There is a division of thought among us over a Bible translations that is worth of discussion. Some people believethat using a translation other than the King James Version opens our church to deception and blasphemy. Let me share some issues that impact Bible translations and attempt to make a small comtribution to the discussion as well as point to sources for further study. This debate focuses primarily on the Enhlish-language trabslations and paraphrases of the Bibles many other languages are blesssed to have only one Bible version.
Word-for-word vs. thought-for-thought translations
If you were told that you were included in the last will and testament of a distant relative who lived in Germany, would you want the will translated word-for-word (the author's wishes), or would you be satisfied with a more general interpretation the translator's wishes?
. . . use whatever modern versions are available, as long as they say more clearly, more correctly, and more conceptually what is already in the KJV.
Dynamic-and-functional equivalent is another way of saying thought-forthought. "Dynamic equivalence is a theory of translation based on the premise that whenever something in the original text is foreign or unclear to a contemporary English reader, the original text should be translated in equivalent terms, rather than literally. In actual practice, dynamic equivalence goes far beyond this definition by frequently making interpretive decisions for the reader and add ing commentary to the text" (Bible Translation Differences, by Leland Ryken, p. 7).
The challenge resulting from this method of translation is that readers do not know where a translator is making a translator's interpretation of the text. To give uninspired translators the liberty to place their thoughts over the Bible writers' is to open the door to inaccurate bias, even though it makes for easy-to read Bibles.
Translations from interlinear to paraphrases
How do you know if your Bible translation is based on the original writer's words? Usually the introduction of the Bible will tell you, or you can ask at a Bible bookstore or do a little research on your computer. The spectrum ranges from literal, interlinear translations (where English words are placed directly below the Greek originals, thus creating difficult or rough readings) to paraphrased Bibles such as The Message or The Clear Word (which may provide interesting devotional that may be only partially true to the original Bible text).
Not having some standard for Bible translations beyond individual preference for use in the pulpit, for one's primary Bible study, or for giving Bible studies ultimately undermines a unified doctrinal understanding and creates confusion and division among us.
The original texts
There is little debate over the Old Testament (OT) Hebrew text used in Bible translations. There are primarily two Greek sources for today's New Testament (NT) translations the Alexandrian Text and the Received Text. Both of these NT sources were brought together in the latter part of the 1800s. The Alexandrian Text is based mainly upon two Greek manuscripts given the names Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, which were discovered in the 1840s and dated from the fourth century after Christ. The Received Text came together in 1881 by Scrivener, who based his Greek text upon the manuscripts of texts that had come down through the centuries and which were used by Tyndale and many other reformation leaders. Scrivener created his Greek text by taking the popular King James Version (KJV), which was based on many Greek manuscripts, and creating a new Greek text from English back into Greek. He consulted at least 17 different Received Texts that influenced the original KJV and created one known as the Scrivener Text. It is of interest to note that there are no original Greek texts of the NT; we only have copies from later generations.
Most English translations used today come either through the text based on the Alexandrian Text or the Scrivener Text. Serious questions are being raised today about the reliability of trusting Ellen G. White's use of translations the Sinaiticus or Vaticanus manuscripts, which differ internally from one another. The differences in many translations are over this issue alone which Greek manuscripts were used in the translation?
Visit the Biblical Research Institute's Web site (http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org), click on "Bible" in the left column, and select "Canon and Versions." There you will find three articles: "Ellen G. White's Counsel on Versions of the Bible," "Modern Versions and the King James Version," and "Which Version Can We Trust?" These articles will give you insight, balance, and appreciation for the ways in which God has watched over His Word.
Ellen G. White's use of translations
"God has always provided faithful witnesses to whom He has committed the truth and who preserved the Word of God. The manuscripts of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures have been preserved through the ages by a miracle of God" (Letter 32, 1899).
Author and lecturer Ron du Preez provides a chapter devoted to this topic in his book No Fear for the Future, in which he notes "over 500 instances in which Ellen White used renderings of texts other than that found in the KJV. .. . She did so from 27 of the 39 Old Testament books as well as 22 of the 27 New Testament books. . . . Ellen White used at least five other translations ... in more than 40 of the books of hers currently available. So there is no doubt that Ellen White did make use of versions other than the KJV" (p. 111). He summarizes his study of Ellen White's use of translations by saying, "that is, to use whatever modern versions are available, as long as they say more clearly, more correctly, and more conceptually what is already in the K]V" (p. 118).
The King-James-only debate
In some areas, there exists a protest over translations being used other than the KJV. Of course, if this were a valid debate, then every believer worldwide would be forced to learn KJV English to study the Bible for themselves. In the minds of others who do not hold this "KJV only" position, there is a genuine concern that the translations primarily used for preaching and teaching should be from a "word-for-word" translation from the Received Text line.
The KJV in circulation today is not the translation of 1611. There have been four translations since: in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. Today's KJV is from 1769, with historical roots from the 1611 KJV and Received and Scrivener texts. The KJV is not a re-inspired original, but rather a translation from the Greek texts into English and a good one.
Level-headed, Bible-loving people
I am deeply concerned when some of our members take Bible teachings for granted and do not study the Bible for themselves. I am alarmed that all kinds of Bibles are being used in our pulpits as primary Bibles that are not translations of what the Bible writers wrote. ! am also worried about the impact of those promoting the KJV only; they appear to be creating a secret society based upon some legitimate points but often become extreme, divisive, and often un-Christian in attempting to discuss the issues.
It seems reasonable that we should have more Bible forums within our church where the issues and guidelines for selecting Bible translations can be discussed by level-headed, Bible-loving people, rather than ignoring, becoming indifferent to, or fighting over these matters.
Many believers are happy and content just to find quality time for reading the Bible and are unsettled by the claims of those who maintain that the only reliable translation is the one that goes back to 1611. I believe it is time for us to come out of our personal comfort zones and seek more light and less heat.
Ken Corkum is president of the Maritime Conference in Canada.