More Bible translations

The Washington Post has an article about two new Bible translations.  We’ve already blogged about the new gender-adjusted NIV that will take the place of the NIV beloved by many evangelicals.  There is also a new translation of the New American Bible, the version approved for Roman Catholics.

The new Catholic Bible retools only the Old Testament. The first new version since 1970, it is meant to sound more poetic and more contemporary, with “spoils” replacing “booty” and “burnt offering” supplanting “Holocaust.”

It could stir controversy, however, with decisions such as the one meant to be truer to the Hebrew – translating Isaiah 7:14 to say a “young woman” shall conceive, and bear a son, instead of a “virgin,” which is how the previous Catholic Old Testament and most evangelical Bibles read. …

Some experts predict that the radical fragmentation in the marketplace will kill the contemporary notion that the Bible is a fixed text meant to be read literally.

Timothy Beal, a religion professor at Case Western University who just came out with a book called “The Rise and Fall of the Bible,” compared the flurry of versions to “a distressed crop. When a tree is about to die and puts out tons of seeds.”

The Bible, Beal said, “is not a book of answers but a library of questions. It doesn’t speak in one voice. It doesn’t take one perspective. This frantic, desperate effort to resolve contradictions is going against the grain of the Bible, which seems to embrace contradictions.”

via Sign of the times: Updated Bible.

One problem with today’s Roman Catholicism is its embrace of liberal Protestantism!  Liberal Bible critics have been pushing for the “young woman” translation of Isaiah’s prophecy ever since the RSV.  Never mind that when the New Testament quotes the passage it cites the Septuagint, which is clearly “virgin,” a prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ.  Scripture is not allowed to interpret Scripture, as in classical Protestant hermeneutics. But now Roman Catholics are going down that line.  Will they now pray to the Young Woman Mary?

And what do you think of the Bible scholar’s comments?

Do you agree that so many translations is diluting the sense that the Bible has a fixed authoritative meaning?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    Your last question reminds me of a quote from Mises (which I paraphrase), “There are people who use different words, but speak the same language, and there are people who use the same words, but speak different languages.”

  • SKPeterson

    Your last question reminds me of a quote from Mises (which I paraphrase), “There are people who use different words, but speak the same language, and there are people who use the same words, but speak different languages.”

  • Pete

    Presumably the goal of Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts in the language of the day. So, in terms of English, the KJV was a spectacular example of that, when it was produced, but by virtue of the evolution of the English language has become less so.
    I suppose we would have to defer to a Hebrew scholar as to whether the word cited from Isaiah is better translated into English as “virgin” or “young woman”.

  • Pete

    Presumably the goal of Bible translation is to convey the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek texts in the language of the day. So, in terms of English, the KJV was a spectacular example of that, when it was produced, but by virtue of the evolution of the English language has become less so.
    I suppose we would have to defer to a Hebrew scholar as to whether the word cited from Isaiah is better translated into English as “virgin” or “young woman”.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    We don’t have to resort solely on the NT use of the Septuagint to defend the translation of ‘almah’ as ‘virgin’, Dr Veith. In the Hebrew OT, wherever the context provides clear guidance, the word clearly refers to a virgin, while outside the Bible the word never seems to have been used of a married and/or sexually active woman. In any case, as Luther noted, both an ‘almah’ and a ‘betulah’ (young woman) in Hebrew culture were both assumed to be sexually pure. Thus the translation of ‘almah’ as ‘young woman’ in modern translations, with the inevitable loss, in a sexually permissive culture, of the connotation of virginity, is a clear example of a theologically tendentious translation, as opposed to a revision justified on linguistic grounds in either the original or receptor languages.

    As to your question about the plethora of modern translations diluting the authority of the Bible, yes I would agree with that, although I don’t know what can be done about it in these pluralistic times, except for denominations placing their imprimatur on a particular translation. The LC-MS seems to have done that with the ESV, an understandable, if not unproblematic decision; it will be interesting to see what the WELS does if the NIV becomes redundant.
    In the meantime, the loss of a true ‘common version’ of the scriptures in the Anglophone world is both a religious and cultural deficit.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    We don’t have to resort solely on the NT use of the Septuagint to defend the translation of ‘almah’ as ‘virgin’, Dr Veith. In the Hebrew OT, wherever the context provides clear guidance, the word clearly refers to a virgin, while outside the Bible the word never seems to have been used of a married and/or sexually active woman. In any case, as Luther noted, both an ‘almah’ and a ‘betulah’ (young woman) in Hebrew culture were both assumed to be sexually pure. Thus the translation of ‘almah’ as ‘young woman’ in modern translations, with the inevitable loss, in a sexually permissive culture, of the connotation of virginity, is a clear example of a theologically tendentious translation, as opposed to a revision justified on linguistic grounds in either the original or receptor languages.

    As to your question about the plethora of modern translations diluting the authority of the Bible, yes I would agree with that, although I don’t know what can be done about it in these pluralistic times, except for denominations placing their imprimatur on a particular translation. The LC-MS seems to have done that with the ESV, an understandable, if not unproblematic decision; it will be interesting to see what the WELS does if the NIV becomes redundant.
    In the meantime, the loss of a true ‘common version’ of the scriptures in the Anglophone world is both a religious and cultural deficit.

  • Eric Brown

    I think the Scholar has strong insights – but it is not the bible which is dying, it is the liberal Christianity which is driving the flurry of translations.

  • Eric Brown

    I think the Scholar has strong insights – but it is not the bible which is dying, it is the liberal Christianity which is driving the flurry of translations.

  • Joe

    I agree with Eric – the many translations do not prove that the Bible is not authoritative. Instead, it proves the reverse. It is authoritative and because it is so, sinful man will stop at nothing – including rewriting it – to escape from it.

  • Joe

    I agree with Eric – the many translations do not prove that the Bible is not authoritative. Instead, it proves the reverse. It is authoritative and because it is so, sinful man will stop at nothing – including rewriting it – to escape from it.

  • Dan Kempin

    Pete, #2,

    Please–no more deferring to scholars!

  • Dan Kempin

    Pete, #2,

    Please–no more deferring to scholars!

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net Matt C.

    I dislike the false dichotomy between literal and unauthoritative. It is not the case that if it’s not literal it’s not clearly saying anything. It is not the case that subjective interpretation cannot be judged as having been performed well or poorly. It is not the case that there is only one kind of literature in the Bible. Too many Christians use “literal” as shorthand for actually believing what the Bible says, and too many critics think an escape from 100% literal is an escape from any objective meaning at all..

