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Bigotry and Bible Translation

In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red. The quoted portions from the Web site which the e-mailer is quoting from are in green and enclosed in double "greater than" and "lesser than" signs.


Exchange #1

>Hello Gary,

>Have not talked to you in a while but I came across another recent literal translation which has some fairly different apparatus for translating. It appears to be Majority text based. It interested me while surfing for KJV information sites and I found this site.

There they claim Jews intently corrupted the Masoretic Text that most Bibles have used and that the Greek Septuagint is accurate. Are you familiar with this debate?<

This is a common claim, but it really lacks evidence. The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrated that the Masoretic Text was very well preserved. As for the Septuagint (LXX), it is a translation of the original Hebrew. So that in itself renders it less valuable than Hebrew mss for textual studies. With a translation, you can never sure how literally the text was translated.

In the case of the LXX, from what I've heard, it is rather accurate for the Torah, but far less so for the rest of the Bible. It is interesting to consult and can be helpful at times, but most textual critics do not put a lot of credence in it.

> I have heard some of both sides of the Masoretic text debate yet the examples this web page cites between the Masoretic base and the Septuagint base. I was able to relate to some of these apparent disparities found in the KJV Old Testament for I saw them too. Though some of their apparatus is interesting, it appears that their lexicon support is inconsistent with some of the same sources I have been familiar with. They cite Thayer, which I have used, and my Thayer quotes don't match theirs for in some cases.<

If they are not accurately quoting sources you can check out that should make you suspect how accurately they're quoting other sources that you cannot check out, and everything else they have to say for that matter.

In addition, Thayer is not the most accurate lexicon available. It is rather old, produced before the discovery of numerous secular papyri in the early 1900s. These gave us a better idea of how words in the NT were commonly used at the time. So a site that depends on Thayer, frankly, would not be that reliable. As for yourself, you should check out more accurate sources, like the ones I mention at Hebrew/ Greek Reference Works: Books-A-Million Bookstore Recommendations.

> Their doctrine is very narrow on several verses using their translation techniques. The first thing you will notice is that they are white separatists and believe that God commanded it that way.<

To be completely honest, I am not one to give much of any credence to bigots. Their hatred blinds their minds to any logical reasoning. And they are very adept at twisting most anything into their perverted preconceived, bigoted worldview.

Sorry if that sound harsh, but I really have no respect for bigots whatsoever.

>I am sure I could get into an interchange with them but the first thing that came to my mind was Acts 17:26 where God made all nations one blood and how Moses married an Ethiopian woman and God smote Marriam with leprosy for despising Moses choice to marry a woman of another race. There are a lot of other heavily contested teachings on this site. Perhaps you already know of it (them).<

I haven't seen this site, and frankly really don't have an inclination to. I have never been able to understand bigotry, and frankly, I would rather not try.

> Below is a claim excerpted from the Christian Separatist Church Society who put together the Anointed Standard Translation.<

>>The AST is theology-free.<<

I can say without reading it that this claim is false. No translation is "theology-free" if by this it is meant that the biases of the translators do not infiltrate the translation. I did my very best not to let my own theological views affect my translation of the ALT. I was able to get around doing so in many places due to the alternative translations in the text. I would put a translation that favored one theological view in the text and an alternative translation that favored another view in brackets. But with most translations you have to chose, and this very choice will involve favoring one theology over another.

>>As we have stated before, virtually every translation ever made into English contains a number of theological words and terms that hide the true meanings of the Greek words, i.e., grace, faith, adultery, hope, soul, sin, church, holy, saint, etc. <<

For some of these words this is somewhat correct. For instance, instead of "saints" I used "holy ones." And for "hope" I gave the alternative translation of "confident expectation." I discuss these translations in the ALT: Glossary contained in the eBook ALT: Companion Volume.

But as for the others, like say, grace, my research showed that grace very well expressed the meaning of the Greek word. I even discuss this in regards to "The Message's" translation of this word in my Bible versions book.

