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Fifteen Myths about Bible Translation – Daniel B. Wallace

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  1. Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind. Anyone who is conversant in more than one language recognizes that a word-for-word translation is simply not possible if one is going to communicate in an understandable way in the receptor language. Yet, ironically, even some biblical scholars who should know better continue to tout word-for-word translations as though they were the best. Perhaps the most word-for-word translation of the Bible in English is Wycliffe’s, done in the 1380s. Although translated from the Latin Vulgate, it was a slavishly literal translation to that text. And precisely because of this, it was hardly English.
  2. Similar to the first point is that a literal translation is the best version. In fact, this is sometimes just a spin on the first notion. For example, the Greek New Testament has about 138,000–140,000 words, depending on which edition one is using. But no English translation has this few. Here are some examples:

RSV           173,293

NIV           175,037

ESV           175,599

NIV 2011   176,122

TNIV        176,267

NRSV       176,417

REB          176,705

NKJV      177,980

NET         178,929

RV           179,873

ASV        180,056

KJV        180,565

NASB 95   182,446

NASB      184,062

NLT, 2nd ed  186,596

TEV         192,784

It’s no surprise that the TEV and NLT have the most words, since these are both paraphrases. But the translations perceived to be more literal are often near the bottom of this list (that is, farther away from the Greek NT word-count). These include the KJV (#12), ASV (#11), NASB (#14), NASB 95 (#13), and RV (#10). Indeed, when the RV came out (1881), one of its stated goals was to be quite literal and the translators were consciously trying to be much more literal than the KJV.

Some translations of the New Testament into other languages:

Modern Hebrew NT             111,154

Vulgate                                    125,720

Italian La Sacra Bibbia      163,870

Luther                                     169,536

French Novelle Version2   184,449

La Sainte Bible (Geneve)    185,859

3.    The King James Version is a literal translation. The preface to the KJV actually claims otherwise. For example, they explicitly said that they did not translate the same word in the original the same way in the English but did attempt to capture the sense of the original each time: “An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee have not tyed our selves to an uniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men some where, have beene as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not varie from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there bee some wordes that bee not of the same sense every where) we were especially carefull, and made a conscience, according to our duetie.”

4.    The King James Version is perfect. This myth continues to be promoted today, yet even the translators of the KJV were not sure on hundreds of occasions which rendering was best, allowing the reader to decide for himself. Again, the preface notes: “Therfore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea is necessary, as we are perswaded… They that are wise, had rather have their judgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.” The original KJV had approximately 8000 marginal notes, though these have been stripped out in modern printings of the Authorized Version. Further, some of the typos and blatant errors of the 1611 KJV have continued to remain in the text after multiple corrections and spelling updates (weighing in at more than 100,000 changes) through the 1769 edition. For example, in Matthew 23.24 the KJV says, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” The Greek means “strain out a gnat.” Or the wording of Hebrews 4.8, which says, “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” Instead of ‘Jesus,’ Joshua is meant. It’s the same word in Greek, but the reader of the text will hardly think of Joshua when he or she sees ‘Jesus’ here since ‘Joshua’ is found everywhere in the OT.

5.    The King James Version was hard to understand when it was first published. Again, the preface: “But we desire that the Scripture may speake like it selfe, as in the language of Canaan, that it may bee understood even of the very vulgar.” The reality is that the KJV was intended to be easily understood, yet today this 400-year-old version is difficult to comprehend in all too many passages.

6.     There has never been an authorized revision of the KJV. There were three overhauls of the KJV up through 1769, involving more than 100,000 changes (the vast majority of which merely spelling updates). The KJV that is used today is almost always the 1769 revision. And the Revised Version of 1885 was an authorized revision of the KJV. It used a different Greek text than the KJV New Testament had done.

 7.    The Apocrypha are books found only in Roman Catholic Bibles. Although the Apocrypha—or what Catholics call the Deutero-canonical books—are an intrinsic part of Roman Catholic translations of scripture, a number of Protestant Bibles also include them. Even the King James Bible, a distinctly Protestant version, included the Apocrypha in every printing until the middle of the nineteenth century. To be sure, the apocryphal books were placed at the end of the Old Testament, to set them apart (unlike in Roman Catholic Bibles), but they were nevertheless included.