    Part of the problem is a lack of basic reading comprehension in general and in the church. Nobody takes a newspaper article, numbers each sentence, and then memorizes 3, 5, and 13 for proof-texting. Many Christians don’t read the Bible any other way (or to criticize fellow Lutherans in particular, too many substitute knowing the Catechism for knowing Scripture). On the bright side, the proliferation of varied translations will kill that shallow technique (except for the KJV-only folks). It’ll definitely make it harder for orthodox Christians to defend sound doctrine, but at least it might wake us up to the fact that we actually have to put hard work into it.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net Matt C.

    I dislike the false dichotomy between literal and unauthoritative. It is not the case that if it’s not literal it’s not clearly saying anything. It is not the case that subjective interpretation cannot be judged as having been performed well or poorly. It is not the case that there is only one kind of literature in the Bible. Too many Christians use “literal” as shorthand for actually believing what the Bible says, and too many critics think an escape from 100% literal is an escape from any objective meaning at all..

    Part of the problem is a lack of basic reading comprehension in general and in the church. Nobody takes a newspaper article, numbers each sentence, and then memorizes 3, 5, and 13 for proof-texting. Many Christians don’t read the Bible any other way (or to criticize fellow Lutherans in particular, too many substitute knowing the Catechism for knowing Scripture). On the bright side, the proliferation of varied translations will kill that shallow technique (except for the KJV-only folks). It’ll definitely make it harder for orthodox Christians to defend sound doctrine, but at least it might wake us up to the fact that we actually have to put hard work into it.

  • Jonathan

    I agree with the author’s comment that the Bible embraces controversy.

    That is what CFW Walther understood as the tension between the two themes in the Bible, the Law and the Gospel.

    People ought to read Walther’s Law & Gospel if they want to get an understanding of what is going on.

  • Jonathan

    I agree with the author’s comment that the Bible embraces controversy.

    That is what CFW Walther understood as the tension between the two themes in the Bible, the Law and the Gospel.

    People ought to read Walther’s Law & Gospel if they want to get an understanding of what is going on.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What Pr. Mark says–like the German “Jungfrau,” the Hebrew “Almah” means both “young woman” and “virgin” because a young woman was assumed to be pure.

    Never mind the basic fact that there is nothing remarkable about a “young woman” having a child. There is everything remarkable about a virgin having a child, though, and that is the clear indication of that passage–that something remarkable will be a sign. So the Westcott & Hort translation of Isaiah 7:14 (which is what this is, really) really does violence to the whole passage.

    Regarding the number of new translations–yes, it is troubling. I shudder, for example, to think that the language of the 1974 NASB or the 1982 NIV is somehow too “archaic” for us to understand. If we cannot understand a document written a mere 30 years ago, how are we, say, to understand…..

    …..our laws, or for that matter the verbiage about one’s own mortgage or property description. We’ve got to slow this down….and those who want to do cutting edge Bible translation can always apply to Wycliffe!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What Pr. Mark says–like the German “Jungfrau,” the Hebrew “Almah” means both “young woman” and “virgin” because a young woman was assumed to be pure.

    Never mind the basic fact that there is nothing remarkable about a “young woman” having a child. There is everything remarkable about a virgin having a child, though, and that is the clear indication of that passage–that something remarkable will be a sign. So the Westcott & Hort translation of Isaiah 7:14 (which is what this is, really) really does violence to the whole passage.

    Regarding the number of new translations–yes, it is troubling. I shudder, for example, to think that the language of the 1974 NASB or the 1982 NIV is somehow too “archaic” for us to understand. If we cannot understand a document written a mere 30 years ago, how are we, say, to understand…..

    …..our laws, or for that matter the verbiage about one’s own mortgage or property description. We’ve got to slow this down….and those who want to do cutting edge Bible translation can always apply to Wycliffe!

  • Bart

    Timothy Beal’s comment is the most disturbing element in this article aside from the dropping of Virgin. He makes the Bible into a dying thing BECAUSE it is filled with contradictions. Somehow, man has progressed into such a high rationality that an old holy book just can’t match our finely attuned standards.

    Maybe Mr. Beal should consider the acceptance of paradox. Of course, that would mean a rejection of his intellectual hubris and presentism.

  • Bart

    Timothy Beal’s comment is the most disturbing element in this article aside from the dropping of Virgin. He makes the Bible into a dying thing BECAUSE it is filled with contradictions. Somehow, man has progressed into such a high rationality that an old holy book just can’t match our finely attuned standards.

    Maybe Mr. Beal should consider the acceptance of paradox. Of course, that would mean a rejection of his intellectual hubris and presentism.

  • Pete

    Dan, #6

    I dunno – when my car breaks down, I defer to my mechanic. Usually am glad I did.
    My Hebrew ain’t so hot, either.

  • Pete

    Dan, #6

    I dunno – when my car breaks down, I defer to my mechanic. Usually am glad I did.
    My Hebrew ain’t so hot, either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “it could stir controversy, however, with decisions such as the one meant to be truer to the Hebrew – translating Isaiah 7:14 to say a “young woman” shall conceive, and bear a son, instead of a “virgin,” which is how the previous Catholic Old Testament and most evangelical Bibles read. …”
    It is funny, but a careful reading of Genesis 24 seems to give the opposite conclusion regarding the Almah and Betulah controversy. In Genesis 24 when the word Betulah is used it actually has to qualify that this is one not known by a man. Almah is readily translated as Virgin, and indicates virgin. So yeah, Pr. Mark Henderson has it right here.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “it could stir controversy, however, with decisions such as the one meant to be truer to the Hebrew – translating Isaiah 7:14 to say a “young woman” shall conceive, and bear a son, instead of a “virgin,” which is how the previous Catholic Old Testament and most evangelical Bibles read. …”
    It is funny, but a careful reading of Genesis 24 seems to give the opposite conclusion regarding the Almah and Betulah controversy. In Genesis 24 when the word Betulah is used it actually has to qualify that this is one not known by a man. Almah is readily translated as Virgin, and indicates virgin. So yeah, Pr. Mark Henderson has it right here.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    On the other note. I tend to find the only ones who feel the Bible lacks authority are the ones who fail to read it. The Holy Spirit has a way with the people who pick it up.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    On the other note. I tend to find the only ones who feel the Bible lacks authority are the ones who fail to read it. The Holy Spirit has a way with the people who pick it up.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Maybe it is time that Greek and Hebrew became an integral part of Sunday School.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Maybe it is time that Greek and Hebrew became an integral part of Sunday School.

  • Dan Kempin

    Pete, #11,

    A lot of people have gotten ripped off deferring to their mechanic.

    Not all mechanics are bad, of course. Not all scholars are bad. Yet the Missouri Synod in the early 1970s maintained the authoritative status of the Scripture precisely because they did NOT defer to the scholars, just as other church bodies have shipwrecked their scriptural base because they DID.

