"It came to be because our English Bibles are believed, by many Christians, to be an accurate translation of the original words while they are, in fact, a biased translation of those words."
and Ryan Replied:
You do understand that English is pretty much all anyone here can read and that is all we have for bibles. There is only one entity in existance that I can see who would like to put in the minds of people that there bible is bias and untruthful so that people won't read it or believe what it says. I'll let you guess. Who's side are you on?
The reality is English translations do have problems. The KJV came about, in part, because of an agenda. All of the translators have a bias. The various translations do not agree on certain points. Beyond that, the English translations come from two sets of Greek manuscripts, and those two sets are different in places. It seems to me that all of these are facts – or the truth. Jesus said the truth will set us free, and that Satan is the Father of lies. So suggesting that Satan is the one spreading the truth seems rather bizarre to me.
Does all of what I have said mean I don’t trust the Bible, or don’t think it is the Word of God? MAY IT NEVER BE! Because I know that the Bible as a book of words is useless, but the Bible as the inspired Word of God, interpreted by the Holy Spirit, is powerful and true. When we read, study, meditate and pray over the Scriptures, they go from words on a page to His Word in our hearts.
Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus, and Madeline Murphy O’Hair knew the text of the Bible better than most pastors – but this did neither any good because they did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling, and making the Word alive and real to them.
So, saying the Bible has imperfections is not, for me, a problem. The One who interprets it to us is perfect, and that means we can hear and understand His truth.
You're right about English Bibles, they're translations from the Greek text, filtered by translators' biases, opinions of editors and publishers who fear that translating a passage with a non-traditional wording might hamper sales. It has happened and publishers lost money. The older literal translations (19th century) are not free from bias either.
However, I teach Koine Greek and have worked the scriptures with that skill for 40 years. Of a few things I am convinced beyond all doubt: The scriptures are holy spirit inspired and are a literary form even beyond the capacity of most theologians to really grasp their greatness. So often, great exegetical principles are expounded but in practice, the scriptures are treated as the words of men. I have found poor translations in every English Bible extending back to the Bishop's Bible and the Geneva Bible, forerunners of the KJV. I have found insertions of scholars, which mislead and muddy the text, because the greatness of God's Word just is over their heads.
So often, self proclaimed Bible teachers have succumbed to the senses in understanding as did Nicodemus when Jesus tried to share with him a simple principle but he mistook the words and reverted to the senses with a shallow & non-spiritual response to a spiritual question. Jesus confronted him with, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?" [ESV John 3:10]. I just finished as essay two days ago on what it was Jesus actually said to Nicodemus and what Jesus expected him to know. Jesus statement is somewhat different from the common and popular remembrance of the story as fostered by a senses oriented translation.
Likewise, much is lost here in the West because we don't understand the Asian, (Middle Eastern) culture which is the background of the whole of scripture. Of that, there is little explanation in scripture itself, that familiarity is just assumed but we Westerners just don't have it. Small example: when an Eastern man sits, he doesn't get up for hours! Another example: sharing salt or salted food is a contract of commitment and protection breakable only upon death. (I even read this in a 19th century travel log journal entry) Plug that into 1 Cor. 11:17-34. The Corinthian believers were "brown bagging" and not sharing food. Why? It meant commitment to each other! That kind of lack of unity angered the apostle Paul. Now read the section and think. What was Jesus doing when he gave the symbols of his death to remember him? He gave the symbols of the ultimate commitment for all of mankind!! So what should we remember? Not that he did what he did but WHY he did it! His commitment to US!! Then think, why did the apostle Paul insert that in the discussion of eating together? Because all the food was salted and sharing meant committing to each other. Don't think so? Bread was the staple of every meal. Is there a recipe for bread that doesn't contain salt? I haven't found one yet.
Just a few examples of why people don't trust scripture. They don't understand it when they think they do because they've not read it accurately because their teachers don't either. I've watched this for over 40 years and now before I retire, I'm putting this stuff into an on line seminar, which is based in large part on E. W. Bullinger's book, "How to Enjoy the Bible." Bullinger was a deep thinker in the late 19th century and a great Biblical scholar but his book is too heavy for most people so the seminar I'm working on is an effort toward simplifying & lighten things up until it's "street simple," even funny at times. I even have some young people to help so I can communicate the accurate reading principles better.
Bless -- JB
Sorry about the long post, I do get on a roll once in a while.
Wow. It's not often I get to hear words like these! They came in good timing.
I do understand why my brothers and sisters would find me offensive when I speak from my heart and I work not to hold it against them. Sadly, though, my words have cost me dearly in good friendships, because of misunderstanding, when I come to a place where I try to share the good things I've learned; for how can one stop themselves, always, from speaking from their heart? One can only swallow back his words so much.
