Sunday, March 26, 2017

When Words Become Stumbling Blocks

There is an opinion out there, even among people who agree that the Westcott and Hort revision was based on corrupt Greek texts. that the English translations that have come down to us from that revision aren't really a problem.  They may not go as far as defenders of the revision do, believing that the great variety of translations is a blessing to the Church, but they don't really see anything wrong with it either.  They're just translations after all, it's no big deal.  Or something like that.

But this is a big mistake.  It isn't just the bad Greek that's a problem, it's the bad English on top of the bad Greek, and it's more than that:  the multiple translations are not only bad they are destructive to the unity of the Church. 

This hit me hard again today as I was starting to read a book by Rosaria Butterfield, which is titled Openness Unhindered, and found her wrapping her thoughts around this phrase from the Book of Acts, giving it the weight of God's own words when it's just a translation from the New American Standard Bible version.  It's an attractive enough phase, and we certainly should be able to treat the words of our English Bible as God's, but if you don't have a NAS version you won't recognize that attractive phrase that's being treated as if it were God's very words, and beyond that, it's not even clear if it's based on the Greek words inspired by God either.   Certainly it's based on the "Critical Text" which incorporates Westcott and Hort's Greek text abomination, but I don't even know if the English fits the Greek of that text.  The NAS has the reputation of being an accurate translation of the Greek, but I wouldn't be able to find out without spending far too much time at it.

Rosaria Butterfield is a deep thinker and I'm sure she'll use the phrase to make some important observations about Christian life  (which I'll read as soon as I get this complaint written out which has so rudely interrupted my reading of her book).  Meanwhile it just breaks my heart that Christians have to struggle with these disturbances of God's word, the Bible on which we all depend.  We're ordinary people, we're not Greek scholars or experts in the English language.  I know God leads many through the various modern translations, and that He protects us from serious problems, but it can't be a good thing that we aren't all reading the same Bible.

As a reminder, I'm not a KJV-onlyist, but because it's the only Bible NOT based on the corrupted Greek texts, AND because it has always had a reputation as great literature, surely we have to give it more weight than all the modern corrupted Bibles.  I think we should chuck them all out myself, and start all over with a serious God-fearing team of scholars just to see what alterations to the KJB might really be necessary and important.  That's what the revising committee that was hijacked by Westcott and Hort was supposed to do, however, so I can't be very optimistic that this could be done today with the necessary expertise and, above all, restraint, but if it could, that's the only way we might get a good Bible we can all read.

Anyway, here's a comparison of the NAS passage and the KJV translation of it:

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.


And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,   Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

So.  Where to begin with the complaints about this.

1)  Start here:  Surely it is obvious that the NAS's "teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness unhindered" is NOT the same as "teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no man forbidding."  

The first part is close enough in meaning but such different wording means people who memorize their Bibles are memorizing different twords and won't be able to recognize each other's quotation.  This can't be a good thing for Christian unity.

Then we have to ask concerning the last part, is "openness unhindered" an accurate translation of what the Greek says?  I think we can be fairly sure that the KJV's "with all confidence, no man forbidding," is accurate.  So how different are the underlying Greek texts?   Since the NAS is based on a compilation of Greek texts which includes the W&H fraud, the Critical Text, why would they choose a reading SO different from that of the traditional text on which the KJV is based?  Why?  Is this one of those cases where they just had to come with different enough wording to justify having a new translation at all?  And if so, this is deceitful.

And exactly how is "rented quarters" a NECESSARY change from "hired house?"  Or "two FULL years" for "two WHOLE years.   Gratuitous changes to stumble the Church.   Why why why do otherwise solid Christians put up with this?

2)   Then I have my usual complaint about the NAS:  its klutzy English.  And this is definitely Westcott and Hort's fault. 

"Was welcoming" all who came to him:  This is just bad English.  According to Burgon it's the result of the bad Greek AND bad English of Westcott and Hort.  And the NAS is full of this kind of trashing of the English language, even presented as an improvement in the rendering of the Greek when it's only a silly aping of Greek phrasing at the expense of good English.

We can't all read Dean Burgon.  I love him to pieces but I can't get through all his arguments either.  I pray for a new generation of scholars who will rise up and shake off the influences undermining the Church, a big one being the proliferation of translations and corrupted Greek texts.

The Church has been falling apart over the last century in both little and big ways.  Unfortunately we often forget that "judgment begins at the house of God" and if we stop to consider it there's plenty that God must be judging, and we can't get very far in restoring the culture until this is faced and undone.  The new versions are a big part of the undermining of the Church, but it started before that.  W&H were certainly the product of the Liberal Theology that came out of Germany not long before, and there was no doubt some influence of Darwin and Marx in the mix, and an important one was the Oxford movement which undermined Reformed thinking by its insidious infiltration of Catholicisms into the Anglican Church, and we know W&H had Catholic sympathies.  So there's a lot going on in the 19th century that contributed to the Church's undoing.  Maybe we should include Finney's influence as well.  Then, as I keep suspecting and suggesting, the abandonment of the woman's head covering is probably a much bigger part of it than even I am usually willing to argue, which of course feeds into the Feminist influences that have also infiltrated liberal churches, and now we even have practicing homosexual clergy.  The Bible versions are all interwoven with all of this.  We have a very sick Church but do we have any idea how sick?

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