    Perhaps my issue is really with the word “defer,” which implies a handing over of responsibility. Let the scholar show me why the word should be read a certain way, but I will not “defer” just because a “scholar” said.

  • Dan Kempin

    Pete, #11,

    A lot of people have gotten ripped off deferring to their mechanic.

    Not all mechanics are bad, of course. Not all scholars are bad. Yet the Missouri Synod in the early 1970s maintained the authoritative status of the Scripture precisely because they did NOT defer to the scholars, just as other church bodies have shipwrecked their scriptural base because they DID.

    Perhaps my issue is really with the word “defer,” which implies a handing over of responsibility. Let the scholar show me why the word should be read a certain way, but I will not “defer” just because a “scholar” said.

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    Perhaps the proliferation of English Bible translations speaks more the the fracturing and fragmenting of English-speaking society into more and more distinct sub-groups. It’s not the source text (the Scriptures) with which there is a problem — it’s the target language (in this case, English) that people are having a harder time reading.

    I shudder along with #9 that people do, indeed, have trouble reading 30-year-old verbiage, and anything written with any degree of precision or literary style.

    All in all, I don’t think that an abundance of English versions is a bad thing — I can’t believe there is any one-size-fits-all translation that communicates well to the entire cross-section of English-speaking Americans.

    For more on the differing (and “moving”) target(s) at which modern Bible translations aim, I encourage you to read this article by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor Ken Cherney, which is part of the ongoing discussion in the WELS over which translation will take the place of the NIV1984.

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    Perhaps the proliferation of English Bible translations speaks more the the fracturing and fragmenting of English-speaking society into more and more distinct sub-groups. It’s not the source text (the Scriptures) with which there is a problem — it’s the target language (in this case, English) that people are having a harder time reading.

    I shudder along with #9 that people do, indeed, have trouble reading 30-year-old verbiage, and anything written with any degree of precision or literary style.

    All in all, I don’t think that an abundance of English versions is a bad thing — I can’t believe there is any one-size-fits-all translation that communicates well to the entire cross-section of English-speaking Americans.

    For more on the differing (and “moving”) target(s) at which modern Bible translations aim, I encourage you to read this article by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor Ken Cherney, which is part of the ongoing discussion in the WELS over which translation will take the place of the NIV1984.

  • Dennis Peskey

    As for Rome, until they recind the Papal Bull against Luther, the best I advice I can muster is pray for them – they choose their path at Trent. By my take, they make Moses look like a GPS inspire traveler.

    Professor Beal’s opinion should be viewed from his perspective. He does not confess the Bible as authorative, inerrant nor inspired. The subtitle of his most recent book, The Rise and Fall of the Bible is a sufficient warning to all. His words; “The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book”.

    For a more comprehensive understanding of Professor Beal, I recomment his web site (www.timothybeal.com). Try reading his review of The Shack published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. For those who view time as a limited and precious quantity, I offer the following selection:

    “Granted, many readers of The Shack will continue reading other Christian best sellers like the Left Behind series and The PurposeDriven Life, which represent the more common, conservative theological perspectives. But Papa’s voice doesn’t blend well with theirs. The Shack is a real alternative, a serious theological countervoice.”

    As for my personal preference, I now utilize the English Standard Version (I choose this before the LC-MS officially endorsed this version which is a personal comfort) and when in doubt, the 27th edition, Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. No amount of new editions or translations will facilitate unity in the body of Christ. We will only find koinonia when we trust solely in the Lord.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    As for Rome, until they recind the Papal Bull against Luther, the best I advice I can muster is pray for them – they choose their path at Trent. By my take, they make Moses look like a GPS inspire traveler.

    Professor Beal’s opinion should be viewed from his perspective. He does not confess the Bible as authorative, inerrant nor inspired. The subtitle of his most recent book, The Rise and Fall of the Bible is a sufficient warning to all. His words; “The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book”.

    For a more comprehensive understanding of Professor Beal, I recomment his web site (www.timothybeal.com). Try reading his review of The Shack published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. For those who view time as a limited and precious quantity, I offer the following selection:

    “Granted, many readers of The Shack will continue reading other Christian best sellers like the Left Behind series and The PurposeDriven Life, which represent the more common, conservative theological perspectives. But Papa’s voice doesn’t blend well with theirs. The Shack is a real alternative, a serious theological countervoice.”

    As for my personal preference, I now utilize the English Standard Version (I choose this before the LC-MS officially endorsed this version which is a personal comfort) and when in doubt, the 27th edition, Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. No amount of new editions or translations will facilitate unity in the body of Christ. We will only find koinonia when we trust solely in the Lord.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Bleh. The fundamental reason for a proliferation of translations is because Holy Writ has become a tradeable commodity, and publishing houses can make a lot of money from it. Furthermore, because the majority of Christians have sold their souls to the marketplace, they are a captive market for these publishing houses. They buy into the mindest of continually chasing after the newest thing, a mindset which, though ancient in origin, has really come into its own, having been enabled by the ease of creating “The New”.

    Many times the adejctives “conservative” or “liberal” are but denominators for subsets of the consumer population. The sad thing is that many buy into this (sometimes false) dichtomy with nary a thought.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Bleh. The fundamental reason for a proliferation of translations is because Holy Writ has become a tradeable commodity, and publishing houses can make a lot of money from it. Furthermore, because the majority of Christians have sold their souls to the marketplace, they are a captive market for these publishing houses. They buy into the mindest of continually chasing after the newest thing, a mindset which, though ancient in origin, has really come into its own, having been enabled by the ease of creating “The New”.

    Many times the adejctives “conservative” or “liberal” are but denominators for subsets of the consumer population. The sad thing is that many buy into this (sometimes false) dichtomy with nary a thought.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Give me my ESV; I’m perfectly content with it.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Give me my ESV; I’m perfectly content with it.

  • Rob

    I agree with Louis’s first point and was about to write it before I saw his comment: the reason for so many translations is primarily economical.

    As everyone knows, the Bible is the #1 bestseller of all time (prompting the sardonic observation that it is the most-purchased, least-read book in the world). Certain publishing houses hold the copyrights to certain versions. Thus, if you want in on the action, you’d better assemble some scholars and bang out a translation. If you want to reintroduce your version and also maintain your copyright (rather than have it lapse into Public Domain), you’d better publish an update with some frequency. The scholars are always willing because every translation is inherently limited.

    If the commodification of the versions were to cease, say if all copyright holders on Bible versions relinquished their copyrights, you would see this flurry of translations slow to a near halt.

    As to the Bible scholar cited, he is but one of a vast breed of superfluous voices. It amazes me the alacrity with which these men and women in a time of shrinking liberal arts funding are willing to marginalize their own careers. But, on the other hand, if you don’t say something provocative or edgy, who will publish your dissertation, articles, or books? Then how will you get hired or tenured?