>>These words were picked many centuries ago by translators even though they knew the words did not express the actual Greek concept. Their reasoning was that by picking a vague and imprecise term, the concepts would be defined in the pulpit and not in the Bible itself. Thus, the words became theological euphemisms which have been twisted and perverted in the pulpits around the world ever since.<<

Translators picked these words because in most cases they did very well express the meaning of the Greek words, at least the best that it could be using one or two words. Now it is true that in in some case a phrase would better express the idea of one Greek word, and in some cases I did just that in the ALT (such as using "realm of the dead" instead of "hell" for "hades").. But you would end up with a very long a tedious to read translation if you did that throughout.

Moreover, in some cases the English word at one time did very well express the meaning of the Greek word, but the English word changed meaning over time. I believe this was the case with "saint." At one time it did mean any "holy one," but only with time did it come to mean an especially righteous person that had been designation a "saint" by the Roman Catholic church.

>>The AST, however, is the first translation in history to restore the true meanings of the Greek words in the translation.<<

Most any translation produced claims that their translation is the most accurate expression of the original Greek.

>>Of course, in some cases, the original meaning of the English word has merely been lost, as is the case with the word adultery. The English word adultery is a descendant of the Latin word used in early Greek-Latin lexicons. But the English speaking world has failed to remember the meaning of the Latin word. The Latin word was from ad+alter or to change, corrupt, adulterate, etc., and anyone familiar with the writings of Horace knows that the word meant to mongrelize or to corrupt seedline.<<

Ralph
4/8/2002<

There are so many problems with this claim I don't know where to begin. First, off what the Latin root word of an English means may or many not have any relevance as to what the English word means. For instance, "nice" I believe comes from the Latin word "niceus" (or something like that), which means "ignorant." But that is a far cry from what "nice" means.

Second, you cannot determine the meaning of a compound word by combining the meaning of each of the two words making it up. Consider, for instance, "butterfly." Is this a small pesky insect made of a dairy product? I don't think so.

What mattes is how the word is used in general conversation. And in that respect, "adultery" means for a married person to sleep with someone other than their spouse. No one uses the word in the sense that these separatists are claiming.

As for the Greek word, I assume by "mongrelize or to corrupt seedline" they are referring to marrying a person of another race. But I have never seen the Greek word it defined in this way.

Moreover, you don't even need to know Greek to check this one out. Try reading verses with the word "adultery" in them and see if the idea these separatists are proposing even makes sense.

[Mt 19:9] “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

There is nothing whatsoever in the context of this passage that even remotely indicates Jesus is talking about mixing races. Moreover, if, as they claim, it is always wrong to marry someone of another race, then this verse makes no sense. Why even mention getting a divorce? Whether previously married or not, marrying someone of another race would be wrong.

What Jesus is saying is that your first wife is your true wife, and to marry any one else is is to commit adultery because in God's eyes you are still married to you first wife. I know this will upset many that are divorced and remarried, but it is what the Bible teaches.

Moreover, I read through a book years ago that proposed the idea that it was a sin Biblically to marry someone of another race. The book was filled with Scripture passages. But as I read through it, I realized that it was also filled with the worst case of the misuses of Scripture I had ever seen. The exegesis was truly awful. But as I said above, hatred get enable people to see whatever they want.

In addition to the verse you mention, consider the following:
[Ga 3:28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

[Rev 5:9] And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

So both Paul and John concur that there is no distinction between peoples in regards to salvation, to being in Christ.

Paul states:
[1Co 7:39] A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

The ONLY condition Paul puts on marriage is that the person be "in the Lord." There is no mention of race or any other qualifier. And again, the verses above show that there is no distinctions of peoples who are "in the Lord."

Now I say this as someone who actually still feels a little uncomfortable when I see a "mixed couple." That is why I did some research on this subject to see if these feelings are justified or not. And from what I found, they are not. There is Biblical evidence that marrying someone of another race is not wrong. So as with many things, I have had to subject my "feelings" to the teaching of Scripture.