8.    Homosexuals influenced the translation of the NIV. It is true that a woman who later admitted to being a lesbian was a style-editor of the NIV originally, but according to Dr. Ken Barker, one-time editor of the NIV, she had zero say on the content of the NIV.

9.   No translation can claim to be the word of God except the King James Bible. It may seem as though we are beating a dead horse, but the KJV-Only crowd is persistent and continues to exercise an inordinate role in some circles. In the preface to the KJV, the translators noted that the king’s speech is still the king’s speech even when translated into other languages. Further, even poor translations of the Bible deserved to be called the word of God according to the preface to the KJV. And yet, in all particulars, only the original Greek and Hebrew text can be regarded as the word of God. Something is always lost in translation. Always.

10.    Modern translations have removed words and verses from the Bible. Most biblical scholars—both conservative and liberal—would say instead that the KJV added words and verses, rather than that the modern ones have removed such. And this is in part because the oldest and most reliable manuscripts lack the extra verses that are found in the KJV.

11.    Essential doctrines are in jeopardy in modern translations. Actually, no doctrine essential for salvation is affected by translations, modern or ancient—unless done by a particular cult for its own purposes. For example, those Englishmen who signed the Westminster Confession of Faith in the seventeenth century were using the KJV, yet it is still a normative doctrinal statement that millions of Protestants sign today even though they use modern translations.

12.    “Young woman” in the RSV’s translation of Isaiah 7.14 was due to liberal bias. Actually, ‘young woman’ is the most accurate translation of the Hebrew word ‘almah. Although this created quite a stir in 1952 when the RSV was published, even the NET Bible, done by evangelicals, has ‘young woman’ here. The TEV, REB, and NJB also have ‘young woman’ here. And it is a marginal reading found in the NIV 2011, TNIV, and NLT. The NRSV has a marginal note that indicates that the Greek translation of Isaiah 7.14 has ‘virgin’ here.

13.    Gender-inclusive translations are driven by a social agenda. In some instances, this may be the case. But not in all. The NIV 2011, for example, strives to be an accurate translation that is understandable by today’s English speaker. And the translators note that the English language is changing. In reality, the older gender-exclusive translations may miscommunicate the meaning of the Bible in today’s world if readers understand the words ‘men,’ ‘brothers,’ and the like in numerous passages to be restricted to the male gender. Translations must keep up with the evolution of the receptor language. For example, the RSV (1952) reads in Psalm 50.9, “I will accept no bull from your house.” In today’s English, that means something quite different from what the translators intended! The NRSV accordingly and appropriately renders the verse, “I will not accept a bull from your house.”

One of the great challenges in English translations of the Bible today is to avoid language that can become fodder for bathroom humor. Or, as one of the translators of the ESV once mentioned, a major challenge is to remove the ‘snicker factor.’

14.    Red-letter editions of the Bible highlight the exact words of Jesus. Scholars are not sure of the exact words of Jesus. Ancient historians were concerned to get the gist of what someone said, but not necessarily the exact wording. A comparison of parallel passages in the Synoptic Gospels reveals that the evangelists didn’t always record Jesus’ words exactly the same way. The terms ipsissima verba and ipsissima vox are used to distinguish the kinds of dominical sayings we have in the Gospels. The former means ‘the very words,’ and the latter means ‘the very voice.’ That is, the exact words or the essential thought. There have been attempts to harmonize these accounts, but they are highly motivated by a theological agenda which clouds one’s judgment and skews the facts. In truth, though red-letter editions of the Bible may give comfort to believers that they have the very words of Jesus in every instance, this is a false comfort.

15.    Chapter and verse numbers are inspired. These were added centuries later. Chapter numbers were added by Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the early 13th century. Verse numbers were not added until 1551. Robert Estienne (a.k.a. Stephanus), a Parisian printer, added verse numbers to the fourth edition of his Greek New Testament. The pocket-sized two-volume work (which can be viewed at www.csntm.org) has three parallel columns, one in Greek and two in Latin (one Erasmus’s Latin text, the other Jerome’s). To facilitate ease of comparison, Stephanus added the verse numbers. Although most of the breaks seem natural enough, quite a few are bizarre. Neither chapter numbers nor verse numbers are inspired.