  • Rob

    I agree with Louis’s first point and was about to write it before I saw his comment: the reason for so many translations is primarily economical.

    As everyone knows, the Bible is the #1 bestseller of all time (prompting the sardonic observation that it is the most-purchased, least-read book in the world). Certain publishing houses hold the copyrights to certain versions. Thus, if you want in on the action, you’d better assemble some scholars and bang out a translation. If you want to reintroduce your version and also maintain your copyright (rather than have it lapse into Public Domain), you’d better publish an update with some frequency. The scholars are always willing because every translation is inherently limited.

    If the commodification of the versions were to cease, say if all copyright holders on Bible versions relinquished their copyrights, you would see this flurry of translations slow to a near halt.

    As to the Bible scholar cited, he is but one of a vast breed of superfluous voices. It amazes me the alacrity with which these men and women in a time of shrinking liberal arts funding are willing to marginalize their own careers. But, on the other hand, if you don’t say something provocative or edgy, who will publish your dissertation, articles, or books? Then how will you get hired or tenured?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think it sounds remarkably dismissive (at least for this crowd), and not a little bit misleading, to describe the 2010 NIV as merely “gender-adjusted”.

    That said, I’d like to offer a different take on Veith’s question (“Do you agree that so many translations is diluting the sense that the Bible has a fixed authoritative meaning?”) than most people here are giving.

    Personally, I welcome more translations, because it just might move us away, at least in part, from the problems of biblicism. Now, I’ve only picked up that word (“biblicism”) here on this blog, so I may be using it incorrectly. Allow me to explain.

    I’m trying to distinguish between the Word of God, on the one hand, and the particular words of a Bible translation (or even a physical Bible) on the other. Not a few people confuse these two.

    After all, you have people who believe that God’s Word is only to be found in a particular (English) translation — typically the KJV. Or people who believe that God’s Word cannot be found in a liturgy or a hymn (even if there is perfect concord between them and Bible verses), and that it only “counts” if you read passages from a Bible. Or people who stress bringing physical Bibles to church to read from, and not merely hearing a preacher read from the Bible (or seeing it on a screen). All of these are (negative) examples of what I’m calling biblicism.

    When you have multiple Bible translations available in a language, it makes it easier to understand what God’s Word is or isn’t. Christians are not Muslims, who believe that communication from God can only truly be understood in its particular original language, all foreign translations being inferior at best.

    You’d think this would be obvious to all of us, since, by and large, we read the Bible in a translation, not in the original languages. And yet, somehow, the KJV somehow convinces people through its antiquity that it is more authoritatively God’s Word than, say, the NIV or ESV.

    Anyhow, I welcome more translations. I am typically wary of anyone who can only make their theological case from only one particular translation — that is, after all, what the cults do. That doesn’t mean that every translation will bear up a reasonable case, of course. There are bad translations out there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think it sounds remarkably dismissive (at least for this crowd), and not a little bit misleading, to describe the 2010 NIV as merely “gender-adjusted”.

    That said, I’d like to offer a different take on Veith’s question (“Do you agree that so many translations is diluting the sense that the Bible has a fixed authoritative meaning?”) than most people here are giving.

    Personally, I welcome more translations, because it just might move us away, at least in part, from the problems of biblicism. Now, I’ve only picked up that word (“biblicism”) here on this blog, so I may be using it incorrectly. Allow me to explain.

    I’m trying to distinguish between the Word of God, on the one hand, and the particular words of a Bible translation (or even a physical Bible) on the other. Not a few people confuse these two.

    After all, you have people who believe that God’s Word is only to be found in a particular (English) translation — typically the KJV. Or people who believe that God’s Word cannot be found in a liturgy or a hymn (even if there is perfect concord between them and Bible verses), and that it only “counts” if you read passages from a Bible. Or people who stress bringing physical Bibles to church to read from, and not merely hearing a preacher read from the Bible (or seeing it on a screen). All of these are (negative) examples of what I’m calling biblicism.

    When you have multiple Bible translations available in a language, it makes it easier to understand what God’s Word is or isn’t. Christians are not Muslims, who believe that communication from God can only truly be understood in its particular original language, all foreign translations being inferior at best.

    You’d think this would be obvious to all of us, since, by and large, we read the Bible in a translation, not in the original languages. And yet, somehow, the KJV somehow convinces people through its antiquity that it is more authoritatively God’s Word than, say, the NIV or ESV.

    Anyhow, I welcome more translations. I am typically wary of anyone who can only make their theological case from only one particular translation — that is, after all, what the cults do. That doesn’t mean that every translation will bear up a reasonable case, of course. There are bad translations out there.

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Changing terminology in a translation, such as this passage in Isaiah, does not change the fact that our Lord was born of a virgin. There are too many other passages that would have to be altered to undermine that teaching.

    Even then, if it IS undermined by translations, the Truth still remains…and will remain.

  • HistoryProfBrad

    Changing terminology in a translation, such as this passage in Isaiah, does not change the fact that our Lord was born of a virgin. There are too many other passages that would have to be altered to undermine that teaching.

    Even then, if it IS undermined by translations, the Truth still remains…and will remain.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@6), I dare say that you (on the one hand) and Pete and I (on the other) are coming at this “deferring to scholars” thing from different angles. May I suggest that this is, in part, due to the fact that you are more of a scholar than either of us (no offense, Pete, just guessing, based on the assumption you’re not a pastor, but Dan is)?

    In your ability to read the Bible in its original languages, Dan, you are in a better position than us to assess whether the scholars in your field are making good arguments. People like me, however, can only read such debates (if we even do that much) and side with the person who makes the best case … or, more likely, the person who’s “on our side” in the first place.

    I have no ability to contribute to the virgin/almah debate of my own. I can merely repeat arguments made by more knowledgeable people than I — typically those I otherwise trust for my spiritual care, such as my pastor.

    All this to say, Dan, have pity on us beggars who are dependent on more knowledgeable people to tell us what’s what.

    For us, it’s not a question of “should we defer to more knowledgeable people?” It’s one of “to whom of these people should we defer?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@6), I dare say that you (on the one hand) and Pete and I (on the other) are coming at this “deferring to scholars” thing from different angles. May I suggest that this is, in part, due to the fact that you are more of a scholar than either of us (no offense, Pete, just guessing, based on the assumption you’re not a pastor, but Dan is)?

    In your ability to read the Bible in its original languages, Dan, you are in a better position than us to assess whether the scholars in your field are making good arguments. People like me, however, can only read such debates (if we even do that much) and side with the person who makes the best case … or, more likely, the person who’s “on our side” in the first place.

    I have no ability to contribute to the virgin/almah debate of my own. I can merely repeat arguments made by more knowledgeable people than I — typically those I otherwise trust for my spiritual care, such as my pastor.

