arabic translation allow dynamic equivalence. Do you object to dynamic equivalence? If so, I’d be pleased if you would tell me why dynamic equivalence, as opposed to formal equivalence, is not a valid means of translating from one language to another.

Some further aspects to consider

A person who is opposed to the Wycliffe, SIL, Frontiers translation, wrote to me, ‘Are you really of the opinion that “khalifatullah” (caliph of God) is an acceptable translation of “Son of God” in Arabic? Isn’t that worthy of protest?’

My response was “Yes” and “No”. I also shared the following, which are some further things I keep in mind:

1. SIL has suspended printing the very few translations with controversial renderings while the dialogue progresses with competent and responsible translation consultants and biblical scholars. That seems to show integrity and wisdom on behalf of Wycliffe, SIL and Frontiers.

2. I read, translate and have taught NT Greek. I know from practical translation experience that strict agreement in the receptor language (RL) of every occurrence of the same term in the source language (SL) has been repeatedly shown to be problematic and could introduce zero meaning, or wrong meaning (error). Even the KJV didn’t do it, often translating the Hebrew “sons of Israel” as “children of Israel” (about 140 times) because the translators knew the term in certain passages referred to the collective group, and not just the males.

3. Think of translations that always translate the highly diverse meanings of the Greek, sarx as “flesh”, even in passages where it means “humanity” in some contexts, or “human nature” in others. An example would be, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6 ESV). The New Living Translation has correctly translated the meaning as, “All people will see the salvation sent from God”. This kind of translational difficulty has proven to be confusing to today’s generation that was not raised in the church to learn this highly artificial sense of English “flesh”—which, if we are honest, does not have the same extended or figurative senses that the Greek has.

4. “Kingdom of God” is another term that highlights different aspects of the kingdom in different contexts. Sometimes the focus is on God’s ultimate sovereignty, or on God’s people on earth, or on God’s authority on earth, or on God’s influence, or on God’s salvation for His people, etc. I once read some research that there were over 30 senses of understanding the phrase “kingdom of God”. All you need to do is read the Greek word studies of basileia (kingdom) in Colin Brown’s (ed) New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology[13] to understand the diversity of meaning of “king” and “kingdom”. What do we do in languages where the people have no kings or kingdoms? Always using a single rendering for the “kingdom of God” in all contexts can skew the focus and obscure the point of the passage.

5. It is somewhat misleading to ask something like, “What has SIL done in this particular translation?” SIL has not done anything. Individual SIL translators discussing things with local translators trying to follow recognised and accepted translation principles, have explored what might be the best rendering in that passage in that language. The checks and balances of accountability through the external checking processes that SIL uses, have said “let’s not publish this yet; we still need to think about this; and we need to think about the implications”.

6. In all of this controversy I have not seen any indication that any translation wants a single alternate rendering to always be used for all occurrences of “Son of God”. Therefore, it is highly misleading to assume or imply that khalifatullah is an across-the-board replacement for “Son of God”, as the person who contacted me seemed to be suggesting.

7. I have spoken with a friend who knows a little Arabic and he told me that khalifatullah is actually more likely a candidate for “Christ” or “Messiah”, than for “Son of God”. If this is so, it seems like a reasonable possibility to consider for “the anointed one”, “the chosen one”, “the special one”, “the one designated from long ago”. Does this person know his facts are correct about the translation of khalifatullah that Wycliffe/SIL is using?

8. I won’t second guess a translation team without having all the facts. That would be both irresponsible and unfair.

9. I have asked for my name to be removed from the petition instigated by Horizons International. They would not do that for me, even though this organisation was the one that instigated the petition. I was directed to http://www.change.org/ and asked them to do this, because the issues are bigger than this attempt to denigrate Wycliffe/SIL/Frontiers.

10. When translating from a SL to a RL, it can be so difficult when trying to gain the best meaning in the RL. I’m willing to give some space for this thing to play itself out, and trust that the translation consultants involved with Wycliffe & SIL will give wise guidance and counsel to the very few teams even considering contextualised options on this issue. And I am willing to pray for that wisdom on their behalf.

11. I continue to find that it is irresponsible to paint all translators and those that support them with the same broad brush. It is detrimental to the kingdom (in several senses of the word).

Should Allah be used for Jehovah God?

I have addressed this topic in my article, ‘Is the God of Islam the same God as Elohim of the Christian Scriptures?

There are a few other issues that need examination.

