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Jay P. Green Only Position

The following e-mails are commenting on the items listed at Bible Versions Controversy. The e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>Bro. Gary,

In the latest mailer from Jay Green, he now "sadly" rejects the NKJV [New King James Version]! I believe he has gone too far. Perhaps he is taking a little too much pride in his own translations.

Bro. Greg
6/10/1999<

I've discussed this subject with Green before. And yes, it is distressing. See the following page on my site for some of our correspondences in this matter: Correspondence with the Editor of the MKJV and LITV.


> Brother Gary:

As one who is always interested in good Bible translations, and spurred to interest in the MKJV [Modern King James Version] and the LITV [Literal Translation of the Bible] by recommendations on your web site, I contacted Christian Literature World to receive their free catalog, which I did. I was greatly disappointed, however, when I began to read the usual KJV [King James Version] only nonsense on the opening pages of the catalog.

Actually, it really is not the usual KJV only diatribe, but rather a Jay P. Green version only position. Yes, the KJV was a good translation, according to Green, but apparently the only other versions which get his stamp of approval are - surprise - Jay P. Green versions. This is evidenced by the offer of turning in to him your used NKJV Bibles, and you receive from him a discount and a promise that "the NKJV will not be redistributed to prisoners or unsuspecting ministers" [quote from memory not precise; I threw out the catalog fairly quickly].

The NKJV is lumped into the category of heretical translations. This is the same misinformed position that people like Riplinger and Wm. Grady espouse, although in their defense, they apparently are ignorant that the NKJV is based on the TR as is the KJV. Green has no such defense of ignorance.

Apparently, by inference, not by statement, Green views himself as the only person capable of making a trustworthy TR translation. This is sheer arrogance, and a slap in the face to the godly scholars who labored over translations like the NKJV and the NASB [New American Standard Bible].

I would encourage you to remove your endorsement of his publishing company.

YBIC,
Chris
7/21/1999<

Note: Chris is referring to a new offer by Christian Literature World, headed by Jay Green. If you send in an old Bible, they will give you a discount on one of their Bibles (i.e. a MKJV or LITV), or on select books. If the old Bible sent in is what Green deems a "good" Bible version, it will be distributed to those who cannot afford Bibles (like prisoners). But if it is what Green deems a "bad" Bible version, it will be recycled for the paper. With the most recent issue of their newsletter, the only Bible versions on the "good" list are the KJV, MKJV and LITV.

You are the second person to e-mail me in regards to Green's "new" attitude towards the NKJV. I put "new" in quotes as he has wavered back and forth between recommending and not recommending the NKJV for years.

In fact, in the previous issue of Christian Literature World Green included the NKJV among the "good" Bible versions that would be distributed to prisoners and ministers. I was heartened that he had done so. It seemed he had finally resolved his wavering and was now endorsing the NKJV. But, as you saw, he rescinded his endorsement of the NKJV in no uncertain terms in the most recent issue. And, as with you, this disturbed me greatly.

I have discussed this subject at length with Green previously. I posted part of our correspondence on my site. You might be interested in it. It is located at Correspondence with the Editor of the MKJV and LITV.

In that correspondence I refer to a list of supposed "errors" in the NKJV that Green is circulating. Someone sent me this list in digital form recently. The person was convinced to abandoned the NKJV as a result of it. I referred him to the above correspondence where at the end I evaluate some of Green's arguments.

As I told that person, Green had sent me this list in hardcopy form some time ago. The list will also be included in his upcoming book, Unholy Hands on the Bible: Volume III.

I would group his list of "errors" into three categories. First, there are some that are valid. There are places where the NKJV could be improved. One verse in particular, and the one that has seemed to have set off Green's most recent denunciation of the NKJV, is Genesis 12:7. In that verse, God uses the singular word "Seed," but the NKJV, following most modern versions, translates it as the plural word "descendants"

The problem is, in Galatians 3:16, Paul makes a specific point about the word being singular, not plural. So by rendering the word as plural in Gen 12:7, the prophecy is confused. So in this case Green is right, the NKJV is not as accurate as it could or should be. But in the NKJV's defense, it does footnote "seed" as being the literal translation.

However, there are other times where Green pronounces the NKJV to be "wrong" and his own MKJV, which he is comparing the NKJV to in his list, to be "correct." However, a study of the Hebrew or Greek shows the exact opposite: the NKJV has the better translation.

And finally, there are places where either the NKJV reading or the MKJV reading could be correct. There are simply times where there is not only one "right" way to translate a passage. Translation from one language to another is not always that straightforward. But Green doesn't seem to realize this.

For instance, in the issue you threw away, if you would have kept reading, you would have come across Greens review of the Updated NASB (or, NAS95). His review and mine are considerably different. Green completely trashes the NAS95. I, OTOH, basically say that the NAS95 is basically a good translation, if only it was based on the Majority Text rather than the Critical Text (see my Differences Between Bible Versions book).