    All this to say, Dan, have pity on us beggars who are dependent on more knowledgeable people to tell us what’s what.

    For us, it’s not a question of “should we defer to more knowledgeable people?” It’s one of “to whom of these people should we defer?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As for people who think that the English language hasn’t changed in a few decades, try asking your children what an alien is. Ask them if the Bible talks about aliens being in ancient Israel.

    Chris (@16), thanks for that WLS article. I look forward to reading it in full.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As for people who think that the English language hasn’t changed in a few decades, try asking your children what an alien is. Ask them if the Bible talks about aliens being in ancient Israel.

    Chris (@16), thanks for that WLS article. I look forward to reading it in full.

  • katy

    I thought the New American Bible was questionable already. The Catholics I know prefer New Jerusalem or Douay Rheims.

  • katy

    I thought the New American Bible was questionable already. The Catholics I know prefer New Jerusalem or Douay Rheims.

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    tODD (@24), good point about the “aliens.” An even more striking example, perhaps, is the way teenagers use the word “justify.” That word might mean a lot of things in modern American English, but the idea behind the Greek dikaiousune is definitely not one of them.

    Happy to provide the link to Prof. Cherney’s article. I just spent a year studying Bible translation and graduate-level applied linguistics, and based on what I learned I’d say he’s right on the money with his applications of the latest research in translation and communication theory to the task of picking the “right” English Bible(s). I pray it serves you, and others, well.

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    tODD (@24), good point about the “aliens.” An even more striking example, perhaps, is the way teenagers use the word “justify.” That word might mean a lot of things in modern American English, but the idea behind the Greek dikaiousune is definitely not one of them.

    Happy to provide the link to Prof. Cherney’s article. I just spent a year studying Bible translation and graduate-level applied linguistics, and based on what I learned I’d say he’s right on the money with his applications of the latest research in translation and communication theory to the task of picking the “right” English Bible(s). I pray it serves you, and others, well.

  • SKPeterson

    Chris – I’ll defer to you in this instance. But, was there a link I missed?

  • SKPeterson

    Chris – I’ll defer to you in this instance. But, was there a link I missed?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Some are better than others, that’s for sure.

    But the Word is not an ink blot on a page. The Word is living and active, and will make It’s way.

    The finite contains the infinite.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Some are better than others, that’s for sure.

    But the Word is not an ink blot on a page. The Word is living and active, and will make It’s way.

    The finite contains the infinite.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, regarding “alien,” I’m afraid that the word’s meaning changed about four decades ago with a TV show about a couple in Boulder, Colorado…..or more with fascination about events in Roswell….

    …agreed that the language changes, but we had how many centuries with variants of the AV, and we can’t seem to get through a decade without a hot new translation these days? Is this the price we pay for a post-literate society?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, regarding “alien,” I’m afraid that the word’s meaning changed about four decades ago with a TV show about a couple in Boulder, Colorado…..or more with fascination about events in Roswell….

    …agreed that the language changes, but we had how many centuries with variants of the AV, and we can’t seem to get through a decade without a hot new translation these days? Is this the price we pay for a post-literate society?

  • Matt

    Chris

    At Wisco you taught me all the Spanish (and coffee lingo) I’ve ever forgotten and the bits I still remember, which I sincerely appreciate. Are you currently using your Spanish language talents in Bible translation?

  • Matt

    Chris

    At Wisco you taught me all the Spanish (and coffee lingo) I’ve ever forgotten and the bits I still remember, which I sincerely appreciate. Are you currently using your Spanish language talents in Bible translation?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@29), the OED records the first use of that sense of “alien” (“Of or pertaining to an (intelligent) being or beings from another planet”) in 1944, though it appears it was limited to pulp science fiction for some time. Myself, I’d be more likely to blame Close Encounters or E.T. than Mork & Mindy, but either way, it’s clear that the meaning has shifted in recent decades.

    As for the speed with which things change, I would posit that this is the nature of things. Things change faster now than they did a long time ago. We could go off on a long tangent on why this is, but I don’t think it’s a terribly controversial assertion. The AV’s longstanding predominance is a product of its time. That time has passed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba (@29), the OED records the first use of that sense of “alien” (“Of or pertaining to an (intelligent) being or beings from another planet”) in 1944, though it appears it was limited to pulp science fiction for some time. Myself, I’d be more likely to blame Close Encounters or E.T. than Mork & Mindy, but either way, it’s clear that the meaning has shifted in recent decades.

    As for the speed with which things change, I would posit that this is the nature of things. Things change faster now than they did a long time ago. We could go off on a long tangent on why this is, but I don’t think it’s a terribly controversial assertion. The AV’s longstanding predominance is a product of its time. That time has passed.

  • Stephen

    Steve @ 28 you almost had me there with this:

    “But the Word is not an ink blot on a page. The Word is living and active, and will make It’s way.”

    Very nice, but then:

    “The finite contains the infinite”

    I’m not picking on you, really, but there’s maybe another way to say it – the infinite is capable of the finite. I believe the Latin construction was “infinitum capax finiti” but I think we need trotke to verify as I don’t have my reference texts handy. Greek is my thing and not Latin.

    I would only want to say what you said in terms of the man Jesus perhaps, the one incarnate word who lived and dwelt among us and will come again. But then he does come to us, all the way down and is, as we believe and trust him to be, “truly present” as he speaks to us in His own words. This is so specifically in the sacrament, but we can also say that he does indeed come to us by his word and promise when it is spoken. So what word is that? Like you say, it isn’t an ink spot.

    I’m with Todd here. Language changes. God comes to be with us in time and history. He would have it this way. He would have us this way. He chooses us in jus this way. We believe and trust in an incarnate Lord. I think Louis was right that there is some marketing going on, but you know, in, with and under that is the goodness and incarnate mercy of God getting to us. It isn’t ink on page. It is the word of truth. It is not the letter. If it were, we would be counting consonants for posterity. I’m thankful that Masorites did this, and it was to God’s good purposes, but if this were all there was to it, it would be only law and no gospel.

    I like to collect translations a little if I can. I snatch them up at Goodwill (or I used to). If I really want to dif into something I usually consult at least three different versions. I can also do a Greek translation, and I learned the dreaded historical/critical method in school (I have a degree!!). Hey, why let the skeptics and people who want to remove the authority of scriptures be the only ones with the facility with these tools? Anyway, it isn’t forensics. If it were, as some scholars think of it, then the bible truly is a dead thing and museum piece.