I made the following statement to the Arabic pastor who contacted me: ‘I do not agree with the Hebrew and Greek words from OT and NT for God being translated as Allah, because the Muslim concept of Allah, a Unitarian god, is not the Trinitarian Lord God Almighty whom I worship’. Is this short-sighted of me to conclude that Allah does not coincide with Jehovah/Yahweh?

On 10th February 2012, I received an email from this pastor who wrote: ‘In all Arab Bibles, Allah is the word for God. This is not disputed by Arab Christians. It was actually the Arabic-Christian word for God even before Islam came into existence’.

Origin of Allah

So, is it appropriate for the Christian to speak of Allah as equivalent to the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures? This is what a research investigation found. I am particularly indebted, but not exclusively so, to Robert Morey’s, Islam Unveiled (1991:45f) for alerting me to the following information that exposes the origin of Allah as coming from the ‘cult of the moon-god’ (although this is questioned by others sources). These are but a few references to demonstrate this point:

1. The word, Allah, is from the Arabic, al-ilah, where ‘al’ is the definite article, ‘the’, and ‘ilah’ is the Arabic word for ‘god’. There is no Allah in OT Hebrew or NT Greek, so Allah refers to an Arabian deity (Morey (1991:45-46).

2. A well-known Scottish Middle Eastern scholar, H A R Gibb[14], stated:

From the Koran itself it is clear that monotheistic ideas were familiar in Western Arabia. The existence of a supreme God, Allah, is assumed as an axiom common to Mohammed and his opponents. The Koran never argues the point; what it does argue is that He is the one and only God. La ildha illcfllah “there is no god but Allah”. But it is more doubtful whether this is to be regarded as the direct deposit of Christian or Jewish teaching (Gibb 1962:38).

3. The ‘Answering Islam‘ website states: ‘Some people argue that Allah is the moon-god[15] of the pagan Arabs before the advent of Islam. Whatever the merits of this theory, there is a clear consensus: the name “Allah” is not unfamiliar to the Arabs. Muhammad was not bringing a message about a new and so far unknown God’.

4. Dr Arthur Jeffery, a leading Western professor of Semitic languages at Columbia University (USA) wrote, ‘The name Allah, as the Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa’ (Jeffery 1958:85).

5. According to Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Allah is a pre-Islamic name that corresponds to the Babylonian Bel (Hastings, 1908:326)

6. The Encyclopedia of Islam stated that ‘the Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah’ (Houtsma 1913:302).

Are you getting the picture? The name of allah was not new to Islam through Muhammad’s prophecies from AD 622, the year in which Muhammad went from Mecca to Medina. See ‘a brief history of Islam‘.

What are the differences between Allah and Jehovah?

Ergun M Caner & Emir F Caner are former Muslims who have come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour and were disowned & disowned by their father because they became Christian (Caner & Caner 2002:15). They are ‘former insiders who are now Christians’ and have written, Unveiling Islam (2002) and state that

orthodox, biblical Christianity assumes the existence of truth. Truth implies the existence of error, and mutually exclusive claims of truth cannot both be correct. Such is the case with Islam and Christianity. Either Islam is correct in the assumption that “there is only One God, Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet,”[16] or Christianity is correct when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).[17] They cannot both be correct (2002:16).

They tell of the memorial service held in a baseball stadium a few days after the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. Oprah Winfrey, the American talk show host was there, as was a Christian minister who began, ‘We pray in the name of our God-the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam’ (Caner & Caner 2002:102). Is Allah the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam? Is Jehovah/Yahweh the God of Islam, Christianity and Judaism?

Here is a list of contrasts that Caner & Caner (2002:102-119)[18] present of the differences between Allah and the Judeo-Christian God (Elohim/Jehovah/Yahweh)

