Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Common Misconception of Bible Translation

     One  of  the  most  common  misconceptions  about  the  process  of  Bible
translation  is  the  opinion  that  the  only faithful method to translate the
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts is  "word for word". People who
believe  this  fail  to  understand  that this is  not how languages function. Their
approach to translating the sacred writings is nonsensical and impractical. What
they demand is not achieved by any existing English translation of the word of
the living God. They require what God does not require, and as a result, they
make a law God has not made! (cf. James 4:12)

     The  best  attempt  at  "word for word"  translation (in somewhat readable
English)  is  likely the  American Standard Version published in 1901, and
even  it is not strictly "word for word" as a close examination of the text of the
ASV and its footnotes will show. No English translation including the KJV,
NKJV, NASB, RSV, ESV,HCSB, NRSV, and NIV is always strictly
"word for word;" neither can they be and retain a considerable degree of
readable English. I will try to illustrate this with a few examples from the
Hebrew and Greek texts.

     A "word for word" translation of Genesis 1:1, following the Hebrew word
order, reads like this, "In  beginning  he  created  God  the  heavens  and the
earth." Genesis 2:24, "For this he will leave man father of him  and mother of
him and he will unite to (in) wife of him and they will be as flesh one."
Genesis 6:14, "Make for you of ark of woods of cypress nests you make in the
ark and you cover her on inside and outside with the tar (resin)."

     Now a "word for word" translation  of  a  few  verses  in  the  Greek text,
following the Greek word order.  Matthew 1:23, "Behold (see) the virgin in
belly  will  have  and  will  give  birth  son  and  they  will  call  the  name
of him Emmanuel which is being translated with us the God." John 1:1,"In
beginning was (being) the word and the word was (being) with (toward) the
God, and God was (being) the word." Acts 2:47, "Praising the God and having
favor toward all of the people and the Lord was adding to the ones being saved
by day on (to) the same (group)."

     The examples from both the Hebrew and Greek texts demonstrate the
fact, that though many people believe "word for word" translation is the only
legitimate way to translate, it is often the case that one word in Hebrew and
Greek must be translated into English with a phrase. Other adjustments must
also be made such as a change of word order so that we may have God's
word in understandable English.

Copyright 2014
                                                                                                      R. Daly



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Perfect Translation of the English Bible

     Many people are so wedded to the awkward and archaic language of the King
James Version of the Bible, that any deviation from it is considered treason. The King
James Version is "good," but it is not perfect. There are words in the KJV that have
changed their meaning since it was published  more  than  400 years ago. There  are
words  and  phrases  that  are  not  correctly translated in the KJV, and there is a
definite Calvinistic influence in certain passages. Nevertheless, many people believe
the KJV is a perfect translation. The fact is, there is no perfect translation of the
scriptures. Translators are not supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit in their work.
They do their work based on their academic training and theological presuppositions.
To some extent, all translations reflect the training and theology of the translators. This
is unavoidable because all translation involves interpretation. Translators must determine
what words mean in order to choose the most accurate words or phrases in the receptor
language to represent the words or phrases in the source language.  

     All translations of the Bible have problems. Some, like the KJV are influenced by
Calvinism. (Acts 2:47; Acts 3:19; Acts 13:48). Others, like the New King James Version
are monuments to tradition. The use of such words as "baptize," "church," "saint," and
"bishop" reflect loyalty to tradition rather than accuracy.  The English Standard Version
contains several passages that display loyalty  to  tradition  instead  of  linguistic
accuracy.  "Propitiation" (1 John 2:2), "hell"  (Matthew 16:18), "brothers" (Romans 1:13).
The New American Standard Bible, though generally a  modified  literal  version,  reflects
a  premillennial   bias   in   several  passages.  "As"  (Isaiah 2:2;  Micah 4:1),  "will  reign"
(Revelation 5:10), and "they came to life" (Revelation 20:4). The 1984 edition of The New
International Version, and to a lesser extent the 2011 edition, suffers   from  the  tendency
to  leave  important  "connectives"  and  "inferential  particles" untranslated because of its
emphasis on readability and English style. (cf. John chapters 6-8)

     Many  instances  of  translation  shortcomings  can  be  multiplied  from all
translations, including  the  American  Standard  Version,  Revised  Standard  Version,
New Revised Standard Version, etc. But  we  must ask, "Does  the  fact  that  a
translation  has  'errors' and  other weaknesses disqualify the whole?" If so, no 
translation is worthy of use!

     A person can learn God's plan of salvation from the KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV,
NASB, NIV (1984 and 2011 editions), NRSV and the ESV if he diligently studies
them. There is no "perfect" translation of the scriptures. Jesus and the apostles
quoted the Septuagint, which is a translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures
even though it likewise is imperfect.

Copyright 2014
                                                                                                                       R Daly


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tradition and Political Correctness in Bible Translations

     All English translations of the Bible have critics. Some of the critics are informed,
but most are uninformed, and appear to be agenda oriented. The NIV-2011 has its share
of  critics  like  all  other  modern  versions  of   the  Bible. One  of  the  insults  hurled
against the NIV-2011 that will not die is the allegation, "The publication of the NIV-2011
was motivated by political correctness." I  believe  most  English  translations, including
those the critics of the NIV-2011 prefer, display elements of political correctness. What
is "political correctness?" To put it in "plow boy" terms, political correctness is catering
to a "crowd;" seeking to please a "constituency."