One point in particular Green was upset about was the NAS95 "replacing" the word "man" with "person." He is referring to the translation of the Greek word antropos. And yes, the word can mean "man" referring to an adult, human male. However, every lexicon I have also gives the meanings of "person, human, humanity" for the word. But despite this overwhelming lexicon evidence, Green is adamant that to render the word as anything other than "man" is "wrong."

So where does this leave me? On the one hand, the MKJV and LITV are good translations. And Green does offer many, many good books through his ministry. In fact, it was his writings that helped convince me that a formal equivalence translation of the TR or MT is the best kind of Bible. And he is a Reformed-Baptist, just as I am, in his orientation. So the books he offers are from this perspective. I have order many books myself from CLW.

OTOH, Green does go overboard in his arguments, and not just in regards to the NKJV and NASB. Even when writing about versions that we would agree are not worthwhile, such as the NIV, he simply finds "problems" where there are none.

For instance, in his evaluations of verses, where he indicates words are "added" or "omitted" or "mistranslated" from versions are often over-played. Upon evaluation I have found that many times what he considers an added, omitted, or mistranslated word is not really so. So seeing the deficiencies in some of his arguments might cause some to write them all off.

And now, he seems to have come to the point of thinking he is the only person who can correctly translate the Bible. And this can be a major turn-off, to be sure. For instance, a few years ago I was talking to a pastor who used the NIV. I mentioned about Green and his books on the subject, and his arguments against the NIV. The pastor responded, "So what is he, a KJV-only advocate?" I responded, "No, he promotes his own translations ..." And before I was able to finish what I wanted to say the pastor walked away laughing.

So Green and his ministry has had a positive influence on me over the years. I have subscribed to his newsletter for over a decade. And he, and his own books, along with others he offers through his ministry, have helped me make decisions on such difficult subjects as Bible versions and the Reformed position.

But also over the years, I have corresponded with him and "debated" with him over his "going overboard" tendency. I have even specifically warned him that people would get turned off if he came across recommending only his Bible versions. But, obviously, my warnings have not been headed.

In fact, it is because of his "Green only" position that I have tried to avoid coming across as a "NKJV only" advocate. That is why from the start I promoted four different versions: the KJV, NKJV, MKJV, and LITV. And more recently, I added a list of other versions that fit my main "Formal equivalence/ TR or MT" criteria.

And now I have started my own version, the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT). On the ALT: FAQ page I make it clear that I did NOT start this translation project because I thought there was no good translations out there. I specifically say I still recommend the NKJV and LITV versions, among others.

However, no version is "perfect" - not even Green's LITV. If it was I wouldn't have started the ALT. I simply believe the ALT has "unique features" that are not to be found in other versions. But I will always recommend people compare more than one version, even if one of those is the ALT as I would never claim the ALT to be perfect.

Speaking of which, consistently on my site I recommend people compare more than one version. However, I never say the only versions someone should compare are the MKJV and LITV. By doing so, one would only be getting Green's ideas of the "proper" translation. So my basic recommendation has been a NKJV/ LITV combination. That way, two different types of versions are being compared: the NKJV being a "committee" translation and the LITV being basically a one-person translation.

So that is a long-winded response to your concerns. As you can see, I have thought and struggled with this subject: Green's good ideas, yet his going overboard at times, and now his coming across as being overly prideful in his own translations.

Putting all of this together, should I continue to recommend the MKJV and LITV? Answer: resounding "YES." They are good translations. But should I still continue to recommend Green's ministry and newsletter? I will have to give that hesitant and qualified "yes."

As I said, Green does have a many good ideas. His general thesis on Bible translation is good, and most of all, his ministry does offer many good books at excellent prices. But I will have to caution people about Green going overboard in his criticisms of other versions, and his now apparent "Green only" Bible version position.


>Gary:

Thanks for the reply.

>> However, no version is "perfect" - not even Green's LITV.<<

Amen to that! I think that is one of the major problems people have when comparing translations; all contain errors in human translation, but faithful versions translate formally and as best as men are able. We must simple choose the translation that we believe best represents the originals; and a good formal equivalence translation will do that.

Reese Currie has been writing some excellent articles on Bible versions lately, and his "Comparing Bible Versions" is a real gem.

I like the following quote from BENJAMIN H. CARROLL found at Pilgrim Publications:

"Versions, or translations, are not inspired. If they were, all of them would be just alike. But the original manuscript was inspired" (as quoted in James M. Gray's A Coffer of Jewels About Our Infallible, Eternal Word of God, pg. 272).

God Bless,
Chris
7/23/1999<


Follow-up

Gary,

Just a short note to thank you for putting on your web site the "Jay P. Green Only Position." I agree wholeheartedly with you and the others. I was really disappointed in Green's views of the NKJV in his latest newsletter. I felt like tearing up the newsletter, but did not and I intended to e-mail Green and let him know my frustration with his position, but did not.

It was Green's ministry and his pointing me to the likes of Burgon and others to change my views concerning the Greek Texts. I still think his ministry is important but he is bordering on an extreme position if he thinks only his translations are the only "Theologically Correct" ones. In closing, I once again thank you for putting your correspondence up on your web site. I feel a lot better knowing of others out there who think the same as I do on this position.

In Christ,
Joe
7/28/1999

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