The nature of Allah

The nature of Jehovah

1. ‘Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters’ (Surah 3:67) 1. Abraham was the founding father of the Jewish nation, Israel (see Ex. 2:24-25; 32:28; Acts 7:2-8).
2. Is Allah the Triune God? If he isn’t, we are not referring to the same God. Surah 112states,’1 Say: He is Allah, the One!2 Allah, the eternally Besought of all!3 He begetteth not nor was begotten.4 And there is none comparable unto Him. 2. The Trinity[19]. God is one (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 44:6, Rom. 3:30, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 4:6, 1 Tim. 1:17). God Trinity (Matt. 28:19, 1 Cor. 12:3-6): the Father is God (Rom. 8:15, Gal. 4:6, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 4:6; 5:19-20, 1 John 3:1); Jesus is God (John 1:1-4; 5:18; 20:28-31, Col. 2:9, Hebrews 1:8; the Holy Spirit is God(John 15:26, Acts 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 2:10-11, 1 Cor. 12:4-6).
3. Allah has no son (see Surah 19:88-92). 3. There are a number of New Testament verses that affirm that God has a Son, Jesus Christ. See: Matt. 1:18-20, Luke 1:34-35, John 3:16, Gal. 4:4-5,
4. Allah is not the vicarious Redeemer[20], the atoning Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.[21] ‘Al-Ghaffar, the Pardoner (71:10). As “Pardoner,” Allah conceals and overlooks sins. He turns in forgiveness to whomever repents, even to someone who has committed deep sin (shirk). But Allah only conceals sin. Islam does not have the concept of cleansing from guilt’ (Caner & Caner 2002:112). See Surah 4:99-100 for Allah, the Pardoner. 4. God the Redeemer (See Isa. 44:6; 49:7, Col. 1:14, Titus 2:14, Heb. 9:11-12). By redemption, we mean that sinners are in bondage to sin and to Satan and someone needs to redeem them from bondage & the idea of ‘ransom’ is in view, the ransom being the price paid to redeem someone from captivity. Jesus said, ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Paying the ransom for redemption is not assigned to the work of Allah.

Therefore, it is promoting falsehood to state that the nature of the Muslim God, Allah, is same as the nature of the Judeo-Christian God, Yahweh. We are speaking of two different views of God.

However, it is quite common for English-speaking people to enter a gathering where there are two people of the same first name in the group but nobody with confuse them by saying they have the same identity. John Smith is a different person from John Jackson (both names are my invention), but they both have the same first name in a group of friends, ‘John’. I appreciate that there are greater fundamental differences between the deities of Allah and Jehovah and my view would be to find a translational equivalent for Jehovah God in a Bible translation that is different from the translation of Allah in that language. Why? To avoid issues like that involved in the Wycliffe-SIL controversy.

There is a further essential doctrine that Wycliffe-SIL must not confuse in its translations and that is the nature of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (see comparison above).

See, ‘The true origin of Allah: The archaeological records speak‘.

What are SIL translators and administrators saying about this?

I wrote to an SIL translator whom I know, who is translating in a native language, and he said that there were only 1-2 translators that he knew of who were trying to communicate the meaning of ‘Son of God’ to an almost 100% Muslim community in language that some English speakers find objectionable. My friend wrote:

I am not aware of any issues with ‘Father’, and the actual controversy is relating to translation of the term ‘Son of God’.

To put things in perspective, this controversy is only relevant to a very small group of translators working in nearly 100% Muslim groups trying to find innovative ways to break through some of the stumbling blocks that prevent many Muslims from even considering the message of the Injil (gospel). Even in those situations, most Bible translators err on the conservative and safe side of a faithful and literal rendering of the original text. Only a few are even considering other possibilities. Even fewer are actually arguing for other renderings, and these are the squeaky wheels that are the source of the public controversy (but the Jihad Watch stuff is badly and inaccurately misrepresenting the issues, and it shouldn’t be propagated). I have only actually heard of one or two individuals who think some alternate renderings might be a good idea.

A core part of AuSIL’s[22] identity is deliberate partnering with churches. Where we work in AuSIL,… this controversy is NOT a relevant issue; we follow the original text relating to translating the term ‘the Son of God’; and we preserve the familial father-son relationship as a high-level recurring metaphor theme throughout the whole of Scripture, and in accord with established principles of translating any recurring metaphor theme—regardless of how unfamiliar it might be (e.g. grapevines, Lamb of God, shepherd, high priest, king, etc.). We accept that some aspects of the gospel will, by their very nature be ‘stumbling blocks’ to different social groups (Paul wrote a bit about that). Many (I think most, nearly all) mainstream translators and consultants do not support the suggested innovations for technical reasons, and the debate is vigorous and on-going, but not directly impacting us in AuSIL. It would be grossly irresponsible and an unwarranted generalisation to paint all Bible translators and those who support them with the same brush.

I emailed Barry Borneman, CEO of Wycliffe Australia, and he has given me permission to share my translator friend’s response and Barry’s own response to the controversy. Barry wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to write and send your concerns surrounding translation in a Muslim context. Since the petition has been circulating we have been getting many enquiries from long-time supporters of Wycliffe and the Bible translation movement. We definitely appreciate the enquiries rather than simple acceptance of the claim in the petition.