     The King James Version contains politically correct renderings. One example will
suffice. Does  anyone  believe  the  KJV  scholars  who  were  on  the  New  Testament
translation committee were not aware that the Greek verb baptizo means to "immerse,
submerge, plunge, dip?" Then  why  did  they   use  the  word  "baptize"  to "translate"
baptizo ? As I have noted elsewhere, "baptize" is not a translation of baptizo. Baptizo
does not mean to "baptize." That's like saying, "Baptizo means baptizo." Baptize is a
transliteration of the Greek word. The "o" was dropped and the "e" added. Hence, from
"baptizo"  to  "baptize."  The   KJV  translators  used  "baptize"  to   represent baptizo
because one of the "general directions" that was given for the preparation of the KJV
was, "The old ecclesiastical words are to be kept..." (A General View of the History
of the English Bible, B.F. Westcott, page 115)  Baptize is an old ecclesiastical word.
Tradition and political correctness have kept it in the text of most English versions. 

     The  American  Standard  Version  contains  politically correct renderings. The
translators of the N.T. committee  were  Greek  scholars. They knew ekklesia means
"congregation, assembly, or community." Yet they used "church" to translate the word
ninety nine percent of the time. Why? One of the original directives given to the KJV
translators stated, "The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz. the word Church not
to be translated Congregation, &c." (A General View of the History of the English
Bible, B.F. Westcott, page 115) The ASV is not free from the influence of tradition
and political correctness.

     The English Standard Version contains politically correct renderings. One of the
most glaring is the way it translates "adelphoi." The ESV incorrectly uses the word
"brothers" to translate adelphoi in  places  where  a  congregation is being addressed.
When congregations are addressed, adelphoi means "brothers and sisters." Why?
Because it refers to the siblings in God's spiritual family! The footnotes in the ESV
acknowledge this fact. (Cf. ESV footnote in 1 Corinthians 1:10; et al) Why would a
group of translators acknowledge the truth in a footnote, and not place the correct
translation in the text? The ESV is not free from the influence of tradition and political

     The New American Standard Bible contains politically correct renderings. The
NASB translates the Greek adjective monogenes as "only begotten." The translators are
aware that the word means, "unique, only one of its kind," as indicated in the footnotes.
(Cf. John 1:14; 3:16, etc.) Monogenes has been traditionally rendered "only begotten,"
but that it not its meaning. The NASB also includes "Textus Receptus" readings in its
text, albeit in brackets, even though the oldest manuscripts do not contain them. (Cf.
Matthew 6:13;  17:21;  18:11;  Acts 8:37; etc. )  The  inclusion  of  Textus  Receptus
readings within the text of the NASB accomplishes at least two things: (1) it gives
a  degree  of  comfort  to  the KJV readers, (2) it (through the footnotes), informs the
readers  about the textual problems with the readings. The NASB is not free from the
influence of tradition and political correctness.

     Mere accusations of "political correctness" are not the proper basis to determine the
accuracy, validity, and usefulness of a version of the scriptures. It must be decided on
linguistic grounds.
                                                                                                                      R. Daly
Copyright, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Such As Should Be Saved"

     In the King James Version of the New Testament, Acts 2:47 says, "Praising God,
and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved." Our attention will be focused on the words, "such as should be

     The Greek text underlying the King James Version New Testament is the Textus
Receptus, sometimes called the Received Text. Theodore Beza published four folio
editions of the Stephens Greek text, and this included some changes of his own. The
1598 edition of Beza's text and the last  two editions of  Robert Stephens, were the
main sources used for the English  Authorized  Version  of  1611. Bonaventure and
Abraham Elzevir published  editions of  the  Greek  text  in 1624, 1633, and 1641,
following editions of Beza's 1565 edition. The Elzevir text became known as the
Textus Receptus or Received Text throughout Europe.

     The words "such  as  should be saved" do  not  accurately  translate the Greek
phrase as it stands in the Textus Receptus. It says, "prosetithei tous sozomenous."
The Majority Text, Westcott and Hort, and Nestle-Aland read exactly the same
as the Textus Receptus. There  is  no  variation  between  them. So, the intriguing
question is, "Why does the King James Version translate the phrase 'such as should
be saved,' when all modern versions  (ASV, RSV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, NRSV,
and the ESV) read differently. They say  something  like, "those  who  were  being

     The answer lies  in  the  fact  that most, if  not all, of the translators of the King
James  Version  New  Testament  were  Calvinists. And  the  likely culprit as to
the   mistranslation   of   the  Greek  phrase  "prosetithei  tous  sozomenous"  in
Acts 2 :47 is the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation, that is, certain individuals were
predestined to be saved. There is not the slightest hint of this doctrine in the Greek
phrase. The word sozomenous is a present participle and should be translated
"those who were being saved."  The modern versions are correct in the way they
translate the phrase.
                                                                                                       R. Daly

Copyright 2013