    There are better metaphors for engaging scripture. But Steve has it right (it’s because his name is Steve!). The word is alive. It resonates with that which is already given to us in our baptism, a word of promise, the same word that is there in, with and under what we read and hear read. It is the same word that was made flesh in Jesus. Remember that for about the first 2 to 300 years of Christianity there was not really some sort of disceminated canon that was readily available to all that we call the NT. And the scriptures did nto spring fresh out of the lake like Arthur’s Excalibur. They came to life as the church came to life. They have that life among us. That life continues on. It is okay if we let it continue to live. If we try to nail down one translation and stop there we are being like cult as Todd says. Even Eusebius, the first historian of the church, said in the 4th c. that he still enjoyed the oral traditions better than the written ones. I submit that there is a word we share that is not an ink blot at all. that word is the Holy Spirit which guides and comforts and directs the Body of Christ in, with and under our falty attempts at perfecting the things we can see . . . and read.

    The infinite is capable of much more than our finite abilities are able to manufacture. This happens in, with and under what we do, whether that doing is faithful or unfaithful. God makes it what he will have it be. It is his will being done.

  • Stephen

    Steve @ 28 you almost had me there with this:

    “But the Word is not an ink blot on a page. The Word is living and active, and will make It’s way.”

    Very nice, but then:

    “The finite contains the infinite”

    I’m not picking on you, really, but there’s maybe another way to say it – the infinite is capable of the finite. I believe the Latin construction was “infinitum capax finiti” but I think we need trotke to verify as I don’t have my reference texts handy. Greek is my thing and not Latin.

    I would only want to say what you said in terms of the man Jesus perhaps, the one incarnate word who lived and dwelt among us and will come again. But then he does come to us, all the way down and is, as we believe and trust him to be, “truly present” as he speaks to us in His own words. This is so specifically in the sacrament, but we can also say that he does indeed come to us by his word and promise when it is spoken. So what word is that? Like you say, it isn’t an ink spot.

    I’m with Todd here. Language changes. God comes to be with us in time and history. He would have it this way. He would have us this way. He chooses us in jus this way. We believe and trust in an incarnate Lord. I think Louis was right that there is some marketing going on, but you know, in, with and under that is the goodness and incarnate mercy of God getting to us. It isn’t ink on page. It is the word of truth. It is not the letter. If it were, we would be counting consonants for posterity. I’m thankful that Masorites did this, and it was to God’s good purposes, but if this were all there was to it, it would be only law and no gospel.

    I like to collect translations a little if I can. I snatch them up at Goodwill (or I used to). If I really want to dif into something I usually consult at least three different versions. I can also do a Greek translation, and I learned the dreaded historical/critical method in school (I have a degree!!). Hey, why let the skeptics and people who want to remove the authority of scriptures be the only ones with the facility with these tools? Anyway, it isn’t forensics. If it were, as some scholars think of it, then the bible truly is a dead thing and museum piece.

    There are better metaphors for engaging scripture. But Steve has it right (it’s because his name is Steve!). The word is alive. It resonates with that which is already given to us in our baptism, a word of promise, the same word that is there in, with and under what we read and hear read. It is the same word that was made flesh in Jesus. Remember that for about the first 2 to 300 years of Christianity there was not really some sort of disceminated canon that was readily available to all that we call the NT. And the scriptures did nto spring fresh out of the lake like Arthur’s Excalibur. They came to life as the church came to life. They have that life among us. That life continues on. It is okay if we let it continue to live. If we try to nail down one translation and stop there we are being like cult as Todd says. Even Eusebius, the first historian of the church, said in the 4th c. that he still enjoyed the oral traditions better than the written ones. I submit that there is a word we share that is not an ink blot at all. that word is the Holy Spirit which guides and comforts and directs the Body of Christ in, with and under our falty attempts at perfecting the things we can see . . . and read.

    The infinite is capable of much more than our finite abilities are able to manufacture. This happens in, with and under what we do, whether that doing is faithful or unfaithful. God makes it what he will have it be. It is his will being done.

  • helen

    The King James Bible is not dead until all the books that presuppose an understanding of it go unread.
    Or until I am underground (if the first has already happened).

    The KJV is celebrating its 400th birthday this year. One of the persons celebrating is none other than Richard Dawkins!! He says it should be taught in every English public school. As literature, of course. :)

  • helen

    The King James Bible is not dead until all the books that presuppose an understanding of it go unread.
    Or until I am underground (if the first has already happened).

    The KJV is celebrating its 400th birthday this year. One of the persons celebrating is none other than Richard Dawkins!! He says it should be taught in every English public school. As literature, of course. :)

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #23, (and Pete),

    I didn’t mean to come across as, well, a condescending scholar, but your point strikes home. The vocation of a scholar certainly comes to the fore in the very weighty task of translating God’s Holy Word. I am not trashing the trustworthiness of scholars, nor limiting them, even, to those who are “on our side.” (St. Jerome created significant controversy by consulting the Jewish scholars of his day in order to better understand the Hebrew language.)

    My entire point is that while the vocation of a scholar is valuable, handling the Word of God is not just a matter of scholarship. The scholars of Jesus day, I am confident, would blow away contemporary scholars for their knowledge of the language and content of Scripture. They were certainly a lot closer to the scholarly sources. Yet they were also in need of serious correction.

    So . . . thank God for scholars. I am certainly grateful for the scholars who taught me, and my interactions with professors and clergy of the Wisconsin Synod leave me convinced that they are also blessed with fine scholars. Yet let us not trust scholars too much. Please, do not trust ME too much because I am a pastor. (I am, as you point out.) And let us not dabble with translations that change the church’s understanding of a scripture because some scholars have given it the green light. (Jesus Seminar, anyone?)

    I might add that I agree with your point about biblicism, and personally welcome variety in translation. Reading several different attempts to render a phrase can often lend insight into the sense behind it. (So long as it is a valid effort, that is, and not an attempt to undermine the virgin birth . . .)

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #23, (and Pete),

    I didn’t mean to come across as, well, a condescending scholar, but your point strikes home. The vocation of a scholar certainly comes to the fore in the very weighty task of translating God’s Holy Word. I am not trashing the trustworthiness of scholars, nor limiting them, even, to those who are “on our side.” (St. Jerome created significant controversy by consulting the Jewish scholars of his day in order to better understand the Hebrew language.)

    My entire point is that while the vocation of a scholar is valuable, handling the Word of God is not just a matter of scholarship. The scholars of Jesus day, I am confident, would blow away contemporary scholars for their knowledge of the language and content of Scripture. They were certainly a lot closer to the scholarly sources. Yet they were also in need of serious correction.

    So . . . thank God for scholars. I am certainly grateful for the scholars who taught me, and my interactions with professors and clergy of the Wisconsin Synod leave me convinced that they are also blessed with fine scholars. Yet let us not trust scholars too much. Please, do not trust ME too much because I am a pastor. (I am, as you point out.) And let us not dabble with translations that change the church’s understanding of a scripture because some scholars have given it the green light. (Jesus Seminar, anyone?)