The accusation would also concern me and I can assure you that you do not need to be disappointed. Wycliffe is not translating ‘a Muslim friendly’ Bible by omitting key family relational terms to describe the relationship between the father and Jesus.

For a Wycliffe Global Alliance response to this accusation I suggest you read an article by Susan Van Wynen entitled The Wycliffe Global Alliance Speaks to Issues of Contextualization at www.wycliffe.net

Susan is writing on behalf of the Wycliffe worldwide Bible translation movement though the article is written into primarily into a USA audience. In the article Wycliffe affirms the following:

The Wycliffe Global Alliance organisations and their personnel are not omitting or removing the familial terms, translated in English as “Son of God” or “Father,” from any Scripture translation. Erroneous information and rumours on the internet have recently raised questions concerning this issue.

Wycliffe never has and never will be involved in a translation which does not translate these terms. To say that we are removing any familial terms from the Bible is simply not true. Wycliffe continues to be faithful to accurate and clear translation of Scripture. The eternal deity of Jesus Christ and the understanding of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father must be preserved in every translation.

Wycliffe personnel from nations around the world are committed to working alongside language communities and other partners to translate God’s Word with great care from the original languages of Scripture into the languages of the world’s people so that all may know the redeeming love and glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Like you, I love the work of Wycliffe Bible translation and have committed my last 32 years to serving in the Bible translation movement. You can be assured Wycliffe Australia takes its commitment to the Word of God and the authority of the Scriptures very seriously.

If you are wanting an in depth assessment of the issue you may want to go to www.ijfm.org/translation.htm. Translation into a local language and culture is a specialized and difficult task and in all cases we aim for accuracy to the original meaning and clarity of language. This has not changed since Wycliffe first started translating and remains our objective today.

However, my SIL translator friend emailed me on 7 February 2012, with the news that, since this controversy has erupted, Wycliffe-SIL ‘has just put a moratorium on publishing scriptures with the alternate phrasings to “the Son of God” under debate in the very few cases where it is relevant, while the translation experts take the time to sort things out and try to get on the same page on this. Pray for them’.

This report from the Christian Post stated:

Wycliffe Bible Translators denied allegations that it removed the terms “father” and “son” from Bible translations meant for Muslim countries and said any problematic texts are no longer being distributed.

Russ Hersman, senior vice president of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, told The Christian Post that many of the works that critics like the organization Bible Missiology have pointed to as changing familial terms for God and Jesus have either done no such thing or have already been pulled from circulation.

“[Lives of the Prophets] was an audio drama that originally substituted inadequate familial terms in the mid-1990s. Since that time, the translation has been removed from circulation and will not be re-released until it has been corrected and revised,” said Hersman (Gryboski 2012).

It’s sad that this has to happen because the concept of translating meaning-for-meaning of, say, ‘Son of God’, is necessary to convey accuracy to people who have a very different understanding of the literal ‘son of God’ language.

I’m supportive of Wycliffe and SIL on this one. They are trying to communicate the meaning of a word or phrase from the biblical languages and people seem to be confusing WBTs beliefs with a method of translation. Here’s an article that helps to explain some of the issues in “The Son of God in the Bible and Qur’an“.

Some issues with older translations

Consider some of the challenges we face with accepting the translation of the KJV. The Greek, katargew, is found 27 times in the Textus Receptus NT from which the KJV is translated (The KJV is actually a revision and not an original translation), but it has translated katargew in 18 different ways, including abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to naught, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

Also in the KJV, one English word is used to translate several Greek or Hebrew words. So variations of different meaning that are important for a correct understanding of the meaning of a passage, are not made clear. Take the word, ‘trouble’. The KJV has used this one word to translate about a dozen different Greek words. The word, ‘bring’, is used to translate 39 Hebrew words. The KJV uses the one word, ‘destroy’, to translate 49 Hebrew words (I obtained this information from Metzger 2001:74-75).

I recommend Metzger (1992) for a scholarly understanding concerning the textual issues in Scripture. This evangelical scholar with an international reputation takes a different view to those who oppose dynamic equivalence. I am closer to Metzger’s understanding. Metzger is now in the presence of the Lord whom he served so faithfully in this difficult area.[23]

An SIL translator provided me with this comparison of English with Indonesian languages and the translations that SIL have made:

To get down to actual evidence in English-Indonesian, *anak = “offspring, child” unmarked for gender [a very stable etymon across 1,200 languages]; gender is known from the name (e.g. John, Susan) or from gendered activities (e.g. weaving, building). In a few verses we also specify the gender, but that is a highly marked construction, and only on first mention in a discourse (for example in John 1:1-18, the male gender is only mentioned once—but it is there; more than that would be heavy, unnatural, and unnecessary, John wouldn’t have written it more often if he had been writing in these languages).