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Oklahoma City, OK > Can God’s Existence be Proven?

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July 12, 2018 | By: Sam Storms

Short answer: probably not. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways in which to determine with a high degree of probability whether or not God exists. Many have tried to articulate various arguments believed to be decisive in demonstrating that “God” exists, none more famous than the so-called “Five Ways” of Thomas Aquinas. Thomas died in 1274, just shy of his fiftieth birthday.

The Five Ways include:

• The argument from motion or change
• The argument from causation
• The argument from contingency of being
• The argument from gradation
• The argument from design

Here is a brief summary of each argument taken directly from Thomas himself.

(1) Consider the following, taken from his first argument from motion or change:

“The first and most obvious proof is that which is based on change. It is certain and evident to the senses that some things in this world are in a process of change. But anything in a process of change is being changed by something else. For although things which are changing possess the potential for [the actuality] towards which they move, they do not yet have it, whereas that which causes the change possesses it in actuality. To cause change is nothing more than to transform potentiality into actuality, but to transform potentiality into actuality can only be done by something in which the actuality already exists. For example, fire, which is hot in actuality, causes wood, which is hot in potentiality, to become hot in actuality, and thereby it brings about a change in the nature of the wood. Now it is impossible for something to be actually and potentially the same thing at the same time. It may, however, be actually one thing and potentially something else. For example, something which is actually hot cannot be potentially hot at the same time. It can, however, be potentially cold. So it follows from this that something which is changing cannot itself be the cause of the change and the result of the change at the same time: a thing cannot change itself. Anything that is changing, therefore, is being changed by something else. But if the thing that is causing the change is itself being changed, it is itself being changed by a second something, and this, in turn, by a third. But we cannot go on forever with this process, for if we do, there will be no First Changer to cause the first change and therefore no subsequent causes [to cause the subsequent changes]. A second cause will not produce change unless it is acted upon by a first cause. A stick, for example, will not move or change anything else unless it is itself first moved by the hand. It follows, therefore, that one is bound to arrive at some first cause of change which is not itself changed by anything, and this is what everybody understands by God” (Summa Theologica, Part I, Question Two, Article Three).

(2) Aquinas appeals, secondly, to the nature of an efficient cause:

“We find that there is a sequence of efficient causes in sensible things. But we do not find that anything is the efficient cause of itself. Nor is this possible, for the thing would then be prior to itself, which is impossible. But neither can the sequence of efficient causes be infinite, for in every sequence the first efficient cause is the cause of an intermediate cause, and an intermediate cause is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate causes be many, or only one. Now if a cause is removed, its effect is removed. Hence if there were no first efficient cause, there would be no ultimate cause, and no intermediate cause. But if the regress of efficient causes were infinite, there would be no first efficient cause. There would consequently be no ultimate effect, and no intermediate causes. But this is plainly false. We are therefore bound to suppose that there is a first efficient cause. And all men call this God” (ibid.).

(3) His third argument is based on the nature of possibility and necessity. He argues that whereas some things may either exist or not exist, there must be something that must exist:

“Now everything which is necessary either derives its necessity from elsewhere, or does not. But we cannot go on to infinity with necessary things which have a cause of their necessity, any more than with efficient causes, as we proved. We are therefore bound to suppose something necessary in itself, which does not owe its necessity to anything else, but which is the cause of the necessity of other things. And all men call this God” (ibid.).

(4) The fourth way of arguing for God’s existence is

“from the degrees that occur in things, which are found to be more and less good, true, noble, and so on. Things are said to be more and less because they approximate in different degrees to that which is greatest. A thing is the more hot the more it approximates to that which is hottest. There is therefore something which is the truest, the best, and the noblest, and which is consequently the greatest in being, since that which has the greatest truth is also greatest in being. . . . There is therefore something which is the cause of the being of all things that are, as well as of their goodness and their every perfection. This we call God” (ibid.).

(5) Fifth, and finally, Aquinas appeals to the fact that

“some things, like natural bodies, work for an end even though they have no knowledge. . . . Now things which have no knowledge tend towards an end only through the agency of something which knows and also understands, as an arrow through an archer. There is therefore an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end. This we call God” (ibid.).