And finally, I must add that I find it interesting that I have had blacks claim to me that the KJV is mistranslated so as to promote bigotry. Whereas this group seems to be saying the KJV has been mistranslated so as to not be bigoted. Personally, I think neither is true. Race issues simply were not that important in 1611 England when the KJV was translated.

Exchange #2

In the following portion of this exchange, my comments to which the e-mailer is responding to are in purple and are enclosed in triple "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. The coding otherwise is the same as above.


>Gary,

Thanks for you "overview" experience on the LXX and Masoretic debate.

>>> If they are not accurately quoting sources you can check out that should make you suspect how accurately they're quoting other sources that you cannot check out, and everything else they have to say for that matter.<<<

>It usually does not take me long to find misrepresentation of sources. I have become accustomed not to take anyone's word for a source for I have had it happen dozens of times where I hear the same source be quoted in two opposite contexts. When that happens, it really makes me look hard at them. Such is most common in any political science study, and of course there is a lot of politics around church and religion for that matter.

Their doctrine is very narrow on several verses using their translation techniques. The first thing you will notice is that they are white separatists and believe that God commanded it that way.<

>>> To be completely honest, I am not one to give much of any credence to bigots. Their hatred blinds their minds to any logical reasoning. And they are very adept at twisting most anything into their perverted preconceived, bigoted worldview.

Sorry if that sound harsh, but I really have no respect for bigots whatsoever.<<<

>Thanks for being harsh. lol<

>>> I haven't seen this site, and frankly really don't have an inclination to. I have never been able to understand bigotry, and frankly, I would rather not try.<<<

>> The AST is theology-free. <<

>>> I can say without reading it that this claim is false. No translation is "theology-free" if by this it is meant that the biases of the translators do not infiltrate the translation.<<<

> Yeah, that Christian Separatist site can turn your stomach. Thanks for your "no theology-free translation" theory. Man sure is not perfect. But Jesus is...thank God for that.<

>>> For some of these words this is somewhat correct. For instance, instead of "saints" I used "holy ones." And for "hope" I gave the alternative translation of "confident expectation." I discuss these translations in the ALT: Glossary contained in the eBook ALT: Companion Volume.

But as for the others, like say, grace, my research showed that grace very well expressed the meaning of the Greek word. I even discuss this in regards to "The Message's" translation of this word in my Bible versions book.<<<

> An author of a book I read on the KJV, Dr. Holland I believe in "Crowned with Glory", seems to agree with you in regard to the KJV use of introducing new words into English. He noted that the Bishop's Bible was used as the base and than many of the existing English translations then available were consulted. He indicated that those earlier English versions were of heavy dialects between pre-state or ethnic tongues. English was not yet its own tongue.

When the KJV was written, and authorized, it heteroginized the pre-English dialects into a central or common English. He noted that many words pertaining to the scriptures that are in the English language today were because of the KJV work that introduced words in place of phrases where there was no equivalent. It then happened that the KJV became the standard version and competed 50-50 with all other publications in English, such as books and newspapers. Since it had such a huge share of readership among the English speaking people, many of those new words became common (but remain somewhat curious in spiritual meaning) in English. So, now some of those words such as “grace” and “church” are so common today, but did not exist or where not widely used at the time of writing the KJV.

I thought that is a pertinent point. When you consider a translation, you have to be in the shoes of the translators at the time of looking at the same lexicon support they had available as well as the meaning of the words of the day.<

>>These words were picked many centuries ago by translators even though they knew the words did not express the actual Greek concept. Their reasoning was that by picking a vague and imprecise term, the concepts would be defined in the pulpit and not in the Bible itself. Thus, the words became theological euphemisms which have been twisted and perverted in the pulpits around the world ever since.<<

>>>Translators picked these words because in most cases they did very well express the meaning of the Greek words, at least the best that it could be using one or two words. Now it is true that in some case a phrase would better express the idea of one Greek word, and in some cases I did just that in the ALT (such as using "realm of the dead" instead of "hell" for "hades").. But you would end up with a very long a tedious to read translation if you did that throughout.