    I might add that I agree with your point about biblicism, and personally welcome variety in translation. Reading several different attempts to render a phrase can often lend insight into the sense behind it. (So long as it is a valid effort, that is, and not an attempt to undermine the virgin birth . . .)

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    SKPetersen (@27) — The link to the translation article was way back at #16.

    Matt (@30) — I wish I knew which Matt you were from Wisco, but I’m honored that you still remember me, and some of the stuff I tried to teach. I’m not using my Spanish anymore, but instead the passion for missions that got instilled in me at that fine institution. We’re with Lutheran Bible Translators now. You can check us out at http://theplugers.wordpress.com.

  • http://theplugers.wordpress.com Chris Pluger

    SKPetersen (@27) — The link to the translation article was way back at #16.

    Matt (@30) — I wish I knew which Matt you were from Wisco, but I’m honored that you still remember me, and some of the stuff I tried to teach. I’m not using my Spanish anymore, but instead the passion for missions that got instilled in me at that fine institution. We’re with Lutheran Bible Translators now. You can check us out at http://theplugers.wordpress.com.

  • Stephen

    Dan @ 34

    I’m wondering about this little qualifying statement you make about using varying translations:

    “(So long as it is a valid effort, that is, and not an attempt to undermine the virgin birth . . .)”

    What makes one’s efforts “valid” in your mind? Who puts the stamp of approval on such validity? I don’t get that. does sincerity guarantee truth to the meaning of the text? Are you advocating for some kind of scriptural magisterium? Sounds like it to me, or at least this is something that must be in the mind of the believer or person who reads the bible, otherwise they do not read it rightly or “validly” as you put it. So who really is in charge? You are skeptical about contemporary scholarship, or at least the ones you don’t like. And why are you so confident that the scholars of Jesus’ day would “blow away” those of today. Were people smarter back then? Were they really closer to the material in any sense that matters? That is like saying that people of centuries past have a more valid faith than mine, isn’t it? Seems to me that as far as all the scholars and teachers Jesus encountered, they were pretty much all wet.

    I realize that any fool can pick up the bible and start a cult. We certainly have examples of that, some really ugly and tragic ones. I am pushing all that because wasn’t Luther and all his pals who wrote our Confessions the kind of rigorous scholars that we need to encourage rather than disparage or frighten away, even the ones who take the bible seriously that we do not see eye to eye on every point? Whatever does “on our side” mean exactly? Is that like the difference between Luther and Melancthon or Luther and Zwingli or Luther and Erasmus? Perhaps you are indicating some “valid” translation or interpretation that achieves the agendas set for the by the LCMS perhaps like ESV that uses the word “homosexual” which does not belong in the scriptures at all, but is the coup of evangelicalism in our day. I don’t know.

    The failings of liberal scholars aside, I think there remains a great deal of ignorance and inability to think outside of the “valid” boundaries set by some kind of ingrained hierarchy I have not figured out yet among conservative Lutherans. And I say this because I don’t hear arguments like this being made from the Confessions in general. let’s go to Natural Law instead and use that as the way judge the “validity” of a translation maybe. These arguments sound to me more cultural and politically motivated, with anxieties over particulars, such as the virgin birth. Do our Confessions hinge on that as some historical fact?

    What gives (or doesn’t)? You can respond or not. I wanted to get a word in edge-wise. I hold no avarice. The scriptures, as I understand them, exist and have always existed within the community of faith. They will always be valid there, and likewise, the community gains it’s validity from them. They are not static and existing apart. Their purpose and “use” (which sounds crude I suppose) is never separate from what has always been believed about them. This is what is contained in Art I of our Confessions. We don’t need to worry so much about evil scholars because we have that historic confession that is shared since the Apostles. God is faithful. In this is their “validity” – baptism itself actually.

  • Stephen

    Dan @ 34

    I’m wondering about this little qualifying statement you make about using varying translations:

    “(So long as it is a valid effort, that is, and not an attempt to undermine the virgin birth . . .)”

    What makes one’s efforts “valid” in your mind? Who puts the stamp of approval on such validity? I don’t get that. does sincerity guarantee truth to the meaning of the text? Are you advocating for some kind of scriptural magisterium? Sounds like it to me, or at least this is something that must be in the mind of the believer or person who reads the bible, otherwise they do not read it rightly or “validly” as you put it. So who really is in charge? You are skeptical about contemporary scholarship, or at least the ones you don’t like. And why are you so confident that the scholars of Jesus’ day would “blow away” those of today. Were people smarter back then? Were they really closer to the material in any sense that matters? That is like saying that people of centuries past have a more valid faith than mine, isn’t it? Seems to me that as far as all the scholars and teachers Jesus encountered, they were pretty much all wet.

    I realize that any fool can pick up the bible and start a cult. We certainly have examples of that, some really ugly and tragic ones. I am pushing all that because wasn’t Luther and all his pals who wrote our Confessions the kind of rigorous scholars that we need to encourage rather than disparage or frighten away, even the ones who take the bible seriously that we do not see eye to eye on every point? Whatever does “on our side” mean exactly? Is that like the difference between Luther and Melancthon or Luther and Zwingli or Luther and Erasmus? Perhaps you are indicating some “valid” translation or interpretation that achieves the agendas set for the by the LCMS perhaps like ESV that uses the word “homosexual” which does not belong in the scriptures at all, but is the coup of evangelicalism in our day. I don’t know.

    The failings of liberal scholars aside, I think there remains a great deal of ignorance and inability to think outside of the “valid” boundaries set by some kind of ingrained hierarchy I have not figured out yet among conservative Lutherans. And I say this because I don’t hear arguments like this being made from the Confessions in general. let’s go to Natural Law instead and use that as the way judge the “validity” of a translation maybe. These arguments sound to me more cultural and politically motivated, with anxieties over particulars, such as the virgin birth. Do our Confessions hinge on that as some historical fact?

    What gives (or doesn’t)? You can respond or not. I wanted to get a word in edge-wise. I hold no avarice. The scriptures, as I understand them, exist and have always existed within the community of faith. They will always be valid there, and likewise, the community gains it’s validity from them. They are not static and existing apart. Their purpose and “use” (which sounds crude I suppose) is never separate from what has always been believed about them. This is what is contained in Art I of our Confessions. We don’t need to worry so much about evil scholars because we have that historic confession that is shared since the Apostles. God is faithful. In this is their “validity” – baptism itself actually.

  • Joe

    Luther (as in most things) has something to say here. His theory of translation was:

    “we must inquire about this of the mother in the home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace. We must be guided by their language, the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly … [but] where everything turns on a single passage, I have kept the original quit literally and have not lightly departed from it … I have preferred to do violence to the German language rather than depart from the Word.”