Just as English sibling terms mark gender but not relative age (sister/brother), English-Indonesian sibling terms mark relative age, but not gender (elder sibling/younger sibling). So there is an inherent mismatch with the Greek semantics, but when we do community testing, all the necessary information is there.

(Note that these examples below are all recent/current Wycliffe translations in a Muslim dominated country. ISO codes are provided for language identity.)

Amarasi     [aaz]:   Uisneno In Anah = God’s Child/Son

Buru           [mhs]:  Oplahtala nake Anat = God’s Child/Son

Dhao          [nfa]:   Ana Ama Lamatua = Child/Son of Father Lord/Father God

Helong       [heg]:  Ama Lamtua Allah Ana  = Father Lord God’s Child/Son

Kupang      [mkn]: Tuhan Allah pung Ana  = God’s Child/Son

Tetun        [tet]: Na’i Maromak Oan = [honorific: Lord/Master] God’s Child/Son

All of these languages are as close to the literal Gk ho huios tou theou as the semantics of the languages allow without over-translating, skewing the focus, and forcing things to be badly unnatural.

I also find it a bit hard to accept the accusation that “Wycliffe consistently refuses to address…”[24], particularly since they are addressing it publicly, have been addressing it for over a year, and are spending good money to get some of the best translation consultants in the business together to talk about it – which is an on-going dialogue.

How could Wycliffe and SIL fix this controversy?

I am not a translation authority with the experience of WBT and SIL translators, but I’m simply a committed Christian who exegetes and translates the Greek NT into ordinary English for my study and preaching. I would make 4 simple recommendations:

  1. Continue the dynamic equivalence translational philosophy of translating meaning-for-meaning. It’s the best way of translation for any culture if we want to understand the meaning of the original biblical languages. BUT …
  1. With each of these controversial items of translation, use a footnote that states something such as, ‘The original was “Son of God”, but this means […]’. Make sure to give the bibliographical references that cause SIL to make this translation.
  1. When WBT or SIL translators or representatives speak at local churches, convey the understanding from points #1 and #2. However, there will always be those in local churches who will not accept dynamic equivalence as a valid method of translation. This is especially so among congregations that have been taught the supremacy of the Textus Receptus, and by extension, the KJV as the best translation. When I receive this opposition, I give them a word-for-word literal translation in English of John 3:16, directly from Greek to English (see above). Then I ask, ‘Do you know of any English translation that gives this kind of literal translation?’ The answer is obviously, ‘No’. Then I exhort, ‘Then please give the Bible translators the liberty to convey the meaning of the Greek text in an English text that is meaningful, just like you expect from English translations of John 3:16. Meaning-for-meaning translation from one language (source language) to another language (receptor language) represents the sanest way to do Bible translation. Give that same liberty to WBT and SIL that we give to the translators of the known English translations of the KJV, Douay-Rheims, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB, NAB, NJB, REB, NRSV and NLT’.
  1. However, I believe that Wycliffe-SIL must continue to promote this theology: The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity must NOT be compromised by any translator. Here is a sample of articles that promote the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity that Wycliffe-SIL must continue to promote in their dynamic equivalence translations:

I consider this to be a reasonably simple response that could begin to solve some of the current controversy.

Appendix A

The NIV translates ‘this book’ (Rev. 22:18 ESV) as ‘this scroll, which more accurately conveys the meaning of the Greek, tou bibliou. There was no understanding of twenty-first century books in the first century when the Book of Revelation was written. The verses of Revelation 22:18-19 are not referring to the entire Bible, as the whole New Testament had not been collected into the canon of Scripture at the time the Apocalypse was written, which is estimated to be about the years AD 81-96 (Ladd 1972:8)[25].

These two verses apply to the Book of Revelation. It’s sad when a pastor doesn’t know that these two verses were written to apply directly and only to the Apocalypse. Alan F. Johnson’s (1981:602-603) commentary makes it clear that these two verses only apply to the Book of Revelation:

These verses should not be taken as a warning against adding anything to the Bible. Early interpreters understood them as a warning to false prophets not to alter the sense of John’s prophecy—i.e., Revelation (so Irenaeus Contra Haereses[26] 5.30.1[27])…. Verses 18-19 are a strong warning against any one who would tamper with the contents of ‘this book’ (Rev), either textually or in its moral and theological teaching (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22).