Moreover, in some cases the English word at one time did very well express the meaning of the Greek word, but the English word changed meaning over time. I believe this was the case with "saint." At one time it did mean any "holy one," but only with time did it come to mean an especially righteous person that had been designation a "saint" by the Roman Catholic church.<<<

> Ditto above.

Further, I believe it was Dr. Thomas who said this also: when the KJV was written, the KJV translators predominant theological bent was baptism by sprinkling or font baptisms. So, since that was their view, he makes a reasonable observation that instead of translating the Greek “baptizo” to “immersion”, they transliterated the Greek it into English...thereby introducing a new word into English instead of using an existing English word “immersion”. The meaning of “baptism” has taken on many forms in English since then...much like “saint” as you give an example.<

>>>As for the Greek word, I assume by "mongrelize or to corrupt seedline" they are referring to marrying a person of another race. But I have never seen the Greek word it defined in this way.<<<

> That is exactly how they (the separatists) are extending it.<

>>>Moreover, you don't even need to know Greek to check this one out. Try reading verses with the word "adultery" in them and see if the idea these separatists are proposing even makes sense. <<<

> Internal evidence of the scriptures has always been effective to “push out the competition” of falsehood.<

>>>What Jesus is saying is that your first wife is your true wife, and to marry any one else is is to commit adultery because in God's eyes you are still married to you first wife. I know this will upset many that are divorced and remarried, but it is what the Bible teaches.<<<

> Our ministry had in recent years contemplated making a Marriage Policy statement. We (Christian Fellowship Church Ministries, International) span many countries and cultures and there are cultural differences. In praying on how to give Christian leadership during an annual board meeting (where all board members of the general board fly in from other congregations) they looked hard at the scriptures for answers. That very same Matt 19:19 example you posted here was also looked at. Our general pastor then marveled at Jesus’ saying and said that he had never seen this before.

Jesus taught that divorce does not free someone from his or her spouse “except for fornication”. So in formulating the church policy on marriage, there was debate about how to use the word “divorce” because most people perceive it in a secular view as being “free from” where Jesus did not say that at all. So our church policy was formulated such that God views divorced still as married until the former spouse breaks the covenant by fornication (or essentially remarrying to someone else). The Law of Moses seems to support that concept too where a spouse divorced and remarried, cannot go back to the former spouse....

>>>In addition to the verses you mention, consider the following ...<<<

>I did not think of Rev 5:9. And the point of marrying “only in the Lord”, excellent!<

>>>Now I say this as someone who actually still feels a little uncomfortable when I see a "mixed couple." That is why I did some research on this subject to see if these feelings are justified or not. And from what I found, they are not. There is Biblical evidence that marrying someone of another race is not wrong. So as with many things, I have had to subject my "feelings" to the teaching of Scripture.<<<

> Your research definitely shows. We’ve had mixed marriages from the start. Yet, pastoral counsel warns them that many people and even family will not understand it, or they will be disowned or experience a certain level of rejection for it. The world is full of too much racial tension and hatred. Love does not know any color. And I think they know what they are up against (and for love’s sake, do not really care what most other’s think).

I think I understand how and where the “uncomfortable” feelings come from. I think it comes from a “breach in culture” more than a view of racial mix. It is like seeing a Ford dealer trying to sell a Chevy. Know what I mean?<

>>>And finally, I must add that I find it interesting that I have had blacks claim to me that the KJV is mistranslated so as to promote bigotry. Whereas this group seems to be saying the KJV has been mistranslated so as to not be bigoted. Personally, I think neither is true. Race issues simply were not that important in 1611 England when the KJV was translated.<<<

> Humph...Can’t please everybody with a Bible translation, can we?

Ralph
4/13/2002<

Thanks for your comments. They are all very astute. And I am relieved. When you first emailed me I wasn't sure if you supportive of this group or not. But it is apparent you are not. That's good to hear!

Exchange #3

>I am glad you are relieve...and I can see where you might have gotten that impression. 

I count you as a reliable source on the translation issues. Your testimony and integrity has been impressive.

Here's a good word: Prov 22:3 "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished."

Ralph
4/17/2002<

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