However, because I've found a few who do 'get it' and come to appreciation, I press on.
I hold onto nothing but sympathy and forgiveness for those who come to find me offensive, because I remember the struggle within me and how hard it was for me to accept these things I now hold as truthful in my heart as I dealt with the conflict between what I was taught was truth and the truths that spirit and logic were compelling me toward. There were a lot of sacrosanct notions that I liked, but had to eventually disgard as I discovered the better meanings- if I were going to keep my conscience clear and be honest and consistent within my heart.
Please accept my sincerest thanks, John, for taking the time to post this reply. Know that your words are much appreciated by me and have imparted to me a good hope for having some confirmation that there must be many others (and with credentials, no less!) who understand this truth about our English Bibles.
That thingy about salt was so cool!
I'd love to read the essay you wrote on Nicodemous's reply. I think it would be cool to have my own conclusions challenged, or maybe even confirmed!
Could I ask you to pass on what translation the initials "ESV" stand for? I've not heard of this abbreviation before.
And you keep on being good, John. It is, after all, what you were created to be!
Apology: I don't log into these forums or the website often so responses are slow.
Mindy, you're a gem. You have articulated what so many theologians and Bible teachers miss. Yes, the holy spirit is the teacher, it is holy spirit that opens our understanding of scripture. Contrary to many Christians' thinking, scripture does not contain formulas, recipes or lists to produce spirituality. Scripture is all about a relationship with the Father above, provided by Jesus Christ in his finished work.
Acts is about the developing understanding of a new kind of relationship to God, of the first apostles via holy spirit.
Romans is about the logic of how this relationship came to be and how we should act because of it.
Corinthians is about building relationships within the assembly (and repairing them sometimes too.)
Galatians is about repairing a relationship with the Father messed up by mis-understanding of grace versus legalism.
Ephesians is about a spiritual relationship to the Father, via holy spirit that we all have available to us.
Philippians is about a relationship of the Philippian believers to the move of the truth, exemplified in their giving.
Colossians is about a relationship with God, unhampered by rules and regs.
and so on, and so on, and so on.
In fact, every book in scripture is about Jesus Christ and it's all about the relationship of man to his maker through the Redeemer, messiah to Israel, only begotten son of God and savior to us.
Bless -- JB
Send a friend invite? I would accept!
Ah, almost forgot.
ESV stands for English Standard Version, published 2001. It is the first translation/revision published first in digital form, then on paper. It is "orthodox" but that tells me what to expect in translating bias. I'm not always sure about some others. ESV is a revision of the RSV of 1958.It is available in over 180 formats.
The essay. It is called, "Born Again or Born From Above" and can be downloaded here, URL http://straightbible.com/?data=4 Feel free to look around. The website is a seminar I'm organizing but is far from finished due to multiple teachers and the careful research that is going into each video segment. We are about 20% done so far. I am hoping I can open it to the public by the end of 2011 but then that is what I thought last year too. We'll see.
However, "many" is a sub-set of "all" which poses a third possible understanding.
Ryan Spear said:
It's understood that things are lost in any translation which is why I think Greek and Hebrew are required for pastors in seminary. When people take the time to read the whole bible and not just stick to certain books or the New Testiment, built in translator biases tend to work themselves out. The bible is just too massive for any bias translator to cover all bases. No one has to know Greek or Hebrew to find truth.
I would encourage people to read it all and read all over. There are interesting things in books like Leviticus, Number, Chronicles and the minor prophets. I concider Deuteronomy just as essential reading in the Old Testiment as John in the New.
I always liked the thing about people who can spot conterfiet money. Those people don't sit around studying counterfiet money. They study the real thing and know it so well that no conterfiet can get past them.
I did a study once upon a time and wrote out all the verses that said Jesus died for 'all' and all the verses that said Jesus died for 'many'. It was just about 50/50 of like 20-30 verses. It seemed quite contradicting. In the end I came to the understanding that Jesus died for 'all' of the 'many' so it wasn't contradicting at all.
In Robert Young's literal translation of the Bible, a portion of the text of Matthew 28:19-20 is enclosed in parentheses. I assume that he had reason to believe that this was a later addition. Can someone comment on the basis for this?
Matt 28:19-20, having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them — to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.
As "coincidence" would have it, I was reading this very topic a few hours ahead of your post. Yes, Young's Literal Translation is indicating by the punctuation that a forgery is suspected even though manuscript evidence is lacking.