Kaiser et al’s (1996:783-784) comments are responsible:

1. There is no certainty that the Book of Revelation was the last book of the whole Bible to be written. Some date Revelation as early as AD 68 and books such as 2 Peter, Jude, Gospel of John and the Epistles of John were later still.[28]

2. When John wrote, the Jews had not concluded discussion of ‘their own canonical issues’. While there was discussion by them, AD 70-90, and some discussions at the rabbinic centre of Jamnia, there is no evidence that the shape of the Jewish canon changed as a result of these deliberations.

3. The Book of Revelation was written before there was any sense of a NT canon. No evidence is available that suggests that John had seen another written Gospel (besides his own) and it was two centuries before a fixed selection of books was considered for inclusion in the canon.

4. While the Apocalypse is the last book in English translations of Scripture, in the first three centuries of the church, there was a shifting of the placing of Revelation, some rejecting it entirely, while some put 1-2 Clement after Revelation. Others put it earlier in the list that was to become the NT canon. ‘There is no reason to think that this verse would have come almost at the end of the Bible for most Christians until the fourth century’ (Kaiser et al. 1996:783).

Kaiser et al (1996:783) concluded that John’s curse at the end of the Book of Revelation

stands as a warning. Its true literal sense applies only to his own book, Revelation, but given that similar concerns were shared by Paul[29] and others it is reasonable to argue that none of the writers of Scripture would have agreed to tampering with their works.

George Ladd (1972:295) stated that the form of the warning of these verses comes from Deut. 4:2 and is not meant to apply to the whole Bible, but was John’s way of authenticating the prophecy of Revelation. John is not concerned about mechanical errors in transmission or mistakes in interpretation, but is referring to ‘deliberate distortions and perversions of it’.

One of the most prominent NT Greek language grammarians and exegetes of the twentieth century was A. T. Robertson. He wrote of Rev. 22:18,

This warning is directed against perversions of this book, not about the New Testament or the Bible as a whole, though it may be true there also. Surely no warning was more needed when we consider the treatment accorded the Apocalypse, so that Dr. Robert South said that the Apocalypse either found one crazy or left him so (Robertson1933:487)

Robert Mounce’s (1977:395-396) commentary on Revelation contends that the severe warning against adding to or taking away from ‘the book’ applies to John’s prophetic message. It was address to future scribes who could tamper with the text and to members of the 7 churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed, where the book would have been read aloud. ‘The warning is against wilful distortion of the message. I tis not unlike Paul’s stern words in Galatians 1:6, 7 to those who would pervert the gospel’ (1977:395).

Conservative, dispensationalist commentator, Robert Thomas, observed that it ‘is true that this warning [Rev. 22:18-19] applies specifically to the book of Revelation only, but by extension it entails the termination of the gift of prophecy and the NT canon also’ (1995:518). Thomas is a cessationist with regard to the gifts of the Spirit and the view that this applies to ‘the termination of the gift of prophecy’ is controversial, to say the least. I take an opposing view. See my articles:

  1. Does the superiority of New Testament revelation exclude the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit? Is cessationism biblical?
  2. The gift of prophecy as non-binding revelation;
  3. Can cessationism be supported by Scripture and church history?
  4. Cessationism through church history;
  5. St. Augustine: The man who dared to change his mind about divine healing.

For the above reasons, it is appropriate to conclude that Rev. 22:18-19 was written to apply to the prophecy of the Book of Revelation and not to the entire Bible or full NT.

References

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (rev edn). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (Limited edn licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Brown, C (ed) 1975. The new international dictionary of New Testament theology, vol 1. Exeter, Devon, UK: The Paternoster Press.

Bruce, F F 1970. The Epistles of John: A Verse by Verse Exposition. London/Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis.