    Luther, An Open Letter on Translating.

  • Joe

    Luther (as in most things) has something to say here. His theory of translation was:

    “we must inquire about this of the mother in the home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace. We must be guided by their language, the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly … [but] where everything turns on a single passage, I have kept the original quit literally and have not lightly departed from it … I have preferred to do violence to the German language rather than depart from the Word.”

    Luther, An Open Letter on Translating.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #36,

    Your post is kind of long, so I will respond in sequence.

    “What makes one’s efforts “valid” in your mind? . . . is [this]something that must be in the mind of the believer or person who reads the bible, otherwise they do not read it rightly or “validly” as you put it.”

    I was talking about translating the Bible, not reading it, so perhaps that is the point of misunderstanding. An invalid translation would be one that uses the pretense of translation or scholarship in order to promote a false teaching. An example would be the New World translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses intentionally changing words and phrases that they find troublesome to their theology. (“In the beginning was the word, and the word was a god.”) Another example would be using the fact that the Hebrew word “almah” can in some cases mean “young woman” to undermine the clear scriptural teaching of the virgin birth of Christ.

    “Were people smarter back then?”

    Yes.

    “Were they really closer to the [scholarly] material in any sense that matters?”

    Yes.

    “That is like saying that people of centuries past have a more valid faith than mine, isn’t it?”

    No. It is nothing like saying that.

    “Seems to me that as far as all the scholars and teachers Jesus encountered, they were pretty much all wet.”

    Yes–and you are making my point.

    “Wasn’t Luther and all his pals who wrote our Confessions the kind of rigorous scholars that we need to encourage rather than disparage?”

    Yes. I thought I made it clear that I was not disparaging scholarship. I just don’t want to see it elevated too far.

    “Whatever does “on our side” mean exactly?”

    That was in reply to tODD’s use of the phrase in #23.

    “Perhaps you are indicating some “valid” translation or interpretation that achieves the agendas set for the by the LCMS perhaps like ESV . . .”

    Actually, I’m not terribly fond of the ESV.

    “These arguments sound to me more cultural and politically motivated, with anxieties over particulars, such as the virgin birth. Do our Confessions hinge on that as some historical fact? ”

    Actually, yes. The confessions presuppose the factual truth of Scripture.

    “The scriptures, as I understand them, exist and have always existed within the community of faith. . . Their purpose and “use” (which sounds crude I suppose) is never separate from what has always been believed about them.”

    That’s kind of my point. A translation that tries to use a scholarly trump to overturn what the church has always believed is not “valid.”

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #36,

    Your post is kind of long, so I will respond in sequence.

    “What makes one’s efforts “valid” in your mind? . . . is [this]something that must be in the mind of the believer or person who reads the bible, otherwise they do not read it rightly or “validly” as you put it.”

    I was talking about translating the Bible, not reading it, so perhaps that is the point of misunderstanding. An invalid translation would be one that uses the pretense of translation or scholarship in order to promote a false teaching. An example would be the New World translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses intentionally changing words and phrases that they find troublesome to their theology. (“In the beginning was the word, and the word was a god.”) Another example would be using the fact that the Hebrew word “almah” can in some cases mean “young woman” to undermine the clear scriptural teaching of the virgin birth of Christ.

    “Were people smarter back then?”

    Yes.

    “Were they really closer to the [scholarly] material in any sense that matters?”

    Yes.

    “That is like saying that people of centuries past have a more valid faith than mine, isn’t it?”

    No. It is nothing like saying that.

    “Seems to me that as far as all the scholars and teachers Jesus encountered, they were pretty much all wet.”

    Yes–and you are making my point.

    “Wasn’t Luther and all his pals who wrote our Confessions the kind of rigorous scholars that we need to encourage rather than disparage?”

    Yes. I thought I made it clear that I was not disparaging scholarship. I just don’t want to see it elevated too far.

    “Whatever does “on our side” mean exactly?”

    That was in reply to tODD’s use of the phrase in #23.

    “Perhaps you are indicating some “valid” translation or interpretation that achieves the agendas set for the by the LCMS perhaps like ESV . . .”

    Actually, I’m not terribly fond of the ESV.

    “These arguments sound to me more cultural and politically motivated, with anxieties over particulars, such as the virgin birth. Do our Confessions hinge on that as some historical fact? ”

    Actually, yes. The confessions presuppose the factual truth of Scripture.

    “The scriptures, as I understand them, exist and have always existed within the community of faith. . . Their purpose and “use” (which sounds crude I suppose) is never separate from what has always been believed about them.”

    That’s kind of my point. A translation that tries to use a scholarly trump to overturn what the church has always believed is not “valid.”

  • http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com JohnOneOne

    Regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” Bible and its rendering of John 1:1, it may interest you to know that, in support and explanation of their wording of this verse (especially within the third clause with “a god”), there is soon to be published a 19+ year study (as of 3/2011), a thoroughly researched reference work – an historical analysis & exhaustive annotated bibliography – it will be entitled, “What About John 1:1?”

    To learn more of its design and expected release date, you are invited to visit:

    http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

    When finally published, apart from discussing many of the other topics and scriptures often related to the man-made Trinity doctrine, you will also discover that we have collected information on about 430+ scholarly reference works (mostly Trinitarian) which, throughout the centuries, had opted to say something other than, “and the Word was God,” and that, included among them are over 120 which had chosen to use “a god” within the third clause of their renderings.

    As you might expect, we are very excited at the opportunity to share our findings with others.

    Agape, JohnOneOne.

  • http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com JohnOneOne

    Regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” Bible and its rendering of John 1:1, it may interest you to know that, in support and explanation of their wording of this verse (especially within the third clause with “a god”), there is soon to be published a 19+ year study (as of 3/2011), a thoroughly researched reference work – an historical analysis & exhaustive annotated bibliography – it will be entitled, “What About John 1:1?”

    To learn more of its design and expected release date, you are invited to visit:

    http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

    When finally published, apart from discussing many of the other topics and scriptures often related to the man-made Trinity doctrine, you will also discover that we have collected information on about 430+ scholarly reference works (mostly Trinitarian) which, throughout the centuries, had opted to say something other than, “and the Word was God,” and that, included among them are over 120 which had chosen to use “a god” within the third clause of their renderings.

    As you might expect, we are very excited at the opportunity to share our findings with others.

    Agape, JohnOneOne.

  • Dan Kempin

    Thank you, JohnOO, for illustrating my point. Why, who needs that pesky old trinity when so many scholars seem lined up against it?

  • Dan Kempin

    Thank you, JohnOO, for illustrating my point. Why, who needs that pesky old trinity when so many scholars seem lined up against it?


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