Using Ryan Spear's method above is actually the method used by scholar's to answer the question but they include extra biblical sources as well. This link is to a very long article on this topic: Click Here If you don't want to read it, here's one quote from the article:
"Eusebius cites this text (Matt. 28:19) again and again in works written between 300 and 336, namely in his long commentaries on the Psalms, on Isaiah, his Demonstratio Evangelica, his Theophany. .. in his famous history of the Church, and in his panegyric of the emperor Constantine. I have, after a moderate search in these works of Eusebius, found eighteen citations of Matthew 28:19, and always in the following form:'Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in My name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.' "
Here's a link to a 15 page PDF file I discovered by searching Google yesterday, on that same topic: Matt 28:PDF DownLoad The file should download automatically with a click.
Enjoy -- John Brown
John, thanks for your quick response. I must say that I find "coincidences" interesting. It seems that Young may have put a little too much in side of the parentheses. Eusebius and Shem Tov both concur with Young on the 1st part but neither of them concur with Young on the 2nd part. The 2nd part is the "teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you", and this is the part that I was interested in. There seems to be a wide range of opinion as to how many commands that Jesus left us with. Can you point me to resource that has a reasonable list of the commands?
That's a far better chart than I had found so far! I had run across comments about Nestle Aland but hadn't followed them up to get my own copy. I've been using UBS 4th edition. Partly for the manner in which it is published.
I don't have a reference to a "Jesus command list" as such. I'm not so sure I would really trust such a list either. Many amateur would-be commentators don't seem to grasp a few simple facts. Jesus was emphatic that he came to the lost sheep of Israel. That means that he taught in that context only and one should read the ministry of Jesus from that perspective: teachings pertaining to the kingdom of God to Israel, who was still under the Mosaic Law.
Therefore, not necessarily everything he said might be applicable to the modern Body of Christ assembly, if Pentecost means anything. Paul explicitly taught that there were things God revealed for the first time to him. That means there are spiritual matters about the new Body Congregation that Jesus never mentioned. Jesus' ministry was to teach Israel and fulfill the Mosaic Law. Paul says the Law is now written in the heart via new birth of holy spirit. This was not available when Jesus taught because it was his death and resurrection that made it possible.So Jesus taught nothing that includes this new reality, new only since Pentecost. I've not worked on sorting all of this out yet but it is on my "to do list."
Word for word versus thought for thought is an interesting discussion. I've leaned both ways at different times, and have now come to the conclusion that neither one can give us all we need.
The problem with word for word is it rarely gives the same real meaning as the original. Put a couple of sentences into Google translate, change them from English to some other language and back, and you will see how fast word for word fails.Colloquiums, word ;pictures, different kinds of speech, different grammatical rules and other things all make a mess of a word for word translation.
The problem with thought for thought is it puts us at the mercy of the translators.
For me the answer is to read both, and trust the Spirit to give me guidance.
You bring up a very good point! I have worked with literals and original texts mostly, finding thought-for-thought often lacking, just for the reason you gave. But literals do have problems with real meaning too. I find translators unwilling to be consistent because consistency tramples on their ecclesiastical definitions of terms. A more generic translation serves the meaning better with context use extracting a more exact meaning.
No better example of this is offered than the use of the word, "church." It is a generic word and means an assembly of persons with a common bond or a group with a common reason to assemble. But the ecclesiastical definition is much more narrow. The new Congregation of the Body of Christ began to exist after Pentecost. The Greek word "ekklesia" is most often used of it and translated "church." However, the word actually occurs more often than that and in different contexts. But the translators are unwilling to use a generic translation for a generic word. Consider Acts 19:32 where ekklesia is found representing a union mob but no one wants to translate it church but that's the word. Likewise, ekklesia appears twice in the gospels before the modern Body of Christ existed, yet the translators insert the word church anyway. It doesn't matter if you are reading a literal or thought based English translation. Both use ecclesiastical definitions, not generic which the word actually is in the Greek language.
This exchanging the theological definitions versus the plain language definitions is common in all Christian writings and in the minds of the faithful. This religious error is reflected in all English Bibles, in marginal notes, in interlinears, in Bible dictionaries, in commentaries and in Greek lexicons.
Another problem, not just with translators but with most commentators and expositors is not honoring figures of speech such as comparative figures. I've seen expositors shout their doctrinal conclusions as pragmatic fact but their proofs are all based on ignoring comparative figures and then ignoring pragmatic facts, statements without figures, that contradict their position.
Restating the wisdom you offered: Reading in various versions, with varying philosophies, and keeping a focus on scripture as literature is perhaps the most "fair and balanced" way to understand the holy writings.