Caner, E M & Caner E F 2002. Unveiling Islam. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Crossan, J D 1994a. Jesus: A revolutionary biography. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 1991. The historical Jesus: The life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Gentry Jr, K L 1989. Before Jerusalem fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (e-book). Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics. Available at: http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/1989_gentry_before-jerusalem-fell.html (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Gibb, H A R 1962. Mohammedanism: An historical study (2nd edn). New York: Oxford University Press (A Galaxy Book). Available at: http://ia600301.us.archive.org/8/items/mohammedanismanh027895mbp/mohammedanismanh027895mbp.pdf (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Gregg, S (ed) 1997. Revelation: Four views (a parallel commentary). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith (ed by J Purswell). Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Gryboski M 2012. Wycliffe reaffirms it did not delete ‘Father,’ ‘Son,’ from

Bible translations. Christian Post, 7 February. Available at: http://global.christianpost.com/news/wycliffe-reaffirms-it-did-not-delete-father-son-from-bible-translations-68836/ (Accessed 13 February 2012).

Hastings, J (ed) 1908. Encyclopedia of religion & ethics, vol 1. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, available at: http://ia700304.us.archive.org/16/items/EncyclopaediaOfReligionAndEthics.Hastings-selbie-gray.13Vols/01.EncyReligEthics.v1.A-Art.Hastings.Selbie.1908..pdf (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Houtsma, M T (ed) 1913. The encyclopedia of Islam, vol 1. Leiden: E J Brill.

Jeffery, A (ed) 1958. Islam: Muhammad and his religion. New York: The Liberal Arts Press. Available at: http://www.bible.ca/islam/library/islam-quotes-jeffery.htm (Accessed 11 February 2012).

Johnson, A F 1982. Revelation, in Gaebelein, F E (gen ed), The expositor’s Bible commentary, vol 12, 397-603. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Kaiser Jr, W C, Davids, P H, Bruce, F F & Brauch, M T 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Kistemaker, S J 1986. New Testament commentary: Exposition of James, epistles of John, Peter, and Jude. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Kittel, G (ed) 1964. Theological dictionary of the New Testament, vol 1. Tr and ed by G W Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Ladd, G E 1972. A commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Lenski, R C H 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers (2nd print). Originally assigned to Augsburg Publishing House.

Link, H-G & Brown, C 1978. hilaskomai. In Brown, C (ed), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3, 148-166. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Marshall, I H 1978. The Epistles of John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Metzger, B M 1992. The text of the New Testament: Its transmission, corruption, and restoration (3rd edn). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Metzger, B M 2001. The Bible in translation: Ancient and English versions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Morey, R A 1991. Islam unveiled: The true desert storm. Shermans Dale, PA: The Scholars Press.

Robertson, A T 1933. Word studies in the New Testament: The general epistles and the Revelation of John, vol 6. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Robinson, J A T 1976. Redating the New Testament. London: SCM Press Ltd.

Thiselton, A C 1980. The two horizons: New Testament hermeneutics and philosophical description with special reference to Heidegger, Bultmann,

Gadamer and Wittgenstein. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Thomas, R L 1995. Revelation 8-22: An exegetical commentary. Chicago: Moody Press.

Wright, N T 1992. The New Testament and the people of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. (Series in Christian origins and the question of God, vol 1).


Notes

[1] See ‘Sign This Petition’ on the Horizons International website, ‘Lost In Translation: Keep “Father” & “Son” in the Bible’, available at: http://www.change.org/petitions/lost-in-translation-keep-father-son-in-the-bible (Accessed 6 March 2012). Horizons International uses www.change.org to organize its petition, as was indicated to me in an email from Horizons International. Therefore, any changes to this Petition that I wanted to make, had to be arranged through www.change.org.

[2] I explained to this person that I am not convinced the whole plan of salvation is at stake because of dynamic equivalence translations of Father, Son, and Son of God, these are attempts to communicate meaning-for-meaning from one language to another.

[3] However, this person provided me with a link to his explanation of the Trinity. I ask: If the matter is spiritual and needs to be revealed, what is the practical purpose of teaching on the Trinity? Is it essential or unnecessary?

[4] I encouraged them to use the same principles with the KJV (see examples in this article).

[5] There is no need for this dichotomy. The Holy Spirit can and does apply lexical and exegetical work. The Holy Spirit’s critical ministry is not a replacement for exegesis.

[6] This is the underlying presupposition of this person’s view of the doctrine of salvation. The person obviously prefers a Calvinistic view over that of Arminianism, or irresistible grace vs free grace.

[7] I agree with this view that presuppositions are foundational and must be uncovered, but this person is promoting his Calvinistic views as the correct ones. ‘Choose today whom you will serve’ (Joshua 24:15 NLT) is not among his presuppositions.

[8] He is referring to informational presuppositions.

[9] See the brief discussion of this theology below.