All five “ways” of demonstrating God’s existence ultimately reduce to the cosmological argument, moving from an event or aspect of reality to what Aquinas insists must be its first and original Cause, namely, God.

Whether or not these arguments (or any others) are persuasive, one thing must be noted. The Apostle Paul declares in Romans 1:19-21 that God has made clear in the material creation, or what we call nature, that he exists, and that all mankind is without excuse for not worshiping him and giving him thanks. He writes:

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:19-21).

Truly, he is the “fool” who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1).

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29 days ago
Texas, Earth
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A Fresh Translation of the Nicene Creed

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The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten son of God:
the one begotten from the Father before all the ages,
light of light, true God of true God,
begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father,
through whom all things came into being,
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven
and became flesh by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and became man and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried,
and on the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead,
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord and life-giver,
the one who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
who spoke through the prophets.

In one holy, catholic, and apostolic church:

we confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins;
we expect the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the age to come. Amen.

Some notes:

In the fall of 2017 I decided to make my own translation of the Creed for potential use in worship at Kenwood Baptist Church at Victory Memorial. We discussed it as elders and agreed that for 2018 we would recite the Nicene Creed at the end of the worship service where we had been doing the Apostles’ Creed.

Being more familiar with the phrases of the Greek New Testament than with the Greek text of this Creed, what struck me most was how so many of these Greek phrases match up almost exactly with the wording of the Greek New Testament. We tried to preserve and communicate this in our translation.

I made the initial translation from the text in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, which does not include the filioque (“and the son” after “the one who proceeds from the Father” in the statement on the Holy Spirit). I then sent the translation to my fellow elder Denny Burk, who worked over it, caught some errors I had made, and we had a healthy discussion about whether to use “seen and unseen” or “visible and invisible.” You can see from the translation where we came down.

Denny then had the idea to send the translation to Scott Swain, Fred Sanders, and Michael Haykin to get their input. We wanted to make sure we weren’t missing something, and we wanted their opinion on the filioque clause.

At the end of the day, we decided not to include the filioque in our translation. We did not leave it out because we do not believe it. We think the idea is taught in John 14–16. We left it out for reasons like these: first and foremost, it wasn’t in the original text we were translating. Second, whereas the Creed was universally accepted, there wasn’t universal agreement on the inclusion of that clause, and we see leaving it out as a way to avoid unnecessary disagreement.

Matt Damico and I then went over the translation and eliminated many unnecessary commas.

We want to confess the faith that has been handed down to us in unity with believers across space and through time. We want to do this week after week until these words become part of the fabric of who we are. The repetition of the creed weekly in worship will, hopefully, result in many of us memorizing it, so that its phrases flow from our lips and its vocabulary structures our thinking.

May the Lord build up and bless his people on the knowledge of him.

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31 days ago
Texas, Earth
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BGR: ‘Apple to Deploy 1Password to All 123,000 Employees, Acquisition Talks Underway’

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Jonathan Geller, writing at BGR:

Apple acquires an average of 15 to 20 companies a year, according to CEO Tim Cook. Of that number, we only hear about a couple, as most of these acquisitions or aqcui-hires are not consumer-facing, nor disclosed. However, we have exclusively learned that Apple is planning an interesting partnership and a potential acquisition of AgileBits, maker of the popular password manager 1Password.

According to our source, after many months of planning, Apple plans to deploy 1Password internally to all 123,000 employees. This includes not just employees in Cupertino, but extends all the way to retail, too. Furthermore, the company is said to have carved out a deal that includes family plans, giving up to 5 family members of each employee a free license for 1Password.

Great news and a resounding endorsement of 1Password for AgileBits. But if Apple thinks 1Password is this good, an acquisition seems like an obvious next step.

It seems clear this leak came from AgileBits, though, which seems dumb on the part of whoever blabbed. The first rule of getting acquired by Apple is you don’t talk about getting acquired by Apple.

Update 1: Statement from 1Password on Twitter:

Rumours of my acquisition are completely false. My humans and I are happily independent and plan to remain so.

The more I think about it, the weirder this story seems. Why would Apple encourage employees to use a third-party password manager — even a great one like 1Password — over the system Keychain? If the Keychain isn’t good enough they should make the Keychain better.

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35 days ago
Texas, Earth
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Winners of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

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