[10] However, leading evangelical scholar, F. F. Bruce (1970:50), stated that the translation of the Greek, hilasmos, as ‘”propitiation” or “atonement” will do well enough, if we use either word in its biblical sense – not as something which men must do to placate God, but something which God has provided in His grace to bring men into His presence with the assurance that they are accepted by Him, since He has removed the barrier that kept them at a distance’. Another evangelical scholar, I. Howard Marshall (1978:118), shows that the word group that includes hilasmos in the OT (presumably referring to the Septuagint Greek translation), communicated ‘the idea of placating the wrath of God or some other injured party’ and that the meaning in 1 John 2:2 was ‘that Jesus propitiates God with respect to our sins. There can be no real doubt that this is the meaning’.

[11] The NRSV uses ‘atoning sacrifice’ instead of ‘expiation’ in 1 John 2:2.

[12] Lenski (1966:400) stated that ‘in his love God commissioned his Son as expiation regarding our sins. The thought is not that this expiation propitiated, placated God, for he was full of infinite love when he sent his Son; we needed expiation, needed it “regarding our sins,” need it regarding them every day when we still sin. The fact that this expiation was brought about by “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son,” we know from 1:7’. What does expiation mean? It refers to a removal or covering for sin, hence the ‘atoning sacrifice’ translation of the NIV & NLT.

[13] vol. 2, p. 372ff (1976. Exeter: The Paternoster Press)

[14] This article stated that he was an historian on Orientalism. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_Alexander_Rosskeen_Gibb (Accessed 11 February 2012).

[15] That’s the title of one of the chapters in Morey (1991:45f).

[16] This is a constructed sentence obtained by combining these verses which are from the Qur’an, Muhammad 47:19 and al-Fath 48:29.

[17] This translation is from the New King James Version of the Bible.

[18] This chapter is titled, ‘Allah: Names of Terror, Names of Glory’.

[19] Briefly, the Trinity of God is ‘the doctrine that God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God’ (Grudem 1999:494). Some information also was obtained from ‘Theology 101 Notes: Doctrine of God‘ (Accessed 12 February 2012).This is a brief explanation of the Trinity, a word not found in the Bible, but its teaching is there.

[20] A Redeemer is one who provides redemption, which means ‘the act of buying back sinners out of their bondage to sin and to Satan through the payment of a ransom’ (Grudem 1999:492).

[21] This is from Caner & Caner (2002:108).

[22] He is referring to SIL Australia.

[23] Christianity Today reported on 15 February 2007 that Bruce Metzger died of natural causes at the age of 93. See: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/februaryweb-only/107-42.0.html (Accessed 10 February 2012).

[24] This was the statement in an email I received from pastor of a church in the Arabic world.

[25] Robinson (1996:252) dates to the years AD 68-70, while Crossan (1991:431) is in agreement with Ladd, dating Revelation ‘toward the end of the first century C.E.’.

[26] Meaning “Against Heresies”.

[27] Johnson wrongly cited Against Heresies 30.2 when it is Book 5.30.1, which states, ‘There shall be no light punishment [inflicted] upon him who either adds or subtracts anything from the Scripture [at this point the footnote reference is to Rev. 22:19] under that such a person must necessarily fall’. Interestingly, Irenaeus applies these verses to ‘the Scripture’ and not just to the Book of Revelation.

[28] Robinson (1976:252) dates the Book of Revelation to ‘late 68 or early 70’. Gregg (1997:15) stated that most modern scholars place the Book’s dating in the time of the Emperor Domitian, about AD 96, but there are many preterist evangelicals who date it during the time of the reign of Nero, thus predating the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. ‘Among the well-known scholars who have held to the early date of Revelation have been Jay Adams, Adam Clarke, Alfred Edersheim, J. B. Lightfoot, John A. T. Robinson, Philip Schaff, and many others. The early date was the prevalent theory among Bible scholars of the nineteenth century. Dr. Kenneth Gentry lists over 130 notable scholars and commentators who favored the early dating of Revelation (Gregg 1997:15). Gentry (1989), which was Gentry’s doctoral dissertation, ‘gives ‘one sustained defense for the early date of Revelation’ (Gregg 1997:46 n7). On Gentry’s website he labels his view as postmillennial, reconstructionist, partial preterist. Available at: http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/g/gentry-kenneth.html (Accessed 11 February 2012).

[29] See 1 Cor. 16:22 for an example of Paul’s ‘curse’.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

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